I spent this Friday and Saturday in London at the RubyFoo conference, organized by Trifork. RubyFoo is a small pre-conference to the larger JAOO conference. As you might expect, it’s focused on Ruby, and it’s quite small. On the friday we were about 50 people, and on Saturday about 40. The small amount of people and the fact that all presentations were in the same track made it much easier to network and communicate with people. I liked the focus this gave to the conference, and it was also an excellent opportunity to meet new people and get new ideas.

On the Friday there were five presentations, and on the Saturday it was an open spaces. The five presentations were all focused around the area of communicative programming. I talked about JRuby and did several demonstrations of how JRuby can be used to call out to different languages. My examples included talking to Clojure, Erlang and Haskell.

After me, Aslak Hellesøy talked about Cucumber and how Cucumber supports lots of different programming languages. Very cool. Aslak always give good presentations.

We then had lunch, and then Sam Aaron gave an interesting talk about communicative programming, and the essence of what we are doing. Very cerebral, definitely something that sparked lots of thoughts in peoples minds.

Adam Wiggins gave a talk about Heruko. I haven’t actually tried Heruko yet, but it looks very cool.

Finally, Matz gave a talk about the different styles of programming in Ruby, tied in with his history of creating Ruby and what the inspirations were. Very nice.

On the Saturday my colleague Dan North facilitated the open spaces discussions. I gave a 30 minute talk about Ioke – people seemed to enjoy it. After that Dan North, me, Aslak and a few others had a discussion about static versus dynamic typing.

After lunch I held a discussion about Ruby 1.9, getting some ideas why people weren’t using it, and what problems the people using it had encountered.

Finally, me, Aslak and Sam sat down to add Ioke support to Cucumber. This went really well – and I liked pairing with Aslak. Sadly I couldn’t stay until we were done, but Aslak and the others continued while I was heading out to the airport.

All in all, RubyFoo was a great conference, and I hope they can keep the same size the next time. 50 people were really a great size, and I liked the discussions we had.

Upcoming talks

There hasn’t been much interesting happening this summer, but the fall is shaping up to be pretty busy. I will be talking at several different conferences, and thought I’d mention when and where I will be appearing.

First, this week I’m presenting at JavaZone in Oslo. I will present at 11:45 tomorrow, talking about Ioke.

Next week is the JVM Language Summit in Santa Clara. It is shaping up to be a great collection of people with many interesting discussions and talks. Take a look at the details for the talks. The people there are some of the most experienced language developers and implementors in the world. It should be a blast. I will do a talk about Ioke, and also a workshop about the challenges of improving Ioke’s performance.

After that I will attend RubyFoo in London, Oct 2-3, where I will talk about JRuby. RubyFoo will feature Matz, Sam Aaron, Aslak Hellesøy, Adam Wiggins and me. It should be great fun!

At JAOO this year (Oct 4-9 in Aarhus, Denmark) I will do a tutorial about testing Java code with JRuby. This conference also looks like it will be great. Many interesting talks and speakers. And of course, JAOO is generally the best conference I’ve ever been to.

At Øredev in Malmö, Sweden (Nov 2-6), I will be talking about Ioke.

And finally, at QCon SF in San Francisco (Nov 16-20) I will be hosting a track on emerging languages. After JAOO, QCon is my favorite conference, so I think it will be very nice too.

So, several interesting conferences coming up. Hope to see many of you there!

Ioke geek night in London

I will hold a presentation about Ioke in London, Thursday 14th. This will be held at Skills Matters location. You can find more information, and sign up, here:

Java in the Google Cloud event in London

Me and Chris Read will talk at an event at Skills Matter in London May 11th. We will be talking about different aspects surrounding the release of Google App Engine support for Java.

You can find the registration page here:

After QCon London 2008

This week has mostly been taken up with QCon London. I spent most of Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday here, and I thought that I’d take the opportunity to write up some of my impressions and thoughts about the sessions I attended.

First, in general the conference definitely didn’t disappoint me. It held at least as high standard as I had expected from earlier QCon and JAOO conferences. Solid speakers, a wide range of exciting topics and lots of interesting people made for a grade A conference.

