Ostrava on Rails
Well, it’s been a week, and I’m finally finding a moment to write up my experiences at Ostrava on Rails.
What a great time.
The original plan was that I would spend a few hours in Prague, sightseeing with Tobias Luetke, but that didn’t quite work out. Instead, I spent the time in the Praha-Holešovice train station, watching a terrific thunderstorm and wondering how to pronounce the words on the signs all around me.
Tobi arrived just in time for the train to Ostrava, as did Saimon and Filip. Filip, being a native of Prague, was also able to instruct me in general Czech pronunciation (and also put up with my ceaseless questions about the Czech language—thanks a ton, Filip!). The train ride was nice, and when we arrived at Ostrava-Svinov station, Lucie Malikova was there to drive us to our hotel.
Day #1 of the conference dawned bright and sunny, and Lucie arrived early to show us the way to the venue, which was within walking distance. The walk was pleasant, and the venue (the Technology Park at the college there) was very, very nice. I got to speak first (a 45-minute variation on the 3-hour Capistrano tutorial I gave at the Portland RailsConf), which let me relax nicely for the rest of the day, and to enjoy Saimon Moore’s presentation (on I18N), Tobi’s (about the origins of Shopify and founding a startup on Rails), Luke Francl’s (about sending/receiving MMS messages with Ruby and Rails) and Tim Lossen’s (about building an inexpensive Rails cluster).
Dinner that night was at a fantastic restaurant—I had some of the best trout I’ve ever had. The menu was really varied. After that, our guests wanted to show us one of Ostrava’s most famous features, Stodolni street, which is lined with pub after pub. A sudden rain cancelled that walk, though, so instead we were shown to a really cool little place built atop a theater club, and we were the only ones there. I had a good opportunity to chat with Robert Cigan, one of the organizers of the conference and one of the few professional Rails programmers in the Czech Republic.
The next day was all in Czech, but the slides were English. I’ll admit I dozed off for a bit during Robert’s presentation (sorry, Robert!). All through both days, though, you could really feel the energy and excitement about Rails. The Czech Republic (and many other central European countries, I imagine) are at an interesting point in their adoption of Rails. It’s about where the US was two years ago, with lots of skeptics and very few professionals using Rails. The very first Rails hosting service in the Czech Republic was even announced at the conference. To some (Robert, I’m talking to you) it can seem pretty lonely to be a Rails programmer in CZ right now, but I predict that the next year will see some pretty significant changes.
All in all, I loved that conference. It was a wonderful opportunity, and I hope I find my way back to the Czech Republic again sometime. Many, many thanks to Jiři Štursa and all the others who worked so hard to bring it off!