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Friday, May 18, 2007

RailsConf 2007 - Day 1? Day 0?

Many geeks have descended upon an unsuspecting Portland for a few days of geekery about some software thingy most have never heard of. Many of these poor luddites have never even heard of Twitter and appear uncertain of the herds of geeks wearing shirts that say "[Skip Intro]", "He broke the build", and "Powerset". I think I overheard some guy asking one of the crew if Powerset was that new gym over on 13th.

So today was Day 1 of RailsConf. I saw another blogger posting an entry titled "RailsConf Day 2". I don't know if he was working on tomorrow's posting or what but any way you slice it today is Day 1. Today was the first full day of the conference and yesterday was just all day tutorial sessions, so that means day 1. Or if you want to be a geek and make the argument that yesterday was the first day, well then you have to be a geek all the way and realize that yesterday was Day 0.

This morning started of with the big keynote. Folks were ready with their buzzword bingo cards, giddy like school kids waiting for the dirty words. Fresh off my "Geek retreat" last weekend in Vegas I went to the sports book down in the vendor area with odds on swear word usage. The over/under was 5. Counting on a kindler/gentler talk I bet $100 on the under.

Turns out DHH was a big teddy bear today and I'm $30 richer. There was no real big Earth shattering news that was revealed today, though he did lay out 9 things that are interesting that are going into Rails 2.0.

  1. Breakpoints are back - ruby-debug is integrated into rails 2. The big win here is being able to put a simple statement into your action, stop the request in flight, inspect and change things and then continue the action.
  2. HTTP perf and asset packaging -
    javascript_include_tag :all, :cache => true
    will package all js into one file for delivery. The same can also be done for stylesheets. You can also setup an environment configuration to create virtual asset servers to overcome the browser behavior of serially requesting images 2 at a time from the same host. Read more at Chad's blog.
  3. query cache - AR has query caching that you get for free and works by matching exact SQL calls. You don't need to turn this on it just works. It will be interesting to see how big mongrel processes are going to get as a result of this.
  4. action.mimetype.renderer - separate the mime type from the template type so that you can request a file type and it can be rendered easily by any template type without a special naming convention. Examples he gave: people/index.html.erb people/index.xml.builder index.rss.erb index.atom.builder
  5. config/initializers - To slim down the environment configuration you can put ruby files into the "initializers" dir that get run automatically on init
  6. sexy migrations - flip name -> type declaration to type -> name which can allow you to declare more than one column on a line and simpler timestamp declarations. Check out Chris' post here
  7. HTTP auth - Basic auth plugin is moved to core.
  8. The MIT assumption - default license file for plugin generation
  9. Spring cleaning - removal of deprecated stuff

Of all the things he mentioned I think breakpoint being back is probably the best news for rails devs, especially those that are new and trying to learn the framework. The query cache is interesting as well. It's appears simple and will likely help perf for many apps which do the same queries again and again, especially for those of us that load the user data on each request from the id stored in the session. He didn't show how to expire entries in the cache though.

The keynote demo displayed the restful stuff and he mentioned that you get search for free with the stuff in edge. The convention that is put forth with the REST approach will make writing and reading existing app code that much easier to deal with.

The talks have been very good and the ones that are popular are ridiculously packed. I approached the "Standing on the shoulders of giants" talk which was a guided tour through the code of several ruby/rails projects that were considered to be good code examples.

At the entrance a couple of middle aged ladies were guarding the doors and fending off hordes of geeks salivating at the code porn being shown just beyond those doors. I made my way through the crowd to the front and one of the lady's was like "Sorry it's full". Hmm.... but I'm here as press damnit, I have an obligation to the geek community. I figured "what the hell?" and I asked "Does this get me in?" as I lift up my press pass. "Nope". OK, time to move on to "bouncer" number 2. "Hi, I'm press and I'd like to get in". "OK go on". Sweet! I'm in! Holy crap there's a ton of people in here! Luckily I found a seat and we proceeded to be taken on a tour of Rick Olson's handywork for the most part. Adam did a good job of walking through the code and picking out good examples. He also did a good job of describing his process of "code spelunking" as he put it. I don't think I need to tell all you SouthPark fans out there why that's funny.

Alright I'm off to see about a BOF or if those Powerset guys are wandering the streets of Portland helping Rocko find his gym. If only there were something out there that Rocko could use, in his own natural language to tell him where to find his gym. Oh well, I'm sure something's bound to come out soon, like this year. In the meantime it's very gracious of them to perform user searches with such a personal touch.

I like the comment about day 0. That is a great way to name it all around. I came across your site searching for information on some of the new features planned for Rails 2.0 and noticed you commented on some of the geekiness in force at Rails Conf. I'll admit, I'm a contributor. A friend and I make a couple of the t-shirts you mentioned. Here are some links if you're interested.


[Skip Intro] t-shirt

He Broke The Build

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