Late last year, I was super-excited to learn that RubyConf 2010 was being held just an hour away from here, in New Orleans. Given that I love Ruby and write most of my code these days in it, I knew I had to go. Then, I found out that the guy who wrote Ruby, Yukihiro “matz” Matsumoto was going to be there, as well as David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of the framework Ruby on Rails and co-author of the book that taught me Rails, as well as Dave Thomas, the other author of Agile Web Development with Rails. I was through the roof with excitement. All of these guys who I respected and had learned so much from, in once place? I had to go.

So I went, and RubyConf was pretty awesome. It was filled with people who love the language and what can be done with it. I really liked that the conference wasn’t just about Rails, it was about Ruby in general, so I got to learn about all sorts of things that are out of the scope of what I normally do with Rails. I learned about MacRuby, a project that aims to let people write apps for the Mac (and hopefully iOS, eventually) in Ruby. This opens the door to a lot more people who want to write Mac code because they don’t have to learn another programming language.

I was highly impressed with Daniel Jackoway, a young Stanford undergrad who had lots to say about his project Ruboto, which is Ruby for Android devices. He was very knowledgeable for someone his age. It was pretty inspiring to listen to his talk.

I also learned a lot about app security and best practices for keeping your apps safe from prying eyes, and how to write more future-proof, manageable code. It’s good to plan ahead when coding so that you don’t hate yourself later on when you come back and try to decipher what you wrote and how it works. I also learned about Ruby 1.9, the latest version of Ruby, what it supports and why it’s much better than the current version of Ruby in most cases.

I even ran into some cool people who write web applications that I use every day, like Chargify.

My favorite part, however was when a Japanese programmer, Shugo Maeda gave a talk. His English wasn’t very good, and Matsumoto had to translate a lot of what he was saying. Eventually he was done with his presentation and asked if there were any questions. A guy from the audience asked a question, but both Matsumoto and Shugo had a difficult time understanding just what he was asking. Eventually, someone got the bright idea to have him come up and write code that demonstrated his question. It was amazing to see how quickly everyone in the room was on the same page when he did that. The question was quickly answered after that. It was really amazing to see a real-life example in which it was clearly shown that we might not all speak the same language, but we all understood the same language, Ruby.

All in all, it was a really fun time, much new knowledge was gained, I got to put faces to usernames that I’d only seen online, and I learned so much about what is being done with Ruby outside of Rails. RubyConf 2010 was awesome.