June San Francisco Ruby Meetup

I attended the June 12th, 2006 San Francisco Ruby Meetup at CNet which was my first. There was quite a turnout, I’d guess maybe 80-90 people. The presentations focused more on process and lessons rather than in-depth technical sessions. Here are my notes:

Derek Haynes (Highgroove Studios) presented about their ideal team structure and approach to developing projects with Ruby On Rails.

The traits they’ve found most important in teams are little overlap, specialization, communication skills, and flexibility. They look for Ruby experts with a slant on the systems side. On projects they used to spend 10% of their time doing Javascript/AJAX and now they spend up to 25%. They start every app with the interface and fully build it out before building the backend. Maintenance is made a lot easier through good unit tests and easy deployment with Capistrano

Strengths of rails for them is in the ease of unit testing. Weaknesses of rails is in ActiveRecord lacking some features of bigger OR Mappers and Lighty issues such as Capistrano not restarting Lighty properly.

My thoughts: most of the lessons Derek mentioned were applicable to other languages as well. Where Rails really distinguishes itself for me is in functional/integration testing and migrations. In Java and .NET I’ve found unit testing very easy, however, testing the view/web layer and integration testing with the database are a real hassle and Rails has it all built right in.

Graham Glass presented on the startup he’s been working on building an open educational learning management system that educators will be able to post content on similar to wikipedia. The site will be a public knowledgebase of educational material that teachers can use to manage and share their course work, lessons, experiments, test questions, etc..

He’s planning to use Mongrel for his webserver and eventually move to a Mongrel cluster. He isn’t using TDD to prototype his application but plans to write a large regression shortly. He’s using the FCK Editor for WYSIWG HTML editing of HTML. Uses MathML for the mathematics markup.

My thoughts: I listened with keen interest to Graham’s presentation as Urbana Software (a company I co-founded back in 2000) is in a very similar space although they sell to schools and districts for testing/assessment rather than community based learning management.

Andre Lewis presented on a site he’s building in his spare time which will be a directory of cafe’s with wireless access in San Francisco. He showed off a very nice AJAX interface with Google maps integration. He’s using geocoder.us to translate an address into latitude and longitude and is using JQuery instead of the bulkier Prototype/Scriptaculous.

My thoughts: JQuery is something that really resonates with me as our bandwidth costs at GreatSchools keep me regularly looking at how we can cut down page size. I would really like to see Andre present a demo of how to integrate Google maps and Geocoding into your Rails project next time.

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3 Responses to June San Francisco Ruby Meetup

  1. EL says:

    Thanks for the excellent summary for those of us that missed the meeting 🙁

  2. Manoj says:

    Thanks Todd! I’m taking the liberty to link this highlight on my post on SF Ruby Meetup! 🙂

  3. Thanks for the great review of the talks..

    I posted some of my comments here: TekTastic