Informal notes from #frozenrails 2010

Thanks to organisers from Kisko Labs and the HHLinuxClub on Friday, May 7th, 2010 Finland got its first  Rails conference.

Conference has drawn very interesting speakers and  international crowd – from Finland (naturally), Sweden, Poland, Germany, Russia and other countries. I made a few notes from selected talks on the conference.

Chris Wanstrath / GitHub (@defunkt)

  • Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/err/inside-github
  • Linus Trovalds Google tech talk about git – where Linus tell you that you’re stpid if you’re not using git
  • rack-mobile-detect – is used by GitHub, super useful if you’re planning to create mobile optimized version
  • GitHub uses Unicorn as an application server – personally I’m not sure if that’s better than Apache + Passenger. Chris tells that Unicorn is cool, because does fair load balancing on Linux kernel level, also Rails are loaded only once – and then required number of processes are forked – and this is very fast, a lot faster than loading rails separately for each Mongrel. And when one of the processes dies – there’s no need to re-load Rails, but just fork another process.
  • GitHub users BERT to forward requests to one of their six servers – BERT to Erlang is the same as JSON to JavaScript
  • GitHub doesn’t use delayed_job anymore since they needed several queues with different priorities – so far they use resque, but are considering developing a real queue management system

Jose Valim / Plataforma (@josevalim)

Mike Dirolf / MongoDB (@mdirolf) & Jonathan Weiss / CouchDB (@jweiss)

Yehuda Katz / EngineYard (@wycats)

  • Very interesting presentation about developing web application for mobile devices (in Rails 3)
  • One of the central messages – HTML5 is coming – learn how to use it now, if you want to stay in business
  • I really hope Yehuda will publish his slides – it was a presentation worth spreading around
  • interesting thoughts:
    • same optimization methods as we traditionally use for Rails apps on desktop are not suitable for mobile browsers due to constraints – connection availability, memory, cpu, battery, etc.
    • don’t count on browser cach on mobile devices – separate data and presentation, cache presentation using localStorage feature of HTML5, load only data from the web after that
    • mobile browsers are updated a lot faster than desktop borwser – there are new browsers in the new phones, and nobody uses 2 year old phone
    • HTML5 will become mainstream on mobile devices a lot faster than on desktop (IE6 will not happen on mobile)
    • when developing apps for mobile take into account that in some places people still pay per kilobyte of traffic
    • incremental rendering on the mobile is evil – it consumes battery and can be very slow, unpleasant and unusable for the user
  • battery – unoptimized sites can easily drain the battery, and even though users are most likely to blame the phone manufacturer it is good to think about it
  • http://Railsdispatch.com – recommended reading about Rails 3

Carl Lerche / Engine Yard (@carllerche)

  • Carl told about Rails 3 and migration to version 3 from earlier ones http://www.slideshare.net/carllerche/frozen-rails-slides
  • Migration itself is not that difficult (provided that you know what you’re doing) – it can even be done in 15 minutes, but thus far stability and performance of Rails 3 / Ruby 1.9.1 are not quite there yet
  • Rails 3 is not finished – the plan is to make RC for RailsConf, and the it will be released “when it’s ready”
  • When asked if they have done performance tests on Rails 3, Carl answered that, yes, they did, and its sad.  Performance optimization is the next big step after stabilization.
  • When asked which Ruby release is better to use with Rails 3, Carl answered – 1.8.7, since Ruby 1.9.1 still segfaults and is not ready for production sites.

JetBrains (@rubymine):

  • new release of RubyMine is available with Rails3 support
  • guys from JetBrains tell that  TextMate development/maintenance is lagging behind, and they observe migration of TextMate and even vim users to RubyMine (there’s now vim interface emultion)

overall impression:

  • Apple is the king – virtually everybody was walking around with either MacBook, iPhone, iPad or all of the above
  • first Rails conference in Finland was a huge success – I really hope there will be FrozenRails 2011
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