Fast approaching the one year anniversary of Euruko ’22 – the centrepiece conference of the Ruby on Rails community – our Software Engineer, Casimiera Coyle, shares her reflection on the experience of visiting Finland as part of a fellowship of six from the Yozu team!
Euruko Helsinki took place on 13-14 October 2022 and was broadcast online around the world.
Day 1 – Urgh, where am I?
It’s dark, I’m asleep.
Knock, knock. I’m awake, hey!
I’m getting up… hey?
No reply. What time is it?
I’m so regular with sleep, but there is a time difference, and it’s still dark. I can’t find a light switch, and I’m so far north, and now my toes are slipping on the hard yellow Scandinavian wooden floor.
So began our first morning in Helsinki, having flown in from Manchester the previous evening for Euruko, Europe’s biggest Ruby conference.
After narrowly catching the early hotel breakfast, we went to the Paasitorni, a grand granite-built art nouveau building constructed in 1908 as a workers’ assembly hall – and now a contender for UNESCO world heritage status.
Excitedly, we registered and received goodie bags and name tags before sitting in an enormous conference hall and waiting for Matz, the Japanese creator of the Ruby programming language.
Anticipation rose as a sea of seven hundred Ruby developers sat down all around us. When Matz arrived via video link, the crowd roared with admiration, and he kicked off the convention with a movingly passionate prenote. This began with some amusing criticisms of Ruby from the ‘kind people on the internet’ before referencing the Japanese proverb of ‘the fox that borrows the authority of a tiger’.
He continued that whilst Ruby may no longer be a ‘cool new language’, it holds vast market value in both startups and established businesses and ‘joy’, ‘productivity’ and ‘money’ were the keys to the language’s success.
He dismissed the recent popularity of static-typed languages as a tech trend that comes and goes like a pendulum. To end, he covered the latest developments in the language before inviting us all to join the dev community ‘to create a better world together’.
Ruby x Music
After Matz, there was a great talk from Thijs Cadier titled, ‘How music works using Ruby’, which detailed various libraries and techniques for audio production with the language. This was followed after lunch by a bubbling and gif-laden talk by Melissa Kaulfuss, an Australian’ Site Reliability Engineer’, about improving the stability of pipelines and servers.
Next was a more technically heavy but fascinating talk by Shopify’s Jemma Issrof on implementing ‘object shapes’ in Ruby, a low-level behind-the-scenes language feature. The final two talks of the first day were on security by Wiktoria Dalach and ‘peephole optimisations’ by Maple Ong. The latter is another low-level detail of the Ruby language.
After the conference, I headed to a local coffee shop for ‘WNB.rb’ women and non-binary Ruby meetup. I chatted with developers from Nigeria, Canada and the USA. It was interesting to hear and compare how other software companies manage things. Later that evening, a party in a nightclub was reserved exclusively for conference attendees, giving it a relatively novel atmosphere.
Day 2 – lightning talks, keynote and pitching for Euruko ’23
The second day kicked off with an amusing talk by Adarsh Pandit on the organisation of the Ruby community, with many analogies to cycling in both the USA and Finland (where, in the latter, it is far safer and more popular).
Vesa Vanska talked about pull requests and trunk development before a round of ‘lightning talks’ on Sinatra, the philosophy of questions, CLI apps and junior devs. Next up were pitches for the host of Euruko 2023, including an emotional appeal from a group of developers from Lviv, Ukraine.
Vilnius in Lithuania ultimately won out after a humorous and self-deprecating presentation. This was followed by a talk on JRuby, a lesser-known alternative interpreter of the JVM.
With a spare day before our flight home, I explored the Finnish National Art Gallery with a Ukrainian developer I had befriended, which included plenty of Moomins and the National History Museum. In the latter, I learned the beautiful Finnish phrase, ‘Alavilla Mailla Hallan Vaara’, which means ‘danger of night frost in low-lying areas’ and is a staple of weather reports, along with an overview of two thousand years of Finnish civilisation.
Overall, it was a unique and insightful trip that taught us a lot about the Ruby language, development and the community whilst also being a chance to meet fellow developers from all over the world and learn about Finland.
I was left eager to return next year and with ideas bouncing around my head for possible pitches for our presentations.