James Cox, former PHP team member and current Rails consultant. From London.
Interviewed by Geoffrey Grosenbach
Geoffrey Grosenbach: It’s the Ruby on Rails Podcast, number 63, December 2007. Rails 2.0 is out today. Go get it if you haven’t already.
I’d like to take you on the spot as much as possible. This interview started in the back of a cab in London after the Future of Web Apps conference and continued at the home of James Cox, former developer on the PHP team, now a Rails developer in London and San Francisco.
Geoffrey: Geoffrey Grosenbach here in the back of a London cab, coming back from the Future of Web Apps with James Cox.
James Cox: Hey!
Geoffrey: So what did you think of the conference this year? It’s the first year that I’ve been at a Future Web Apps conference.
James: It’s that first time that I went to it, too. It’s pretty cool in a sense that it’s nice to have a real expo feel to Web 2.0; a lot of the old faces and a lot of the old sponsors and vendors. But at the same time, there are a few real gems of wisdom that were great to see. That really stood out for me and it made the conference kind of special.
Geoffrey: Any lectures in particular? Now, I’m not supposed to use lectures.
Geoffrey: You said in England, a lecture is just like a school…
Geoffrey:...college course. Sessions?
James: Sessions! Sessions is what stood out for me. I was really impressed to see a presentation by the head of [Access Ability] from what I think is AbilityNet now. Robin Christopherson was a blind guy who came up on the stage with his guide dog and walked through the pain that exists for people who have disabilities in the real world. He walked through things like Amazon.com, Google, [Warez], and different apps – which are all pretty good for supporting Access Ability – all the way through start ups and showing the real pain.
Now, As a start-up guy and developer, it’s pretty easy to get towards level one of the guidelines that are all tagged off. But really making things really accesible are kind of hard and it takes a lot of effort for what’s percieved as less game. But actually, when you see it for real on stage and you see someone who has to go through this pain to endure it, it strikes the cord that actually not paying attention is pretty evil. It really made me think that it was worth doing things in fixing this problem.
Geoffrey: And you hear a lot of things that by watching it you realize are false. For example, I was reading through the Amazon site and you would hear “space” or “gif” and who wants to hear that?
James: Exactly, exactly!
Geoffrey: If you’re always reading through you don’t care that there’s a gif.
James: There’s so many new UIs everywhere. And again, we look at our specs to bring things to our content, but why isn’t there a spec that says, “If this is the space you get, call it this name.” It becomes really…
Geoffrey: A month ago in Seattle, I went to a Refresh Seattle, a lecture…
Geoffrey:...but I met a usability expert from Adobe and he said, ”’Alt’ and just a blank string. That’s what you need.” If there’s an image that does not have any relevance just ‘Alt’ and…
James: That’s the hack! That’s cool; that’s fantastic. I mean, that’s really a great way of just dealing with that problem and making it invisible to screen views.
But at the same time, to some degree – I was talking to someone today; I can’t remember who it was – but there was some discussion about it being interesting with web 2.0 – and whatever is next – as being more about data and being more about APIs and structure than it is about UI. If it could be that we could move away from trying to make our web UIs they are pretty much fantastic. What if we were to move away and make them for, perhaps, abled people and make a separate UI for those who need different requirements?
You know, it sounds sort of segregationist but it’s not necessarily. It’s just about saying, “We all have different needs and different requirements.”
Geoffrey: Google, in fact, has done that. He’s shown that there’s a text only view of Gmail…
James: Exactly, exactly.
Geoffrey:...where yes, we have all the justification of Gmail but you can still do it with text only.
James: Exactly. It’s about making it work for people who do not necessarily have all the support themselves, internally, or in their browsers. I think that’s going to work. That can be really interesting; the idea of actually browsing Digg or Pounce or Twitter or del.icio.us or any kind of API. It’s an essential infrastructure without having to use a UI but actually being able to see it on your own terms. Defining how you want to consume it, I think, is a really big part of it.
