Well we made it back from Portland after a great weekend at RailsConf. I had mentioned that I wanted to learn a few things and meet a few people, and I'm happy to say I did just that. I think that this year, the meeting people was more important to me than the sessions. That said, I think there are a handful worth mentioning.
It was pretty cool to hear how yellowpages.com just decided to rewrite their entire system in rails, and did it with only about 3-4 months of development. Impressive. John Straw attributes the success to a few things:
- Having a small development team
- Choosing the right platform
- Having close communication among team members with diverse viewpoints
- Freezing development on the existing site in order to prevent having to hit a moving target
- Updating the beta site frequently to easily communicate progress
The Launch: Dos and Don'ts of Real Life Deploys, Chris Wanstrath
Chris Wanstrath went through the stages of deployment: Alpha, Beta, Optimization, Launch, Panic, and Calm. It was cool to hear him talk about his real-life projects, famspam and the famous github, and what he experienced during deployment. I took away from this talk that Alpha and Beta phases are great tools to get feedback from your users and uncover any bugs. It also allows you to assess what really needs optimization before the real launch. Also, something goes wrong in almost every launch, so expect that there will be downtime.
Using Git to Manage and Deploy Rails Apps, Scott Chacon
Scaling Rails, Blaine Cook, Bradley Taylor, Ezra Zygmuntowicz, Jim Meyer, Kevin Lawver
There were a couple of quotes from this talk that I thought were insightful. The first was Ezra, who said "the most important thing is getting your application out there and getting the opportunity to have to make it scale." I think that's great because it seems as though a lot of people try to prematurely optimize. Just get it out there, see where the weaknesses are, and then you can spend meaningful hours making it scale. The other quote I liked was from Blaine Cook, of Twitter, who said the biggest mistake developers make is "assuming the production environment is exactly like the development environment." I don't have a lot of experience with real deployments, so this one stuck with me. I hope I remember it when it counts.
ActiveRecord Associations and the Proxy Pattern, Nick Kallen
This was the talk that really made me say, "Wow." Nick Kallen flawlessly coded for the entire session, showing the audience the basics behind ActiveRecord associations. I can't say I've ever thought about what I would do if :has_many didn't exist, and it was really cool to watch him go through the steps... and writing tests first.
Other highlights of RailsConf 08 include but are not limited to:
- My railsconf t-shirt that actually fits!
- Hanging out with about 30 other women developers at the DevChix meetup. Thanks again to Desi for getting us all together and Obie for picking up the tab. :)
- The moment when DHH accidentally bumped into me... 'cause he's so dreamy. sigh. (HA you know I'm joking, right? :) )
- Visiting the monstrosity that is Powell's bookstore. I'll be reading for months!
- Being pinged in the #railsconf irc channel by someone who reads my blog! Yay for readers!
- This picture of me clearly looking at my laptop and not paying attention to whoever was speaking, taken by James Duncan Davidson.
All in all it was a great weekend. See you next year in Vegas.