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Thursday, May 10, 2007

JavaOne 2007 Day 2 Newbie enterprise on rails

Day 2 of Javathehutt's ruby coverage at JavaOne. Huh? Yeah that's right. Next week at Railsconf I may just have to talk about all the java related discussions that are occurring there. So what happened on day 2 that would be of interest to the ruby faithful? Well today there was "Ruby on Rails Meets the World of Enterprise Applications" given by Daniel McWeeney from Colgate-Palmolive. I walked into another pretty good sized room that was full, perhaps about half the size of the room for the JRuby session.

Daniel was a very charismatic speaker who would lift his arm in the air and bark out "demo" or "slides" to switch from one context to another. He spoke about his company's need to create a more user friendly interface to an SAP system. The system is a project/resource management system where they create projects and then assign resources (people, for those in the non-enterprisey world). The current interface is pretty unfriendly to the untrained user and as a result they weren't seeing a satisfactory level of usage of their SAP system.

So it was the job of our hero Daniel and his crack team of young energetic developers (actually I think it was just him) to figure out a way to come up with an interface on this system that would be easy to use, do it on zero budget, and with minimal time. He said that when he started he had zero knowledge of ruby and rails, and while it by no means a knock on him it actually was pretty easy to see that it was his first rails app from looking at his code as well as some of the UI that he'd built. He did a pretty good job of walking through his code and explaining exactly what was happening at all times. He made heavy use of RJS and drag and drop, and while there is certainly room for improvement he generally did a pretty good job.

One thing he made use of that was new to me was a gem called SAP4rails that he used to make calls into SAP to read/write the project data. It looked pretty straightforward to use and I hope I never have to use it :-)

In non-ruby related news I attended a press/analyst lunch panel on international developer perspectives where I learned that the entire country of Brazil loves java and that the guy from the Philippines was surprised at how much a developer in Singapore makes and was thinking of flying there to work every week.

I wanted to attend the prototype, scriptaculous, and rico talk but the line was too long and well, I'm likely to already know much of what they're talking about so I skipped out on that and headed to the press room to linger and talk to some journalists and espouse the great benefits of PitchWire to them. I actually ended up meeting a couple of coders in there including Tim O'Brien who blogs for O'Reilly and is into rails development. I gave him a quick rundown of my sortable table plugin and he immediately identified need in his current apps. Always nice to build stuff that people use.

Later in the day Tim and I headed over to the blogger meetup and then the Google party. I'm going to defer to Hani's coverage which is pretty on target :-)

I will say that it was great to run into Josh Bloch again after meeting him at last year's JavaOne. We chatted about his API design talk and he also disclosed to Cedric and myself that he had now written his first line of ruby code this week :-) Can "Effective Ruby" be far away?

Oh and top quote overheard during a press event from a member of the press "I was a college professor and I graduated students that could neither read nor write"


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