Favorite Talks from RailsConf
I was fortunate enough to go to this year’s RailsConf in Pittsburgh, and it did not disappoint. This was my first tech conference and I’m very excited to go to more in the future - especially next year’s RailsConf! I have a ton of thoughts about my experience, but for now I just wanted to shout out a few of my favorite (non-keynote) talks. Truly, every talk I went to was worthwhile, but these are the ones that have stuck in my mind the most.
Amy works for Heroku, and detailed various different techniques for handling app failures, mostly revolving around keeping your database and site alive while certain parts were failing. It was interesting to hear the perspective of someone who works for a company that is a dependency for many, many Rails apps. It’s important that Heroku works, and they’ve clearly thought a lot about how to maintain stability. I am pretty excited to share the techniques she presented with my coworkers.
We all got a little suckered by this one, because it didn’t have much to do with improving speed via app changes, but rather through changes in Rails itself. But that ended up being an even more interesting topic. Akira got down to the level of changing the way ActionView stores partials in order to increase view speed, and a whole bunch of other hacks that have never even crossed my mind. He is clearly a super smart guy, and seeing the gritty details of how he made speed improvements to huge and highly vetted libraries was impressive and fascinating.
Alex works for AWS on the Ruby SDK, but one of his roles is to help review the multitude of APIs that AWS maintains. It is essential that these APIs keep as much backwards compatibility as possible, and Alex went into guidelines for ensuring this. My big takeaway was that increasing constraints, or removing fields that clients rely on is generally a no go - and this means that the initial design of the API is very important. Again, it was interesting to to hear the perspective of someone within a company that a lot of the web depends on.
The room was packed for this one, and for good reason. ActiveStorage is a file uploader module (both back and front end based!) that is included in Rails 5.2 by default, and in my humble opinion, makes other storage gems a bit redundant. He gave a brief overview of the feature, but more importantly, gave a look at how the library itself works. Which was great, because while Rails is open source, it can be difficult to know where to look on big projects in order to gain even a cursory understanding.
The conference program had a good mix of higher level (general concepts, philosophies), nitty gritty code based, and non-technical (hiring, soft skills, etc) talks. I stuck mostly to the technical stuff, but also enjoyed the other styles too - the keynotes were all pretty high level (though Eileen Uchitelle’s talk about Rails 6 features went into technical details) as well as excellent. Reviewing and then teaching my colleagues what I learned will hopefully help cement these concepts in my mind. I’m excited to try a bunch of this stuff out as well. Thanks to all the speakers and organizers, your efforts were greatly appreciated.