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Recap: RailsConf 2024, Detroit

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Recap: RailsConf 2024, Detroit

I just got back from the latest installment of RailsConf. This makes it maybe the ~11th RailsConf that I have attended.


Fun Fact: In 2006, we organized a cross-country train trip from Portland, Oregon, to Chicago, Illinois. In total, 16 Ruby on Rails developers hopped on an Amtrak and rolled into the very first RailsConf two days later. We called it The Argon Express...and that's a bigger story for another day. (Photos)

Okay, back to 2024.

The Program.

This year's RailsConf had three (sometimes four) parallel tracks, so I could only attend some talks. It wasn't physically possible, and it required making tough choices. This has always been a struggle for me as conferences grow in size, as I've always preferred the single-to-double tracks. As lovely as it is to have a wide array of options, I love a curated menu.

Regardless, I tried to attend as many as I could. I popped in between a few to see if I could get some of this and that. A few of my #rubyfriends were speaking, too, but I strongly suspected that some of their talks were similar to those I saw at Sin City Ruby or Tropical.rb recently, so I leaned in on attending as many new-to-me speakers as possible. This turned out to be a good strategy!

This led me to catch a few excellent talks. In particular, I immensely enjoyed Karynn Ikeda's talk about Domain-Driven Design. While it's not a new framework to me, I enjoyed how she introduced the audience to it. Her educational background provided an insightful perspective on DDD. It led to a great Q&A discussion, too!

Another good talk with Manu J, who gave a talk about a possible future where we can offload some async tasks to tools like Falcon.

The keynotes were all great.

A highlight was Nadia Odunayo's talk about building and scaling StoryGraph. A story that I'd heard some of before as Nadia was a guest on our podcast last year. Meeting her (and a few other past guests) person for the first time was fantastic. I regret not getting photos!


Another highlight was when I opted to attend the lightning talks. Several attendees gave their first technical talk, which was beautiful to witness. They were all so well done!

One of my favorites was Ashley Plasket's, which talks about effectively asking for help from your peers. She introduced the N.E.A.T. framework to the audience.


Kudos to Andy Croll and everyone behind the scenes at Ruby Central for putting on a good conference.

Meet the Authors.

On Day #2 of the hack day sessions, I hosted tables for Oh My Zsh.

I was surprised when several people stopped by to ask questions about the open-source project I created nearly 15 years ago to persuade my teammates at Planet Argon to switch to Zsh. Some people offered to help work on Github issues for the project. I showed a few people how to create their custom themes and plugins for their internal teams to collaborate on. Others also shared some of their favorite plugins with each other.

...and of course, people snagged a bunch of stickers. If you didn't get yours...snag yours today!

The Decision.

In bittersweet news, Ruby Central kicked off the conference by announcing that 2025 would be the final RailsConf. It was decided that they would focus more on Rubygems, Bundler, and RubyConf now that plenty of regional conferences are popping up and RailsWorld has hit the scene. Managing two conferences each year is a lot of work. I'm saddened, but I completely get it.


I did attend the Ruby Central board panel discussion. They fielded questions from the audience across many topics. I was able to sneak in a few questions myself. They're making good progress in a few areas of great interest to me.

The People.


Big thanks to everyone I had a chance to talk shop with. Whether it was about Ruby on Rails, Oh My Zsh, debating the best Detroit Pizza place to try, swapping useful links in the conference Slack channels, or pointing me in the right direction to refill my water bottle. You're all so delightful.


The Community.

Overall, the vibe was extremely positive and upbeat. Developers are excited about some of the upcoming changes landing in Rails 8. I even had dinner with a few people whose team members were literally migrating ~70 microservices written in Java to Ruby on Rails that same evening, and they were cool as a cucumber about it. 🔥


On my flight from the Pacific Northwest to Detroit, the Planet Argon team launched the 2024 Ruby on Rails Community Survey. Thanks to everyone who has been helping promote this across your teams.

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