Notes from RailsConf 2021

Notes from RailsConf 2021

Making decisions based on little to no research results in regret most of the time. I saw people I follow on social media talking about RailsConf last weekend and I decided to give it a shot. It was a decision I didn't regret.

I've never attended a conference before so I can't compare it with any other conferences. I can't compare attending in person against a virtual conference. That being said, there are less opportunities for the serendipitous conversations that can begin with bumping into a person.

When I registered, I was given access to the pre-recorded talks and to a Discord server setup for the event. The website was well laid out with the talks gathered into playlists by category and also provided live video of keynotes and other events.

First the highlights.

  • The conference was very welcoming as a whole. I participated in a number of discussions on Discord about some of the topics and the speakers were receptive to any questions raised.
  • The opening keynote with Evan Phoenix and David Heinemeier Hansson was a delight. It was a freewheeling conversation that touched on a number of topics. Some people wanted more technical detail but I laughed a lot.
  • I enjoyed Eileen Uchitelle's introduction of her journey into programming before moving into the technical aspects of Rails handling multiple databases with John Crepezzi. Listening to her journey was beneficial.
  • There were a lot of talks on topics adjacent to programming without getting into the technical details. There were talks on ethics of open source, energy sources for data centres, how to write a resume, how to deal with your inner critic and a number of other topics.

One complaint I did have was trying to use Discord during live events like the keynotes. It worked fine for asking questions or talking to people at other times but during the keynotes it was impossible to keep track of what was going on as the text scrolled of the top of the screen.

While I didn't regret signing up for RailsConf, there are a number of things I would do differently. Most of this could have been avoided by better planning on my part.

  • I should've signed up earlier. This would have given me the opportunity to plan out my week to watch talks and then prepare properly in order to participate in the Q&As.
  • I should've taken time off work in order to get the most out of the conference. I live in Ireland so the conference started around 6pm each evening for me so I was working all day before attending talks which could end around midnight. It was too much.
  • I should learn Ruby on Rails. I have been using Hey for my personal email for a number of months and I'm a big fan of it. I've been reading about Hotwire and Stimulus and my knowledge wasn't good enough to follow the talks.

I'm glad I had the opportunity to attend RailsConf 2021. It's something I couldn't have done if the virtual option was not there. Hopefully it will be back in its normal form in 2022 although I hope a virtual option will be available. I know it's not the same but I'd like to attend again.

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