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RailsConf 2006 - Day Three

Posted by Marty Haught on Monday, June 26, 2006
Here's the wind-down of the final day of RailsConf 2006.

1) Agile Databases with Migrations - Damon Clinkscales

I enjoyed Damon's talk and it focused in on the nuts on bolts of doing migrations. I felt it was fairly comprehensive and I did learn a few things from it even though I've been doing migrations now for the last month or so.

2) Lightning Talks - various

The lightning talks were popular as the room was bursting with people. Luckily it was in the same room as Damon's migration talk so I had a choice spot at a table up front (and had power). I'd say that most of the talks were actually Rails demos but they were cool nonetheless. The three things that I made note of were CapGem, AutoPilot and rSpec. CapGem was written over the last day or so as a response to one of Dave Thomas's challenges for the community - make Rails easier to deploy. It basically packages up your Rails app as a gem which will allow it to be deployed later on by someone else without access to subversion. It should show up as a project on RubyForge shortly. AutoPilot is an open source plugin? that allows you to automate Selenium tests. rSpec was a different testing framework that changes how you make your assertions so that they are readable in normal language. Additionally you can generate a specification on those tests.

3) Rails Takes on the Enterprise with SOA - Joe O'Brien

I really wanted to go to Stuart's talk on MetaRails which was very popular. Since I had already seen the Streamlined presentation at Justin's talk I figured it wouldn't be too bad. Because I'm using Soap in my Rails app I really wanted to see what Joe might have to say. Overall, I thought his talk was good. I agreed with his premise that for most being able to glue Rails and the Enterprise together will be vital. Ruby is such a powerful glue that I figured it was definitely possible and it's really about convenience. After Joe made his pitch that we shouldn't rewrite the Enterprise but try to work with it in its current form he got some some specifics for Rails. He talked about ActiveMessage and how it can easily talk to ActiveMQ. This is good and I had heard of ActiveMessage but wasn't sure its current state. There's also a Stomp gem that allows it to work over Stomp. The one thing that I felt Joe's talk lacked was good solutions for dealing with complex soap/wsdl in a Rails client. Others in the audience voiced this concern as well. Joe didn't have a good solution other than to write your own (thanks). However, Soap4R isn't too bad and that seems our only option right now. I couldn't help but wonder how kick butt it would be to develop a Soap/wsdl dsl in Ruby. I personally don't have the time nor the expertise to write it but others might.

The conference concluded with a keynote and panel discussion.

Deploying Rails Applications - James Duncan Davidson

James talk was great. Much of it had been covered before but he adapted to keep it a bit freshed due to this (he acknowledged that much of what he would talk about had been covered). It was interesting to see just about everyone rave about Mongrel as the ideal Rails deployment approach. The other funny thing he mentioned in his talk was that ant was just a quick hack he threw together on a plane flight. Wow, had no idea. It's also funny if you consider that Rake was also accidental in nature.

Core Rails Panel - Rails Core Team

After James' talk the Rails Core team (all minus a few that weren't present) sat at the big table up front and took questions from the audience. I didn't actually write anything down in my notes as being memorable. It was essentially a continuation of questions after DHH's talk the night before. David probably answered a majority of the questions but other team members did chime in as well.

Well, that's it for my notes and reflections on the conference. I think overall it was a great conference so I was happy I came. RailsConf 2007 will be in Portland on May 17-20th. O'Reilly is going to be assisting which I know Chad/David will be happy with that due to the risk involved in organizing a large conference. One thought that did occur to me over the conference was that Rails is a fairly small framework and really isn't that difficult to use. It's difficult to imagine that we can have so many talks on it next time without getting repetitive. Obviously, demoing/talking about our Rails experience could suck up plenty of time. It will be interesting to see how things continue over the next year.

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