Railsconf Europe Wrapup

Finally, back in the office! I spent the last week in Berlin for Railsconf Europe, and though the travel can be painful at times, the conference more than made up for it. A few highlights:

  • Bratwurst on Rails - just like last year, the Berlin Ruby user group grilled thousands of brats for any attendees who happened to be in town Monday night. Great food and conversation.
  • The keynotes - from the Tuesday night panel (with DHH, Jeremy Kemper, and Koz), to DHH's and Jeremy's Wednesday keynotes, to the symposimi/ium on Thursday morning, the plenary sessions were uniformly excellent. DHH on legacy software as product of developer growth (not as a result of code rot), and Jeremy on performance stand out in particular.
  • The content - I went to a number of sessions that had outstanding content, foremost among them Sven Fuchs' on internationalization.
  • The attendees - like every conference, the best part is always the other attendees. I met a number of smart, passionate people in Berlin, and I'm excited both to keep up with them and see what they (and others) will do with the burst of inspiration that conferences like this are famous for.

Of course, with every conference there are both high points and low points. Two disappointments in particular are:

  • The presentations - I've spoken at a number of conferences over the past few years, and the one thing that I've tried to do (with some success) is improve as a speaker. Books and websites abound on ways to prepare and present better, but it seems like many speakers lack the time or the inclination to grow in that direction. If I never see another slide with 100+ words on it, it'll be too soon.
  • The absence of a non-English track - I think that at the very least there should be a day with one line of talks in the language of the host country; adding that would broaden the reach of the conference, and bring in an even more diverse audience.

Oh, and then there were my two sessions. The tutorial was a bit rough, as I was presenting a simple concept that probably ought not have been stretched across three and a half hours (though from the evaluations, people did get value from the discussion), My talk, on the other hand, was a great hit—lots of good comments and questions, and I'm sorry to be retiring it now. If you're interested in either of these, the slides are here:

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Ben Scofield

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