I think it’s OK to say, “I might want to consume this thing by RSS only,” or, “I might consume this thing by a screen reader, ” or “I might consume it on the phone.” “It doesn’t matter what it is but I have my requirements and what I need.” And, that’s part of everything for everyone.
Geoffrey: Maybe that’s a good result of APIs and people just starting to think more about machines and people using the same content in many different ways.
James: I think it definitely is. I think it’s a nice side effect, almost like a side benefit.
If we think too hard about making it work really well for disabled people and those who need different viewports, I think we can get in situations where we can become too concerned about those people. We can become so entwined about making it work in that respect that we don’t do a good job.
I think if we just have this agnostic approach to developing, that everyone has their own opinion about how they want to consume it regardless of whatever they have, then everyone is equal. Right?
Really, I think this means that we can get there quickly and not have to worry about things. It means that people can write their own screen browsers, their own browsers that don’t necessarily consume feeds right off the bat.
If you’re blind, it doesn’t matter how pretty or how “Web 2.0” the site looks. It’s not really going to work for somebody who can’t see it. If you can make someone get to the content real quick, then they can enjoy it just as much as everyone else can.
Geoffrey: Along those same lines, I was impressed with a lecture by Matt Biddulph – I’m not going to be able to stop using the word “lecture”.
James: I get it.
Geoffrey: It was a session by Matt Biddulph talking about Doppler tracking where you are in the world and where you’re going to be travelling.
He was talking about using OpenID not only as a way to log in, but then if you are an OpenID server users can get their data from your site. Realizing that the data belongs to the users, they should be able to use it however they want to.
James: Exactly. I think there’s definitely this idea that Matt calls, from the Weinberger book, “many pieces loosely joined”. I think there’s a lot of truth in that.
I think that many of the guys who were early adopters and people who use the Internet a lot are already really bored about having to enter content again and again and again, and having to review things again and again and again, having to fill out profiles again and again and again.
Geoffrey: And friends.
James: Exactly. I’ve defined who my friends are. I’ve defined the context they exist in. Why should I do that again? People are going to have to [fades out].
Geoffrey: So, back safely, home of James Cox in Greenwich. I haven’t gone to see where you can stand on the actual date line. Is that close to here?
James: That’s right, it’s the meridian point. It’s just up the road. You can stand at the Royal Observatory, which is the International Date Line, and be literally in one half of the world on one leg and the other half on the other leg. You can stand astride near the date line, which is pretty cool.
Geoffrey: I’ll have to do that in the morning.
James: Yeah, it’s a fun walk, actually.
Geoffrey: So, we left off at usability, Matt Biddulph, data accessibility, social networks, and OpenID.
James: Right. So we talked a little about the idea of a social graph, and the idea that we all own our data and we’re all guardians of the password-protected areas of Facebook, MySpace, AOL – anything you have content in that you can’t really easily federate out.
LastFM is an example. Some of us have lots of content, and have no real way of getting access to it in an expedient way. We can’t click a button and just export everything. Even in that degree, exporting everything in one click isn’t actually necessarily that useful.
A better example would be to say that Doppler knows where I went and has an idea of my GPS location, potentially. Flickr sees what i saw. Why can’t the two talk to each other?
Doppler can tell Flickr where I went, so the photographs that were taken during the time that I was traveling give an indication of where I was at the time.
Flickr, Doppler and I trust each other. We have a trust circle, if that’s the right term. Then we have a way to federate that content and make that content meaningful.
Geoffrey: And part of that was talked about by Tom Coates of Yahoo. FireEagle – I guess it’s going to be called something different later.
Geoffrey: Basically, it’s a way to pull in location-based data, find out where you are, and then in a trusted way pass that on to other services.
James: Absolutely. Again, I really believe that in the forthcoming web, there are going to be a number of really cool functional and foundational infrastructure services that will exist.
Del.icio.us is probably the first big example of such a service, as is FireEagle, as is sort of these kinds of ideas of things that exist, not necessarily – AnTwiteris is the other big example – exists as a business model but it exists and have the you what people care about they exist to do the job of routing the information effectively – routing, storing, whatever the task is.
