Sessions at RailsConf 2012 with slides

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Monday 23rd April 2012

  • Designing Hypermedia APIs

    by Steve Klabnik

    Rails did a lot to bring REST to developers, but its conception leaves the REST devotee feeling a bit empty. "Where's the hypermedia?" she says. "REST isn't RPC," he may cry. "WTF??!?!" you may think. "I have it right there! resources :posts ! What more is there? RPC? Huh?"

    In this talk, Steve will explain how to design your APIs so that they truly embrace the web and HTTP. Just as there's an impedance mismatch between our databases, our ORMs, and our models, there's an equal mismatch between our applications, our APIs, and our clients. Pros and cons of this approach will be discussed, as well as why we aren't building things this way yet.

    At 10:30am to 11:15am, Monday 23rd April

    In Salon K, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Using Backbone.js with Rails: Patterns from the Wild

    by Sarah Mei

    Backbone.js is a flexible, lightweight tool for structuring the JavaScript in a modern web application. It goes great with Rails! But beware - "flexible and lightweight" are code words for "you build your own plumbing." Backbone is new enough that we haven't established strong patterns for that plumbing yet, so different Backbone codebases look very different, and when you're new to the idea of structuring your JavaScript, it can be tough to tell where the win is.

    So in this talk I'll demystify Backbone. I'll show several very different ways I've used it on real Rails apps. You'll get a feel for the circumstances when Backbone makes sense, and moreover, when each of the different approaches to Backbone make sense.

    At 10:30am to 11:15am, Monday 23rd April

    In Salon J, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • CoffeeScript for the Rubyist

    by Mark Bates

    CoffeeScript is taking the world, and particularly the Rails eco system, by storm. This little language has provided an almost Ruby like abstraction onto of JavaScript. CoffeeScript is trying to make writing front end code as much fun as Ruby makes writing backend code.

    In this talk we start with the basic concepts of CoffeeScript and move on to the more powerful and fun features of the language. While we're looking at CoffeeScript we'll see how it relates to the Ruby code we write everyday. What do Ruby 1.9 lambdas and CoffeeScript functions have in common? Which of the two languages supports splats, default arguments, and ranges? The answers may surprise you.

    At 11:30am to 12:15pm, Monday 23rd April

    In Salon J, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Getting Down To Earth: Geospatial Analysis With Rails

    by Daniel Azuma

    It is no secret that location has become ubiquitous. Mobile GPS, available data sets, and easy-to-use mapping services have brought geospatial information within reach of web developers. Location already plays a significant role in many of the major services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google, not to mention legions of startups.

    However, for those of us implementing more than the most trivial features, it is also true that location is challenging. A significant learning curve awaits us, involving spatial databases, coordinate systems, interchange formats, and plenty of math. Our Ruby-based tools lag a bit behind those available to our Java- and Python-oriented colleagues, and effective documentation is scarce.

    This presentation aims to jump-start Rails developers hoping to go beyond putting a few pushpins on a Google Map. Rather than spending a lot of time explaining the many concepts involved, we'll bypass the learning curve and jump straight into walking through code for a few nontrivial applications. The hope is that the conceptual knowledge will come naturally as a result of seeing it in action, but pointers to online resources will also be provided to fill in any gaps.

    A thorough understanding of Ruby, Rails, ActiveRecord, and SQL will be assumed. No prior knowledge of GIS or computational geometry will be required, though it may be helpful.

    At 11:30am to 12:15pm, Monday 23rd April

    In Salon H, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Practical Machine Learning and Rails

    by Andrew Cantino and Ryan Stout

    Many people know that machine learning techniques can facilitate learning from, and adapting to, noisy, real-world data, but aren't sure how to begin using them. Starting with two real-world examples, we will introduce you to some libraries that bring machine learning techniques to your Rails applications. We will then dive into the art of feature design, one of the first practical roadblocks that many people encounter when applying machine learning. Feature design is the challenging, subtle, and often trail-and-error process of selecting and transforming the data you provide for your learning algorithm, and it is often the hardest part of using these techniques. Our goal is for you to come out of this talk with the tools necessary to think about machine learning and how to apply it to your problems.

