Travis Foundation

Highlights of RubyDay

Oana Sipos is a developer at UP-nxt and organizer of Rails Girls Brussels and Cluj. Thanks to Diversity Tickets, she was able to attend RubyDay in November 2016.


Thanks to Travis Foundation and the RubyDay organizers, I was able to attend RubyDay, an awesome, Ruby-focused conference in Italy. I am already looking forward to the next one—so if you happen to stumble upon it and have doubts about going, think no more: it will surely be great. Read on to find insights about this edition.

RubyDay or RubyConf Italy is a two-day conference that took place at the end of November, with the first day (Friday) being dedicated to two-track presentations, and Saturday to workshops. Choosing which talk to go to or which workshop to attend was difficult sometimes; but luckily, frequent breaks made it easier to catch up with what happened in the other room and what everybody was generally doing.

Even though the conference was hosted in beautiful Florence, I only managed to see the part of the city between the train station and my hotel. As someone jokingly said sometime during the conference: all conferences should happen in ugly places so you can totally focus on the presentations and not mind that you cannot spend time exploring :) In the end, missing out on sightseeing was not much of an issue, because my purpose was to be part of this awesome-wild-like-minded atmosphere. I took this purpose seriously and every day from 9 am to 1 am, my brain was all wired to absorb new knowledge and generate ideas.

Let’s face it, at a conference you feel more comfortable when you go accompanied or if you know you’ll meet some old friends there; even though I only knew few people attending, the atmosphere was very friendly, as well as international and diverse, making me feel at ease right away. Thanks to the organizers, who accepted my offer for help, I even got to ‘MC’ one of the two rooms on Friday! This gave me the chance to get out of my comfort zone and contribute to the success of the conference.

The two keynote talks were given by two well-known developers in the community: Xavier Noria and Piotr Solnica. Both speakers were not only well prepared, but also brought a very good perspective on their topics; Xavier presented preferred ways to write code, without becoming too religious about it. Piotr’s keynote tackled whether we can still innovate. He pointed out some key moments of the past years in our community: the ‘skinny controller, fat model’ era, Rails merging Merb (an MVC framework in Ruby), the ROM (Ruby Object Mapper) initiative, up to now, where the DRY.rb project is gaining more and more popularity. All in all, the point was that change is difficult, innovation takes time, and that is why it’s easy to lose perspective. Zooming out allows us to notice the trends and progress that happened in the Ruby community, and while it might be difficult to breath and live it day by day, innovation does happen. Days are long, but decades are short, remember?

Piotr giving the keynote | Image: Oana Sipos

Each and every talk had something you could learn from. My emphasis is on one that is close to my heart; Marion, a Swiss junior developer, shared her story of the past year and half since she started coding. Not only were there a lot of people attending, but it was also very well received. Marion was a very relaxed speaker and able to make fun of her past mistakes. When asked by Luca Guidi, creator of the Hanami framework, if she ever considered quitting, she firmly answered “Never!”. Luca shared that it is important for those new to programming to know that even the experienced developers have doubts and down moments. It was very nice to see his support, as well as the one of those attending.

Marion talking about her programming journey | Image: Oana Sipos

Besides her journey, Marion described how she’s been spending every Monday evening for a while now: teaching at Ruby Monstas, a chapter started together with her colleagues in Zürich. One of the attendees, the only one still active since the beginning of Ruby Monstas, has four kids. She keeps on studying how to program for her kids, as she’s responsible for educating two of them at home. She is now developing her own websites and will, most probably, pursue a career in tech once her kids are grown-up. How cool is that? :D

Saturday was all dedicated to workshops. The first one I attended was Luca’s on Hanami, an MVC framework written in Ruby. The workshop showed us the basics of getting started with Hanami, and gave Luca (the project maintainer) a chance to explain his choices as well as to promote that contribution is welcome. The interest was high, there was a room full of developers curious to experiment with it and get involved. If you’re looking to learn something new, consider exploring the Hanami getting started guide.

Hanami workshop with Luca Guidi | Image: Oana Sipos

Yes, the recommendation is biased. You’ll be finding me contributing to Hanami’s community in the very near future. There are suggestions everywhere in our industry to contribute to open source, but the everlasting question in my case was “where do I start?”. Luca helped me with the answer and opened the doors of Hanami; together we’ll try to make an even more welcoming and diverse space for beginners.

To summarize, RubyDay was an amazing experience and a refreshing event that gave me new ideas, expanded my views and helped me meet new people. Conferences are meant to give you a boost of energy and motivation which are often needed to go through the daily routine. RubyDay did exactly that and much more, therefore I am sending all my gratitude and love to Travis Foundation and the organizers. You did a very good job!

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