I started out on the Monday with listening to my colleagues Neal Ford, Rebecca J Parsons and Martin Fowler give a tutorial on domain specific languages. I’ve seen bits and parts of this tutorial before, but seeing as the three speakers are working on evolving it to a full and coherent “pedagogical framework” for teaching DSLs, the current presentation had changed quite a bit since the last time. I really liked it and I recommend it to anyone interested in getting a firm grasp about what DSLs are. Having Rebecca talk about external DSLs in the context of parsers and grammars makes total sense, and the only real thing I would say was a problem was the time allotted to it. Her part of the subject was large enough that 75 minutes felt a bit rushed. Of course, I don’t see how Martins or Neals parts could be compressed much more either, so maybe the subject actually is too large for a one day tutorial? Anyway, great stuff.

For several reasons I decided to spend the Tuesday working from the office instead of attending tutorials again.

During the Wednesday I mostly spent my time in the exhibition hall, talking to people and doing general networking. For some reason the tracks I was least interested in had all been scheduled on the same day, so I was lazy and worked on other stuff in the ThoughtWorks booth.

The evening keynote on Wednesday by Martin Fowler and Jim Webber was hilarious, and also managed to get a quite important message across. I had a good time.

Thursday started the session attending for me, beginning with Markus Völters presentation of XText in the DSL track. Highly informative and something that I’ll keep in mind if I see something that would be benefit from it. The approach is definitely not for all problem domains, of course.

After that. Venkat Subramaniam gave a talk about how to blend dynamic languages with Java. This talk was useful in explaining why you’d want to do something like this, and why it’s such a powerful technique. It also served to set up my talk – which was next in that track – about evolving the Java platform. My talk went well, but I had the timing for it really messed up, so I ran out of material 10 minutes earlier than I expected. Neal Gafter was in the audience and helped out with some corrections during the talk. =)

Finally I headed back to the DSL track and saw Avi Bryant talk about DSLs in Smalltalk and then Magnus Christerson and Henk Kolk talk about the Intentional Workbench. Lots of neat stuff in both of these presentations.

Then there was the speakers dinner… Lots of interesting discussions with lovely people. =)

And then, more quickly than I had expected, the final day of QCon arrived. Me as a Ruby person and programming language nerd had quite a good selection of tracks. I ended up seeing Ted’s presentation on F#, which made me feel: wow! Microsoft took ML and did exactly what they’ve done to all languages on the CLR – added support for .NET objects in the mix. The talk ended with a quite strange discussion about whether F# actually helps with concurrent programming or not, and why a functional programming language has primitives that allow you to have mutable state.

After that I did my talk in the Ruby track, talking about more advanced things regard JRuby. It ended up being great fun, and I spent lots of time in the talk answering questions and showing how seamlessly things work with JRuby. I ended up eating up 10 minutes of everyone’s lunch time, but I had a great time and I thing most in the audience had too.

Feeling happy and finished with my contributions, I ended up in the Erlang talk by Joe Armstrong. It gave a quite good overview of why Erlang was created and how it solves some of the problems in that particular problem domain. There is no doubt that Armstrong is an entertaining talker, but his buffoon image gets a little tiring and repetitive after a while. Some of the things that interested me in the talk was missing too. He started out saying that Erlang solves a particular problem, but then expanded that into something that sounded like “Erlang should be used for everything, everywhere”. I tried to ask a question related to that, but the answer didn’t really go in the direction I was interested in.

I stayed in the languages track and saw the introduction to Scala, which is always fun, except that I’d already learned most of the things showcased. The most interesting about the presentation was the audience interest and questions.

Finally I realized that my contributions were not over at all, since I’d agreed to be part of the closing Ruby panel. This ended up revolving quite a lot around the question whether Ruby and Windows ever will be a good match, if this is important, and if we really want to push Ruby into all kinds of environments.

The closing panel were OK, but nothing special. It ended the day on a good note, but at that time I was tired enough to fall asleep in my chair. For some reason this always happens that last day of conferencing.

Anyway. I had a great time and I look forward to being back the next time. I can definitely recommend QCon as one of the best conferences around in this industry.

London RUG tonight

Anyone showing up for the London RUG tonight? Seems like it will be interesting: Ruby2Ruby and ParseTree, and also Jay Phillips about Adhearsion (which is really cool).

I will not be presenting, so don’t worry about that. =)

Hope to see you there.