    At 11:30am to 12:15pm, Monday 23rd April

    In Salon K, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Mobile Rage - What causes it & how to fix it

    by Lori M Olson

    Most of us have been there. That website you want to use, from your mobile device, that just refuses to cooperate. From the Flash-only, to the can't f**king log in, to the redirect-to-mobile-and-stay-there sites, there's more than enough websites out there to invoke Mobile Rage.

    Although we all know that the best mobile development strategy is "mobile-first", we also all know how many sites and applications out there were designed and built by people who didn't imagine how fast mobile would take over.

    Come learn about the common mistakes most people make for mobile, and some of the simple solutions you can use to help reduce Mobile Rage, without having to do a complete rewrite.

    At 1:30pm to 2:15pm, Monday 23rd April

    In Salon H, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Rails Engines Patterns

    by Andy Maleh

    This talk covers a successful utilization of Rails Engines to share features that cut across the layers of MVC in different Rails 3 projects. Rails Engines thus provide the best of both worlds: improved productivity by reusing MVC code (including assets like Javascript, CSS, and Images) and better flexibility by allowing different applications to customize behavior as needed without reliance on application-dependent conditionals. Rails Engine patterns will be provided to guide developers on how to leverage Rails Engines' reusability and flexibility without sacrificing maintainability.

    Outline:

    • Basics of Rails Engines
    • Rails Engine Patterns
    • Improved Productivity Tips
    • Summary of Benefits and Trade-Offs

    Attendees should walk away with an overview of Rails Engines and guidelines on how to utilize them effectively.

    At 1:30pm to 2:15pm, Monday 23rd April

    In Salon J, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • RoRoRoomba - Ruby on Rails on Roomba

    by Charles Abbot

    RoR makes an excellent framework for off-the-beaten-path type of projects, like hacking Roombas and other robots. In this presentation, I'll demonstrate how our soon to be robot overlords will be happy when we gift them with RoR and a connection to the internet. The presentation will include working examples and demonstrations of:

    • communicating with an Arduino chip via Ruby
    • tethered serial and wireless bluetooth control of a Roomba via Ruby and Arduino
    • two-way communication with our robot friends over the web using Ruby on Rails and popular web services
    • useful applications of robots controlled over the web
    • 3 RoRoR pitfalls to watch-out for
    • live performance of "Chiron Beta Prime" by Jonathan Coulton*

    The presentation will close with an argument for why hacking on fun, often eccentric, projects in your spare time is essential for staying motivated, habitual improvement, and tangential learning -- i.e., being a real pragmatic programmer.

    *not included, perhaps

    At 1:30pm to 2:15pm, Monday 23rd April

    In Salon K, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • How Rails helps make cooking more fun in Japan

    by Masahiro Ihara

    With more than a million user submitted recipes and an active user base of 15 million monthly unique users, cookpad.com is the world's largest recipe website, and an essential tool for the 50% of all Japanese women in their 20's and 30's who use the site regularly.

    The Cookpad.com service is built on Rails and is running entirely on AWS in Tokyo, where more than 30 engineers are working in small agile teams to bring more value to users every day.

    As you know, Japan had a huge earthquake and tsunami last year, and some of those affected didn't have cooking facilities, water or basic foods for long time. Many Cookpad users immediately uploaded simple recipes that could be made without the basics in adverse conditions, and helped those in hardship immensely allowing them to enjoy food with their families at that difficult time.

    In this session, I'll talk about the COOKPAD way of creating services and the technologies behind them, and how we improve peoples lives through cooking every day.

    At 2:30pm to 3:15pm, Monday 23rd April

    In Room 615, Hilton Austin Downtown

    Coverage slide deck

  • Realtime web applications with streaming REST

    by Brad Gessler

    As more people collaborate on the web with your applications, its not enough to just persist data to the database; it needs to be pushed out to your users web browsers so that they're always working with the freshest data.

