Sydney Ruby on Rails User Group

I attended the Sydney Ruby on Rails user group last week. There was a pretty decent size crowd, and the talks were hosted in the upstairs room at the Trinity Bar and Grill in Surry Hills, with beer and food available from the upstairs bar. I was disappointed to see that there were only three girls there though, it would be lovely sometimes to not stick out so much!

The talks are short, only 15 minutes each which is perfect because there’s never time to get bored. It also means, however, that it’s difficult to get very in depth with anything.

First up was Mario Visic talking about using declarative steps with cucumber, which are far less detailed and attempt to describe the business requirement, rather than the imperative style which is more granular and contains scenario data. The arguments are that declarative steps will change less as the design of the system changes, and that business people can write them. More about declarative steps.

I have my reservations over whether it would actually reduce the overall volume of changes or just move them out of the steps. I’ve never known business people write steps (and in fact somebody asked the question whether Mario’s client had written any steps, to which he replied no!) and I would be interested to know what QAs think of this style.

It’s an interesting idea though and one I might try on my next project if I can.

Next was David Parry on CoffeeScript, something I’ve been wanting to try for a while. I learned that one of its aims is to produce perfectly JS-lintable Javascript, which is very cool. You can also convert existing Javascript into CoffeeScript to make the move across easier – I think the tool demonstrated was JS2Coffee.

I also learned that CoffeeScript puts everything inside an anonymous function, so calling functions directly doesn’t work. I must put some time aside to play more with it!

The last talk was about learning from some specific mistakes by Andrew Grimm, which included large classes and the importance of writing maintainable code. These are things that everybody should be aware of, not just Ruby developers!

Lastly there were a few five minute talks including quick tips by Scott Harvey – who mentioned the ‘grep’ method for arrays that I discovered through the Seven Languages book, and two interesting talks encouraging people to join entrepreneurial courses and start up weekends. Some of these are similar to the Launch 48 events I enjoyed in London, so maybe I’ll go meet some Aussie entrepreneurs soon!

All in all it was a fun night, I’m looking forward to the next one as well as the SydJS group next Wednesday!