RubyConf 2006—Day 1 (Friday, 20 October 2006)

This article was modified from its original published form. The most recent modification was on2014-09-25.

Series: RubyConf 2006

The first official day of RubyConf started with several announcements:

  • Bil Kleb and NASA provided power cords throughout the room, and attendees were warned against daisy-chaining these cords.
  • Josh Susser had the flu, and would not be presenting his scheduled talk (“More than enough rope to hang yourself”). Instead, there would be nine five-minute lightning talks.
  • I made an announcement about some discussions I was having at the time with the VisualStudio development team at Microsoft, and requested examples of problems people were having with Win32 extensions. I indicated that I would post a summary of the discussion to my blog later.
  • Ryan Davis re-announced RejectConf scheduled for after Matz’s keynote.

The first talk was Masayoshi Takahashi (the inventor of the “Takahashi method” of presentation) about the history of Ruby, which was both highly entertaining and informative. Most people may not have been aware that there was no Ruby-only conference in Japan prior to 2006, although there were conferences that included Ruby (the LL day/weekend conferences, culminating in this year’s LL Ring; also the YAPRC (Yet Another Perl and Ruby Conference) events for a few years. The reason for this? There wasn’t enough passion in the Japanese Ruby community to spur the planning of such a conference. There were so many books published for Ruby in Japan that there was a bubble that burst in 2003.

The second talk was Evan Phoenix’s discussion of Sydney and Rubinius. This is a fascinating project that may provide some direction in the future1, but is something Evan will be working on over the next while and will be worth watching as it possibly becomes another Ruby interpreter.

After lunch, Geoffrey Grosenbach gave his talk about the various dynamic graphic libraries in Ruby with demonstrations of why one would use graphical representation of data with example Ruby code on how to generate many of them. There’s definitely a lot of things to consider for future projects. I may be pulling some of this into PDF::Writer (both SVG and PNG generation will be directly useful) when I finally get back to working on that2.

Kevin Clark’s presentation about mkrf (a Rake-based replacement for mkmf) was fascinating, and I think that there’s a possibility that it could be a very useful thing in the future, especially if dist-utils style capabilities are added in the near future, increasing the ability to use alternative compilers. I think it’ll be a little while before mkrf is really production-ready. Chad (Fowler) asked Kevin to write some code for RubyGems to help look for external capabilities (such as the presence of the MySQL library); I’d have some concern about this working well on Windows because mkrf doesn’t yet really have good Windows support, but I think it’s very important to add.

Zed Shaw gave an interesting presentation about security testing with fuzzing and and some statistical analysis. If you’re doing anything with anything that has to do security checking, you really want to read his slides when he’s posted them—the concepts he presents are good for that. By the way: if you’re writing software that people use, you’re writing something that needs security checking.

Finally, John Long talked about Radiant, the Rails-based CMS which now runs It seems like it could turn out to be a very interesting CMS in the future, but it has a ways to go now.

  1. And how.
  2. I really never got back into it, but that’s OK, as I handed PDF::Writer over to the very capable hands of Greg Brown (@sandal) who ultimately replaced it with prawn.

  • 2014-09-25: The original version of this article was written as a travelogue stream-of-consciousness that was a little hard to read. I have tried to make it a bit clearer, and have added some comments about how things have turned out in the years since.[ back ]

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