Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ruby in Utah in 2006

2006 was a busy year for URUG (the Utah Ruby Users Group — now an umbrella organization for all the Ruby related groups in Utah). We saw changes in the group, in our membership, and in the Ruby landscape around us. Here are eight things that stood out for me:

We had many new members join the URUG during 2006. Many of these were local folks who discovered the group and started attending, but some were transplants moving in from other Ruby brigades in other places. At the same time, we lost Jamis Buck one of our founders, and most famous members, when he moved to Idaho and joined the Boise.rb.

The URUG itself was transformed in 2006. It went from being a group that met monthly, and drew attendees from Salt Lake County and Utah County, to being confederation of smaller groups — the SLC.rb and UtahValley.rb with the BYU-RUG (and existing group) merging into the URUG. There were some further changes, but they happened later.

Another positive change was the growth of Ruby in the local business landscape. Several companies became much more open about their Ruby use, and some started recruiting at local Ruby Brigade meetings. It's been great to see the shift from primarily hobbyists to primarily professional Ruby hackers as the year's gone on.

In October, we had the privilege hosting Matz for a couple of days. After arriving, he spoke at a BYU CS department colloquium, then to a special BYU-RUG meeting, and finally joined 16 intrepid Ruby users for dinner at a local pizza place. The next day, Matz came into Salt Lake City to see the sights and stop by my office for a brown bag Q&A — we had 40 people show up, pretty good for a java shop.

From Utah, Matz flew on to RubyConf 2006 (with write-ups collected here), where over a dozen URUG members were in attendance. Informal polls before the conference led us to believe we'd have half that number, but people kept showing up, including a couple of Rubyists who only learned about URUG at the conference (more about them later).

Shortly after RubyConf, we announced our own regional conference, MountainWest RubyConf. In cooperation with rubyists in Idaho and Colorado, we'll be holding a regional conference on March 16th and 17th, 2007.

At about the same time, a local company held a programmers 'death match' (with more info here). A Ruby hacker was one of the contestants tied for first place, and ended up accepting an offer to work there.

Finally, 2006 saw the creation of a brand new Ruby brigade within the URUG. The Layton.rb was created by two intrepid Ruby hackers in the Layton/Ogden area north of Salt Lake City. Larry Caesar and Doug Tolton, the RubyConf attendees who discovered URUG while they were in Denver, kicked things off with a meeting of 9 Ruby minded hackers. It'll be great to see where they go in 2007.

Speaking of 2007, I'm looking forward to see what it holds for URUG. In January, we're going to run a URUG meeting in Salt Lake City on a Saturday afternoon, just to bring all the Ruby brigades together — hopefully this is something we'll do a couple of times in 2007. There are some rumblings that might result in Ruby brigades in Heber and St. George. The MountainWest RubyConf should be a huge opportunity for Ruby hackers in the region. Cardinal (Ruby on the Parrot VM is a local project poised for growth in 2007. It seems like URUG's future is pretty bright.

So, what URUG events did I leave out? What do you think 2007 has in store for URUG? Leave a comment and let me know!

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