Voices That Matter, Professional Ruby Conference 08

Warning: Draft nonsense, needs spell-check, grammar and thought completion.

Voices That Matter, Professional Ruby Conference 08, Sheraton Boston, November 17-20, 2008. Beautiful facilities, good good. This is a brand-new conference, version 1.0, and Obie Fernandez was the lead at designing the technical content and format, rather radical schedule: 3-30 minute sessions with 10 minute breaks, long break, 2-30 minute sessions, lunch, 5-30 minute sessions. This means the sessions are tight: experts brain-dumping for 30 minutes

Pre-Conference Sessions

AM, Pat Maddox, RSpec and Behavior-Driven Development: excellent overview of BDD, leaped into RSpec with an expectation that users were familiar with Ruby and TDD, which might not be appropriate for a crowd at a pre-conference. Excellent use of a pre-cooked set of examples (coding a blackjack app) with the tests already written so devs only need to fill in code one test at a time to satisfy the requirements, “Red, Green, Refactor” Worthwhile session. Around two dozen attendees.

PM, Hal Fulton, Ruby Basics. Co-Author of “The Ruby Way” an excellent introduction to the language for folks not familiar with it. A few less attendees, as there was a parallel session by Russ Olsen, “Fluent in Ruby” Hal knows his stuff, was comfortable and receptive to questions. We did some ad-hoc coding. He had an excellent, and again, simple, example that let us concentrate on the code and not get stuck in the business problem: reading a table of text into a set of records, manipulating and sorting them. An incremental set of examples introduced a couple new challenges to each example, and then a couple of new ways to use Ruby, new commands or techniques, to solve those problems. Very clear. A very helpful session for getting comfortable with Ruby.

Day One: attendees 80
Keynote: Obie Fernandez: (http://blog.obiefernandez.com/) war stories of success at Hash Rocket. Pair programming with pairs of keyboards and mice. 14 people total. Keep small (14, boutique). No interviews (week work on site), Guest Star program. References: Agile Manifesto, 37 Signal’s “Get Real,” Rails Rumble 2007. Small Releases often. “Working software over comprehensive documentation ” from Agile Manifesto. “Visual Design First:” vs. Jakob Neilson recent blog complaining that agile was a threat to usability. Obie’s Orject mgmt: concepts and requirements, initial design, Phase one implementation (2-3 weeks), user acceptance, interation, release.

Stoires are Units of work, “storycarding” (SCRUM) estimate level of effort in points system, 1 -4 points (max a day or two), 15- 25 points per week for a team of 2-4 developers, summarize stories,

Master Services Agreement: general contract: billings, liabilities, copyright, trademarks ownership – this has to do with what?

Pivotal Tracker: free. tracks backlog and current iteration.

Standup meetings. for smaller projects. “Pivotal” standup for larger groups: what did you do yesterday? What did you do today? What…

Ben Koski, NYT Riding the Rails case study… bkoski@nytimes.com
Election feeds. AP supplied 153 text files, colon-separated, clomposite-key difficult to parse, used LOAD DATA INFILE, INSERT – REPLACE, survived onslaught by page aching, activeController page integration to generate all possible pages, they “baked it out” and lobbed files via ftp to the actual NYT web servers.

End game analysis: strengths: rapid start, tweak-friendly, activeRecord SQL customizations, web code works on command line, self-contained deploys. Weaknesses: rails vs. nytimes,com infrastructure (SUN), Solution: host on EC2! (eight instances!) , deployments, admin interfaces (vs. Django!),

Thomas Enebo, Sun Microsystems
You don’t have to be a Java programmer to use JRuby: It’s just Ruby! (maybe a tm!). Very, very compatible with 1.8.6, using Rubinius, continueing integration. Fixed 1500+ bugs last year. JRuby 1.1.5 released two weeks ago. improved caching, better performance. Downsides: native-threaded, arguably not a bug but a feature. No native ‘C’ extensions, started with porting popular libraries ported to native Java. No continuations (does anyone use them?) Foreign Function Inteface (FFI) portable across implementations, unlike extensions, most extensions just wrap a library. Started in Rubinius, then joint API discussions, supported in 1.1.4. Example. JRuby 1.8 bigger libraries done. M17N – multinationalizations. Why Java???!!!?!?! Tuned over a decade, generational, super-optimization, native on every platform. native threads, tools, libraries. java is Everwhere, Less political resistance (“JRuby is just another Jar file”), wider database suspport, Java-style deployment, bundle into WAR file, or Glassfish Gem – entire app server in a 4 Mb gem, Ruby-style deployment to GF Application server: gem install glassfish, glassfish . {Lame text” for an example: thread-safe JRuby on Glassfish v2

