Hosting Ruby meetups with non-Ruby developers rules!


4 min read

Last evening, we had our first on-the-road Ruby meetup in Sibiu.

We didn't have too many expectations as we knew that the Ruby scene in Sibiu is not that hot.

Luckily, our friend Stefan runs Sibiu Web Meetup and has been running it for about 5 years now. We also found a partner in Sibiu IT Cluster, an organization that supports the whole IT&C sector in that region.

They both sent out in their network that we're hosting our Ruby Meetup.

We had two talks prepared. I had my "We're living in a Rails Renaissance" talk ready which was made to pump up Rails developers and to highlight the new developments around Rails.

I talk about how Rails got started, about the foundation, Rails World, finishing up with Rails 8, and all the cool new things we have got lately or will get soon.

Calin, from Agile Freaks, had a Rails at Scale presentation where he spoke about a few big public projects at scale and a few of his.

Six o'clock comes, and we start greeting our guests. We had about 20-25 people RSVPing on, so we were expecting 20 max.

Then, people wouldn't stop coming in. We filled the auditorium to about 30 something ish folks from all age groups. We were astounded but glad at the same time.

Alex kicks off the evening, and then I take the stage in my bright red Rails World t-shirt.

I start by asking about who's a developer, who does Ruby in the day-to-day life, and who has used Ruby ever.

Of the 35 people there, only about 8-10 said they used Ruby before.

Oops... my presentation is going to be received differently. I start to wing it and apply a different spin to different chapters.

I wasn't prepared to have so many newbies.

But it all goes fine, and after about 20 minutes, I conclude with something along the lines that Rails was born from simplicity and productivity, and with this new no-build paradigm, fewer dependencies, and owning the full stack, we are still going in that direction.

The Q&A is next.

People started asking many questions about Ruby and Rails that I didn't expect: "Does it have a big docker setup for local development?". It does, I say, and I continue to tell them that you don't need that. You run one command, and you have the whole server up.

"Does it have an ORM?". It does, I say, and I continue to tell them how amazing it is.

"What's the learning curve?". And I tell them the little talk I had before taking the stage about how someone who did Java had a look over Ruby before the meetup and can't fathom why we don't have more verbosity and how we can write programs with so few words.

Then we go into this cool talk where I tell them about how convention over configuration enables ten different developers to come to an existing app and know where everything is, which rarely happens in other ecosystems.

It was one of the most rewarding Q&A sessions I ever had. I could see that people wanted to learn more.

After the talks, we had this magical moment where young college students were trying to find us and ask all sorts of cool questions; after we gave the answers, they were like, "Oh really? That's so cool".

On one corner, there was Jakob telling people about the magic of generators and how much value you get from running one command, in another, there was Lucian going in deep about how cool Ruby meta-programming is, Alex was doing his part, telling them about date helpers and even Paul started to preach the word about how Ruby was the coolest thing he ever learned.

In a different corner, I talked about how easy it is to create full products and businesses on Rails and what a cool platform the web is.

We were surprised. Surprised that this, a meetup that had the potential to be very small and a flop, became the greatest experience where we got quite a few people curious to give Ruby a try. Rails too.

Now, there are probably 10 or 12 students who are scouring the docs website looking for tutorials and getting hungry to see what cool things they can build with Rails.

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