Robert Mosolgo

Trip Report: RubyConf Colombia 2016

I just got back from RubyConf Colombia. The content was great, the community was great, and the venue was great!

The Content

This was a single-track conference, but there were no dud talks! I prefer code-driven talks, and for that reason, these were a few of my favorites:

  • David Pelaez demoed some functional concepts in Ruby, including Right and Left (?? name) and None objects.
  • Oscar Rendon described an approach to combining business rules which allows you to simplify conditional branching and reuse code more effectively.
  • Nick Sutterer shared some insights into busting up “god objects” into more specialized, context-specific units of code.
  • Sebastian Arcila-Valensuela and Frederico Builes gave my favorite non-code talk. They told a funny story of making tradeoffs while working on a tough problem: building a human-friendly path from a disjoint set of points.

I presented “Data Fetching with GraphQL and ActionCable” while I was there, and I was happy with how it went.

The Community

My favorite part of this event was getting to know the local Ruby community. In fact, I should say “software development community”, as many attendees were not full-time Ruby developers.

Many things were familiar to me: these folks are building interesting projects (like Wesura, peer-to-peer insurance, and Vlip, a mobile payment platform). They’re excited about doing great work and learning new things. Also, there’s a big focus on training and education: many attendees were students at local universities or participants in web dev bootcamps.

Other things were different. I saw many more female attendees at this conference than others. I know that this was a goal for the organizers, bravo to them for succeeding! Also, the community is relatively new. RubyConf Colombia is the only Ruby conference in Spanish-speaking Latin America (the other is in Brazil), and it requires a lot of work to plan and execute, because there isn’t so much momentum in place. For example, there’s not a culture of companies sending their employees to conferences, so many attendees paid out of pocket.

I also realized something I take for granted: as a native English speaker, basically all technical information is available in my mother tongue, no matter where in the world it came from. What a blessing! It makes me think how valuable the translation service must have been for some native Spanish speakers. Of course, it was hugely valuable to me too – I would have been lost without it during the Spanish-language talks!

The Venue

El Teatrico was a great spot for this event. We were close to max capacity, and that gave the conference a very intimate feeling. During breaks, you couldn’t help but start a conversation with your neighbor.

Besides that, the translation was amazing! There were two guys taking turns, and they did a great job keeping up with the talks and translating technical vocabulary. I felt like I understood almost 100% of the Spanish-language talks.

I really enjoyed Medellin, too. It checked all the boxes for me: great environment, great people and great food!


(via @gigo6000 on Twitter)

In Summary

This was a wonderful trip! I loved making some new friends and visiting this fantastic city. I really appreciate the work of the organizers, and that their primary goal is really to benefit their community. I’m excited to see what next year holds for them!