Written by thoughtbot

RailsConf 2009 Wrapup

Now that the fun and games are over and the Rails world is returning to work, this is a great time to appreciate some of the wisdom that was imparted to us last week during RailsConf. We’d also like to thank those who showed up for the Poker Tournament and made it a great time for all.

If you missed the conference, be sure to check out the keynotes at and also my expansive set of notes on the talks I attended.

Now, the tiny robots have some reflections on what they’ve learned and would like to share:


One of my favorite talks was Scott Chacon’s Smacking Git Around. It was a great source of information for those new to Git and those who have been using it for a while. Also, Rack has seriously arrived in the Ruby world and is pretty much essential to learn.


You’ll think I’m kidding, because of this, but the Tim Ferriss keynote (fireside chat?) was probably the best part of RailsConf. Please understand that I do 600 pushups on the roof top of my apartment building every morning at 3:30AM though, so your mileage may vary. I also change my own oil in my car—which has a quarter million miles on it and still runs like a champ.


Uncle Bob’s keynote was one of the best keynotes I’ve heard at a RailsConf. While he was preaching to the choir a bit about TDD, it needed to be said. Plus the idea that not only is professionalism important, but it’s not the stodgy three-piece-suit some people seem to think it is, is a meme that needs circulating.

In that light, Ezra’s talk (partially) about automated and verifiable server deployments as well as Marty Andrew’s talk about automated code quality metrics spoke a bit more to me than they probably would have (although they would have been interesting on their own, regardless!)

Of course, nothing will top Eric Torrey’s explanation of why fixing the problem at its root is better than temporary fixes:


My favorite three things that I learned about at RailsConf were learning how to monitor and manage distributed computational tasks using Amazon Web Services with Matt Wood’s Mission Control, using FunFX to test your Flash (and Flex) applications with Cucumber, and running Rack apps on Google AppEngine with some helpful related tools.


The most interesting talk for me was the What Makes Ruby Go: An Implementation Primer talk, where we learned how Object#extend can kill your method cache and just how slow global constants really are. Other highlights include seeing the toad from Hoptoad on the big screen while I learned about the ins-and-outs of using Rack in Rails, and seeing all the people I only get to see at Rails conferences.


As mentioned above, Rack is where its at, and it will continue to enable a lot of coolness in Rails. One of the best talks I’ve seen on Rack, at any conference, was And the Greatest of These Is … Rack Support, by Ben Scofield. A lot of the Rack talks I’ve seen have been rather abstract to date. Things have started to clearly started to gel with Rack, and Ben was able to give an excellent, concise overview of the current capabilities of Rack support in Rails, and some ways in which it can be used.


I enjoyed Automated Code Quality Checking In Ruby And Rails - it gave us the kick we needed to add code quality tools to our CI process. I also found out about some tools (like Roodi) that I had never heard of before. As usual, though, my favorite part was being able to discuss code with the author in person, as well as getting to see some of the people in our community that I only see at conferences.