RailsConf! The highlight of the year for us Rails devs! A time for us to catch up with our Rails-loving brethren (and indeed sistren) from all over the world for three days of talks and workshops on what's new in the Rails world.

RailsConf 2018 took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in fact takes place in the US every year, with no indication that they might host it further afield. But no problem; pack up the the team! It’s just a short 11 hour flight from London Gatwick to Pittsburgh international. “Whoa, hang on a minute. You’re taking the whole team where?!” will be the first question from your finance manager.

The reality is that, for many small and medium-sized companies on this side of the Atlantic, the costs involved in removing a team of devs from billable work and sending them to the US for three days each year just doesn't make sense. “Well that’s ok”, says the finance manager, “the talks are all available online”. Well yes, that’s true. I suppose we can just add them to the long list of learning materials that we will find time for ‘tomorrow’.

At Civo this year though, we decided a compromise was in order. Virtual RailsConf 2018! Once the videos were made available online, we scheduled two full days away from our monitors, and gathered around a single much larger screen. Everybody voted on the talks that they wanted to see and for two full days we were encouraged to focus completely on what was happening in the international Rails community.

With the company putting on pizzas for lunch, not only was this a great way to ensure all our devs received the messages coming out of the community, but it created discussion and was awesome from a team bonding perspective.

So, in the opinion of this humble, junior(ish) developer, which talks did I get the most out of and find the most enjoyable?

  1. Opening Keynote - David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH is just a great speaker and has some very interesting high level opinions)
  2. Pairing: a guide to fruitful collaboration - André Arko (A great talk here, reminding us of the important attributes of a good pairer that we often forget)
  3. Containerizing Rails: Techniques, Pitfalls, & Best Practices - Daniel Azuma (Particularly relevant for me as I strive to understand our current deployment process - Dokku - and future plans with Kubernetes)
  4. Quick and easy browser testing using RSpec and Rails 5.1 - Sam Phippen (An interesting one given our rspec suites include a lot of browser-based feature tests)
  5. Re-graphing The Mental Model of The Rails Router - Vaidehi Joshi (Possibly the most interesting and insightful technical talk for me, explaining some of the Rails internals very well indeed).
  6. Inside Active Storage: a code review of Rails' new framework - Claudio Baccigalupo (Demonstrating very simply how to use the recently-added Active Storage feature which we will try out in our projects soon)
  7. The Doctor Is In: Using checkups to find bugs in production - Ryan Laughlin (Ryan’s technique is super practical and easy to implement)
  8. Actionable Tactics for Leveling Up Junior Devs - Sumeet Jain (Another great speaker making really valid points for mid and senior team members to think about)

Virtual RailsConf 2018 was a great success here at Civo and I’m sure we’ll be holding it again next year!