Peeking into the Ruby Conference

by James Duncan Davidson

RubyConf 2002 was held this weekend in Seattle WA. Rael Dornfest and I managed to join fellow O'Reilly Network author Daniel Steinburg for the day Saturday and watched as the small, but vibrant group of 50 something Ruby devotees in attendance swallow up the information being presented.

Unfortuntaly, I missed Dave Thomas talk about the relatively large web application that he just built using Ruby, but I did catch a few other sessions. The best of these were Rich Kilmer's great talk about the FreeRIDE IDE for the Ruby language and Dan Sugalski talking about Parrot. I had no idea that Parrot was so damn cool.

The highlight of the day was when Matz (Yukihiro Matsumoto, the creator of Ruby) gave the conference keynote. His theme was that even though Ruby was small and had a small community, that there was great potential there, and that it was even good to be small. Matz has a great outlook on life that comes through when he talks. A few of his memorable quotes (paraphrased a bit, he was speaking in his non-native tongue of English):

"It is not the responsibility of the language to force good looking code, but the language should make good looking code possible."

"Fun is the most important thing in the world... Ruby makes programming fun."

"Ruby improves mental health."

After the keynote, there was a wide ranging discussion on how to improve and widen the Ruby community. My take on it is that the Ruby people should just do what they do best. The rest will come in time. The proof in the pudding: Ruby is starting to ship with mainstream operating systems. Just type in % ruby -v into the Terminal on Mac OS X to see.