Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ruby|Web Interview

Mike Moore, one of the big movers behind MountainWest RubyConf and the UtahValley.rb is getting the ball moving for another Ruby-centric conference —Ruby|Web. He was kind enough to sit down with me and share his thoughts about Regional Ruby Conferences and how Ruby|Web fits into that space.

SLC already has MWRC, why another Ruby (ok, Ruby+) conference?

Mike Moore  There are so many great regional Ruby conferences that are happening in the west this fall. GoGaRuCo, SunnyConf, mountain.rb are all very close both in distance and time. And then there is Lone Star, Ruby Hoedown, WindyCityRails, Ruby DCamp, and eRubyCon/JRubyConf all this fall as well. All of these are great events and deserve to be attended. So if you are near one of them you owe it to yourself to attend! I guess a broader question might be with so many regional conferences, why another? This is something I've struggling with, because I didn't want to take away from any of the other awesome conferences. But the thing I've realized after doing MountainWest RubyConf/MWRC for the last four years is that the Ruby community is much larger than we think, and there are many, many local folks who just won't ever make it to another conference. And many in the local community has been asking for both a second local conference and more Rails/web content for years now. So I guess a short answer is that there is demand for it. That said, I've really been humbled by some of the interest we've gotten from Rubyists outside of our local area. I really think this is going to be an awesome event and will inspire everyone who attends to become better at what they do.

MWRC has a reputation for being tech heavy, geek friendly, and a great value; but you're changing the location, the timeframe, and the general 'theme' for Ruby|Web. Why play with a good thing? What makes you think you're going to make people happy with a different conference? 

Mike  Every year we've experimented with small tweaks to the format of MWRC, but it has largely remained the same. I love MWRC and I think it does many things really well. I love that it is downtown SLC and you get to walk around and explore the city. We hold it in the SLC Library's auditorium and its a beautiful venue with comfy seats and a nice big screen. And Engine Yard's annual Hackfest has been a great time to learn and hack with some of the brightest Rubyists around. The only real complaints we get each year is the short breaks and lack of space to lounge around and talk to each other. There are lots of couches and tables, but you have to go upstairs to get to them, so its proven to be inconvenient. And I have a hard time saying no to the many wonderful proposals we get each year, so we tend to pack the schedule pretty tight with little break time. I personally prefer to have so much great content that my brain feels tired after the conference, but some want more time and space for interacting with the other attendees. So for Ruby|Web I figured we had an opportunity to try something new and see if we can improve the experience with some more radical changes. The first thing is the venue; Snowbird provides a location where we don't have to walk four blocks to find some food or a comfy couch to hack on. The entire resort is awesome and we get to keep the exploring aspect while acquiring some conveniences like having a lot of room for lounging. Secondly we're planning a relaxed schedule that will allow attendees more time to talk with each other or pair on some code or even ride the tram up the mountain. Basically we want to make it easier to be with each other and learn and hack, since that is kinda the point, right?

What is the biggest impetus behind Ruby|Web? Why should people plan on coming? 

Mike I, like a lot of Rubyists, do web programming for a living. I was a web guy long before I found Ruby or Rails. I think the Ruby community has done a really good job of showing that Ruby is so much more than Rails, and I am fully on board with that. But with this event I wanted to give us permission to focus on the web stack as much as we wanted. So I guess you could think of this as a regional RailsConf, without the risk of getting a cease and desist letter from O'Reilly's lawyers for naming it that. :) But this will be more than just Rails; there is Rack and Sinatra and Sammy and Scripty2 and HTML5 and CSS3 and OAuth2 and so much more. I want to be a better web developer, and I want this Ruby|Web to help me do that.

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