And in doing so, people can interact with them – their APIs usually are pretty good. And then you have this really nice, kind of, mesh up, mix up kind of approach, where you can really effectively get feedback and response and make that web loosely joined together enough that the content is meaningful but the content shouldn’t be open enough that you don’t have to do it again and again and again.
Geoffrey: Seems like a lot of this is almost trying to recreate kind of the real world in the virtual world or connected to or recreate kind of a small village where I go to the store, I saw Birt and here it’s like, oh, here’s where I am thinking, here is where I am feeling, here’s where I am physically sharing that with friends and linking that all over the world.
James: Yeah, It is…I think a lot of built in the web is the iteration all about taking what we know and believe and understand and then being able to make some sense out of it all and kind of mix it all up with what we understand, what we’ll be used to and we can actually interact with, in the real world, in the real space.
I ‘m concerned that some of it’s going to be hard for individuals users to figure out and what we starting to conceptualize it all right now is how we are going to present this to end users in a couple of years. As a proposition for how they should start using the web when still the search bar is the main way to find things online. And find names and things that wouldn’t be necessarily be search terms.
So I think we got a long way to educate users and make them aware of what kinds of things we’re experimenting with on the web and how this might go forward. But definitely there’s lots of, I think, moving towards what we have as expected norms in communities and trying to make the web into the web Internet technology IT computing more accessible and friendly to people who wouldn’t necessarily find it that way right off the bat.
Geoffrey: Now this hasn’t been the first iteration that you’ve been on the web. You were on the commit teams or a maintainer of PHP?
James: Right. I was involved with this back in the day in dot conversion one in picking up picking up PHP and helping the crew fix the websites that we had and looking after the servers if only a couple of patches here. And we felt like we had value without breaking the code base so you know it’s fun to see this – and you said it right, it is actually a iteration. It’s fun to see this iterative web and see that again and again, we’re kind of refining refacturing and beginning to sort of polish off the edges a little of what we did the first time round.
I think that’s a good thing. But also we have to respect that those of us in the industry are quite capable of handling refracturing but other people are kind of more happy learning something and knowing how to use it. The more we reiterate and change and accept change, this doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone else who uses it and it does the same thing. too. So I’m concerned that we are iterating where iteration is not necessarily what is required.
Geoffrey: We should learn more from the past? Or come up with new ideas?
James: It’s a bit of both but sometimes it’s not. It’s about looking at how people are actually really using the web. And sometimes it’s going to say throw away some of the really good things that we have done. And sometimes you hear me saying, teach individual users that what they are doing is wrong, and not really what the web’s about.
So there’s a bit of give and take in this respect but if we can find ways that we can keep looking back at what are our strategies, what our directions, what our kind of thoughts are, then seeing if people are really picking them up. If they are making sense of it, you know, if people who aren’t technology people being able to get out this and discern and decipher what it is.
A good example is Flickr. All the various doctors lover Flickr. I love Flickr. One of my favorite web apps. But it took me a while to figure out how Flickr worked because knowing the UI wasn’t particularly obvious. The interface was hidden away behind mouse-overs and clicks to uncover the edit fields.
It’s really unobtrusive, but for my parents and my grandparents it’s pretty hard for them to figure out. If they’re still not quite sure how a form works. I don’t know how to answer this. I don’t know how we teach them, non-techies, as to how this thing works. I don’t know if we just simply admit this is a problem and keep thinking about it as we build new things. It definitely would be a good first step.
Geoffrey: I’m always amazed that somehow we can educate millions upon millions of users that they need a www on the front of every web address or it’s not a valid web address if that’s not there, and yet it is completely irrelevant.
James: Absolutely. Back in the day when the web was new the idea of www: world-wide-web was identified. These were the pages, documents that existed to describe the service that you were accessing. That was a loosely-defined protocol, and it kind of stayed around since.
