RailsConf Europe 2008 is over (and has been for a few days now, I know), so it's time for a recap. In all it was much better than I expected, last year's conference was a bit of a disappointment, so my expectations were low enough to be positively surprised.

Bratwurst on Rails was, if not a huge success, a great event nonetheless. Probably because of the rain not as many people showed up. There werre around 200 guests, but I sure hope they had a good time. In the end most of the cupcakes were gone, and all the bratwursts. So it's all good.

Day 1 started with the tutorial sessions, including one I hosted with Jonathan Weiss on deploying and monitoring Rails applications. Over the course of four hours we gave an introduction on deployment setups, doing the dirty-work with Capistrano, and doing basic monitoring. The slides are up on Slideshare, enjoy!

The day ended with a panel consisting of David Heinemeier Hansson, Jeremy Kemper and Michael Koziarski. They talked pretty much with themselves for the lack of questions from the audience. Someone came up with the question (probably for the millionth time), if Rails is gonna switch to RSpec for testing.

RejectConf sure was a highlight in itself. Good fun, entertaining people and drinks in a pleasant environment. What more could you ask for?

Second day started off with David's keynote, and I gotta say, it was most excellent. He talked about legacy code. Still working on the oldest piece of Rails software he knows his fair share about it. Lots of programmers coming to Rails tend to forget that eventually every new project they work on will turn into legacy code, and needs to be maintained. So David's talk took the more inspirational approach, compared to his previous keynotes.

Quick summing up of the day's sessions:

  • Jon Dahl's talk gave a good introduction on MapReduce, not specific to a certain framework, but to how MapReduce works.

  • Yehuda Katz's talk on jQuery sure filled up the seats quickly. And it actually was a pretty good introduction. Favorite quote (more or less accurately): "Valid markup is when every browser can display it, not when the validator says it's valid."

  • Intellectual Scalability presented an approach on how to scale applications by separating them into different micro-applications running on different servers.

  • Wilson Bilkovich's talk on Rubinius gave some updates on the state of Rubinius, but was probably more interesting for people interested in building compilers (LLVM, if you must know).

  • Jonathan's talk on Security on Rails attracted a big crowd too, and rightly so. Hadn't seen it before, so I can safely say I learned some things as well.

The day ended with Jeremy Kemper's keynote, though I think that it'd have fit better into a normal session. It was a good talk on performance of Rails applications, but it wasn't exactly keynote material.

I attended the BoF sessions on MagLev and Merb, and both were pretty good. One thing I didn't understand is the heat some people gave the guy from GemStone. MagLev is still in its early stages, but I'm so looking forward to giving it a spin once it's ready for the public.

On to day two

  • It started off with with Matt Wood's talk on Genomes on Rails. He's working on an impressive project, involving an even more impressive amount of data.

  • Jay Fields talked about lessons learned from functional testing. Pretty good talk. I can't say it was all news to me, but still a good inspiration for people not yet into testing.

  • Justin Gehtland's talk on Small Things, Loosely Joined and Written Fast sure was one of the best of show. He's an excellent presenter, and introduced using ActiveMessaging and RubyCAS (welcome to my list of things to try out) to keep things loosely coupled.

  • For lack of anything more interesting I attended the talk on "Treading Rails with Ruby Shoes". Let's just say it was a different approach on presenting. And that's that.

  • Tammo Freese flashed the crowd with some serious Ruby meta magic afterwards. Tough stuff, but it still matters to people writing and/or using plugins.

  • I finished off the day with Adam Keys' talk on handling complexity in Rails applications. While nothing new to me (I'd used the things he mentioned in several projects already) it gave a pretty good overview on how to handle some of the complexity in Rails applications.

In all it was a pretty good conference, I met a lot of nice people and had a pretty good time. Sadly it won't be in Berlin next year, but let some other European city be the center of the Europe Rails community for a change.

If you're up for more details on the sessions, Clemens Kofler has excellent coverage.

Tags: rails, railsconf, ruby

The Real Adam on complexity:

"My stance is that all the really simple applications are done. But perhaps there are some ideas, some complexity, we can add to our problem-solving repertoire that let us tackle much larger applications."

He's giving a talk on the topic at RailsConf Europe. It's an interesting topic, and I'll surely be there.

Tags: rails, railsconf

In case you're coming to RailsConf Europe, you might be interested in the tutorial I tutorial on deploying and monitoring Rails applications I'm giving together with Jonathan Weiss.

See you there!

Tags: railsconf

So RailsConf Europe 2008 is upon us, not for another two months, but you gotta be prepared right? You did sign up, right? Good.

What's even better: The night before RailsConf Europe, Bratwurst On Rails will once more treat you to free snacks and socializing with fellow Rails nerds. Sound good? Excellent. Then jump on over to the website and sign up already!

