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Ruby Conference Review: Rubyfuza 2016

This is the first article of a multi-series blog post about Ruby/Tech conferences that @thomas_witt visited in 2016.

The setting

Cape Town is always worth a visit. Since years I keep on coming back to this lovely place on earth. Its peaceful atmosphere, its beauty of nature, the great food and the lovely people make it really an awesome place on earth. And, when flying from Europe, ist's only one hour time difference, which makes the 10 hours flight very tolerable, because you won't be jetlagged. And of course you'll escape the horrible European winter.

When I learned that there's a two-day single-track Ruby conference in Cape Town, I took the chance and went to Rubyfuza (@rubyfuza).

I actually didn't know what to expect from a Ruby conference in South Africa. I knew that there's a tech scene in Cape Town (hey, Mark Shuttleworth coded his first SSL certificate authority there), but I was curious what will be going on.

Fortunately I've met Angus (@all4miller) and Dayne from Vulcan Labs (@vulcanalia) the day before the conference started. They hosted a little welcome BBQ for speakers and friends on their office rooftop. That was actually more than welcoming - a perfect start for the conference. Angus did a great job at the BBQ, so it was a great pre-conference get-together. They're super-friendly guys, so if you have a chance to meet them and are looking for a company to do a project in Rails, check them out. They're great.

The conference

Rubyfuza 2016 took place from Feb 4th-6th 2016 at the President Hotel in Cape Town, which was a very pleasant setting. My estimation is that about 100 people participated on the conference. Lots of people from South Africa of course, but also a notable amount from the US and Europe.

The whole organization was flawless, extra points for the fresh coffee bar on site. The talks were mostly interesting, even though not very hardcore technical. There was a focus on soft technical talks or general stuff besides the regular Ruby things - there were many talks who were not that Ruby focussed at all (seems to be a common trend amongst conferences) - for example there were talks about HTML5 and Elixa.

The talks

My personal absolute highlight was the awesome talk by Julian Cheal (@juliancheal) with the promising title "(M)Ruby, Robots, and how to control the World.". I had the pleasure to meet him already at the Vulcan Labs-BBQ, and he absolutely rocked the stage. One felt like in a physics or electronics lecture with live demonstrations of flying drones and robots controlled by Ruby (using the Artoo framework). With a MIDI controller. It was awesome, thanks again to Julian.

Another definitely noteworthy talk was "Beating Poker With The Help Of Ruby" by Assaf Gerber (@assafgelber), who works at PayPal. A lot of interesting math stuff, backgrounds about probabilities and how to implement those things with Ruby. When I met him at the BBQ, he was maybe a bit nervous about his upcoming talk, but there was absolutely no reason for it - it was really great.

Twitter activity (#rubyfuza2016) from the conference was rather low, unfortunately there weren't that many people live tweeting.

Socializing and meeting people

The whole socializing part consisted of a nice drink-up at the end of the first day on the sunny terrace of the hotel with some fingerfood and lots of nice smalltalk. The next day was even better: we got together for an awesome dinner at a place called The Bungalow. It was directly at the sea shore, featuring a breathtaking sunset. So I had a great dinner with lovely people (you know, MINASWAN).

I connected to a lot of folks at the conference, and I was really pleasantly surprised how many cool Rails development shops there are in South Africa. Besides the wonderful guys from Vulcan Labs, I met with Unboxed, Zero One and Platform 45.

These four are all professional Rails development companies and we're looking forward to do Scrivito projects with them. Definitely check them our if you're looking to outsource from the US or Europe or just want to start great Rails development projects.

What else?

Unfortunately for South Africa, fortunately for European visitors the exchange rate for the Rand is currently at a kind of all-time low. That makes everything there super affordable, so a visit to South Africa is not only educational and fun but also currently on the cheap side.

The only thing where I've found room for improvement is to actually focus more on Ruby and include some more deeper technical talks.

Would I go again?

Yes. South Africa is a great country and always worth a visit, people are super-friendly and the community is great. Especially if you live in Europe and would like to combine holidays and a good Ruby conference, Rubyfuza is the way to go.