Ruby Together

RailsConf on Tracks

If you’re looking for a curated conference experience this year, you can allow the RailsConf 2022 program committee to choose your adventure and sit back and enjoy your journey through the conference via a track.

The conference tracks are listed on the program and can be chosen up until the moment the first session starts. If you do select a track, there’s no obligation to stay on it. You’re free to move between tracks, move in and out of a track, or start on a track and then move on to general talks if you’d like.

Or, “there’s always the hallway track,” as RailsConf 2022 program committee member Aisha Blake puts it.

But if you do decide to stick to a track through the entirety of the conference, you’re in for a treat. The talks in each track aren’t simply grouped together by category, their sequence is considered and intentional.

“The talks are ordered,” RailsConf 2022 program co-chair Max Tiu explains, “and narratives are crafted.” As a result, “you get more of a cohesive experience around an area of interest.”

You may still be wondering: “Should I choose a conference track? And if so, which one?” Well, you’re in luck! I connected with the program committee curating this year’s tracks to ask why they chose each talk, and what to look forward to from each track. Read on to get a closer view of the RailsConf 2022 tracks…

Make a switch

“What if you made a radical shift?” poses Brittany Martin, an Engineering Manager and cohost of the Ruby on Rails Podcast. She curated the “Make a Switch” track, which is officially described as:

The track for the ambitious speakers who made a switch and the lessons they learned along the way. Left React for Hotwire? Refocused from logging to telemetry? In-sourced what you out-sourced? Bring your radical tooling, workflow and approach changes to this track.

“As a podcaster, I love storytelling so I was excited to craft a track where developers like us could share the ambitious risks they took and the technical takeaways.”

Martin anticipates that this track may lead to an “aha” moment for those who choose it, and she encourages teams to attend talks together, especially if they are relevant to your stack.

This track is ideal for developers at all levels who have influence over technical and process decisions on their team.

Martin encourages potential attendees with the reminder that “even if the subject in not in your wheelhouse (i.e. Frontend or DevOps tooling), you are not only attending for yourself but for your colleagues and friends.”

Interest piqued? Here are the talks in the Make a Switch track.

Explain It Like I’m Five

If you’re seeking a crash course on some of the most fundamental concepts in Rails, “Explain It Like I’m Five” (or ELIF) is your perfect lane.

Software engineer Emily Giurleo organized this track. Like the popular subreddit, she hopes it will serve as a welcoming space for conference goers to get a breakdown of core concepts, tools and skills that may seem complicated on the surface.

“Too often, people think that certain concepts are too advanced for them to understand. I wanted to show that there is no such thing as ‘too advanced’ – with the right framing, any of us can understand concepts usually reserved for experts,” Giurleo explains.

She believes this track will appeal to developers at different levels for different reasons. For beginner and mid-level developers these talks will offer a chance to move toward mastery of the Ruby on Rails framework. Meanwhile, experienced developers will be able to sharpen their skills when it comes to communicating advanced topics in an approachable way.

If you’re looking to go in depth on specific topics, this track is not for you. Giurleo explains, “While the talks on this track do cover advanced topics, they are meant to serve as an entry point.”

Get started on a new concept with the talks in the Explain It Like I’m Five track.

Open Source Maintenance 

“There is no harder maintenance case than ‘thousands of people already use this and the core team is distributed all over the world working at different companies,’” says Chelsea Troy, Mozilla Staff Software Engineer and the curator of the Open Source Maintenance Track.

And yet according to Troy, most new developers are steered toward learning how to build something from scratch. “That’s almost never the case we’re talking about in the professional world,” she says.

As an educator, Troy specializes in highlighting the areas of software engineering that are undervalued and yet essential in the day-to-day context for developers.

Successful communication, versioning, and maintenance practices have been refined and standardized in popular open source projects out of necessity.

However, Troy contends these skills are “useful for all (or most) dev teams to learn from and adopt—including closed-source, private, or proprietary software teams like the ones that send their people to RailsConf.”

Common concerns like “testing for regressions, documentation, managing communities, and debugging” will be covered. Troy expects that the talks in this track will cater to a mixed-level audience.

She’s looking forward to talks that offer an exciting spin on topics that too often go under-appreciated.

Preview the lessons from open source in the talks of the Open Source Maintenance track.

Community Content

Rubyists interested in starting or elevating their content, be it blogs, podcasts, tutorials, meetups, books, games and more, should head straight for the Community Content track.

Curated by Aisha Blake, director of developer relations for Pluralsight, the track will feature experienced creators of both digital and analogue content for the Ruby community.

“One of the questions that I get pretty frequently is: how do I how do I get started?”, says Blake about her desire to curate the track.

“You show up and you see the people who are giving the talks… hopefully, you learned something, or you’re moved by a story that they told. The exciting part about this track is that you can start to do those same things yourself. You can learn how to leverage your own story, your own work, your own interests to kind of elicit that same reaction in other people.”

Blake is passionate about the power of effective communication to “not only educate, but to excite, inspire, engage” audiences, and is looking forward to using this space to uplift creators and educators in the Ruby community, as well as help new ones get started.

She is excited about the “Give Your First Talk” workshop in this track, taking place in the morning on the last day of the conference. She encourages anyone who is even a little bit drawn to it to attend.

“Take the opportunity. Like, try it out. Go talk it through with people who are kind of in the same boat with you, and don’t be afraid to to put yourself out there a little bit.”

Learn ways you can start creating in the talks from the Community Content track.

Whether you choose to go with a conference track, or freestyle RailsConf 2022, we hope this was helpful, and has you excited for the talks next week. We look forward to seeing you there!