Tags: railsconf

First up: RailsConf Europe 2008 will be in Berlin again. Woot!

As I wrote yesterday, Marcel Molina and Michael Michael Koziarski did a little Best Practices session for a starters. Other than that, day two was only okay.

Ola Bini repeated in his JRuby talk pretty much what Charles Nutter and Tom Enebo said on the first day, plus some shameless ThoughtWorks pluck.

I did enjoy the talk on Selenium by Till Vollmer. It's been on my list for a while, and it does look quite interesting. The questions that pop up in my head as a friend of continuous integration is of course how to automate this. But I'll just have to read up on that.

Ben Nolan (creator of Behaviour.js) showed some neat tricks using functional programming with JavaScript. He brought up some ideas and showed code, which I very much appreciated. Nothing new for the JavaScript cracks really, but still interesting.

Jay Fields talked about the presenter pattern in Rails. I bet a lot of people thought after the talk: wtf? To sum up his findings on the presenter pattern in Rails were rather negative and probably not what a lot of people expected. I found his talk to be a change to the others. It's not always the success stories that make you push hard, but also down-falls, even if they're small ones. He put up all the details in his blog. Definitely worth checking out.

In all I would've wished for more detail in the presentations. A lot of the presenters spent too much time introducing things, presenting theory, and so on. More code please, people! When people come to the RailsConf I take it for granted they know Rails enough to get down and dirty immediately.

As DHH wrote on his blog I too was quite impressed by the engagement of Sun in Ruby and Rails. Craig McCanahan (of Struts fame) talked about it and said he can't imagine going back to Java for web development after having worked with Rails. Amen to that.

I got some nice ideas and things to look into out of it, but I have hoped for more. But still I'm looking forward to next year.

This morning, on day two, Marcel Molina and Michael Koziarski did a little Best Practices session, a welcome change to the keynotes and sessions. It was very code-oriented. I did even take something out of it I didn't know before. Though I wish it would've gone into a little bit more detail (which I actually wish for a lot of the other sessions as well, but more on this in a later post), it was something that you could relate to on a practical level.

I took some notes, without code though, and here they are:

  • Keep the controllers skinny, keep logic that’s on the model's low level out of the controller
  • All that logic in the model makes it the fat model
  • The controller should not deal with that logic, because it’s a different layer of abstraction
  • Rough guide: 6 to 7 actions per controller, 6 to 7 lines per action
  • Use association proxy methods. Add custom finders for associations to keep the association logic in the model and to represent the business logic more clearly
  • Use explicit and short validation callbacks (e.g. validate :make_sure_something_is_as_it_should_be) instead of just long validate methods. It’s easier to read and understand
  • with_scope can make code harder to read and is (apparently) used in situations where it isn’t necessary. It can be used to fake associations through proxies, e.g. to find objects that aren’t associated with an object through the database, but through some conditions, e.g. a smart group or a smart folder

Short, but sweet.

Day one of the RailsConf Europe is over (for me anyway), and so here's my summary of what I've seen and heard today.

It all really started yesterday with Dave Thomas' keynote on "The Art of Rails". The talk was inspiring. It wasn't really any new stuff, basically a nice speech with visuals about what the Pragmatic Programmers have already written about. The comparison to art sounds far-stretched for a lot of people, and it might even be. Still, there's a lot to learn from art that can be applied to software development. Casper Fabricius published a nice summary.

The morning keynote by David Heinemeier Hansson was okay. It wasn't great. It pretty much summed up all the neat new features of Rails 2.0. There's another nice summary over at the blog of Casper Fabricius.

My sessions schedule started out with Benjamin Krause's "Caching in Multi-Language Environments." He actually patched the REST-routing in Rails to support the content language as a parameter for a resource URI, e.g. /movies/231.html.de. Neat stuff. He also implemented a language-based fragment cache using memcached. Both will be available later this week on his blog.

Next up was Dr. Nic's talk on meta-programming with Ruby and Rails. My word, I love his Australian accent. His talk was highly entertaining, I was laughing a lot. But it was also inspiring. He's very encouraging about trying out the meta-programming features of Ruby and doing some weird, funny and useful stuff with it. He already put up his slides for your viewing pleasure.

The afternoon was filled with the wondrous joys of JRuby and Rubinius, held by their respective maintainers Charles Nutter, Thomas E Enebo and Evan Phoenix on both of which I'm hooked now. Especially Rubinius impressed me a lot.

Roy Fielding's talk on REST was something I was really looking forward too, but it turned out to be more of a summary of his dissertation. The part on REST was good, but he spent an awful lot of time telling history and the theories behind REST.

The smaller diamond-sponsor keynotes by Jonathan Siegel of ELC Tech and Craig McClanahan were short, but pretty good I'd say.

In all, the day was pretty good, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.