RailsConf 2006

I attended RailsConf in Chicago about 10 days ago. It was a great way to find out what was happening in arguably the most vibrant part of the web development community. I met a lot of people over those three days and would always ask them: "So, are you doing rails by day, by night, or both?". Most of the answers were "by night", with a few "just starting by day", and one "both". From my unstatistical sample, it seems like rails clearly had people's mindshare but getting it into their "workshare" is a different story.

A quick search on google or technorati will turn up a lot of info on the conference. Here are some of my favorite moments (in no particular order):

  • Martin Fowler's keynote: he spoke for over an hour about ruby, rails, frameworks & their (dis)advantages, etc. All pretty much ad lib. I have a number of his books and it was great hearing him speak live. Very interesting.
  • Why the lucky stiff's concert / monologue / animations extraordinaire. A glance at his site will tell you that all is not as it should be in Why's brain, which made his concert that much more fun.
  • Mike Clark's intro to Capistrano. This is the utility I really want to play with.
  • Justin Gehtland's overview of Ajax and RJS with Rails, and esp. the sneak peak at the new version of scaffolding he and his colleagues are working on called Streamlined.
  • One of the pleasures of attending a conference is discovering great new speakers. Out of the railsconf crew, my pick goes to Matt Biddulph. Matt's presentation was not only engaging, enlightening, and full of cool annecdotes but also focused on a BBC-related project. Having grown up in London, the beeb is still near and dear to my heart. I've found lots of interesting topics on Matt's blog, such as this great example of putting the Wikipedia and Yahoo APIs to use. Cheers Matt!
  • DHH's keynote started off with me thinking "CRUD? Why is he talking to us about CRUD?" and ended with the thoughts "Wow! This is a cool way of looking at things, must try it out!".
  • Last but not least, hooking up with a long lost friend and, as it turns out, rails and OSX fan Steve Chanin.

Next year's conference is in Portland and will be co-organized by O'Reilly. They're clearly pursuing rails as strong alpha (and dare I say beta?) geek territory. Lots of fun in store!

SQL Server Adapter Fixed (sort of)

Many thanks to Ryan Tomayko for fixing the MS SQL adapter bug I posted a little while back.

Things aren't all roses, as Ryan states:

Quick Note: the SQL parsing regexp stuff in this adapter is bound to fail in many edge cases. This patch improves the accuracy of the regexen in many places but the basic parsing logic is flawed and could probably use a complete overhaul that accounted for things like habtm and eager loading issues from the beginning.

But it's still cool to see the process working and bugs getting fixed Cheers Ryan!

ActiveRecord and SQL Server 2005 not ready for primetime

We use a lot of Microsoft technologies at work, so I was curious to see how well ActiveRecord would work with SQL Server 2005 (I tested against the CTP edition).

Why not stick with MySQL? Well, though I use MySQL personally for some applications, SQL Server 2005 is significantly more sophisticated. If it works well with AR, then I get the best of both worlds...

The feedback is mixed. On the plus side, getting up and running was painless. You won't be able to do windows integrated auth but SQL Server auth works fine and once the user is created, you're up and running.

On the downside, the SQL Server adapter is broken. I logged a bug in the Rails tracker (see link for more details). In some cases, the adapter can confuse data in the query for its instructions, and end up running the mangling the query. We either need a much more sophisticated set of regexs or (preferrably) a way for an adapter to get the information it needs without resorting to parsing the query.

Interestingly the MySQL adapter doesn't need to resort to regexps at all, nor do most (all?) of the other adapters. For the moment, I'm sticking with Rails on MySQL!

Sam Ruby on Rails

Amusing quote by Sam Ruby speaking to a group of Java developers:

  • Rails is the 80/20 rule applied twice
  • 64% of the function for 4% of the complexity
  • What about the "other" 36%?
  • If anybody here doesn't believe that J2EE has 36% fat, I'm talking to the wrong audience.