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Devweek is my fave multi-day developer conference in the UK and attracts great speakers such as Aaron Skonnard, Neal Ford and Tim Ewald. Which is why I always feel a little humble that I get the chance to present there. This time around I delivered three sessions (See my discussion of what to expect + slides and links posts) and I also did something completely new to me – I interviewed fellow speakers during the conference with a view to getting the best bits published “somewhere”. A big thanks to all those who agreed to be interviewed. I have just reviewed the content and you all did a smashing job – well done.

As usual I also learnt plenty from attending as many sessions as I could around the above activities. For me the following stick out:

  1. Ruby
  2. Ruby
  3. Ruby :-)

I was blown away by how impressive Ruby as a language was for object oriented development. I had heard good things about Ruby before Devweek but I had ignored it as I continued my slow journey back from Software Architect to Developer using Visual Basic .NET and C#. TBH I actively wanted to find reasons to ignore Ruby while at Devweek. Hence I went into Tim Ewalds session on day one with plenty of scepticism. The sessions description read:

Tim Ewald
Ruby is a dynamically-typed, object-oriented language that’s incredibly productive to work in. IronRuby is an implementation of the Ruby language that runs on the .NET CLR. This talk explores the Ruby language, its integration with .NET, and the benefits that both offer to developers working hard to get more done in less time. IronRuby is one of the most important projects Microsoft is working on, come see why.

What did I learn? I learnt:

  • Ruby was indeed “incredibly productive to work in” – tick to Tim
  • IronRuby opens up the awesome .NET Framework class libraries to Ruby – tick to Tim
  • Ruby is “one of the most important projects Microsoft is working on” – tick to Tim (even if most of Microsoft is working on other stuff!)

Literally 45minutes into the session I had downloaded IronRuby and was writing code with relative ease. Very, very nice.

On the back of that experience I decided to stick around for the Friday workshop delivered by Tim and Kevin Jones on Ruby and Rails. Again I fell in love with Ruby, although not so Rails – but then I haven’t been doing/interested in web stuff for a while. I downloaded a complete Ruby and Rails environment during the workshop. There are several to choose from but I went with Ruby in Steel Personal Edition which gave me Visual Studio integration + lots of Ruby stuff + eBook + Rails 2.0.

Now I have two Ruby installs. IronRuby which is still alpha but targets the .NET CLR and the Ruby distribution which comes with Ruby in Steel. I would much prefer to stick with IronRuby but IronRuby is only at version 0.3 and hence doesn’t have the tooling or fullness of features right now. Hence it was easier to install both.

The best bit is I now know exactly what I want for my birthday this year. I want a full featured install of IronRuby with a great editor and debugger and the backing of lots of MS folks working to make it a success. Oh – and a new game for my 360 :-)

Posted on Monday, March 30, 2009 4:29 PM Events/Training , Misc , UK , Ruby and DLR | Back to top

Comments on this post: My thoughts post Devweek 2009. Or rather my one thought – Ruby Rocks

# re: My thoughts post Devweek 2009. Or rather my one thought – Ruby Rocks
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I went to Tim's session on IronRuby on the Tuesday aswell. A ground breaking subject delivered by a guy clearly passionate about what he's talking about.
I think we've got similar birthday wishes this year...
Left by Martin Evans on Mar 30, 2009 4:44 PM

# re: My thoughts post Devweek 2009. Or rather my one thought – Ruby Rocks
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It's a shame the DevWeek sessions weren't recorded and put online somewhere. I went to DevWeek but wanted to mainly focus on WFC and MVC, but was annoyed that I couldn't go to Silverlight and now I hear that Rugy was good too ... darn ... I'll just have to go to PDC then :( ;)
Left by Matt Ross on Mar 31, 2009 5:42 PM

# re: My thoughts post Devweek 2009. Or rather my one thought [][]Ruby Rocks
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Unfortunately I dont' believe Ruby will be there big time in 10 years from now i.e it will still be a small niche player.

I have played with ruby myself a little bit, on and off since 2006 , I know I am a late comer. these are my thoughts about Ruby.

1) after so many years, it's still like 2% in the Tiobe ranking

2) its weak typing, many people have said this is an asset, but I don't. agree. Weak typing is a dsadvantage in my experience (working with very large apps in a big Financial Institution, running 24x7 ). Rubyists have always countered with a "do more testing" approach , but I don't agree this will catch all your problems. I believe you have to have strong typing combined with a "do more testing" approach is better, especially when you are working in large teams where every one can touch any code.

3) speed is still a problem after so many years, everyone knows it's a problem and yet the community is so slow to address that.

4) by the time, the ruby language and framework, has fixed its problems, the fad will have died and tne crowd will have moved on to the next big thing.

5) features in ruby is being and will be copied in existing languages and new languages

6) there are too many ways of doing the same thing in Ruby and this is a disadvantage as well, as this means if you are working in a big team, you have to learn every little nut and bolt of the language to be able support an application. that means, the learning curve is actually higher. In a one man team this is ok, because that one man picks one style and sticks to it and doesn't have to worry about other people's coding. It's like driving on the street, you don't have to think if the car next to you is going to drive left or right, and this prevents accidents. can you imagine for one moment that people are allowed to drive left and right in any direction ? what will happen?
I am aware that Saphire is trying to redo Ruby, with only one way of doing things. maybe this will help.

7) I think it's safer in terms of longevity of languages to stay with Java and .net. because at some point Ruby will be forked and a new variant with a lot of differnt things added, will come out, fragmenting the market even more, which will reduce the current 2% to even less.

8) the big institutions are not doing Ruby. only startups, with basic CRUD applications.

9) last but not the least, the absence of a specification hurts the language. by the time the specs will come out and "accepted" by the community, it will be too late. Languages like Scala will already be well established.

10) the community looks and acts too amateurish generally speaking.

anyway these are my thoughts. sure people may disagree with what I said, but every one is free to one's own opinion. Let's wait and see, only the future will tell whether one is right or not

Left by chris on Jun 27, 2009 1:18 PM

# re: My thoughts post Devweek 2009. Or rather my one thought – Ruby Rocks
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Tx chris. Take a look at thoughtworks analysis of their 40+ projects delivered using Ruby

They seem to be very happy with their choice and address some of your concerns above
Left by on Jul 02, 2009 1:19 AM

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