In Part 1 of this series, Fountain Engineering team members shared their RailsConf 2022 experiences.
Now that all recorded presentations have been posted publicly, in Part 2 of this 2 post series, team members share links to some of their favorite presentations and describe what they liked about the presentations.
Read on to learn more!
RailsConf has several tracks running in parallel, as well as workshops, and the “hallway” track, so it can be difficult to choose one session.
The hallway track (not really a track, just hanging out in the hallway) is a great place to catch up with friends and make new connections.
I was interested in large Rails applications, team growth and ownership, and all sessions related to PostgreSQL databases.
Some favorites for me were:
- Thomas Countz presenting: Leveling Up from Planning to Production
- Casey Watts presenting: Cultural Fit + Culturesmithing: Everyone Influences Culture
- Ifat Ribon presenting: Call me back, Postgres
- Alex Evanczuk discussing Laying the cultural and technical foundation for Big Rails
I enjoyed all of the keynotes and Crystal Tia Martin’s in particular for me was inspirational and funny.
When discussing team dynamics and team drama, to paraphrase, she challenged attendees to focus on gratitude and be “ready to shift.”
For attendees she pointed out that we’re all leaders in some way, and to consider who we could be a mentor to.
Until I figure out how to copy myself to be in multiple places at once, conferences are always a matter of trade-offs. It can be difficult to decide on what the right talk is based on a title and a brief description, but I was quite happy with the talks I attended at RailsConf this year.
A delay in my covid results meant that our own Andrew Atkinson’s talk on Puny to Powerful PostgresSQL was my first talk - Andy’s talk was both elucidating and entertaining, managing to strike that balance between being informative, and being fun to listen to. From there I had the pleasure of listening to a number of wonderful speakers. Gui Vieira’s talk on GraphQL was a nice refresher, and expanded on a number of points I was shaky on. I’m not sure I’ll even find an opportunity to use GraphQL any time soon, but one of my favorite aspects of conferences is the ability to keep yourself aware and educated on a wide variety of topics. While the talk was a little dry, it was very clear and informative. Gui’s straightforward examples really helped make the details easy to grasp, which can be a struggle with technical presentations that go into any amount of detail.
My favorite theme for a talk was Justin Bowen’s Queue Continuum - who can’t resist a splash of TNG in their conference? While I would’ve loved to have some practical examples of how queuing theory can be used in practice, Justin’s talk was also a great reminder of the human side of our work, and those who inspire us. Justin shared a personal story about his struggle with deciding on whether or not to cancel his talk, and I’m glad that he did decide to present at the conference.
I was very impressed by Alex Evanczuk’s presentation on Big Rails. He presented in an incredibly straightforward, and easy to process way. The problems his team struggled with were familiar, so it was great to learn about their approach to solving them. Not only were the solutions clearly explained, but I appreciated that Alex also went into the practical aspects of actually implementing and adopting these solutions, and acknowledged that any good solution needs to be adoptable. The number of powerful tools that his team created in their quest to conquer Big Rails was astounding, and I loved that they were happy to share them.
Amongst all these incredible presentations, I think my favorite was David Copeland’s presentation on Service Layers. Not only was his talk very relevant to a project I was working on, which was a happy coincidence, but David clearly had his presentation well rehearsed, and it was hilariously entertaining. Heck, while it might not come across so well for a general audience, I would certainly go to a David Copeland Rails Comedy Night. But of course it wasn’t only laughs - David’s presentation was very informative, and I appreciated that he clearly justified every part of his thought process and justification for introducing a Service Layer.
Xavier Nora allayed my fears about zeitwerk and as we started pushing towards 6.1, we removed nearly a hundred require lines. He talks about a journey that he didn’t feel smart or capable enough to solve on his own, but by leaning on friendly, capable people and a strong Ruby community, he organized what turns out others had mostly solved. Imagine your next React app without imports. That is what zeitwerk gives Ruby.
Andy Croll tells the Mrs. Triggs problem that the history of women in computers has always been remarkable despite all the hardship. These stories help challenge my bias and make a difference in the way I demonstrate respect towards women. We should all stand up, acronym still needs work.
Kuby by Cameron Dutro looks to solve Kubernetes based deployments. His bet is Rails can take on production deployment in-framework. A persistent pain point has been declaratively and conditionally using helm. Having my Rails application available while doing this would be sweet.
It’s a dream to get to mentor a connection from RailsConf. I’m grateful for the environment that fostered it and to find out that we really are the best place to work for people who take us up on our offer to interview…
Selecting sessions to me is a blend of science and art which I rarely get 100% right and this year was no exception. Honestly, just looking at all the talks again has made me want to carve out time to watch all the talks I missed!
Keynotes, as always, were exceptional. I don’t think many people can get a room full of nerds to laugh as hard as Aaron Patterson can and his talk this year was no exception. I like a little levity in my talk schedule as a way to break up the heavier, more detail-oriented talks.
Empathy and understanding were more standout areas this year. Crystal Tia Martin’s talk was inspirational while also forcing me to evaluate myself and those around me under a new light. Casey Watts’ talk about cultural fit and culturesmithing also forced me to think about what I want to see out of Fountain and the manager I want to be.
Some talks made me think and become more curious. Monolith applications and large Rails projects can often be a point of contention so listening to Alex Evanczuk’s talk about Big Rails made me take a step back and think about my own biases and preconceived notions. Gui Vieira’s talk about GraphQL and Rails also sparked an interest for me as a former REST API platform owner.
We really enjoyed RailsConf 2022. Check out the RailsConf 2022 Playlist on YouTube for recordings of all talks from this year’s conference.