May 5, 2009

Rails Conf 2009 Day 2 Trip Report

Categories: general

This is a follow up post from David’s keynote.

Attended Women in Rails panel discussion. The panel, Sarah Mei, Lori Olson, and Desi McAdam (from L to R), had a very interesting discussion around the genuine problems and possible solutions of involving more women in Rails community.

Sarah is trying to involve more women in the San Francisco Ruby meetup. She plans to invite non-traditional audience like those who never programmed before, other language programmers, and similar. The details will be shared after performing the exercise for a year. Lori started Calgary Ruby Group. She do lot of self promotion so that younger women feel inspired. Desi is a co-founder of devChix with the purpose of “build a community of women developers”. All the panelists were very vocal about being visible, having a blog and twitter presence is a good start.

Here are some random notes captured …

Women drop out because of kids, try to get a job and then come back with a gap in the resume. It’s difficult to get a new job at that time. Sarah is trying to reach out to that group who have that gap in their resume.

Visbility is important “She did that, I can do too!”.

Data point: Women % in Rails community is much less than in other development community, e.g. Java or .NET world.
Another data point: % of women is more in larger companies, not in smaller companies. The reason is facilities like maternity leave, training (don’t have evening hours to train themselves, can’t sacrifice family time), etc.

Real stats from 2006: Women participation in open source community is 2-3%, 20-25% in “enterprise”

Appeal from the panelist “Guys, help us, tell .NET developer that Rails is not all guys, spread the word.”.

Here are some Q&As captured:

Q. Should women be given free/discounted tickets to RailsConf ?
A. If women can’t pay for it, then devChix can help them. RailsConf have helped before. It’ll help if childcare is available.

Q. Why are we only looking at CS ? Why not other areas who have the development skills ?
A. Panel do reach out to multiple audience and seeks help from everybody in spreading the word. Women will be working on JavaScript and thinks she is designer. A guy will read 3 blog entries and thinks he is developer. There is a market salary differential between designer and developer. Women need to be more public about their programming status.

Q. Women won’t present themselves as something they are not confident because they’ll be called upon. How do you fix it ?
A. Everybody is learning. David’s comment “I don’t know everything in Rails” was commended. Girls need to know if it’s important then they can figure it out. They are scared of messing the impression of their gender.

And of course there was a discussion on “Pr0ngate scandal”:

Sarah: Matt is not a bad guy, he made a mistake that lot of people make in software development. If 1 out of 100 does not match the pattern of software developer, then that “1″ may not be a software developer. The organizers of the conference did not do anything wrong. I voted for the talk and trust the judgement of the people. A negative feeling started developing but don’t want to see that honestly. We learned something from it. As a relatively young community, this was bound to happen.

Lori: Not from the presentation itself but form the community reaction to this event. Blown out of proportion because of the same reasons when there is a conflict with developers in same company. You can’t argue with somebody regarding how they feel. Can have a discussion, but argument is never going to be a win for anyone. That’s where the community reaction devolved.

Desi: If Matt would’ve said “Oh Crap, I offended and wouldnt mean to offend you.”, everything would’ve been fine. To David: “Next time, do us a favor and keep your mouth shut. It didn’t help.”

I was certainly expecting many more women to show up in the room but there were very few. Anyway, read Desi’s blog entry about the panel. And I reached out to all three of them for helping in any manner :)

I presented on Develop with Pleasure, Deploy with Fun: GlassFish and NetBeans for a better Rails experience, slides here. The several concepts in the talk are explained in the following bullets:
  • Directory-based deployment in TOTD #71, Capistrano recipes
  • GlassFish Gem in TOTD #70, Capistrano recipes
  • Merb support in TOTD #53
  • Sinatra support in TOTD #80
  • Any Rack-based framework
  • nginx Deployment in TOTD #81
  • Apache deployment
  • WAR deployment in TOTD #73
  • NetBeans Develop/Deploy/Debug in screencast #26
  • JMX-based management
  • Project Kenai
  • JRuby/GlassFish Success Stories
  • Rails Bootcamp in San Francisco on May 19/20

The next talk of the day was JRuby: State of the Art

Why JRuby on VM ?

  • Best memory management
  • Dynamic optimizations
  • Reliable native threads: run threads across multiple cores
  • Vast number of libraries
  • Interop with Java, Scala, Rhino, Jython, …
  • Ubiquitous


  • Fastest production-ready Ruby implementation
  • Definitely faster than 1.8.6
  • JRuby -> Bytecode -> Native code -> Optimizations

Future JVM Work

  • “invokedynamic”: Build fast dynamic invocation in JVM, JRuby support by June, allow Hotspot to do all optimizations across Ruby calls
  • Multi-language VM “Da Vinci Machine”, Optimized tail calls, continuations, fixnums, value types


  • Only production-ready impl with real threads
  • Ruby thread is a normal thread that can run on multiple cores

Simple Rails App

  • 1 Controller/Mode/View, send 1000 reqs
  • 80% less memory in 10 instance example, 96% for 20 instances


  • Gem, WAR-based
  • nginx, Apache: mod_proxy

Ruby 1.9 is 80-90% complete, IRB works, RubyGems works


  • Call C functions directly from Ruby
  • Portable unlike extensions

Who uses JRuby ?

  • Kenai
  • Gravitor
  • King Pong (JRuby wrapping MonkeyEngine)
  • Oslo’s Gardermoen Airport to refuel planes
  • ThoughtWorks Mingle
    • No cross-platform SVN libraryfor Ruby
    • Bundling of installation
    • Security (ecnrypting source code)
    • Memory profile
    • Avoiding process proliferation
  • mix.oracle.com
    • 5 developers, 6 weeks for all development, 2887 LOC
  • Trisano: Open source infectious disease reporting system
    • Ease of deployment
    • Every enterprise on the planet run Java
    • Extensive project roadmap

Check out interactive Q & A from the session in the following video fragment:

Video thumbnail. Click to play
Click To Play

Later in the evening, Brian Helmkamp, Aman Gupta, Luis Navena, Pat Allan, Dan Kubb, and John Nunemaker were awarded Ruby Heroes Award!
And the keynote by Tim Ferris, lets not talk about it ;-) I edited pictures, authored my blog, caught up on email/RSS during the keynote. #railconf on IRC and twitter were way more fun! Check the live ratings.

“1″ was the lowest rating that could be given anyway!

Watch the interview on why Sea Change Affinity picked JRuby/GlassFish.

Finally watch some of the snapshots captured today:

And then the evolving album:

Technorati: conf railsconf lasvegas jruby rubyonrails glassfish netbeans

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Related posts:
  1. Rails Conf 2009 Day 3 Trip Report
  2. Rails Conf 2009 – Day 1 Trip Report
  3. South Bay Ruby Meetup Trip Report
  4. Rails Conf 2009 Day 3 – Chris’s Keynote
  5. GlassFish, NetBeans, and Project Kenai at Rails Conf 2009

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