Laying in the middle of Colorado is a small town with a large Ruby community and an amazing conference. The town is Boulder and the conference is Rocky Mountain Ruby. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend this year with my fellow rocketeer Paul Elliott, and was also part of the crew of rocketeers giving a workshop over the Hashrocket way during the pre-conference activities. This was my first Ruby conference, and I was in for a treat.
There was an awesome group of presenters this year, starting with Sandi Metz giving her "Go ahead, Make a mess" talk over the importance of well-timed design, and ending with Russ Olsen's "Eloquent Explainations" covering better methods for training the next generation of programmers entering the ruby community. One of my favorite talks was Ben Orenstein’s live coding session where he paired with the entire audience to refactor ruby code. I thought it was an incredible way to involve everyone and at one point, I even learned an interesting fact about ruby arrays from a fellow attendee.
Rocky Mountain Ruby doesn't just have great speakers--the two-day conference was also full of events after hours. We started with a great speakers' dinner Tuesday night at Pizzeria Locale. This was a great networking experience where I got to mingle with all the speakers as well as some recent graduates from DaVinci Coders, including Elaine from the "Growing Developers" panel. The next evening started with a reception at the Oak where all attendees met for drinks. During the reception, I did sneak off to take a look at the Arduino hackfest going on at QuickLeft, and was throughly impressed by the number of teams participating and the amount of hardware being supplied by Sparkfun. The night ended with an excellent dinner with Sandi Metz and Russell Olsen at the Rio, and tequila tasting at the Oak.
The second night of the conference ended with an after party at Pivotal Labs just off Pearl Street. While there, I got a very interesting tour of downtown Boulder aboard the Handlebar--a 16-person bicycle/bar. We pedaled our way down the streets and stopped at several bars along the way. After biking around town, we took a relaxing tour of the Avery Brewery on the outskirts of Boulder aboard the Banjo tour bus. Overall, the party was one of the best social events of the conference.
I think that the end of the conference may have been my favorite part because we ended the day with an 8-mile hike on the Sanitas Trail. I have to say that the view from the top was well worth the hike. After the hike and a small break, we made our way back to Quickleft for one final gathering with all of the speakers and attendees to talk about everything that happened, and what we were inspired to do in our own work. I think that I returned from this conference with a lot of information about a wide variety of topics, but most importantly, I have a better grasp of what it means to be a part of the Ruby community.