The initial keynote was by Jeremy Kemper on Rails 2.1 - some interesting new stuff.
Next I went to a session on Git. Git is a new version control system. In this crowd it seems to be rapidly replacing Subversion. It seems like not that long ago that SourceForge got SubVersion, I wonder how long it'll be before they support Git? (However, it is possible to use Git together with Subversion.) It was a high speed overview of Git, but it did cover a little about how it works which I always like to know. I've been thinking about improving Suneido's version control system. Something like Git might solve a lot of the problems we have.
Then a session on Rails deployment with jRuby. jRuby on Rails lets you take advantage of the multi-threading in the JVM so you can run multiple Rails instances within one VM (rather than the conventional multiple processes.) There's a new tool called Warbler that makes it really easy to do the deployment on jRuby.
And if you want to make deployment really easy you can use Heroku - a Rails "hosting" solution that uses Amazon EC2 and S3 to scale up and down as your traffic requires. Very cool. We use S3 and have been pretty happy with it. Currently we're running our own Rails server for eTrux, but it's a hassle and it would be nice to have it hosted.
Then another session on jRuby by Ola Bini - more general but still interesting
My final session was a comparison of Ruby testing frameworks, primarily Test/Unit, Rspec, and Shoulda. I thought I might pick up some new ideas but they're all pretty similar, nothing too exciting.
Kent Beck gave the keynote at the end of the day. He talked about three "big ideas" he's been involved in - patterns, test driven development, and XP/Agile. I've heard him speak before and he's worth listening to.
When I first starting going to conferences a few years ago I felt under-privileged because I didn't have a Mac laptop like the cool people. Now it's not just the cool people - it's virtually everyone that has a Mac laptop - even me! But I still feel under-privileged because now everyone has MacBook Pro's and I only have a regular MacBook. One guy that sat down next to me even commented "oh, you have one of those old Macs". (Actually, they're not that "old" - they're still being sold, but I got the point.) There weren't many of the new Mac Air laptops - they're probably a little underpowered for this kind of programmer crowd.
I'm enjoying this conference more than I expected. The sessions have been varied enough that I can find stuff that I'm interested in. It's a pretty young group - both the presenters and the attendees. And there seems like a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
One thing that has struck me is just how rich and varied the software ecosystem is becoming. So many products - several in every niche it seems. maybe that's partly a result of how much lower the barrier to entry is. One or two people can produce a lot these days. And with the internet, they can spread the word about what they've done. It makes it a little confusing, but the end result is that there is an amazing amount of amazing stuff out there.