Many RailsConf Proposals Submitted, Included Mine

Joey deVilla playing accordion onstage at RailsConf 2007
Me playing accordion (with Chad Fowler, who was playing ukelele) at the RailsConf 2007 evening keynote.

So Many Proposals, So Little Time

Chad Fowler, organizer of RailsConf, the annual conference for Ruby on Rails developers, writes:

There were more proposals for RailsConf this year than there were attendees at RubyConf 2006 [According to this site, there were about 250 attendees — Joey]. This means two things:

1. The state of the Rails community has changed significantly in that it has grown and there is a larger subset reaching the expert level.

2. It’s going to take us a while to sort through all of these proposals and make selections. Apologies in advance.

My Proposal

The deadline for proposals was last week, and I submitted one. Since I’m keeping a diary of the work I’m doing here at TSOT (where we’re building custom social software using Rails), I thought I had some pretty good material for a presentation.

I don’t think it’s breaking the rules to publish my proposal here, so here it is…

Adventures in the Deep End: Our First Serious Rails Project

Session Type
45 minute conference session


We joined a start-up to get some Rails experience; the company’s developers left and they needed new ones. In our favor: a mostly-working Rails app, funding and interested customers. Against us: we were all Rails newbies. We were in the deep end now!

We’ll talk about our experiences: the code we inherited, the lessons we learned and the agony and ecstasy of working on our first serious Rails app.

We were developers who wanted a challenge. Looking for some serious Rails experience and a chance to try something a little different, we left our jobs to join a start-up with a Rails app that needed a new coding team. Our mission: finish coding a social networking application designed for fraternities and sororities.

In our favor, we had a mostly-working application, development experience, funding, customers interested in paying us, good gear, a nice office, our rugged good looks and an accordion. Against us: a lack of experience with Rails (and in some cases, Ruby), an unfamiliar codebase with varying degrees of wonkiness and of course, a deadline.

You’ll hear the good, the bad and the ugly about our experiences as a team with minimal experience working on a Rails app that we inherited. We’ll talk about how we learned both Rails and someone else’s code in a hurry, how we organized ourselves and divided the work, the approaches we took in refactoring the app, the production setup we used, the “dos and don’ts” we learned along the way and the agony and ecstasy of working on our first serious Rails project.

If you’re thinking about making the leap from noodling with Rails example apps in your spare time to full-time it-pays-the-rent Rails development, you won’t want to miss this presentation.

Presenter Bios
Joey deVilla, a senior developer at TSOT, likes to mix software development, technical evangelism and accordion playing (he jammed onstage with Chad Fowler at the last RailsConf). After doing a lot of pointless noodling with Rails example apps, he took the plunge and left a cushy technical evangelist job at a stable internet company to take a chance on a start-up building social software in Rails. Joey is an active participant in Toronto’s vibrant developer community: he helps organize and provide accordion music for DemoCamp and TSOT’s Ruby/Rails Project Nights.

Dan Williams escaped from rather questionable fields — military research, insurance and telcos — to get some honest work doing full-time coding in Rails. As a senior developer at TSOT, Dan’s current projects are building social software targeted at fraternities and sororities and modelling his working life after the movie “Office Space”. While Dan does not have a mullet, he embraces the mullet philosophy: “Business in the front, party in the back”.

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