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Conference Comparison

Last week, along with a few of my Intridea colleagues, I had the opportunity to experience two entirely different Ruby-related conferences. The first was RailsConf Europe, an international Ruby on Rails conference in Berlin Germany. After giving our RCE talks, Pradeep and I got on planes and flew to Austin, TX for the Lone Star Ruby Conference, where Intridea presented a full-day training session. Both conferences had their own unique feel, and it was interesting to compare the community eco-systems inherent in each.

At RailsConf Europe, Intridea had two talks accepted โ€œ Michael and Pradeep gave a tutorial on Rails Internals, and Michael and I presented a talk and coding session on Mid-End Rails Development. For our talk, the crowd was attentive, but very quiet. Generally when speaking in a packed room, there will be a quiet rumble as attendees comment on the ongoing presentation. The entire event had more of a formal feeling to it. This could perhaps be due to the language barrier brought on by attendees from all over Europe, the US, and the world coming together โ€œ but it was a departure from my other presentation experiences.

Likely related to the varied backgrounds, the RailsConf Europe crowd did not seem to be very cohesive โ€œ there appeared to be fewer hallway hack sessions and in-depth discussion that you often find at similar events. The venue also contributed to lack of cohesion. The hotel did not offer breakfast, so attendees didn’t have that early morning mingling that usually occurs. Being held in a hotel in downtown Berlin, there were also many potential distractions. A quick nap in the room, a run out to the street corner bratwurst vendor, a wide variety of local pubs – there were many opportunities to be drawn away from the conference.

Because of the variety of backgrounds, along with the number of distractions, the community feel seemed to be a bit lacking.

The Lone Star Ruby Conference was an entirely different experience, I think a large part due to the venue. At LSRC, the venue was not attached to a hotel, all meals were provided, events were scheduled from morning until night, and there was not a great deal to do within walking distance of the venue โ€œ not to mention it was almost too hot to go outside! All of these contributed to a more cohesive group that grew even stronger as the event went on.

Adam, Pradeep, and I presented our full-day training โ€œ Rails Refactoring: Triage, Prevention, and Performance โ€œ to a great group of developers. Having just come from RCE, where people were from all over, it was different to have a class full of people mostly from the same geographic area (Texas). Perhaps the nature of a training vs a session, but there was much more communication going on between attendees and instructors. The vibe was definitely more laid back.

That vibe extended to the rest of the event โ€œ there were lots of hallway hacking sessions, people helping other developers with code problems, and many in-depth technical discussions outside of the actual talks.

Overall, both events offered some great technical talks and the opportunity to meet some great Ruby/Rails minds โ€œ but for a community feel, Lone Star wins hands-down.


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