WebDD07: Ruby On Rails for .NET Developers (Dave Verwer)

Review: Ruby On Rails for .NET Developers at WebDD Conference 07 14:30 to 15:30

After a brief spell writing a Ruby on Rails app last summer I always meant to do more stuff with it, but somehow I never got around to it. I was hoping this talk would re-ignite my enthusiasm and give me some good pointers.

Dave started off with some general background for the benefit of the .Net crowd, positioning C#/VB as comparable with Ruby and ASP.Net as Rails equivalent in the Microsoft world. He then moved on to an overview of Ruby:

  • Ruby is Object Oriented - a lot of languages claim to be, but not many are as aggressively object oriented as Ruby, even null is an object
  • Ruby is Readable - there were some good examples: 2.weeks.from_now.utc for the date two weeks from today; punctuation for tests as in x.null?; punctuation for destructive and non-destructive methods as in arr.sort compared to arr.sort!
  • Ruby is Dynamic - and this is taken full advantage of in Rails, there were some more examples using method_missing and the Linguistics add on, which extends built in objects

Next we moved on to Rails, and after some general discussion of convention over configuration the bulk of the presentation was a live demonstration of building a web application. The eye opening part of this for me was that Dave approached this in a completely different way to how I'd previously done it (in my admittedly limited experience). He started by defining his model and then adding fields using Rake migrations. I'd never paid any attention to Rake before but it looks very useful once you know what to do with it, basically you define your database upgrades and downgrades in Ruby so then it's easy to roll databases backwards and forwards.

The talk finished up with some references to how Microsoft is 'borrowing' some of the ideas in Rails, LINQ being quite similar to ActiveRecord and BLINQ performing similar tasks to the Rails scaffolding.

I really enjoyed this talk, what's not really coming across in my dry description of the talk above is what engaging presenter Dave Verwer really is, if you have a chance to go see him present I can highly recommend it. Overall this was my favourite talk of the day, 5 out of 5.

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