Devweek is my fave multi-day developer conference in the UK and attracts great speakers such as Aaron Skonnard, Neal Ford and Tim Ewald. Which is why I always feel a little humble that I get the chance to present there. This time around I delivered three sessions (See my discussion of what to expect + slides and links posts) and I also did something completely new to me – I interviewed fellow speakers during the conference with a view to getting the best bits published “somewhere”. A big thanks to all those who agreed to be interviewed. I have just reviewed the content and you all did a smashing job – well done.

As usual I also learnt plenty from attending as many sessions as I could around the above activities. For me the following stick out:

  1. Ruby
  2. Ruby
  3. Ruby :-)

I was blown away by how impressive Ruby as a language was for object oriented development. I had heard good things about Ruby before Devweek but I had ignored it as I continued my slow journey back from Software Architect to Developer using Visual Basic .NET and C#. TBH I actively wanted to find reasons to ignore Ruby while at Devweek. Hence I went into Tim Ewalds session on day one with plenty of scepticism. The sessions description read:

IronRuby
Tim Ewald
Ruby is a dynamically-typed, object-oriented language that’s incredibly productive to work in. IronRuby is an implementation of the Ruby language that runs on the .NET CLR. This talk explores the Ruby language, its integration with .NET, and the benefits that both offer to developers working hard to get more done in less time. IronRuby is one of the most important projects Microsoft is working on, come see why.

What did I learn? I learnt:

  • Ruby was indeed “incredibly productive to work in” – tick to Tim
  • IronRuby opens up the awesome .NET Framework class libraries to Ruby – tick to Tim
  • Ruby is “one of the most important projects Microsoft is working on” – tick to Tim (even if most of Microsoft is working on other stuff!)

Literally 45minutes into the session I had downloaded IronRuby and was writing code with relative ease. Very, very nice.

On the back of that experience I decided to stick around for the Friday workshop delivered by Tim and Kevin Jones on Ruby and Rails. Again I fell in love with Ruby, although not so Rails – but then I haven’t been doing/interested in web stuff for a while. I downloaded a complete Ruby and Rails environment during the workshop. There are several to choose from but I went with Ruby in Steel Personal Edition which gave me Visual Studio integration + lots of Ruby stuff + eBook + Rails 2.0.

Now I have two Ruby installs. IronRuby which is still alpha but targets the .NET CLR and the Ruby distribution which comes with Ruby in Steel. I would much prefer to stick with IronRuby but IronRuby is only at version 0.3 and hence doesn’t have the tooling or fullness of features right now. Hence it was easier to install both.

The best bit is I now know exactly what I want for my birthday this year. I want a full featured install of IronRuby with a great editor and debugger and the backing of lots of MS folks working to make it a success. Oh – and a new game for my 360 :-)