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Afterthoughts: Ruby ConferencePH 2015

  |  April 10, 2015

It’s been two weeks since March 27-28, those are dates for the RubyConfPH, short for Ruby Conference Philippines. Thanks to AELOGICA, I got to attend RubyConfPH for the second time. Photo evidence! I’m the one wearing the black jacket (it was quite cold in the conference area)

team

photo credit: Steve Smith

The Venue

Last year the conference was held at a convention center in Metro Manila. This year it’s on an island, and that island is Boracay.

boracay

photo credit: Elain Ojeda-Subido

Nice isn’t it? It’s a 45 minute flight from Manila. The organizers really outdid themselves with the venue and preparations for the conference. Needless to say, those that had to fly in from other countries got to see a little more of the “Philippines”.

After the first conference day everyone had fun on the free water-sport activities that came with the conference, and most just lounged around the beach. Some local kids built this cool sandcastle.

sandcastle

photo credit: @RubyConfPH

Topics, Attendees and Speakers

A second time around I get to listen and talk to some active figures in the Ruby community, both local and global. These people range from technical minds who maintain valuable open-source Ruby projects, to businessmen who value building better software. All in all, it sets up a very interesting mix of people talking about a diverse range of topics. Anyone can take home something valuable; technical insights, product ideas, or something simple like conference freebies or an engaging conversation with someone over conference coffee breaks and lunch.

Some of the talks that hit a chord in me are:

Ruby Science by Richard Schneeman

Richard Schneeman, or schneems, brings the scientific method on debugging. Being an engineer at Heroku, he brings up certain customer cases he’s encountered which made him dive deep into the internals of how their app works. Armed with his gem derailed_benchmarks, he uses it to profile application performance in order to make a hypothesis on what seems to bog down a certain application.

Just like how doctors rule out and diagnose diseases based on bodily factors and symptoms, we also ought to apply science instead of just mashing hardware and gems to solve problems.

Sketching for Programmers by Radamanthus Batnag

Not Ruby-related, but communication is quite important in building better software. The talk revolved around a framework for visual communication and using it to explain process-based documents (i.e. documenting steps in installing a server, telling a story on how an app is being deployed, etc.). More than just being used to visualize documents, it’s used to explain other stuff.

flowchart-rubyconfph

photo credit: Radamanthus Batnag

Does it sound familiar? It’s not necessarily meant to replace flowcharts, doodling is another tool meant for another problem. Doodling is meant for visualizing general information. It’s easily understandable even if you don’t know the nuances of the symbols being used since the symbols being used are really simple and relatable. Flowcharts, DFD’s and other types of diagrams are meant for a specific niche. He recommends books written by Dan Roam (Back of the Napkin, Blah blah blah, and Unfolding the Napkin) to understand further on how to leverage doodling in improving your “communication skill set”.

Urban Legends: What You Code Makes You Who You Are by PJ Hagerty

PJ drills deep on the discriminatory stereotypes on the tech industry as a whole. “PHP is insecure, Java is for stiff people, .NET zealots are open-source haters, Javascript and Ruby are for hippies, Businessmen are clueless people, etc.”. PJ instead highlights that each community are doing their best using the tools that they’re good at to solve problems. Problems that are common across the world, regardless of what your programming language is or what your profession is.

We can learn from the .NET/PHP/Java ecosystem and they can also learn a lot from us. So we should all just stop bashing amongst ourselves. Instead, learn from one another and help create an over-arching community that uses technology to further better the world.

The Community

But a conference is not just a bunch of people talking and listening, it’s all about building a community. It was such a blast hanging around with people who take ownership of their craft. Open-source projects, software services, products; these are fruits of people who highly value their profession.

At the same breath, they also know how to have fun.

karaoke

photo credit: @ramontayag

I wish more people would attend next year, it’s really worth it. So, anyone up for Ruby ConferencePH 2016?