It's 2011, and it's time again for JRubyConf! We've got a great show in store for you, with lots of excellent talks and a whole bunch of JRuby commiters, users, and presenters gathered together for three days of geekery August 3-5 in DC. Let's take a look back at JRuby and JRubyConf over the past year, walk through a few of the talks, and see why you should consider attending JRubyConf yourself!
2011: The Year We Made Contact
We've come a long way since JRubyConf 2009.
That year, JRubyConf was simply an "extra day" attached to RubyConf, in the same hotel and with many of the same attendees. It was a great success, but pretty low-key compared to JRubyConf 2010. In 2010, Joe O'Brien and the EdgeCase folks offered to merge JRubyConf with eRubyCon, the "enterprise" Ruby conference. It marked the first time JRubyConf was a real, live conference, and we managed to draw in 150+ attendees and a great bunch of speakers.
JRuby has come a long way too. Since JRubyConf, we've released two major versions of JRuby: 1.5 and 1.6. Both versions represented a tremendous number of commits and bugfixes...the two combined add up to almost as much work as all prior versions of JRuby. All that work has meant JRuby's achieved an extremely high level of compatibility with Ruby 1.8.7 (we almost never get 1.8.7-related bugs anymore), and in 1.6 we even officially started supporting Ruby 1.9.2 features. Also in 1.6, we included experimental support for running C extensions...something we never believed we'd be able to do.
The JRuby updates and yearly JRubyConf are joined by the JRuby book, "Using JRuby", available from Pragmatic Programmers. After two years of on-again, off-again work, we managed to finish the book early this year. The response has been excellent, with new and existing users alike telling us how much they've enjoyed reading it.
All this adds up to a big 2011 for JRuby, and it feels like we're starting to get our stride in both the Ruby and Java worlds. Almost every Rubyist has at least tried JRuby, and it seems like every other Rubyist has something running on JRuby today, even if it's not their primary platform. For me, that means people find JRuby useful, either as "just another Ruby", or because it has a number of features above and beyond Ruby (like Java integration and novel deployment options). For you, maybe it's time to check out JRuby, buy the book and attend JRubyConf.
A Whole New JRubyConf
For 2011, we've made JRubyConf into its own event, not attached to or taking over any other conference. The show will be in Washington, D.C. August 3-4, at the beautiful Kellogg Conference Center Auditorium on the campus of Gallaudet University. The conference registration price has been slashed, thanks to support from Engine Yard and EdgeCase, to only $199! We'll have the requisite after-hours events, repeating our whisky tasting from last year's show and adding a few other fun activities. But the focus of the show is squarely on the excellent speakers and presentations you'll see. I'm looking forward to all of them, but here's a few talks I think Rubyists and Java-heads alike will find interesting, especially if you're new to JRuby.Adopting JRuby and Making It Work
If you're not yet sold on JRuby, Marc Peabody might be able to convince you. He's presenting A JRuby Tale, the story of a nearly-complete JRuby project being deployed into a Java organization. You'll learn not just when to use JRuby, but also when JRuby might not be the best fit. We also have Jason Gilman presenting Building the MagicWebService. Jason works on a NASA project called ECHO, which had a large SOAP web service they wanted to expose through a RESTful interface. JRuby came to the rescue, providing access to high-performance Java libraries, wrapped with a little Ruby sugar and wired into the Ruby libraries you know and love.
Along similar lines comes the JRuby at LinkedIn talk by Baq Haidri. LinkedIn is one of the premier JRuby users, with several of their key applications using JRuby for the web front-end. Baq will explain the reasons for using JRuby on the front-end compared to other JVM language options, and hopefully we'll see some of the awesome polyglot integration the LinkedIn folks are doing.
If you're a desktop application developer, you can't miss Dan Lucraft's talk on Cross Platform Desktop Apps with JRuby. Dan is the creator of the Redcar Editor, a Textmate clone written in Ruby and running on JRuby. Redcar uses the SWT GUI framework for its UI, but wraps it with Ruby code and combines it with a powerful plugin system for all of Redcar's functionality. The result is a beautiful, fast, powerful editor that works across platform and requires no compilation on any of them. It's a great example of how to write good Ruby and take advantage of what JRuby has to offer.
Big internet means big data, and Jeremy Hinegardner will present the timely Big Data and JRuby. If you're going to process big data, you need a solid runtime that can manage memory well, a concurrent runtime that allows you to completely utilize your hardware, and the right tools and libraries. JRuby, running on the JVM, gives you easy access to all three. Jeremy will talk specifically about Hadoop and Hadoop-related projects and how you can use them from JRuby today.
_Sematic Web and JRuby _
If you're interested in the semantic web, Carin Meier will present Semantic Web and JRuby and show how to leverage the Jana semantic web framework from your Ruby applications. I know at least one JRuby committer who's always had a think for the semantic web. Maybe you do too?
Once you've got your JRuby application written, you're going to need to deploy it. To answer that need, we have David Calavera presenting Trinidad is Still My Name and Ben Browning presenting Why I Love Torquebox (And Why You Should Too. Trinidad (an embedded command-line Tomcat for running Rack apps) and Torquebox (JBoss AS plugins and standalone server for Rack, messaging, and more) are the two top web deployment options for JRuby these days. This is your chance to talk to the folks behind them and learn why you might choose one over the other.
Every good conference needs talks that are either non-technical or which push the boundaries of current tech. For that, we have Justin Gehtland, Michael Feathers, and Neal Ford presenting on aspects of the development process that plague us from day to day. Justin's talk Never Settle will help you learn to keep fighting for a better experience in both development and day-to-day life. Michael will present Your Software, It's Alive, emphasizing something too few developers realize: software projects are born, grow up, and die just like organisms. And the always excellent Neal Ford will present Abstraction Distractions, a survey of what sorts of designs and abstractions work and which ones don't (with examples ranging from the iPad to Maven) and how you can apply that to your own software.
On the more technical side, Ian Dees will present JRuby, Not Just for Hard-Headed Pragmatists Anymore. Ian tackles the other side of JRuby, where you can utilize libraries from languages like Clojure or Scala and build your own languages using tools like BiteScript. JRuby's more than just a Ruby implementation...and I'm sure Ian will show some good reasons why.
And finally, there's Russ Olsen presenting Eloquent JRuby. Russ will show something I've been dying to see: best practices for a JRuby application that keeps Javaisms from leaking into your beautiful Ruby world.
JRuby Core Team
Of course we'll have a session to update you on JRuby's status and future. Tom Enebo and I will talk about: invokedynamic and its impact on JRuby; a new intermediate representation compiler we're working on; JRuby 1.7, Ruby 1.9.x, and Java 7 plans; and the status of JRuby adoption, platforms (like cloud, mobile, embedded), and community.
More to Come!
We're still ironing out the last few speakers, and will try to post an update in the next week. But do you really need more reasons to attend?
One Last Thing
With that, I'd like to personally invite you to attend JRubyConf 2011. JRuby has really come into focus over the past year, and I really love hearing from current and potential JRuby users. We're building this thing for you, and we're putting this conference on for you, so come out to D.C. and tell us what you're doing with JRuby or what you'd like to see from us in the future.
JRuby is an important tool every Rubyist should have in their toolbox. Come to JRubyConf 2011 and let our excellent speakers tell you why!