I’ve had this argument with myself and peers, and sometimes clients of mine, and said: “Look, this is really not required.” At the same time, mellowing out a bit and drinking some fine wine tells me that there’s some value in actually saying: “Www means this sector of the site is the web document. API dot means this sector of the site is your interface. Email or mail dot: this is where you go to get your email.”
It’s simplistic; it’s nave. But to some degree the idea of adding a subdomain to segregate meaning, and giving you an immediate context of what exists at this point is great. And having no www which redirects to www is a handy shortcut for those who don’t want to type it. Those of us who like the simplicity of not having www.
It feels redundant, but in a sense…we’re moving towards this idea of loosely-connected interweb, of ideas and things. It’s not just about documents. It’s not just about this one UI. It’s about an application that provides many interfaces. So having “www” is right because that’s your web UI. Maybe we should change it to UI dot, or web dot, or whatever it is.
Having those subdomains is a great way to segregate different ways you can consume that content. And that’s great, that’s fantastic.
Geoffrey: More than ever, people are using subdomains. I don’t know if I every really used that many subdomains up until 2002 or 2003, and then suddenly it progresses and we want an API. Even in Rails 2.0, they’re going to have a bunch of asset servers that could be all on the same server, or separate. We’re using usernames as subdomain keys…
Geoffrey:...hostings, all this kind of stuff.
James: Absolutely. I remember the day I…I think they still do this…They own a domain: y image. Yimg.com for the image hosting. AOL do the same kind of thing. Amazon has similar things. That’s all well and good.
Back in the day that’s how you did things. You went out and bought expensive domains because they were expensive back in the day, and because it was expensive they weren’t taken right off the bat. People didn’t speculate quite so much as they do right now. You would host things in different domains because you could segregate content that way and it was easy.
Nowadays domains are scarce. New ideas are scarce. So when you come up with a nice domain…and also we know that Google juice is important. So things that are subdomains have value if the parent domain has some kind of value already by itself.
Geoffrey: That’s part of the semantic web as well…
James: [interrupts] Exactly.
Geoffrey:...the URL, the domain…
James: It’s an ontology; it’s a hierarchy; it has a context of who owns this.
Geoffrey: It’s not just: throw all your data into a query string.
James: Exactly. So having this context right off the bat from a subdomain is fantastically useful.
And yeah, I love not having Go Daddy email me every month with yet another domain name I have to renew, or update, or purchase. Having less domain names is good because it means that this is where my content exists. This is a clear definition of group ownership, and in those groups there are the services that they provide in a clear, defined way.
Geoffrey: Anything about the conference that you disagreed with? Anything controversial? Plain out false?
James: It’s hard not to say that there is shark jumping when you see a vendorized exhibition tied into a conference. That said, LinuxWorld has been running successfully for many years and so have several other Apps. So you could argue that Linux has not necessarily suffered because there are expo’s running twice a year and many, many conferences around the world.
Obviously it was the first time for Carsonified to use this kind of venue, this kind of structure. So I would say that there were a few teething problems that were fixed. The Carsonified guys are pretty good at resolving these issues as well, so I don’t feel that it was a bad conference.
The takeaways for me were… As always, the lobby track is the best track. You always get to have insightful, interesting conversations with people. To some degree, it is all well and good if Microsoft is going to provide bean bags for you to sit on, or Xbox’s games to crowd around. I still feel that conferences don’t respect the lobby track well enough, so I would definitely like to see space which is just about having tables, chairs and free coffee and water – whatever it is that you want to give away.
Much better than having an open bar, perhaps. These are just ways that let people connect in a nice, relaxed, chill-out atmosphere.
Geoffrey: That’s a fascinating idea. I never even thought of that. Of a conference actually catering to people who just want to be there, talking to each other…
James: The lobby track!
Geoffrey:...social. Everybody I talked to, they had a hard time coming up with the one single session that they had really enjoyed. They said that, “I talked to five, ten, twenty different people. Had passing conversations. Having that built into a conference would be amazing.
