Braga, Portugal - 2014
I've only been to one programming conference before, which was a Symfony PHP conference in Chicago about 5 years ago. I remember walking away from it with a whole bunch of new ideas bouncing around in my head, motivated to try all of them. So when the opportunity came up this year to attend another conference, this time a Ruby one, I was excited. I ended up choosing RubyConf Portugal, and aside from what turned out to be a great conference, I was able to see Portugal for the first time and I met a lot of very nice people.
What Are Programming Conferences Like?
While I am sure they differ greatly from one to another, programming conferences generally offer either a single or multi track set of talks, with social events happening at night. RubyConf Portugal was of the single track variety, and to be honest it was nice. The topics varied quite a bit, so I was able to learn about some things I might not have chosen if I had been given the choice.
Who Attends Them?
Because I was on my own, knowing nobody else at the conference, it forced me to meet some new people. Both speakers and attendees alike were extremely friendly, and while most attendees were from Portugal, there were a large number of people from Germany, Italy, Poland, etc...
Why Should You Attend One?
I had questioned going, because really, all of the talks are available online, given by the same speakers at previous conferences the same year. While that is true, actually being there in person allows you to connect with other people in the industry, who are struggling through the same problems you are. I heard about the Hallway Track (what happens between the talks, at lunch, at night) being the best part of any conference, and this was definitely true. I was able to make some new friends, and was able to meet and chat with quite a few of the speakers... people who I had only known before from the websites they run or the gems they contribute to.
- I learned about skylight.io and we have recently switched off of NewRelic in favour of it.
- Avdi Grimm wasn't there, but I think 3 speakers mentioned him, and I've since started reading his book Confident Ruby.
- A soft spoken but very kind person named Luca Guidi has created his own Ruby web framework called Lotus