The inaugural Big Ruby Conf kicked off on February 28 with almost the entire OrgSync development team in attendance. With a few exceptions, most Ruby conferences lack an overarching year-to-year theme. Big Ruby Conf is clearly for the enterprise audience. While this may conjure mental images of suits, marketeers spewing buzzwords and piles of red tape, Big Ruby Conf suffers from none of these ailments.
The conference was held in a theater rather than a hotel, lending a more relaxed vibe to the entire event. Cushy theater seats beat sardine-packing into a line of fold-up chairs every time. The food was solid for a conference, but nothing to write home about. It also lacked much of the swag that provides some people with an entire wardrobe. But we don’t go to conferences for the venue or the swag: let’s talk about the talks.
Talks at the conference featured speakers from companies including Github, LivingSocial, Rackspace, Shopify, Yammer and Zynga. They converged around code as infrastructure, mining large data, concurrence (often via Celluloid), and service oriented architecture.
Having companies share the particulars of technologies and patterns at scale was priceless. Wynn Netherland discussed the realities of using HATEOAS to implement Github’s API. Several talks delved into the world of Chef, including one by Joshua Timberman from Opscode. Jeremy Hinegardner gave one of several talks on “big data,” which he described as “An amount of data and the processing of it that makes you feel uncomfortable.” The tribulations of scaling data, page hits, and people were covered by Zynga, Shopify, and Yammer. As part of a company that’s growing, it’s invaluable to hear the experiences of those walking the path ahead of you. (These talks will be available on Confreaks in the next few weeks.)
Having gotten so much out of the conference, I’m glad we were able to give back to it. At OrgSync, we are constantly looking for ways to support the Dallas Ruby community. We jumped at the chance to sponsor a conference right in our own back yard. Even more than helping financially, we’re proud of the volunteer work we were able to provide. Nine members of our team came out to help make the event a success. We registered people, handed out shirts, helped setup and maintain the wifi, and did some last-minute design work for a flyer.
My own desire to help was fueled by the potential I see in Big Ruby Conf. More and more Ruby shops are turning into big players. It’s encouraging to see a conference addressing the challenges of running a larger business. If Big Ruby Conf can continue to be successful and fill this niche, it would be a boon for the community. I’m looking forward to next year and I’ll definitely be going back.