    In this session, Brad will show how to build a real-time layer on top of an existing Rails application's authorization and resource logic so that you can build on top of the hard work already invested in your Rails application.

    Topics that will be discussed include:

    • Why I didn't choose Socket.IO
    • Stream application resources into Backbone.js models to keep data fresh
    • Hook into ActiveRecord to push representations of data into a message queue
    • Message queue naming conventions public/private resource streams
    • Exposing message queues to HTTP
    • Securing streams with existing application authorization logic
    • Considerations for streaming in a production environment

    At 4:00pm to 4:45pm, Monday 23rd April

    In Salon K, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • RVM & Essential Rails Development Tools

    by Olivier Lacan

    Working with Rails often means switching between several Ruby versions back and forth which is made almost seamless by RVM. It also involves several simple command line tools like Pry, Guard, and Pow and that will make your development life so much easier.

    At 4:00pm to 4:30pm, Monday 23rd April

    In Room 616, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Securing your site

    by Thomas Pomfret

    Rails makes it very easy to rapidly develop web applications, but doesn’t always make it so simple to deploy or secure them.

    This talk is going to focus on best practices to secure your rails application, learnt through multiple high profile projects and penetration tests. The talk will be practical and show that this isn’t necessarily hard if thought about from the start.

    We’ll also touch on getting the right balance of security without it getting in the way of the users.

    At 4:00pm to 4:45pm, Monday 23rd April

    In Salon J, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • The Future of Sass

    by Hampton Catlin

    A glimpse of some of the features coming to Sass in the pending 3.2 release. Plus, a huge announcement about the project that's been months in the making as we have secretly toiled away on something that we think will be awesome. Hear it first at this talk. Repositories will be made public when the talk is over. Shh! Its a secret!

    At 4:00pm to 4:45pm, Monday 23rd April

    In Salon H, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • ActiveRecord Scopes and Arel

    by Jacob Swanner

    Scopes are a great way of encapsulating query logic in a granular, reusable way. This talk will cover some techniques you can use to keep those scopes as composable and portable as possible. We’ll cover how to use Arel directly, while avoiding the common practice of using SQL fragments, and show you how this can make your scopes more reusable, while at the same time preventing you from using database vendor specific operators, such as ILIKE.

    At 4:30pm to 5:00pm, Monday 23rd April

    In Room 616, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Keynote: Simplicity Matters

    by Rich Hickey

    Rich Hickey, the author of Clojure and designer of Datomic, is a software developer with over 20 years of experience in various domains. Rich has worked on scheduling systems, broadcast automation, audio analysis and fingerprinting, database design, yield management, exit poll systems, and machine listening, in a variety of languages.

    At 5:30pm to 6:00pm, Monday 23rd April

Tuesday 24th April 2012

  • Patella: It's Memoization into Memcached calculated in the background with Resque.

    by Jeff Dwyer

    I regularly write code that does something great but is slow as a dog. Denormalizing / pre-computing / backgrounding are all fine, but they're all an investment and they leave tentacles all through the code. I want to be able to try out slow but very useful code in my app without the friction of performance concerns, but also without worrying that my ops engineer is going to kill me in my sleep.

    Wouldn't it be nice to add one line to our models that takes care of caching, cache keys, backgrounding, dog-piling, and cache warming? Oh, and it should give the UI clear consistent hooks so that it's clear whether the data is ready so the UI can render a spinner or disable a feature until the computation is complete.

    We'll take a look at a series of techniques that we use at PatientsLikeMe to allow us to safely and quickly put some very expensive queries on the website so that we can evaluate whether it's worthwhile to create longer term solutions. The solution we've come up with is a lot of gloss over memcache and resque that makes it feel like we can memoize any method in our application and lets us focus on the goals of the algorithms rather than their performance and architecture.

