Back from Bath Ruby 2016

by Dan King
Posted on 18 March 2016
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I spent my second full day at Yoomee not at Yoomee at all. Instead I went to the Bath Ruby conference with my fellow developers, Ant, Greg and Nick. This is only Bath Ruby's second year, but it's already got a reputation for attracting great speakers and promoting a friendly, inclusive atmosphere.

Why Bath Ruby?

Ruby is one of the open-source languages we use at Yoomee. We've used it on projects including Elefriends, a hugely popular social network for people struggling with their mental health, and it's what powers vInspired, the volunteering charity and platform for young people.

A few of us at Yoomee also went to Bath Ruby last year and our own Chad gave a great lightning talk on ' How to ask about gender'. As a conference, it has the right mix of technical talks and an interesting group of people to chat to about Ruby.

Like most tech conferences, Bath Ruby isn't just about the talks – they often end up on YouTube anyway. It's the chance to discuss what we do with the speakers and other attendees that is always extremely valuable too.

Some Bath Ruby 2016 highlights

The day was full of interesting talks and topics. I've picked a few that I really enjoyed and took something useful from to bring back to Yoomee.

John Cinnamond did a lightning talk on complexity and you can view his slides on Speakerdeck. He reminded us to pause and think before we reach for gems to solve problems – a gem is a code module written by another developer. Complexity can often cause problems and John's message about being thoughtful and looking for simplicity made sense.

Coraline Ada Ehmke (pictured above) talked about Neo4j, a popular graph database. She dived into graph structures and how they are perfect for modelling data, such as a social network. They are particularly useful where the metadata about how objects relate to each other is as important as the data on the objects themselves. Coraline's talk left us talking looking for ways that we could use Neo4j at Yoomee.

We all came away from Bath Ruby inspired by Courteney Ervin talk on open-source. She made an important point – contributing to open-source projects doesn't have to always mean writing code. As developers, we can also add documentation, manage Github issues and promote projects that we believe in or are working on.

Back to Yoomee

Part of going to a conference is finding things to bring back and use in our day-to-day work. One thing the Yoomee team plan to look at following Courtney's talk is CodeMontage, a site that lists open-source projects that have a social impact. We want to see how we might be able to contribute.

Nils Löwe shared a manifesto for responsible software development that really resonated with us too. We're already looking at ways to make sure that we are guided by the manifesto's commitments, which include:

  • not writing software that could abuse human rights
  • collecting the minimum amount of user data required for a task
  • preventing energy waste by writing efficient code.

Finally, Greg, Ant and Nick have all played with Sonic Pi since the conference, following a great talk by Xavier Riley (pictured above). Sonic Pi makes it fun to generate music with Ruby by using a simple syntax. Xavier also shared their process for deciding whether to add new new syntax or not. Basically, if a 10-year-old couldn't understand the syntax, it wouldn't go in.

Sonic Pi looks great and Greg is already planning ways that he can use it with the children who learn to code at Code Club.

See you in Brighton?

Bath Ruby is a great one-day conference. It's made up of a very friendly bunch of organisers and attendees and we all recommend it to other developers. A few of us are already eyeing-up our next conference. Anyone fancy Brighton Ruby in July?

Image credit: Adam Butler

Posted on 18 March 2016 - By Dan King
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