This was the first major software development conference I’ve attended in many years. It was a great opportunity to meet the luminaries of the Ruby development community, including “Matz” himself (Yukihiro Matsumoto, the creator of Ruby).
The presentations ranged from fairly technical (details about new features and performance improvements in Ruby 2.1) to mildly entertaining (11 year old Katie Hagerty sharing her experiences with KidsRuby). Some highlights for me were Luca Bonmassar’s overview of Elasticsearch, Michael Fairly’s rapid game prototyping demo (writing a working Pong implementation using Gosu before our eyes in 15 minutes), and Ernie Miller’s talk entitled “That’s Not Very Ruby of You”. It was very inspiring to be around so many smart and talented developers.
The conference was very well organized and well run. The sessions started and ended on time, free hot Starbucks coffee was always available, and the A/V systems worked flawlessly. The free lunches provided were quite tasty. My only complaint was that there was no food provided for breakfast; some simple bagels or muffins would have been great, especially since the only alternative available at the gorgeous, swank Loews hotel was a $30 breakfast buffet. But really, that’s the only thing I can think of that the organizers could have done to improve the experience.
I will say that a few of the presentations seemed a bit under-prepared. In particular, when presenting code examples in a very large space, some presenters did not take font sizes into account. I was a little confused by the choice to let young Katie Hagerty have a keynote spot for a full half hour on Saturday morning. As adorable as she is – and while I think it’s totally awesome that she’s learning to code – I would have preferred something with a bit more substance. (Why not get the creators of KidsRuby up there as well, for example?)
Based on what I saw at this conference, I think Ruby is entering the “awkward teenage” phase of its lifecycle. No longer the “cute new kid” on the block, it’s experiencing growing pains, and some insecurity. The Ruby community is starting to learn lessons from more mature technologies (e.g. metaprogramming is bad, ‘mkay? Garbage Collection is important… etc. ) At the same time, lots of great companies are adopting it and job opportunities are plentiful. It’s an interesting time to be a rubyist!