James: Absolutely! I was lucky enough to go to a music festival. I won a ticket a month or so ago. One of the best experiences was, late at night, after a couple of the gigs had played out, I was heading back to the tent. I was looking for something to just take the… Just to wind down a little bit.
It was one of the tents that were there. It was a nice big, open marquee tent where there was also padded flooring, couches and so on and lots of pillows. I went in there and got a nice Chai Lo – whatever the thing was – Chai tea. I got that and just sat back and enjoyed my Chai, listened to some music and just listened to conversations. Said hi to some people.
It was nice. It was just relaxed. I didn’t have to worry about, “Is this a new session or whatever?” I was just making connections. I actually find that I evolve the ideas that I am thinking about somewhat, by listening to people talk about it upstage; but also by just discussing it with people who share those ideas, who disagree with those ideas. I am beginning to iterate on some of these things.
You find the people who share, that you can work with and people who don’t… That you can bounce ideas off and learn from. So the lobby track is definitely, I would say, a massively huge part of any successful conference. More attention should be paid towards that, catering for that and to finding ways to really effectively help people benefit from them.
Geoffrey: I am interested in how Rails showed up.
James: This was not a Rails-specific conference. Probably over the last two years I have attended… 90% of the conferences I have been to have been about Ruby, or Rails. Now here is one on more general web development. Of course there is the South West one as well. The things that came up… Of course we had Apps presented, FireEagle has been lead in, Rails, Yahoo’s geo-coding thing…
Geoffrey: I didn’t know that. Is FireEagle…
James: May I interrupt the logo there. He said even, they had written it in something else. Then they…
James:...stopped and started over.
Geoffrey: I would have thought… People at Yahoo are officially adopting PHP as a standard in their own organization. Having it in Rails is extremely interesting.
Geoffrey: Of course this is part of a development site of Yahoo that they do prototyping in…
James: But Yahoo are transferring their properties to old PHP. They are ditching their own internal language that they use to produce – Yahoo! DSL or whatever it was that they called it – to PHP so that they can make it. So that they can effectively manage their teams. So having the Rails thing is a big one. But…
Geoffrey: It is not surprising.
James: Exactly! And going back to what you said, I think that it is undeniable now that Rails is now an acceptable and a respected web two product – I won’t say that – a web language. It is a framework for building web platforms, web APIs, web applications, whatever, in a really effective and useful manner.
And the more we see things like Twitter and Figlet – that was one that the AOL guys set up which was a mini story application who picked Rails – and Slideshare.net, being a Rails-based application, I do not know why they’re running on Rails.
So, the adoption curve is definitely undeniable at this point. It will only increase and be more noticeable. And people who aren’t necessarily using Rails for their own development, for whatever reason, are certainly looking at Rails and respecting the kind of things that Rails teaches.
We all remember Karate Kid when Mr. Miyagi was the guy who was teaching the fellow to fight. It wasn’t so much that the guy was a good fighter, it was the fact that Mr. Miyagi taught him patience and care.
We all remember the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was Splinter who held them together, this idea of this rat modeled after a Japanese sensei.
And Ruby has that. Ruby has that zen sensei-style behavior about itself. It’s hard to look at Ruby and not admit that it’s a language which basically encourages and suggests really nice coding techniques and methodologies and style. I think we’re spared that.
Geoffrey: One thing I really realized by talking to people was that in an open source project, yes many people are making money from Rails and promoting it. 37 Signals has done very well, and they probably would have done very well even if they hadn’t promoted Rails as an open source language.
And yet, it’s an open source framework and the people who use it are the PR department. A lot of people mention the article a couple weeks ago about CD Baby being rewritten in PHP in two months. They felt like Rails didn’t do what they needed it to do.
That kind of PR – yes, you need to be honest, you need to get it out, and yet every developer who uses Rails is a bit of PR for or against it.
James: Yeah, the PR machine is always cranking. You look at Java, look at.NET. Those guys have real professional guys that are doing that job for them.