    This talk will feature: memcache, resque, a bit of metaprogramming, a look at caching in the wild and code that fixes some usual problems, and a fairly epic SQL query with some nice Postgres features you should know about.

    You should come if: you want to take a look at some practical solutions that we use in production to be able to roll out computationally expensive features.

    At 10:30am to 11:15am, Tuesday 24th April

    In Salon J, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Preparing for Rapid Growth - Tips for Enabling Your Rails App and Team to Grow Quickly

    by Patrick Leonard

    Every young company expects to grow quickly, but is your engineering team really ready for it? In 3 years, iTriage went from a kitchen table to one of the leading mobile consumer healthcare apps with over 5 million downloads. Staying ahead of this growth didn't just mean hiring more Rails engineers.

    Patrick will discuss what iTriage did (and continues to do) to stay ahead of our growth, including:

    • Technical architecture, including use of Rails Engines to enable a modular, RESTful service-based design
    • Enabling high quality iPhone, Android and Web apps
    • Development and release management processes
    • Recruiting and hiring approaches

    At 10:30am to 11:15am, Tuesday 24th April

    In Room 615, Hilton Austin Downtown

    Coverage slide deck

  • Presenters and Decorators: A Code Tour

    by Mike Moore

    Presenter and Decorators are design approaches that can be used in Rails applications outside of the standard Models, Views and Controllers. These approaches are becoming more and more popular as teams search for new ways to identify and manage the complexity within their applications.

    In this session Mike Moore will defined the Presenter and Decorator approaches using simple and clear terminology. Common design problems in Rails applications will be shown using real-life code examples and refactored toward Presenters and Decorators. Code will be improved and strengthened by identifying and respecting the dependencies within large applications.

    At 10:30am to 11:15am, Tuesday 24th April

    In Salon K, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Taming the Kraken - How Operations enables developer productivity

    by Nathen Harvey

    Are you having trouble launching new features because of friction between development and operations? At CustomInk, we've reduced this friction by making changes to our teams, processes, and tools. Come find out what we've been up to and learn how you can implement similar changes in your own environment.

    There's always a bit of tension when getting features from idea to production. In this talk, we'll look at some of the changes CustomInk has made to reduce this friction and keep the new features coming. Gone are the days of bi-monthly deploys, office pools dedicated to guessing when this deploy will be rolled back, and the ceremony surrounding the deploy-rollback-fix-deploy cycle. Today, ideas flow from product managers to developers to production with ease thanks to a number of changes that we've made to our teams, processes and tools.

    During this talk, we'll look at:

    • How product managers drive the release cycle
    • Ideas and customer feedback
    • Prioritizing development requests
    • Managing branch merges and deployments (yes, product managers can help here!)
    • How operations enables developer productivity
    • Spinning up development environments - Vagrant, Chef
    • Infrastructure Automation - Chef
    • Enabling Continuous Deployment - Capistrano and caphub
    • Failing gracefully - Fault-tolerant load balancing with ldirectord
    • How developers get their code running in production
    • Staging environments
    • Continuous Integration - Jenkins, Green Screen
    • Staying on topic: Deploying changes when they're ready
    • Getting rid of the over-the-wall mentality - Dev & Ops working together
    • Enabling developers to do it themselves
    • Pair programing infrastructure automation
    • Keeping the process light and the communication flowing

    At 10:30am to 11:15am, Tuesday 24th April

    In Salon H, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Let's make the web faster - tips from trenches @ Google

    by Ilya Grigorik

    Google loves speed, and we want to make the entire web faster - yes, that includes your Rails app! We'll explore what we've learned from running our own services at scale, as well as cover the research, projects, and open sourced tools we've developed in the process.

    We'll start at the top with website optimization best practices, take a look at what the browser and HTML5 can do for us, take a detour into the optimizations for the mobile web, and finally dive deep into the SPDY and TCP protocol optimizations.

    We'll cover a lot of ground, so bring a coffee. By the end of the session, you should have a good checklist to help you optimize your own site.

