Euruko 2017 - Budapest, Hungary

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EuRuKo is the biggest Ruby Conference in Europe, and has run since 2003. It took place on the 29th and 30th of September in the capital city of Hungary, Budapest. This was my first time attending EuRuKo, and it was big, boasting its highest ever attendance this year.

I was really looking forward to this conference, particularly the chance to see a talk by Matz. There were also speakers I had seen before, and many new ones.

Day One

The conference started with an introduction covering important information so everyone could enjoy their conference, and a few jokes - I particularly liked "We have people from all over Europe... and the UK", being a european citizen who's just moved to Scotland.

Yukihiro Matsumoto was the opening keynote, talking about the current state and future of Ruby (I noticed he was using what looked like a ThinkPad, and running Linux with XFCE. This was nice to see!)

His talk had a focus on Ruby 3, and how it's being called Ruby3x3, with the goal of making Ruby three times faster for the next big version release. It was a very interesting talk with a few remarkable quotes:

"We want joy of programming".

"OSS(Open Source Software) that stops evolving, gradually dies".

"Ruby is no longer my language, it's our language".

The second talk by Erik Sasha Romijn was about empathy, and our responsability to be empathic. A very hard thing we need to consider in our jobs and lives as developers. I learned about a very interesting project called Happiness packets - a system to let open source contributors receive "happiness packets" so people can express appreciation, gratitude or happiness.

The following speakers talked about some real-life experiences and concepts. The presentation about Tensorflow in Ruby by Arafat Khan was really good, but it went way above my head. Building a search engine by Katarzyna Turbiasz-Bugała was pretty interesting too, introducing concepts in text search and information retrieval, but maybe too much information to fit into a conference talk.

Some of the lightning talks were really good and I learned about a couple of interesting gems:

  • warm-blanket, a gem for warming up web services on boot.
  • reality - A pretty good presentation, all code, no words. The presenter just made an intro saying he wouldn't talk for the rest of the lightning talk and showed what reality was able to do. Pretty impressive. Check out the gem to see what it's capable of.

I also learned about the Gemified Standard Library, Ruby's standard library is in the process of being gemified. Jan Lelis gave a lightning talk about this, and also presented his blog Idiosyncratic Ruby where he documents Ruby specialities.

My favourite lightning talk was the presentation of TTY, a toolbox for developing command line clients in Ruby. There were some really cool demos like progress bars and beatiful check boxes, all in the terminal. You can plug in some components for extended functionality. This was the kind of project that I would have liked to know more about in a longer talk. I'll definitely check it out.

After the first day of conference, there was an after party with a free bar in Anker't Club, a beer garden with a separated room in the back. Lots of attendees were there and it went on 'till pretty late so I was surprised to see a full room at the first talk the following day.

Day Two

The second day was keynoted by Charles Nutter who's talk I was really looking forward to having seem him talk in RubyConf Uruguay before. After that talk, I was left wanting to try JRuby - the same thing happened this time. The project has been progressing nicely and it's a very solid alternative to MRI in many situations.

Charles was followed by Katelyn Hertel with How to make it as a Junior Dev and stay sane. Katelyn gave some tips to help both Junior developers and managers, to have a harmonious relationship. She did sound a bit nervous (I'm not sure, but she might have mentioned this being her first talk), but she did a really good job. Katelyn mentioned doing power poses at work when she didn't feel confident and started doing superhero power poses on the stage, followed by "See? Even my voice sounds more confident now, it works!" (it did).

There was an interesting talk after lunch by Sebastian Sogamoso about a big overnight failure in a system he was working on. Basically waking up at 6am with a phone call from his manager because their payments system was emptying their customer's bank accounts and maxing out their credit cards. Sebastian talked about the experience itself and his learnings, owning the failure and taking responsibility for it. It was a funny talk on an interesting subject.

Later in the afternoon, we got the pitches for where EuRuKo would be hosted next year.The nominees were Berlin, Bielsko-Biała, Hamburg, Lviv and Vienna. Each team had the chance to present their city and show why they should host. Assistants were given a paper and were able to vote for a city in the venue's hall. Vienna was announced as the winner at the end of the conference.

The final talk of the day was by Bozhidar Batsov, an open source developer and the creator of Rubocop. It was a good talk to complement Matz's and Charles' talks, focused on where Ruby should go in the future. He mentioned good and bad things about the language and its direction. You can see the slides from his talk in Speakerdeck to see some of the things he proposes for Ruby 4. It was a really funny talk, but at times it felt a bit disrespectful to Matz. But I assume it's just his humour, and there's no bad blood between the two. Matz replied to his talk on Twitter, and Bozhidar has mentioned he has much respect for Matz.

EuRuKo was a great conference, it reminded me why I loved going to Ruby Conferences. I stopped going once my three favourite ended: Ruby Conf Argentina, Ruby Conf Uruguay and Scottish Ruby Conference, all of them having their final edition in 2014. I've been to other developer conferences since them, but it's not the same.

Ruby is fun, it's optimized for developer's joy. This is reflected in its conferences, making them fun, a bit weird, and definitely unique. That wouldn't be possible without Ruby's open, diverse, hard working and welcoming community. We travel to different countries to spend time listening to other rubyists, learning, sharing and making jokes about Java or Pearl. You can't say it's not a passionate community.

Next year's EuRuKo will be held in Vienna, Austria, hopefully I'll be there.

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