Finally in London

Yesterday I landed in London, and let me tell you: it’s been tough getting here. Packing and moving and arranging all takes lots of time and energy. And it’s not helping being sick while pulling it off, either. But I’m finally here, and right now sitting at a hotel room in Holborn, close to Russel Square. Hopefully I’ll be able to land an apartment soon too, and then I’ll get back to my former speed, hopefully.

In the meantime, tomorrow is my first day at ThoughtWorks. It’s bound to be interesting, but I don’t expect any downtime. We have so many interesting things going, that it will be full speed ahead from day one.

Although I’m more tired than I should be, if someone feels like meeting up this or next week for a beer and talk JRuby, it would be fun.

Tomorrow is today – or from London to Stockholm to Krakow

Part I: London

I got up at 5am, got dressed and packed and headed of to the airport. Finally got on the plane to London (thank god for online check-in) and tried to get some work done. That didn’t go very well, but I got to read some instead. I’m rereading Ubik. Classic. Landed at Heathrow about 10 minutes behind schedule. Ran to the Piccadilly line, tried to talk with people in Sweden, but the connection was kinda bad. Arrived at Covent Garden, walked in brisk pace to the place of my meeting. Finally arrived, 5 minutes late, to find out there was no hurry. Sat down and had a pleasant chat with Dan North and Simon Stewart. Very nice. (Hey Dan, if you read this, get in touch when you’re in Stockholm for ExpertZone. I know places with good beer.).

Then, Lunch. Haha. What a joke. I found a place that seemed to offer great vegetarian burgers, so I settled down for a quorn burger and some British chips. After 15 minutes waiting I got told the grill wouldn’t light up. Lucky me. Instead, I had to make do with a Pret sandwich and a spicy vegetable Cornish pasty (someone told me it was the day of the Cornish patron saint yesterday, so I guess that fits). A few minutes walk on Oxford street was nice. I got photographed by some guys from an Austrian fashion magazine. Then back for the real meeting.

Cyndi Mitchell is a very formidable person. I was impressed. We had a 2 hour talk; very interesting. I will tell you all about it as soon as I can. But suffice to say, I was very happy when I left. Until I realized that I had exactly 2 hours until my flight taxed out from Heathrow. So, back to Covent Garden. Back on the underground. Which through some bad communication on the drivers part, almost ended badly when the train reached the end stop before Heathrow. Thanks to the people who told me to get of the train and switch to the other side. =) I finally got to Terminal 3, realized I already had a boarding card, found my way to the security check, got my boots scanned two times, and found the gate about 20 times before takeoff. Of course, as soon as the aircraft had taxed out, the flight management decided that we should stay 30 minutes on ground before finally taking off towards Copenhagen. It’s a wonder I actually got there in time. So, in Copenhagen I walked 2 klicks to the transfer center, got a new boarding card and walked back to almost the exact place I started from, got on my flight to Stockholm and finally landed. Wow.

Airport coach to Stockholm city, and night bus home to my dear old mental hospital. When I finally got to bed I ached all over, and had been awake and active for 22 hours solid. Sleep was nice at that point. Especially since the day had been a success on all accounts.

Part II: Stockholm

I finally woke up, took care of mail and told everyone about London. Thought I’d take it easy, maybe practice on my presentation for Saturday, possibly start writing on the presentations for the CS course I’m going to speak for this April. But alas, after some mailing with Poland, I realized I’ve made a big mistake. I thought I was going to Kraków this Friday, and staying until Sunday. That’s not entirely right. I’m actually going tomorrow. Surprise!


Part III: Kraków

As mentioned above, I’ll land in Kraków tomorrow (Wednesday) evening. This is good in several ways. I will have a chance to see the city, and I will have the opportunity to see some more presentations at the conference I’m at. There are many interesting things to be had; I’m sad half of them are in Polish. I guess I can look at the slides and have some fun trying the guess the meaning. I am going to see the talks about IronPython, Google Ads and Seaside. And, of course, if anyone is nearby and would like to take a beer and talk computers, programming languages, AI, or whatnot, please hit me a mail, or a comment on this post. My evenings will be mostly free it seems.

That is, unless someone knows any good clubs with nice music; especially electronic stuff and/or postpunk, new wave, darkwave or gothy things.

Anyway. Time to sleep.