In May 2019, we attended RailsConf for the very first time. I must say it was quite the experience and absolutely worth it. I felt as if I was back in college or a crash course that combined a year’s worth of courses into three full days. Not going to lie, I did not fully understand everything that was presented in the conference, however, I did manage to take in what I could as a junior developer. It was comforting to listen to others describing their experiences as a junior developer and made me felt like it’s not just a conference for intermediate or senior developers.
To be honest, I resisted a bit when my business partner, Nelson, mentioned that we should attend the RailsConf in the first place. I wasn’t sure what I could learn or achieve at RailsConf or the thought of paying for a $700 ticket kind of made me hesitated. Fortunately, Nelson and I did gain a lot out of it and we decided that we’re going to attend the RailsConf again in 2020. We were pretty thrilled when they announced that it’s going to be in Portland next year, so much closer than Minneapolis.
Little did I knew that RailsConf is not just an old fashioned conference with boring topics or dreadful environment. Instead, it’s a mix and match of everything, and I’m sure I laughed quite a lot during the conference because the entire atmosphere was just friendly and entertaining. Hats off to the organizers and the presenters at the conference, they really put a lot of hard works to make this interesting for everyone.
View of Minneapolis from our hotel room
Without further ado, let’s begin by talking about our journey to RailsConf at Minneapolis. We took an early flight from Vancouver to Minneapolis on April 28th. It was a bit exhausting as you can see from the photo below because we had wake up really early for our 6 am flight. After we landed at Minneapolis we checked-in at our hotel and end the day after a decent meal at the local restaurant.
The next morning, we woke up at 7 am to get brushed up and ready for the conference. The first keynote speaker of the RailsConf was David Heinemeier Hansson ( a.k.a DHH), the creator of Ruby on Rails. For most developers, including my partner Nelson, it was like seeing their favourite celebrity on stage. I remembered my first impression of DHH after his speech was “Holy crap…this guy is something else…”. I mean I’ve seen videos of him and read about him in articles, but actually seeing him on stage with such compelling messages just blew my mind.
One of the most mesmerizing moments throughout his speech was when he talked about how he and his business partner, Jason Fried, started Basecamp and the challenges they faced. We were inspired by how they chose to operate and the business model they have established. The concept of working no more than 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, with minimal distractions from miscellaneous meetings and tasks is just brilliant.
Obviously, it’s not an easy goal to achieve at first for most companies. As DHH said, the way they operate does not entirely fit all the companies out there, but it doesn’t mean parts of it can’t be done to achieve similar outcomes. Every company has its own culture and beliefs, but what’s more compelling than a company with only 54 employees that generates yearly revenue of $25M with a stable consistent business?
David Heinemeier Hansson on the stage
For the rest of our first day, we attended a couple of information sessions and had lunch at the conference. The keynote speaker for the end of the day was Bärí A. Williams, an attorney that was working as a senior commercial attorney at Facebook. She brought up a lot of interesting points regarding legal issues that most startup companies or contractors do not take into consideration. The lesson of the day, be aware of the things you said or do before actually presenting it in public.
Alex , Nelson, Richard
On the second day of the conference, we were really hyped up about visiting the sponsors’ booths for swags. We went a little crazy, to be honest, and perhaps a little excessive. Please forgive us, it was our first time at RailsConf and it was all very new and exciting for us. We enjoyed our info sessions on the second day as well. The info sessions we attended included application security, automate your home with ruby, database design, Rails 6’s new features, etc. We had donair for lunch at the conference with lots of interesting activities and free espresso beverages from one of the sponsors.
Info session: Automate your home with Ruby
Sponsor booths at RailsConf 2019
The days at the conference went by really fast, it was kind of sad that we were on our last day already. There were many other sessions that we wanted to attend but due to the conflicts of sessions’ schedule, we decided to attend the ones that we’re most interested in and watch the session videos afterwards. At the end of day three, the keynote speaker was Aaron Patterson (a.k.a tenderlove), a senior developer at Github who is also one of the core contributors for Ruby and Rails. Unlike many other keynote speakers, Aaron made quite the impression as the last keynote speaker during the conference. Aside from his hilarious jokes that made everyone laughed insanely, I was really motivated after hearing his speech. His personal experiences as a developer with the passion and dedication for Ruby and Rails are incomparable.
Aaron Patterson (a.k.a tenderlove)
It’s truly amazing to learn that the framework I’ve been learning and using is made, maintained, contributed by all these brilliant and devoted developers. At the same time, the community has a positive and genuine environment with lots of supports. I’m truly happy to be able to attend RailsConf 2019, it was a delightful experience that I will always remember and be motivated by. I cannot wait to attend next year’s RailsConf at Portland!