    At 11:30am to 12:15pm, Tuesday 24th April

    In Salon H, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Sand Piles and Software

    by Zach Dennis

    This talk applies the concepts of chaos theory to software development using the Bak–Tang–Wiesenfeld sand pile model as the vehicle for exploration. The sand pile model, which is used to show how a complex system is attracted to living on the edge of chaos, will be used as a both a powerful metaphor and analogy for building software. Software, it turns out, has its own natural attraction to living in its own edge of chaos. In this talk, we'll explore what this means and entertain questions for what to do about it.

    The speaker's hypothesis is that by understanding how complex systems work we can gain insights to better understand and improve the act of building software. By looking through the lens of the sand pile model we'll explore the following:

    • what the sand pile model can tell us about software development
    • how software is naturally attracted to its own chaos
    • the impacts on software living perpetually on the edge of chaos
    • how existing software practices can be used to detract software away from chaos
    • what this means not only for our software, but for our teams, and ourselves individually

    This thought-provoking perspective will leave you with new ways to think about software. You’ll walk away having learned a little about chaos, complexity, and how they apply to software with a thought-provoking perspective and inspiration for thinking about software in new ways.

    At 11:30am to 12:15pm, Tuesday 24th April

    In Salon J, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Semi Automatic Code Review

    by Richard Huang

    Rails is so popular to be used to fast build a website, at the beginning we sometimes write codes too fast without considering code quality, but after your company grows fast, you have to pay more attentions on code review to make your website more robust and more maintainable.

    In this talk I will introduce you a way to build a semi automatic code review process, in this process a tool will analyze the source codes of your rails project, then give you some suggestions to refactor your codes according to rails best practices. It can also check your codes according to your team's rails code guideline. So engineers can focus on implementation performance, scalability, etc. when they do code review.

    At 11:30am to 12:15pm, Tuesday 24th April

    In Salon K, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Schemaless SQL — The Best of Both Worlds

    by Will Leinweber

    Schemaless database are a joy to use because they make it easy to iterate on your app, especially early on. And to be honest, the relational model isn't always the best fit for real-world evolving and messy data.

    On the other hand, relational databases are proven, robust, and powerful. Also, over time as your data model stabilizes, the lack of well-defined schemas becomes painful.

    How are we supposed to pick one or the other? Simple: pick both. Fortunately recent advances in Postgres allow for a hybrid approach that we've been using at Heroku. The hstore datatype gives you key/value in a single column, and PLV8 enables JavaScript and JSON in Postgres. These and others in turn make Postgres the best document database in the world.

    We will explore the power of hstore and PLV8, explain how to use them in your project today, and examine their role in the future of data.

    At 1:30pm to 2:15pm, Tuesday 24th April

    In Salon K, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Ten Things You Didn't Know Rails Could Do

    by James Edward Gray II

    Rails is huge. Even if you have worked with it for a long time, it's unlikely that you have stumbled across everything yet.

    Do you really know what all of the built-in Rake tasks do? Have you seen all of the methods ActiveSupport makes available to you? Are you aware of all the queries ActiveRecord is capable of?

    In this talk, I'll dig into the extras of Rails and see if I can't turn up some features that you don't see all of the time, but that might just be handy to know about anyway. I'll make sure you come out of this able to impress your friends at the hackfest.

    At 1:30pm to 2:15pm, Tuesday 24th April

    In Salon H, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Digging Deep with ActiveSupport::Notifications

    by Matt Sanders

    Rails 3 and above includes a powerful instrumentation system, ActiveSupport::Notifications, which can be used to track performance and event information for all aspects of your application. Notifications are light-weight, easy to setup, and can be consumed by multiple subscribers (logs, audit trails, consolidated metrics, other parts of your application).

