Digesting RailsConf 2007

By David Heinemeier Hansson on May 28, 2007

Going from five to sixteen hundred people is a big risk for a conference. There's so much to lose: The atmosphere, the coherence of content, and the interestingness of the people. But in my mind we didn't, RailsConf 2007 was a roaring success.

There were so many great debates going on, so much fascinating work happening, and so extraordinary tales of adoption. It was wonderful to meet up with people like Martin Fowler, Ward Cunningham, Tim Bray, Dave Thomas, Robert Martin, and other industry leaders.

But in many ways, even more wonderful was the level of involvement from everyone else. I remember RubyConf '03 when we just had a couple of people doing professional Ruby work. This year at RailsConf more than half the room raised their hand when I asked how many were working professionally with Rails. What a leap.

So many people doing applications in all niches and of all shades. Plenty of startups, naturally, but also plenty of so-called enterprise operations. From banks to insurance companies. ThoughtWorks announcing that 40% of all new business in the US is Ruby on Rails projects. Wow.

I loved the fact that it wasn't all about the nitty gritty stuff either. We had an Extra Action marching band that pushed the comfort level of many on the fun side of things.

And on the more serious side, Alan Francis explored the similarities between the Rails and XP movements on a higher plane of approach, angry teenager-tendencies, and peaks.

I also much enjoyed the fact that it was broader than just Ruby and Rails circle. That we had Avi Bryant talk to us about this magical parallel universe of Smalltalk. And that we attracted people like Scott Hanselman from the .NET world (and that he posed plenty of opposing opinion that we sorta captured in a podcast with Martin Fowler and me).

All in all, a spectacular extended weekend. It made me all the more excited for turning another chapter in the conference book in Berlin come late September with RailsConf Europe.

All photos by the always awesome James Duncan Davidson