RailsConf 2006 Talk & Notes


RailsConf is over. It was awesome and exhausting—from the late nights in the crummy hotel “bar” and agonizing over lackluster wireless, to the random accordian music, hilarious jokes, and pick-up games of Mario Kart DS. I met so many great people I can’t even keep them straight in my memory. If we talked at RailsConf, please comment and say hi so I can have a link to your site (if you have it) or just a record of your name! And if I was doing my “can’t keep them all straight” thing to you, please know it wasn’t personal, the social parts of my brain have been just incredibly overloaded!

On Friday afternoon, I gave a talk called Overcoming Scaffolding Addiction. The basic premise: Scaffolding is a crutch, and if you continue to use it, you may never get past the hobbling stage. Throw away the scaffolding, and start a project from scratch. You’ll learn more and your application design will probably fit your actual needs better. I then went on about how to start, trying to cram a bit too much into the 1-hour time frame. Ah well, live and learn.

You can download the slides (which are not entirely useful without my narration, but c’est la vie):

PDF (1.1MB)

Also, I told the people in my talk that I’d be putting up some more information on my site. For example, about my book.

Book Info Redux

I am writing a book called Ruby on Rails Right-Brained Guide for the Pragmatic Programmers. Basically, imagine my articles, but in book-length form! And with even more graphics.

I’ll have a site up for it in a few days, where you’ll be able to register your email or cell phone number (for SMS) to be notified when the book’s available for purchase. Right now I’m hoping for a mid- to late fall release date and there are no plans to make it a beta book (although it will be available as a PDF).

Sidenote about a cool tool

Also, I didn’t get a chance to cover script/console, but I really wanted to. For those of you who are working on your model associations, etc., try going to your Rails’ app’s folder and typing script/console. You can use it to manipulate models and see if the associations are working, test out your custom methods, or use it to learn the finer points of the finder methods. There’s a lot more to this, and it’s an article waiting to happen, but I just wanted to put it out there now for those of you who may never have heard of it.


That’s all for now. I’m still working on the article on tech writing. I got some done last night, actually, and borrowed Geoffrey Grosenbach’s nice podcasting microphone to do a few experiments with audio recording. If I can find content that fits the audio format, I may be offering up some stuff soon that you can listen to instead of only read.

No Comments

  1. Cliff Spence says:

    Congrats on the book, Amy, can’t wait to read it. Even if I weren’t familiar with your writing skillz, the title alone is enough to sell me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. bryanl says:


    I’m sure we’ll meet up again at a UMD.rb.

  3. Nils Jonsson says:

    Good stuff. Your style is always engaging.

    Junkies unwilling to go cold turkey on scaffolding should take a free hit of my trestle generator (http://trestle.rubyforge.org/). โ€œCome onโ€”everybodyโ€™s doing it!

  4. James Clark says:

    Yea I wasn’t there, didn’t meet you, didn’t talk to you… but I have been waiting for more info on your book.

    Glad you survived RailsConf…

  5. Jeff Cohen says:

    Hey Amy, I was at your talk. I thought it was aimed at a very good level – not total newbie but not guru, either. There seems to be a genearl lack of that kind of "middle ground" documentation. So your presentation was really helpful. Thanks.

  6. Ryan Allen says:

    Console is great for learning! But beware! My colleagues and myself would test our Models in the console instead of writing Unit Tests.

    We eventually came to and realised that most of what we were typing into console to test our app we could just drop in a unit test. The advantage obviously being that the unit test kind of stuck around rather than disappearing forever.

    If you’re like ‘unit wha?’ (as we were 6 months ago) I recommend Test Driven Development by Kent Beck. It’s the totally awesomeness. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Ben Askins says:

    Thanks Amy. That presentation should be put on the ‘rails required reading list’ for anyone wanting to get started with rails development. You’ve got a nack for explaining things in a way that creates understanding in the mind of the reader. Looking forward to reading your book.

  8. Bryan Helmkamp says:

    It was great to meet you in person. And thanks for supply me with "contraband" at various times throughout the conference.

    Long live the Monkey!

    See you at RubyConf.

    -Bryan (a.k.a. brynary, formerly mycongress)

  9. Matt Todd says:

    Bonjour! Hope the trip back was well and good. Yes, that bar was pathetic. But we still made the best of it. It was great meeting you there! You haven’t heard the last of me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    By the way, your book sounds very cool. And ever since I’ve taken a look into the @scripts@ folder, I’ve been using @console@ a good deal to play with data. But, Ryan Allen has a superb point in that what I’ve been doing in @console@ could easily be done as a test, and should be. Ah, I’m terrible… I’ve not even started writing tests at all yet! Bugger.

    Well, cheers! See you around.


  10. Amy Hoy says:

    It’s true that playing in script/console shouldn’t be an alternative to testing. But it’s a good place to go if your tests are failing so you can find out why, and for me, I like to play with things in "real time" to make sure they mesh up with what I’m thinking. ๐Ÿ™‚

    It’s also the best way to learn about all of ActiveRecord’s goodness, bar none!

  11. Peter Krantz says:

    Hi from Sweden! I hope your Nintendo DS is still working. Thank’s for a nice chat in the hotel lobby.

  12. Adam Keys says:

    ‘Twas good to meet ya, Amy. Hopefully we can get some Mario Kart in sometime before the next conference, ya dig?

  13. Carmelyne Thompson says:

    Good to see some female representation at RailsConf. I ran into you by the Girl’s Office where there was never a line! (Chuckles). That’s were majority of the women did their bonding. Kid you not. Anyway, I’m looking forward to your book. /rock on

  14. Hey Amy, thanks for posting your slides; your presentation was excellent. It was great meeting you too!

  15. Franky says:

    Shit, that one PDF of yours just made everything i was trying to learn about Rails make sense!

    As a C++ and JAVA programmer I just couldn’t get my head around the whole Ruby and Rails. Dang I suck.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    Can’t wait for your book ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. Ryan Carter says:

    Amy, I loved your talk, kittens & jars totally rock, especially when you get the kittens in the jars programmatically. I am a scaffolding addict, and I do have a problem, but I want out. I would LOVE to understand how to code my own stuff "prettier forms" and such, as you said, but there seems to be a large lack of actual Rails knowledge out there for me to absorb. Either that or I haven’t hit the motherlode yet. Why is everyone holding out on me? Does anyone (hopefully Amy) know where I can find good solid Rails knowledge in solid state form to be able to suck it up and start coding high speed? I have been through all the basic tutorials but that is now old news. HELP!

  17. Ed Moss says:

    Try DRYing out your scaffolding!


  18. Stefan says:

    Hi Amy,

    the link to your RailsConf 2006 slides and the JavaScript slides is broken.

    Regards, Stefan

  19. Hey ..love the new site!!! Keep up the good work. I’ll send you text sometime. If you’re home at any time we’ll have to meet up for a pint in the Crown again. Have a good one

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