My first Brighton Ruby

Photo by Ben Guerin on Unsplash

My first Brighton Ruby

I’m on the train towards London. I still need to decompress from everything that happened in the past two days. I hope it doesn’t sound harsh when I say “to decompress”, but it does feel like I experienced so many things and met so many cool folks in such a tiny period of time.

But let’s rewind for a sec. It’s June 3rd, and I just returned from Rails Saas in Athens. We had three amazing days of talks, tavernas, and island hopping, all with meeting new folks. I’m saying meeting new folks, but what I really mean is putting a face on people that I already knew from Twitter or GitHub. Folks like Marco Roth, Julian Rubisch, Kasper and more. I’m not going to go too much into how that conference was and will leave Peter’s article, which sums it up really cool.

So it’s still June 3rd; I’m at home, decompressing, and remembering the good times, and the thought that pops into my head is, “I want to do this more”. Friendly.rb and Rails World are pretty far away in the fall, so the next best thing is Brighton Ruby. I didn’t know too much about Brighton Ruby other than it’s organized by Andy, which is all the branding you need. I feel that everything he does, he does it with style and showmanship. So I got into some negotiation with my wife, which is the real superhero in this story, for taking care of our 8-month-old while I’m off; but she’s amazing, said, “of course, go for it!” and I got the tickets and made arrangements.

Brighton Ruby

Going to a conference alone might be daunting if you’re an introvert, but I knew I wasn’t alone. I knew Andy, and I was sure he would shake my hand if I bumped into him, so yeah… I know one person there.

I started the day by walking to the Brighton Dome, which is an incredible venue for a conference. The city is as British as you can imagine, with beautiful low buildings and delightful tiny streets.

I got in, registered, and quickly saw many familiar faces. Some I knew in person, and some just from online. Of course, I bumped into Andy, but he didn’t shake my hand but gave me a very heartwarming hug which really uplifted my spirit and confidence.

The talks

The day started with the classic Andy welcoming, introduction and the history of the conference, and pointing out that this is a space where all should feel safe and welcomed. I can't express how important it is that the organizer mentions that and sets the tone of it.

Eileen started the day with her incredible talk about the Magic of Rails. I’m saying incredible because she touched on a few key aspects, like why the Rails internals are sometimes complex just so we can benefit from the best public APIs we can have, how all Rails’ gems fit together, how they are initialized, and how we should hook in and extend it, and about how the core team is organized and how they work on it. I truly feel that this talk should be seen by all Rails developers at some point of their careers. It explains so many things.

Schwad was next with his Brighten Ruby ”Scarpe diem” talk, where he so delightfully demoed Scarpe, built a fake virus for grandmas, and made all of us talk about it on the breaks.

Kaitlyn Tierney gave one of my favorite talks of the day on a subject that is very close to me. The librarian’s guide to documentation. So many good tips there about writing, maintaining, and pushing your team to create documentation for public or private products. If you ever see her in a lineup at a conference, go see her.

Noah Gibbs was next with his incredibly cool hand-drawn slides about “When not to use Rails”. This talk also hit hard with me because I am also in the “right tool for the right job” camp. This wasn’t just a theoretical talk but had actionable bullet points about when to use it or not, and what to worry and not worry about.

After a quick break, the lighting talks started with a cool presentation about how Ruby evolved in 20 years which will put things into perspective, a quick lesson into what "Job Smearing" is, Five things Hana loves about Ruby, The front-end and UX, and a quick demo into how to write a Rubocop rule.

One of the most impressive and courageous talks was displayed by Tim Riley, with singing, dancing, and presenting the history of Ricky Martin and his song “Livin’ la vida Hanami Loca”. This wasn’t just a “Here’s Hanami, and here’s how to use it” talk, but a very lean and organized introduction into why, and how other frameworks do it and that it’s not a competition. We’re seeing that pattern again of using the right tool for the job. Nice one, Tim! I heard many folks speaking about how they just wanted to go back to their hotel and write Hanami for an hour or two.

We had a quick Ice cream break, and Nadia Odunayo came to the stage to tell us about her Ruby mystery story, “The case of the vanished variable”. This wasn’t a presentation, but a funny modern tale that we all needed at that point in the day.

The day was wrapped up by Joe Hart, who told us about how he likes to spend his time going to conferences and creating Massive Local Multiplayer Games that he can play with the entire audience. We played Super Ruby Bros using our cheers, debugged some code live, and a cool game of Pac-Man together which ended up in a crackle of laughs when someone in the audience exploited the game live. No code was harmed during that talk.

You can see more of the talks in my attempt at live-tweeting from the event.

It’s worth mentioning that Brighton Ruby is a conference full of showmanship. If you’ve ever seen Andy, you know what I’m talking about. All speakers really put on a show, not just come there with some slides and start talking. It’s something that all conferences need.

The socializing

We had a quick socializing session at the venue that turned into breaking out into groups and taking to the streets of Brighton to find a place to have dinner and a drink.

That’s the time at the conference when you should find the folks that are by themselves, take them into your group, and go have fun.

This is when friendships are made. I spent most of the evening having good times with Julian, Mario, Alessandro, Marco, and Alex, and ended up closing our last bar for the night with Benoit and Stan Lo.

On the second day, Jonathan was very kind to invite us to a SaaS founders meetup at the Skiff, the coolest co-working space in Brighton. I got plenty of good advice from him and the other founders there.

We then went to have lunch, went antique hunting, checked out the pier, and just lost ourselves in the wonderful city of Brighton.

Of course that after our Tonkotsu ramen dinner, we ended up in a bar where we talked about indie businesses, open-source, and product development, and did a bit of bikeshedding; developers being developers.

Closing thoughts

Overall, a fantastic event, with great people, in a very beautiful city. Brighton Ruby is an inspiration and should be on every person's list at least once. See you there next year!

If you enjoy conferences and can’t wait until next year, we're hosting Friendly.rb, a cozy, boutique, Ruby conference in Bucharest, Romania, in September.