RailsWayCon - Berlin Wrap UP

Written by on May 29 2009


This is my last day in Berlin and I wanted to give an update on the conference and the trip. RailsWayCon was awesome. It was the best conference I’ve attended since RubyConf 2007. Landing in Berlin on Saturday, I met up with Jonathan Weiss, Mathias Meyer and Alex Lang at Berlin’s premier cupcake cafe, Cupcake. Methias has a new baby girl, so he skipped out of dinner, really good Thai food. Jonathan took us to a few bars where we were joined by Lourens Naude, Pratik, Sven Fuchs, Clemens Kofler and Koz.

Sunday we met to work on our talks at Karvana. That night Yehuda arrived and we all got together for dinner and drinks. “Good times.” We ended up at an all you can eat sushi bar and spent most of the night drinking bad saki, eating too much fish and trying to distract Yehuda and Koz from the endless love fest. I was glad to see Pratik join in the distracting instead of the ongoing goingson about the what should or should not be in Rails. Highlight of the day was getting a tweenbot sent to me by Sven (photo1 photo2).

Monday we met at Alex and Thilo Utke’s) Upstream office to work on our talks. Jonathan and Mathias spent the day doing a seven hour workshop on deployment. These are two of the best ruby guys in Europe, and work at Jonathan’s company Peritor. Our work was very interrupted by the lover’s quarrels going on between Yehuda and Koz. They really do make a very lovely couple. That night was the speaker’s party where I found my old friends Michael Johann, Aditya Sanghi and conference organizer Sebastian Meyen. Pratik was hungry so we all left for Pizza. Good za and good friends.

The conference started on Tuesday with Mathias giving a really good talk on Async Processing in Ruby. Next up Lourens talked deeply about ruby performance in 1.8, 1.9 and JRuby, discussing fibers, context switching and async database access. I was next up with my tirade against Glassfish while praising JRuby. After lunch Ola Bini gave a great keynote about programing languages. I then listened to Koz’s talk about taking a good idea too far and I ended the day with my What Is Good UI talk. I did something new this time by taking git revisions of Less Time Spent and showing six different version of the UI as it’s progressed over the last year. It was interesting to see how we added UI elements, took them away and added some back during it’s life span. UI is a process, not a destination. The conference party was that night, but we only stayed for a short time preferring to go back to the hotel and play Werewolf and have a group therapy session for me. Stefan Tilkov arrived that morning to give his famous RESTful Rails talk. He turned out to be a most excellent werewolf.

Wednesday started with me arriving late (and tired) to Neal Ford’s talk about how to make Ruby feel more like Java by adding interfaces. Having arrived late I also left early because the room was too hot, so in all fairness, I might have missed the point of his talk. In lieu, Koz and I spent the hour talking about xero, Less Accounting and VAT. It was a great conversation for me as my understanding of VAT was a bit overly complicated. Look for VAT support in Less Accounting in the next week or two! :) Koz talked next about performance tuning Rails followed by Yehuda’s keynote about Rails 3 and the Ruby community. I was sitting between Mathias and Thilo in a very crowded room and not even Yehuda’s excellent talk could keep the sandman away as I fell asleep for about ten minutes at the end. Fortunately I’ve seen this talk before so I don’t think I missed too much. During the Q&A Yehuda confirmed that Rails 4 would be Sinatra, that Rails 3 should be done before this year’s Christmas present of the gamma release of 1.9 (he’s actually hoping for October) and when asked who his favorite core team member he shied away from revealing the love he shares with Koz and just said “I like everybody.” After lunch Lourens gave a great, but all to brief, discussion of Ruby internals. I was next talking about Advanced Javascript and Rails (it’s all about state) and we opted for a nap (in our separate rooms, not together) rather than hear about enterprise Rails. Jonathan and Mathias stayed for that talk and it turns out that enterprise Rails is really just about parsing XML. The nap was good. That night I went to dinner with Aditya and his wife, Vas, who happen to be in Berlin by coincidence. I spent some time with them in India and it was great to reconnect. A mellow evening followed when we met up with Yehuda, Lourens and Sven and discovered that Yehuda’s salary does not fall under the marketing budget at EY.

The quality of the content was surprisingly high. The rooms were small but filled, usually with people sitting on the floor, which at first seemed upsetting, but turned out to offer an intimacy that was quite unique and wonderful. The food was good and people were all first rate, very friendly and warm. I hope next year this becomes the big Rails conference in Europe. It was great.

Thursday Lourens and I spent the day working at the Upstream offices followed by a long night of partying with Sven. Three things to note: 1. I tried to go home at midnight, but Lourens was in rare form and was unusually talkative and open (which should not be missed if the opportunity presents itself), 2. There was headbutting and C. Sven can Dance!! Today will be a half day of work for me followed by a tour of the palace at Postdam with Jonathan and Mathias. I leave Saturday morning and am looking forward to sleeping for 13 hours on the plane.

I had a great time in Berlin. I haven’t been here since ‘92 and it’s like a completely different city. Seeing old friends and making new ones is the best part of any conference for me, and this was no exception here. I enjoyed my visit so much that I’m thinking of moving here. Thanks to everyone who I got to see. I’m really looking forward to seeing you all again.


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