With the first day of RailsConf Europe over, I have to say I was very impressed. The line-up was great, plenty of quality talks to choose from, and even a good wifi connection. I made some notes from each of the talks I attended (see full post below) – and I’ve also started a flickr group for the event and posted some pictures (with descriptions) myself.
David’s Keynote Address
DHH set the ball rolling from the start describing what we can expect to see from simply RESTful and ActiveResource in Rails 1.2 – using the convention of file extensions to offer a RESTful API. He also demonstrated simply Helpful, a new approach to convention over configuration in the view. Running out of time, he stopped short and promised to finish off the presentation at the end of the day.
Kathy Sierra – Creating Passionate Users
This was one of the best talks of the day (I thought) All about getting users into the ‘Flow’ – cutting out distractions and helping them feel always one ‘compile’ away from achieving their goals. Users need something to strive for, and motivation (shown through steps, or what others have done) to get there. Don’t spend time explaining only how the tools work, spend time demonstrating what the user can do with the tools. (recommended reading)
Dan Webb, Unobtrusive Ajax with Rails
Jamis Buck, Capistrano
Introduced Capistrano 1.2 – including the new capistrano shell, a stateless ssh prompt that allows you to interact with all of your servers in the cluster. He warned that this could be dangerous in the wrong hands. The cap shell makes use of environment variables you can set to apply capistrano commands to just a select few servers (or all). A couple of extensions were also shown, namely ‘uptime’ and ‘watch_load’ – both very useful.
Alex Payne, Securing Rails: A Whole-Stack Approach
This guy knows his stuff, Alex Payne has been competing at DefCon and currently works as a security consultant to some ‘firms’ in Washington DC. He’s also a web developer so he concentrated on the Rails part of the full stack, explaining that there really is no silver bullet here, and that SQL injection, cross-site scripting, cross-site request forgery and web service API’s all need to be secured. He recommended using Mongrel (since it has a ‘fuzzer’, rfuzz) and suggested writing attack scripts in your Rails functional tests.
Gavin Bell, Everything is interconnected
An overview on the powerful nature of a tagging community – the example being the Boston Science community site. Using Rails and acts_as_taggable, most of the site navigation is presented to the user as tag’d links. One thing they didn’t mention was GeoTagging – giving things a ‘physical place’ as it were – using a pin on Google Maps for example. The site is still in development and is due to get busier later this year.
Rails Core Team, Panel Discussion
Half of the full Rails Core team sat down to take questions gathered throughout the day, and a number from the floor. A couple of stickler’s were defended – including ‘when should I not use Rails?’ and ’couldn’t this/that be in the core?’ — DHH was also faced with the ’isn’t ruby/rails too slow?’ – which was (and has been) easily defended.
DHH, ‘we don’t owe you shit’ finale
Finally David rounded off the day with the most entertaining talk. His own personal suggestions and opinions (which many shared) with the Rails community including the reaction to the most recent security issue (resolved in 1.1.6) Using slide with comedy pseudo Ruby code (he forgot to bring Keynote with him on the plane over) – David’s main point was don’t expect anything from the Rails community by just downloading the framework. Summarizing, you start with zero credits here, and earn them from the community by contributing to it, getting involved, writing patches, tutorials, plugins, applications, documentation etc. Constructive criticism from non-contributing members in the community is very welcome (and necessary) – but ‘be nice’ – put together an argument, complaint, suggestion in a constructive manner and them expect a response, everything else will get a ‘f**k you!’ — a more detailed summary at the Copenhagen Ruby Brigade
So with that fresh in our minds, heres looking forward to tomorrow.