Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ruby|Web Interview with Pat Maddox

Ok, if I'm going to post about GoGaRuCo today, I should also spend some time on Ruby|Web, the latest regional conference from Mike Moore (@blowmage) and friends — truth in advertising, I'm a volunteer on the board for Ruby|Web, so I might be a bit biased.
Just so my biases don't show too much, I asked Pat Maddox(@patmaddox) to answer a few questions for me.  Of course, he's a speaker at Ruby|Web, so the spin is probably still there.
Regardless of our mind-set, this looks like it's going to be an awesome conference.  The only problem is that you need to register before Sep 3rd.  You don't have much time ... maybe you should go register first, then come back and read what Pat has to say.

Ruby|Web is a new name in the regional Ruby conference space.  What drew you to it?
Pat I love coding in Ruby, and I think the web is a great platform to develop for.  I'm eager to spend a few days rubbing elbows with like-minded people.  And between the over all theme, the fantastic organizers running the show, and Snowbird (!!), Ruby|Web jumped to the top of my list.  Plus I don't know anything about HTML 5 or CSS 3 and I need to get on that :)
Seaside is interesting technology, how did you discover it?
Pat Seaside is a fascinating and fun technology!!  I came across it a few years ago, not long after I got into Rails.  Over the years I had a couple of false starts with's a bit opaque at first because the development environment is so different from anything I'm used to.  And it's only fairly recently with Pharo that it's become easier to get started, because it's such a clean environment geared towards development.  Also the documentation for both Pharo and Seaside are getting really good.  There are free books on each at and
Okay as for what's so interesting to me about Seaside... it's 50% the framework and 50% the Pharo environment. Seaside itself represents a step forward in web development similar to how Rails did.  Rails takes care of a lot of the plumbing for you - you don't have to parse query params, set up response headers, manage the session (unless you want to of course).  Seaside does all that of course but also manages application state for you.  So you don't have to worry about putting stuff into a database, then pulling it back out and operating on it.  I can't do it justice in a few sentences, but that's why I'll be showing lots of examples at the conference! :)  At any rate, that same feeling you get when you code Rails for the first time and see how much easier things are, you get that same feeling with Seaside.  It's not a replacement for Rails by any means - Rails definitely has a sweet spot, particularly when it comes to RESTful websites and interoperability with the unix ecosystem - but for the things that Seaside is strong at (which for me so far has been complex and/or configurable workflows), it runs circles around everything else.
The other thing I'm loving about Seaside development is Pharo, an open-source smalltalk environment.  Smalltalk is a great language, and Pharo has great tools that allow you to discover everything in the system.  Honestly it makes RubyMine or etags look plain silly.  The best bit is that nearly everything in Pharo is implemented in smalltalk, including all of the tools.  So if you want to see the mechanics of a refactoring tool, and even build your own, it's trivial to do so, because it's just smalltalk code.
Wow this answer got long.  I could go on all day about this stuff.  Gonna stop now.
What other smalltalk tools/ideas do you think Rubyists should be looking at?
Pat Let's see...I'd love to see Rubyists take the ideas from the Pharo IDE and build some really snazzy development environment for Ruby.  The next killer Ruby app, I think, is going to be a development environment that uses the runtime structure of objects to do all of its magic, rather than just statically analyzing source code.  Even just having portable refactoring tools would be awesome.
I'm also really excited about Maglev, whenever that becomes available for daily use.  It is incredibly liberating to write actual OO code, and so I think my style of coding Rails will change completely once Maglev enters the field.  fingers crossed
Which Ruby|Web presentations are you most looking forward to?

Pat In order of them being listed on the sessions page...
  • BJ Clark's (@robotdeathsquad) talk on HTML / CSS / Javascript.  He told me a few months back when he planned this talk that he thought, "if I were to school Pat on HTML / CSS / Javascript, what would I say?"  He and I have worked together for years and he gets frustrated with my lack of understanding of those things.  So basically this talk is geared specifically to people like me, hardcore backend developers with "div-itis" and who typically use inline javascript and CSS.  I'm looking forward to getting schooled.
  • Alistair Cockburn's (@TotherAlistair) samurai talk.  His talk summary means absolutely nothing to me (on purpose, I'm sure) but he's always a trip to watch speak, and I'm glad to see him get more exposure in the Ruby community.
  • Evan Light's (@elight) iOS talk - Evan is a diverse developer and entrepreneur.  Really excited to learn from his experiences.
  • Joe O'Brien's (@objo) communication talk.  For starters, Joe is one of my favorite people in the Ruby community.  Again, he's one of those folks that combines technical expertise with good business sense and a warm heart.  I think folks attending this conference are going to have more of the entrepreneurial spirit than most, so his talk will be particularly important and insightful for us.
  • Dirt Simple Datamining by Matthew Thorley (@padwasabimasala) - because really, who doesn't love datamining??
It's clearly shaping up to be a rocking conference!!!

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