Last night, TSOT held its first Ruby/Rails Project Night, an evening where Toronto area Ruby and Rails developers can see in-depth presentations by their peers on Ruby, Rails and their current Ruby/Rails projects. We’ve only occupied our new office for four days, so in addition to being our first Project Night, it was also the first time the office has had guests (of which there were at least two dozen).
We started by giving people food, drink and some time to hang out, chat and meet their fellow local techies. We agree with the TorCamp folks: having a strong developer community benefits all development companies in the area, and we’re only too happy to do our part. (We may have to kick the beer budget up a notch — not only do Toronto developers work hard, they drink hard too!)
I started the presentation portion of the evening by first introducing Kris White, our CEO, who welcomed the crowd, after which I launched into my Saturday Night Live-style opening monologue, a presentation titled Rant Said Zed: Lessons and Challenges from Zed’s Rant. The basic premise was that as with real-life city neighbourhoods that have made the leap from ghetto to renewed community, it’s going to take the effort of people who are willing to take charge and make positive contributions.
Next up was Andrew Burke (his company is Shindig), whose presentation was on his current project, S.O.S., short for Sign Ordering System, an application for large retailers who need to order all sorts of in-store signage on a regular basis (it’s a need that is large, complex and something that most people don’t think of). He provided a brief background of the sort of problems his customers had, talked about how where custom Rails applications fit in the business software ecosystem, did a quick demo of S.O.S. and provided a handful of development pointers.
After Andrew came Unspace’s Hampton Catlin, who presented ZipLocal.com, an app that answers the question “What’s good in your ‘hood?” (it’s local search for restaurants and other businesses). He showed us all sorts of cool things including its clever URL scheme and — because you’re allowed to go as deep as you like in your presentations — actual code. Hampton even managed to throw in some rebuttals to my Rant Said Zed monologue!
Finally, we had Mike Ferrier, also from Unspace, who presented his project, the iPhone/iPod Touch front-end for TheScore.ca, a sports scores site for the hardcore sports fan. As with Hampton’s presentation, Mike fired up his editor and showed us code, which included his use of Hpricot as an XML parser (because the standard Ruby ways of parsing XML are pretty sad).
I’m biased, but the night looked pretty successful to me. Many people approached me, our VP Public Relations Corina Newby and VP Promotions Ruth Rankin and told us that not only did they like the event, but that they also had a good time. As of this writing, two people who attended have contacted us, asking if they could do a presentation at February’s project night!
If you’ve got a Ruby or Rails project that you’d like to show off, or if you’d like to do a tutorial session on some aspect of Ruby, Rails or any of the Ruby-based app frameworks, we’d like to hear from you! We’re looking for presentations that run about 20-ish minutes and we encourage you to go as in-depth as you like. Feel like showing code? We’re cool with that! Email me if you’d like to present.
TSOT’s Ruby/Rails project nights take place on the second Tuesday of every month. The next one takes place on Tuesday, February 12th. We open our doors at 5:30 p.m., with the presentations starting at around 6 and wrapping up between 8 and 8:30 (with breaks where appropriate). We provide food and drink as well.
I’d like to thank Andrew, Hampton and Mike for their excellent presentations, which provided Project Night with a very auspicious start, as well as all of you who attended. Thanks for coming out, and we’ll see you at the next one!