Mongrel, Matt Pelletier Partner/CTO EastMedia, web-mobile development shop, NYC, funded Mongrel dev for OpenID. Wrote Mongrel book. Zed Shaw, SCGI railsrunner, limited support, webrick slow. Translation (cgi) slow. Full HTTP server, play well with others. Design Goals: Security: Most security holes are due to human oversight, kludgy hand-written parses, gaping holes left in conditionals, HTTP spec does not limit sizes. Resources: site, mailing list, book. Using Mongrel: gem install. Use monit to monitor processes, restart/start new mongresls. How many? Serve static content from web server not mongrel.

Coby Randquist, The many facets of Ruby at YellowPages.com, now “AT&T Interactive”
Partner in Confreaks.com, founding member of LA Rubyl
Lots of small teams. 3-5 people plus functional manager for “socialization” can be a challenge to get things through the pipleline. Teams: HTML/CSS, development, sys admin, sys architecture, UI – user interaction,

Architecture 8415 LOC, 20 servers per data senter, 16 mongresl per server. almost no active record, All static content via CDN. Service tier: ~10kLOC, 8 servers, 30 mongresl/server, memcached running on each server, ruby wrapper to their FAST search engine, Oracle client for communication with Oracle clusters — user registration and personalization. Future changes: from rails to Merb. New code they are open sourcing:

“waves” – resource-oriented open source framework,
funtors – patterned-based dispatch for Ruby,
kablame – easily summarize who has done how much work on your code base,
crufty – find unused code,
hoshi – a library for creating real first-class htmlxml views, a DSL for creating HTML rather than Yet Another Template language www.debu.gs , live-console: a truby gem for providing irb over channels other than stdio
Waves uses bacon as its testing framework
They (R&D) are working on a ton of stuff: bacon for testing, rack handler for jetty, developing branded iPhone apps:
Speak 4 It – directory
Need 2 Pee – geo-location when you gotta go. No, really.
For sale at the iPhone App store. Hope you can pay in a hurry.

Lunch – Consulting table

Nick Plante, Demystifying Ruby Plugins, http://blog.zerosum.org/2008/11/18/demystifying-rails-plugin-development
Bravo to Nick for posting his slides on his website just before presenting! Nick squeezed a lot of information into the very small half-hour he was given: why write a plugin, what’s involved, how to do it, a case study, tools to use to do it, how to publish it, how to package a plugin as a gem (I didn’t know you could do that!) and where to find the tools to do it! Whew!

Ezra Zygmuntowicz, Four years of Ruby Development
Ezra runs the venerable and respected EngineYard shop and talked about the ten configurations of Rails-serving servers he’s wrestled with over the past four years with the pros and cons of each one. The recommendation du jour, with the caveat that the race is still on, is Mongrel for ruby dynamic content, nGinX for static content, but YMMV. The Ezra talked about using an AMQP service using RabbitMQ to create Nanites, a self-organizing set of Ruby applets. Rack is running over Nanite. Ezra announced “EYAAS” – Engine Yard As A Service, “Clouds are too low level for average humans” – use a dashboard to describe your application, what engines, plugins, gems and underlying OS services it needs. The EYAAS stores a JSON config file that can be used to fill in their set of recipes they use to generate S3 and AWS resources. Now, you no longer log in and make one-time changes to a server that get lost if the server is lost, but rather re-configure the recipe to upgrade components, etc. Very, very cool way to automate deployment.

Matt Jankowski , thoughtbot, Nature Network “Agile in the Enterprise”
Boston-based, 10 devs, coupla business people, distributed: NYC, Philly, etc.
Nature Network, publishers of the famous “Nature” journal
Nature Network, social networking for scientists, somewhat more formal than Facebook
Team: 28 people who worked for at least a month over two years
What is Enterprise? Dictionary Definition. Also, a bunch of meetings, weird spec documents, continuous re-organizations. Bureaucracy and internal politics, people who “just” want a job. Compared the impedence mismatch between the enterprise society and the RAD, cool, XP, scrumming agile Rubyists. Funny. Images hysterical.

Shane Harvie, Refactoring Domains in Ruby and Rails
Inheritance v. Delegation; Is Inheritance an “Is-a” relation
Ruby doesn’t allow you to “unmix” an included module, so if you started with delegration by mixing in a module, you’re stuck if then try to subclass the original object and don’t want the mixed in behavior.
Slide fonts are too small. Bummer. On the bright side, it lets me focus on what the speaker is saying and not get lost in the weeds o fthe code…

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