The Hackfest is a worldwide effort to help improve the upcoming Rails 3.1 before its general release. The call was put out on the Ruby on Rails official blog for participation of all kinds, from working on bug fixes and tests to checking 3.1 for compatibility with existing applications and gems to writing documentation and blog to just learning about Rails.
A bit under four years ago, I made a living writing Rails code. Although the project I worked on was a complete disaster — a poorly-thought-out idea being hammered out at a company run by a trust fund kid in love with the idea of running a startup but not the actual work involved — I learned a lot about coding in Ruby and Rails from the experience. But that was a good number of versions of Rails ago, back before Merb was rolled into the project. Between my time at Microsoft, where I was working pretty exclusively with Microsoft technologies and using Ruby only for little scripting tasks and the time that’s passed, I have become a Rails amnesiac. Hence my Hackfest activity: relearning Rails.
Of all the books covering Rails 3, Michael Hartl’s Ruby on Rails 3 Tutorial is running away with the highest rating on Amazon as well as on other book review sites. Small wonder: it’s well-written and covers a lot of aspects of Rails development, from the core Rails stuff all the way to things like using Git for version control, test-first development and deployment to Heroku. It’s the book I’m using to relearn Rails, and so far, it’s been nothing but great.