    In this session we’ll start with the basics of ActiveSupport::Notifications and work our way to powerful advanced use cases. Topics we’ll explore include:

    • How to set up and use notifications
    • Logging what you want from any tier of your system
    • How to capture and aggregate performance/business data for the metrics you care about most
    • Conditional monitoring in production: flag on and off data by system or customer to get to the root of problems more quickly
    • Using ActiveSupport::Notifications in non-Rails applications and your own libraries

    At 2:30pm to 3:15pm, Tuesday 24th April

    In Salon H, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Evented Ruby vs Node.js

    by Jerry Cheung

    While Node.js is the hot new kid on the block, evented libraries like EventMachine for Ruby and Twisted for Python have existed for a long time. When does it make sense to use one over the other? What are the advantages and disadvantages to using node over ruby? In this talk, you will learn how to get the same power of concurrency enjoyed by Node.js while continuing to write in the language you know and love. Topics covered will include pubsub with redis or faye, building evented rack applications, and running evented applications alongside existing Rails apps.

    At 2:30pm to 3:15pm, Tuesday 24th April

    In Salon K, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Securing the Rails

    by Aaron Bedra

    Building safe web applications isn’t always easy. The good news is that Rails provides a lot of features that will help you along the way. Aaron will walk you through the common mistakes made by web developers, and how to account for them while working with Rails. He will also walk you through some tools you can use to make securing your applications much much easier.

    At 4:00pm to 4:30pm, Tuesday 24th April

    In Room 616, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Stack Smashing

    by David Czarnecki

    "Stack Smashing" refers to an internal project where I took our production Rails application environment down from over 100 virtual machines to 2 physical machines. Our application environment for Major League Gaming consists of 13+ inter-connected applications with millions of users to provide functionality such as single-sign on, online video (both video on demand and UGC), news and live competition information, photo galleries, profiles, and much more. We simply needed a simpler infrastructure in which to develop and deploy our applications. In this talk, we will cover the following:

    • Network topology before and after, as well as the makeup of our virtual and physical machines.
    • Detailed discussion of Chef recipes, NGINX, HAProxy configurations and updates to standard configurations.
    • Application and service monitoring and configuration.
    • Application migration from the old stack to the new stack.
    • Rails 3 to Rails 3.1 upgrade insights.
    • Unicorns!
    • Strategies for service configuration to handle failure.
    • Offline processing with queueing and queue management.
    • Simplifying, standardizing and sexy-fying your Capistrano-based deployment tasks into a reusable gem.
    • Behavior driven infrastructure monitoring and validation.
    • Adopting an opt-in continuous deployment strategy that is integrated with our continuous integration environment.

    This will be a very code and example-focused talk. Come and learn about the ways that you can simplify your existing infrastructure.

    At 4:00pm to 4:45pm, Tuesday 24th April

    In Salon H, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Using Rails without Rails

    by Piotr Sarnacki

    Rails got much more modular after 3.0 rewrite. But do you know how to use specific rails elements outside Rails? What if you would like to use ActionView with some other library (like webmachine)? Have you ever needed to render view with layouts outside of the rails stack? Or maybe you wanted to build some kind of system that fetches templates from database rather than from files? Router anyone? You know that you can use it outside rails too?

    In this talk I will dive into Rails internals and will show you what's there and how you can use it outside rails.

    Although I will focus on using those parts standalone, this knowledge will most likely help you also build your apps if you ever need something sophisticated that requires modification of regular rails behavior.

    At 4:00pm to 4:45pm, Tuesday 24th April

    In Salon K, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • Using XMPP as an Asynchronous Communication Layer Between Ruby and JavaScript

    by Andrew Carter and Steve Jang

    Although XMPP is most often used as a chat protocol, it can also provide a robust asynchronous communication channel in other application scenarios. In this presentation, we will provide introduction to Strophe.js, XMPP4R, and ejabberd, which are the XMPP components that we use to integrate our device automation framework and living room devices under test. By using these off-the-shelf components, we addressed our needs for getting around internal firewalls, application security (based on SASL), and asynchronous command-response handling.

    At 4:00pm to 4:45pm, Tuesday 24th April

    In Room 615, Hilton Austin Downtown

    Coverage slide deck