It was an inspiring conference that has had me processing a few stray thoughts on the nature of technology, community and the confluence of both of them in an exceptional environment.
Walking into RubyFuza is a strange thing. You see old friends from the last time. You meet people you've only ever spoken to via the web. You make new friends. You encounter developers you've admired from afar (often afar == another continent). You realise, they're just like you. You also get stickers... lots and lots of GitHub stickers.
There's an air at the conference of a common mission, as if we're all building this great big distributed intergalactic spaceship. It didn't matter that I'm the equivalent of the engineer in charge of designing the flush handle for the space toilet... sharing a drink with the guys and girls that are building the FTL engine was encouraged and expected.
The talks this year were extremely varied, and ran the gamut from social upliftment via software development, TDD, refactoring, contributing back to Ruby, advanced OO principles, and even Clojure and ClojureScript. The format this year was a little different; talks were limited to ~25 minutes with a few minutes left over for questions. This kept the talks tight and focussed. The pace was, however, relentless.
By the end of the conference, I was completely enervated despite the steady stream of Truth coffee. The solution here is simply to get a lot of rest. Like most things in software development - and life - that is easier said than done.
I'm apprehensive about trying to define the Ruby community, as it means different things to different people, but I'll take a stab at it.
There's a definite culture around inclusiveness. Older people are welcomed because they are seen to have experience. Younger people are included because they bring fresh perspectives and a degree of élan.
People from different cultures, races, and heritages are represented, welcomed, and most importantly for me, are expected to contribute to growing the community. Same goes for the fairer sex.
Over and above the softer issues around what makes a community inclusive, the Ruby community present at Fuza was inclusive on the tech front too - Functional Programming (outside of Ruby) was the focus of a number of talks, and a booked out and waitlisted workshop on the last day.
It was a pleasure to see this in action at RubyFuza 2014. We, as a community, still have a long way to go in terms of diversity, but we're getting measurably closer every year.
RubyFuza delegates know how to party. Events took place every evening that made the most of Cape Town's vibrant nightlife. A trip up to Signal Hill and delicious tapas hosted by Platform 45 was followed by a night out at The Neighbourhood in Long Street, which was followed by a beach party at the Grand Café at the Waterfront. If you had the energy, workshops on the last day closed out an intense 3 days.
The future is looking extremely bright for the Ruby community. RubyFuza's upward trajectory is showing no signs of slowing down. RubyOnBeer has been renamed to Jozi.rb in the interests of inclusiveness. Code and Coffee is still going strong. Cape Town is awash with eager devs looking to integrate.
Things are looking really rosy from my perspective. I'm eagerly anticipating Rubyfuza 2015, as it'll be the first time I speak at a conference, acceptance of my talk proposal pending of course ;)