Rails and open source is all about the strength of community, and how much the community stands out as being proponents and evangelists for the language that they’re working in.
I remember back in PHP days, we talked within the core group about how we were going to evangelize PHP back. It’s always having adoption issues against PERL and.NET and ASP.NET wasn’t even around, I think, initially when we were looking at this.
So we started this evangelism list, which was a moderated list because we were so worried that people were going to start flame wars and things like that. We started the list with this idea of being able to host questions about evangelism and host discussions about how we can encourage PHP to take a stronger stance in the community.
It was born out of this idea that programs, open source or not, need champions and people whose job it is to help people who aren’t sure or who don’t understand to be able to learn more and pick up more.
I know that Microsoft has certainly picked up on this a lot. There are probably just about as many evangelists as there are developers in the organization. And blogs are a big part of it as well.
So, evangelism of ideas is definitely a big part of what it is that we’re seeing online and elsewhere now. Certainly, developers by and large are doing that.
I don’t want to talk about CD Baby too much, but suffice it to say that it wasn’t Rails that failed at this point. Derek Sivers has admitted that.
Rails taught a structured behavior, but for them PHP was the language they felt more comfortable in delivering upgrades and monolithic solutions with. That’s perfectly fine. If all they took away was a better way of developing, that’s a good thing to take away.
Geoffrey: Early on, it seemed like there was a lot of advocacy for Rails, especially straight from David Heinemeier Hansson. “This is the solution, and you must use this, ” or at least “Java sucks” and all these kinds of things.
It seems like maybe his tone has toned down a little bit from that, and maybe the best kinds of Rails evangelism is going to be a little closer to the real world. Yes, there are some situations where Rails is really a great choice, and there are others where maybe you need to look at it alongside other options.
James: Absolutely. I definitely think that when you are starting a new revolution and you want to get people to follow along. So you say incendiary things, you light the fires, people can storm the charge and that’s definitely a big part of a new idea.
Now, DHH may still feel that charge is valid. Some of us also agree with him. But Rails have been out now for a good strong couple of years in mainstream and a year before that in less of a mainstream. And the big thing about that is what’s happened in parallel to people using Rails is that other companies, other languages, other frameworks have begun to spring up.
So you have Cake for PHP, you have similarities in Java languages and tool sets. You have RLine also competing in that space. So Rails no longer has a USP which is so far and above where it’s at.
Apple had this as well. Apple produced products, and before they even managed to launch the iPhone, LG had made a replica-style thing. And now you also have the HTC, I think it’s called, device.
So, companies tend to emulate excellence. I hope that the same thing is true in the [unintelligible] language space. So the excellence perceived about Rails and the elegance that is there have been emulated elsewhere.
So in a roundabout way what the revolution started now has probably much ended. For this iteration at least. And Rails have really begun to set itself, become mature, and is sitting back and making itself better in more a more slowly iterative state in the way that most apps work and behave.
As a sideline I think now going forward it’s going to be the strength of things like well-trusted applications to prove Rails’ worth -Twitter, again, being a very solid example.
Alongside that, if Rails is to grow to become a massive community, you’ll have to think of certification, documentation and other kinds of teaching aids and verification aids like certification such that you can actually really begin to validate the people who are using it and working with it as real partitions of that business. And that’s what happened to PHP. It’s happened with MySQL, it’s happened with Java and donnet, with MCSE, and so on and so forth.
So we could go down that path or we could just simply admit that we are somewhere and now it’s time to relax and let everyone else catch up.
Geoffrey: One other thing I would like to hear your opinion on. Paul Graham had the first keynote of the last day of the conference. And one of the things that he said which was reacted to by several people I had dinner with today was that if you are going to be a startup you need to spend at least some time in San Francisco – quite a controversial thing to say in London.
Obviously, there are a lot of people attending here – startups, technologists in London being told that, no, you need to spend some time in San Francisco.
You have spent time in San Francisco. You’re going to be doing some consulting out there. What do you think about that idea?
