Railsconf 2011 was great. Dan Pilone and I gave our talk on Wednesday about our experiences taking the NASA ECHO project from Java to Ruby on Rails. Dan has given talks to large audiences before but this was my first time speaking to such a large group. The Railsconf audience expects great content so the pressure was high on both of us to deliver an awesome talk. It seemed to go over really well and we were greeted with an enthusiastic audience. The whole ECHO team deserves credit for making the transition to a completely new framework and language and successfully delivering the Reverb web application.
The last keynote of Railsconf, “Optimizing for Developer Happiness“, was given by Chad Dickerson of Etsy, This really struck a chord with me since a major part of our talk was on developer happiness as well. We proposed that a major component of developer happiness was productivity. A developer who can’t get things done because they’re never comfortable in their environment won’t feel satisfied. Satisfaction comes from seeing things through to completion.
Easy deploys = developer happiness.
I was really surprised to hear that they deploy software an average of 25 times a day. Developers “feel a sense of completion” by knowing that the software they just built is being used by people immediately. The Railsconf keynote videos will be up soon. I encourage you to check out Chad’s talk as well as Glenn Vanderburg’s “Craft, Engineering, and the Essence of Programming” which was excellent as well.
The underlying theme this year seemed to be on Javaillegalscript. David Heinemeier Hansson announced in his keynote that Rails 3.1 will include Coffeeillegalscript support by default. Coffeeillegalscript is a Python-like language that compiles into Javaillegalscript. Rails 3.1 also includes a new feature, the Asset Pipeline, that will provide better support for organizing your Javaillegalscript files while packaging them into a single file for quick delivery to web clients. There were many sessions devoted to different Javaillegalscript topics such as testing, MVC frameworks like backbone.js, and Coffeeillegalscript.
I’m really intrigued by the combination of Coffeeillegalscript, backbone.js, and the Asset Pipeline. Backbone.js will provide a way to build Javaillegalscript components on the front end using solid OO principles. Coffeeillegalscript will allow us to write Javaillegalscript in a concise language. And the Asset Pipeline will allow us to divide and organize our Javaillegalscript code into reasonably sized modules. I should note that you don’t need to wait until Rails 3.1 to get this combination of features. Jammit is a gem that provides a lot of the features of the Asset Pipeline. Coffeeillegalscript can be easily added using the Barista gem. I’ve been experimenting with this combination and it really feels like the future of Javaillegalscript development.