Interviewing the team behind RubyConf*MI

by pat eyler

Brandon Keepers, Mark Van Holstyn, Zach Dennis, and Craig Demyanovich have been working on RubyConf*MI, a regional Ruby conference in Michigan for a while now. Now that they've announced it publicly (and opened up the registration — only $20 for a full day), I wanted to talk to them about what it's like to set up a conference.

I think regional RubyConfs are going to be a big part of the Ruby community. So getting some pioneers' takes on how to run one should be helpful to everyone who follows.

Update: I've posted retrospective interview with the RubyConf*MI team over on my blog.


2006-08-16 10:25:32
From 2000 lines of python to 25 lines of Ruby in one evening? No offense, but that sounds waaaay too good to be true. Did he switch from using his own code to using a prewritten module or something?
Brandon Keepers
2006-08-16 12:57:56

Honestly, it's the truth. I was using, which now at version 1.1, has removed "full RSS feed support" and is only 424 lines. But if I remember right, 1.0 was nearly 2000 lines. I couldn't get it to do what I wanted it to, so I wrote my own in Ruby. My inital version was 25 lines, and nothing fancy. Shortly after I modified it a little to move some of the hard-coded paramters into variables so I could reuse it, so its about 50 lines now, but still better than 2000, or even 424. The only external library I'm using is Ruby's built-in RSS library. See for yourself. I haven't touched it since I modified it back in mid-2005, so it could probably be cleaned up event more.

2006-08-16 15:20:18
To quoth Vader...impressive...most impressive. Thank you for sharing. (Although even now I wonder how the two would compare if, only speaking hypothetically, the python version had used 'svnlook' and a full-featured rss module).

2006-08-16 20:24:33
Ruby is based on Perl. Following Perl's direction, it has the philosophy "There are more than one way to do it". So many modules and functions are made for helping to reduce code. That makes perl and ruby good.

I wanted to learn some Python. But when I read "There is only one good way to do it", I quit learning it immediately.

2006-08-17 01:10:30

I'm the author of that awful piece of code named SubveRSSed, i've seen your Ruby equivalent and yes, it's much simpler mainly given two facts:

- ruby comes with a RSS library
- you directly use svnlook and i preferred developing a cross-platform helper instead of that

And finally:

$ svn co -r 1
$ wc -l subversion/

I don't know where you've seen those 2000 lines ;) Anyway i still need to learn Ruby, i promised that to myself sometime ago but never took the time, i'm so happy with Python :)

Daniel Berger
2006-08-18 07:10:01
Another great interview Pat. Keep it up.

- Dan

Brandon Keepers
2006-08-19 20:16:15

I didn't mean to bash on SubveRSSed. It does a great job for what it is. I used it in production for several months before I decided to come up with something custom. The point was to show just how easy Ruby makes it to "hack" (term used loosely, because even though my script is a hack, it's a clean, maintainable hack) something together.