James: It’s a funny idea. If you ever go to the Bay, it’s really hard not to do two things, one of which is to bump into people who are building the apps that you are using every day. Everyone lives there and builds that stuff. Now, there’s no reason why that happens to be, it’s just that the people have sort of congregated around that space.
It’s not cheap to live there. It’s nice to live there, it’s very pretty. It’s a lovely space. But it’s not cheap to live there and not necessarily efficient in any particular way. It could easily be New York, Florida or middle-of-nowhere in the Midwest. It’s wound up in California and San Francisco.
So yeah, it’s nice to have people around you that you can bounce ideas from and interact with and hear from and have these kinds of experiences that we had today, every day.
Paul Graham has a certain experience. He has a certain history with the web apps he has done and the setups he has done and where he has been. He feels that, for Y Culminator at least, going to SF or Fat Boston, as they also do, or sorry Cambridge, Massachusetts in the East Coast, you can maximize and build value and be able to sort of see things.
I think that if you want to be a successful startup in the first year or so of your life, going to San Francisco is not a bad thing. You can meet people. You can make biz deals if you feel you need to do that at that point in your life. You can learn and float ideas and get feedback. That’s not a bad thing, not at all. But it’s not necessarily necessary. I think you can survive without it or certainly be a different beast because that’s how you survive.
It’s an interesting question because it just made me remember that a lot of the startups in London at the moment are pretty much money focused and money centric. You don’t very often see unique innovation outside of London. Losterfam was a very unique example of a UK London based company who tried to do something that nobody else necessarily was, in a big way.
London companies just tend to try to monetize what other people have figured out. That’s sort of the normal modus operandi for startups in London. Losterfam were unusual and in fact almost went under a couple of times simply because trying to be innovative in London where it’s so expensive to operate, is a difficult task.
On the corollary, trying to set up a start up by going to San Francisco for three months is also a bit tricky. So, scenes in roundabouts. London is interesting. It may have a community. The community is definitely growing but it will never be anywhere near like the Bay.
Geoffrey: Will you be traveling your consulting? Where can people find you?
James: Well like a ninja of any Rail stripes, I do like to get around a bit and maximize and make the most of what I do. I would typically say I’d find you on my website but my website is tragically offline. It was caught in the great server fire of 2007. I lost data irrevocably through a crazy backup system.
So I’m now found at conferences. I’m going to be at Rails To Italy, which I think is going to be a fantastic two-day event which I’m really stoked to be speaking at. I’m more stoked just to be there and to hear from Zed and Obie again and to hear from some of the Rails people in Italy and Holland who are going to talk about some really interesting and unique things. So that’s going to be a great experience and I think a really refreshing change from vendorization to actually developing.
I think that the QCon in San Francisco, which I’m looking forward to, is very much vendorization, very much enterprise but it’s good to see that her adoption is beginning to happen in that respect.
Missing Ruby Conf, which is a shame. That would also be fantastic but you can’t be in two places at once. They haven’t figured that out yet. I hear ten years out but we’re not sure of that. South by Southwest next year should be pretty cool.
And then in between, I’m always available via the ubiquitous email, which you can never really escape from.
I wonder if, given this is the old podcast forum, I wonder if voicing the email is going to actually get me spammed or not. I’m not sure if that’s true. Maybe I should come up with a little capture style graphic. If you can repeat the letters “3, 6, 12 and J” then you’ll get the email, which of course is james with the domain smokeclouds dot com.
Geoffrey: I’ll be sure to obfuscate that if this is transcribed.
James: I would hope so.
Geoffrey: Thanks James. It’s been great. I’ve been sleeping at your pad over the last couple of nights so I appreciate that.
James: Well one has to reach out for a brother in Rails. It’s not a thing to ignore.
Geoffrey: Well thank you.
James: Thank you.
Geoffrey: Rails Podcast is sponsored by PeepCode Screencasts. Check out the Rails2 PDF and there’s a new screencast updated for Capistrano 2.