In conversations I've had with members of Ruby Brigades around the country, I've noticed that some groups aren't having hacking nights because they don't know what to do, or they aren't sure how to start. Let me tell you a bit about what we're doing at the utahvalley.rb and the BYU-RUG. Maybe it will spawn some ideas for you and your group.
Ruby Hacking Nights really only need three things to succeed:
- A good place to meet
- A regular (advertised) meeting time
- A couple of regulars
Since we've got a University in our midst, we're using meeting space there. For our meetings, it's a classroom complete with an overhead projector and lots of seating. Our hacking nights are held in the Enterprise Computing Lab — we've got a big central table, lots of power, and Ethernet/WiFi hookups. In a pinch we can pull in a projector and screen too.
We keep to a regular schedule. The second Tuesday of every month is the BYU-RUG meeting. The fourth Tuesday is the utahvalley.rb meeting. The first, third, and fifth Tuesdays are all hacking nights. Even though we've got a regular schedule, we try to keep Rubyholic.com updated with our meeting times and places. We also make announcements to our local mailing lists.
There are three of us who will make almost every meeting and hacking night. Kevin Tew, Devlin Daley, and I. We might work on our own projects, on each others, or on planning and logistics for upcoming meetings. When other people show up, we'll often help out with their projects (either pairing with them or answering questions).
Last night (5 Sep 2006), we put all of these together and had a great hacking night with seven people in attendance:
- Kevin and I planned on doing some work on Cardinal — Kevin gave me a quick tour, then we implemented some tests and found and fixed a bug.
- Devlin wanted to touch base about next weeks meeting (the first of the new school term).
- Ammon (another old-timer) showed up to work on a recipe/menu/shopping manager that he's building in Rails.
- My son, Mike, was there working on some basic Ruby stuff (a program to manipulate the text passed in to it)
- We even had two new attendees (Chris and Tom). Tom brought a project he's working on at his day job.
Ruby Hacking Nights are a great way to strengthen your Ruby Brigade, and to help local rubyists get together to improve their Ruby skills. They're easy to run and attend. When's your next Ruby Hacking Night?