RailsConf holds a special place in my heart; RailsConf Atlanta was the first time I experienced a technical conference as a newly minted software developer, degree and all.

This year, I had the privilege of being able to speak about communication and mental health to my peers. Two topics that I’m passionate about.

I also was selected to be a Guide for the Scholarship program. This opportunity afforded me the opportunity to meet and mentor so many awesome people!

After three days of non-stop go-go, coming home definitely invoked the blues for me. So, this is recap is as much for you as it is for me to relive the experience.

Scholar/Guide Meet & Greet

I’ve never entered a room so full of people capable of amazing things until I entered this room.

From wall to wall, window to window, the room was filled with life, new friendships, and expectations. The Scholarship program is designed to provide the opportunity to attend RailsConf for those who would otherwise not normally attend. This is such a cool opportunity! Due to the way RailsConf puts together this program, scholars are often paired with speakers and well-known community members. It becomes a neat networking opportunity for both guides and scholars to create lasting friendships and connections for years to come.

My Scholar is kickass and I’m excited to see where all of these connections take her. Being able to connect her with the sponsor companies and notable people in the field and in Rails is incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun.

If I have the opportunity to attend RailsConf again, I’ll definitely reapply to be a guide.

Hallway Track and Exhibit Hall

The Hallway track is almost always my favorite track of conferences. Since RailsConf has all of their sessions recorded, I often only go to ones that I really want to see in person or to the unrecorded workshops. This year, I spent the majority of my time networking during the hallway track, catching up with my old #rubyfriends and introducing my scholar to them.

The Exhibit Hall was well laid out and many of the booths had tables, couches, and chairs to lounge in. A+. This was brilliant. I enjoyed talking with the different sponsors and learning about how they use Rails to solve challenges that I never would have thought of. One example that comes to mind is Flexport — I had no idea how huge of an industry freight shipping is. I knew it had to be “big” due to how much goods are imported and exported, but the idea that most of the system was analog with phones and email boggles my mind. Flexport is creating software to help streamline the process and supply chain in super awesome ways.

Keynotes

As seems is RailsConf tradition, David Heinemeier Hansson (@DHH) opened the conference and Aaron Patterson (@tenderlove) closed out the conference. And continuing tradition, DHH teased Aaron, and Aaron reciprocated in his closing keynote.

This year, I really enjoyed both DHH’s and Aaron’s keynotes. Despite all of the poking fun, DHH talked about the concept of Conceptual Compression. This is such an amazing term and the concept behind it awesome: The programming concepts you are required to know to be successful is orders less (1/10th or even 1/100th) than a few years ago. The things you really ought to know is small. The “fundamentals” are no longer the same because the complexity has been abstracted. You can build amazing applications without truly knowing SQL, for example. And this is cool.

And we got here because of leaky abstractions. What if? These leaky abstractions are how we got to where we are and being able to conceptually compress what is required to enter the field and thus lowering the barrier of entry. And that the leaky abstractions of NOW are the rock-solid compressed concepts of 5 years from now. Wow!

Aaron’s keynote, while had a blast in the beginning talking about non-breaking space characters as keyword arguments, completed his keynote by giving us an amazing lesson on profiling. Truly teaching us the concepts behind profiling, the types of profiling, and why they are important. Profiling is extremely important when you’re maintaining applications over long periods of time.

I also greatly enjoyed Sarah Mei’s (@sarahmei) surprise last minute keynote on Livable Code. This is such an important concept. As developers, we live in the code we write and maintain on a daily basis. This means that the code we write should be livable. And to do that, we need to learn create and maintain a livable house, or a livable codebase. We do this by cleaning up something small as we encounter it and slowly create habits that are livable for us. I highly suggest watching her talk on livable code as she’s given it multiple places (or wait until it comes out from RailsConf 2018) or reading the storify tweet unroll. It’s highly worth your time.

Takeaways

It has been an amazing experience. It has been a while since I’ve been so excited about the future of the Rails community. I met so many great people and reconnected with so many friends.

I love the concept of conceptual compression and appreciate the lowering barrier of entry to the world of programming and software. So much of my career has been defined by Rails. It’s been a pivotal language and community in my life. I am so, so glad that more people are going to be able to experience this community and growth as the barrier to entry continue to lowers through conceptual compression.