Insights from Rails Camp 2015

Mark Haylock
Feb 11, 2015

Rails Camp 2015

As Ruby developers we benefit from an open source community who have collaborated to collectively improve the quality of our tools and practices. We couldn’t accomplish the things we do today without the hard work of people from all around the world.

We often see projects where a single developer has worked in complete isolation and the quality of the project has seriously suffered for it. This can also be a problem for teams that work in isolation.

This is one reason Resolve Digital encourages and supports developers’ participation in the community. Doing so strengthens our capabilities as a team and provides us with the opportunity to give back.

Attending a local Ruby developer meetup or conference is a great way to experience the camaraderie of the community, to find kindred-spirits and to learn a great deal more than you might alone.

At the start of the month I attended Rails Camp NZ 5, an annual event that brings together Ruby developers from New Zealand, Australia and beyond. This year it was held in Shakespear Regional Park, a pest-free park surrounded by predator-proof fencing. The weather was warm but with intermittent rain which meant plenty of excuses to stay inside and hack away.

This was my third Rails Camp and for the third time the experience surpassed my expectations. It’s incredible the amount you can learn and the amount of fun you can have with 80 like-minded software developers (and designers) in a single weekend.

What I really appreciate about Rails Camp is that there's no schedule, no pressure and everything is taken care of for you (that means fantastic catering and no cleaning!). The weekend is what you make of it. As well as catching up with old friends and making new ones, common pursuits include:

  • Starting a new project with others (this might be serious or just a fun programming exercise)
  • Getting help from other developers on an existing project
  • Presenting on a topic of your interest (a great way to get started with public speaking!)
  • Attending presentations, talking to other developers about their work
  • Taking the time to unwind, explore, or do absolutely nothing

The spectrum of experience amongst attendees is wide so whether you’re a beginner or a veteran there will always be someone to learn from.

I spent a large part of the weekend hacking on a new ruby gem I've been working on. I did most of this in the main hall so I could also watch presentations. I particularly enjoyed a talk given by Rob Coleman on alternative options for managing the deployment of the server stack, which is something I'll be keen to explore further.

It was a fantastic experience and it couldn’t have happened without the hard work of the organisers (James Harton, Philip Arndt, Eoin Kelly, Nat Dudley, Juri Hahn & Serena Chen) who have gone above and beyond in their commitment to the community. Thank you!

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