RailsConf 2008 – Saturday Evening Summary



Chad announced that to help with the overflow issue, those talks from Friday that were overflowing (5 of them) have been scheduled to be re-presented again Sunday morning. Once again, the Ruby Central team has come through with the right priorities and great organizational skills (or deep pocketbooks, who knows…). This conference is definitely a success thanks to them.

Kent Beck

Kent Beck, commonly considered the ‘father’ of eXtreme Programming, was tonights keynote speaker. He started by describing that he really has no presentation, no slides, no title, no abstract. He came just to tell stories about the things of substance that he has done in the last 20 years. He said he has a lot of stories to tell, but basically, it is about 3 ideas: Tests, Patterns, and XP and all three had the impact they did because of talent, time, and luck. He related the concept that it truly takes 20 years before he can see the true impact of what was going on. After the first 5 years, something would be big, but the next 5, 10, 15 years would show an exponential increase that he could never foresee. This is especially relevent for Rails given that we are only about five years in at this point.

Kent gave some great stories and examples about how the early days of Patterns, Testing, & XP came about. He closed his talk by addressing Zed Shaw’s memo from a few months ago. He said that what he found in the memo (after wading through a lot of the junk in the memo) is that “Rails needs a transparant services market”. As I read the memo again, I realize that this is a terrific observation about where Zed Shaw’s true problem lies and brings to light what I hope to be a great opportunity for the Ruby & Rails community

A standing ovation is sort of a given these days because it’s pretty much a given, but Kent truly deserved it. He gave a very moving presentation about where ‘good’ programming is coming from and where it should be going. If you want to better yourself as a developer, it behooves you to learn everything Kent is talking about.

Some funny sayings of the day

“I did it, and it felt like I was cheating! [On TDD]” – Kent Beck

“I’m still making money writing smalltalk programs, but I’d say that’s probably not a method you want to follow” – Kent Beck

“You can determine the purpose of any business memo in constant time by flipping to the second last paragraph” – Kent Beck

“Obviously it’s in Japanese and that’s sorta a problem”. – Patrick Farley

“Because that’s how ninjas really are. If you ask them to speak, they’re like ‘I don’t even know what you’re talking about'” – Patrick Farley

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