i chose not to attend technically the first day of railsconf which was some pre-con tutorials. why? well, last year i did, and didn't find them a particular valuable use of 8 hours of my time...probably because in conference mode i'm not in a mindset of sitting for 4 hours on one topic.
but i'm here back in portland, this time for railsconf (my last trip was oscon...man was it really that long ago?) as well as the portland code camp (where i have a few sessions). there are a few of us softie-types here at railsconf, so if you want to chat about things, please ping me and i'd love to chat. we have some silverlight/ruby stuff with us if anyone is interested in seeing it!
okay, on with official day one of the general conference...
chad fowler was the opening welcome speaker (on a complete sidenote to o'reilly conference people -- you can have only one keynote -- that's the point of a keynote...don't label every general session a keynote -- pet peeve of my completely ocd mind). i previously had had an opportunity to hear chad at the mtn. west rubyconf earlier this year. i have a great deal of respect for chad, his knowledge, but more importantly how he carries himself in the community.
chad came out carrying a ukulele, which was odd (even more odd he wouldn't let it go :-)). chad's message was simple to the 1500+ in attendance: stop being arrogant a-holes. he talked about the perception of the rails community in the greater technical world and pointed out that pretty much people see the rails community as "arrogant bastards" (he later used another term: "arrogant s$itheads" as well). he talked about how now is the time for the rails community to define themselves as world changers, to change the attitude of the community and start making a difference (and thus help change perception). bravo chad...glad to hear a leader in the ruby community step up and a) admit and b) help change perception. as a part of that, the pragmatic studio has been accepting donations on behalf of the community to donate to other charities. i found this odd to solicit at the conference (why wouldn't railsconf just be free then and ask people to donate...or why doesn't o'reilly donate the conference fees on behalf of the attendees), but it was a good thought. if you to donate go here. chad shared that at the first rubyconf there was 41 people. the first railsconf there was about 61 people. today: 1600. wow, impressive.
chad then proceeded to play the ukulele (very well, i might add) while DHH was introduced. i don't know who introduced DHH, but he told a story about textmate -- i wasn't aware DHH was a part of that project as well...pretty cool.
DHH then came out and related the story about textmate and how important that was as well. he mentioned that his thought was that he liked the mac, but didn't like the editors, so he helped do something about it. he parallels this with the story of rails: he liked ruby, but didn't like the implementation of any web framework, so he did something about it.
some stats: > 1MM downloads of rails framework; >10K users on rubyonrails-talk (google group)
he related a funny "success" mark when you start seeing job descriptions about rails -- and showed one that had a requirement of "3 years or more of Ruby on Rails experience" (note: that would pretty much make the only ones qualified the Rails core team). he did ask the audience (a full house) how many people were getting paid to do rails work: about 60% raised their hand -- impressive (my stat may be off, but it was at least half).
DHH then talked about Rails 2 and how it is not going to be a unicorn (magical feature solving every problem) and that in fact it may be more humble. a key principle to v2 is about REST. he recommends using it because doing so as a guiding principle brings you a lot of benefits for free...and states that REST is now a convention in rails.
he talked about route.rb starting to look like a configuration file and he didn't like that...he wanted to follow the mantra of "i don't like decisions i don't care about" so the rails team has implemented some resource mapping/namespacing to abstract a lot of that configuration goop.
he showed some cool demos about v2, the resources, scaffolding apps with default functionality, REST api's automatically for your controllers, etc. very impressive decisions made for v2 and in my opinion, the right decisions.
he mentioned that rails is not switzerland -- it has an opinion and that opinion is not SOAP -- it is REST, but you can still use soap (actionwebservice) -- rails v2 is simple debundling it
one of the other changes with v2 is about performance...
there was some other demos on query caching and him mentioning about he doesn't want to change the way he does things -- he prefers "free performance" in his frameworks, so the query cache brings that to the table.
this was a good keynote, setting the stage hopefully for some good information...
drats: neal ford's selenium talk was cancelled, but then picked up by someone else...i was looking forward to seeing neal talk about selenium on rails.