Recently, there’s been an outbreak of regularly scheduled hacking
nights within Ruby Brigades. As far as I know, this started a couple
of years ago with the Seattle.rb (and they’re still going strong).
The general idea is that if you hold your meetings on a regular night
(say the 4th Tuesday of the month), then interested Rubyists could
gather on the same weeknight during the non-meeting weeks (so every
Tuesday except the 4th in our example) to hack on Ruby projects.
This provides a great chance to get more eyes on your favorite
project, or to pair with someone who knows a lot about a technology
you’re trying to learn. In Seattle, Ryan Davis and Eric Hodel do a
lot of pairing to work on MetaRuby and related tools. Other groups
can get the same benefits.
In St. Louis, the stl.rb has been holding hacking nights for about
a month now. They already seem to be popular. One of the local
hackers, Ed Howland wrote this about a recent gathering:
Last night’s weekly hacking night was a success. Sean, Craig Buchek
and I met at the BreadCo on Olive in the AMC theatre complex. Sean is
a very knowledgeable Rubyest and I, for one, learned a lot. We started
out talking about Rails Migrations. For some reason, I just couldn’t
wrap my head around how they work from reading various posts on line.
Turns out, they are ridiculously easy to use. If you have a rapidly
evolving schema during development, use migrations.
Then, we paired (tripled actually) on Sean’s attacking a problem with
ParseTree. This was really over my head, because it uses RubyInline to
incorporate C code within running Ruby code (for speed, etc.) At
least, thats what I thought. Be interesting to have a topic about this
some time at the group.
Sean showed us that there were 12 different assignment operators in
Ruby. We could execute 9 of them with ParseTree. In addition, I
learned there are 2 forms of the case statement. One form is
functionally equivalent to an if/else if/else expression that returns
Anyway, I learned a huge amount, and hopefully it will sink in. For
upcoming nights, I hope we can do some collaboration on Ajax and/or
Here in Provo, we’ve been holding hacking nights for a while. We
have a couple of regulars, and some other hackers who show up less
often. It’s always educational though. Last week, three of us sat
down to do some TDD work on checkr. I had a
chance to show them a bit more about TDD and autotest, and we got a
spike done on an important project — everybody wins.
Here’s the call to action then, hacking nights will help you learn
more about Ruby, they’ll help build your local Ruby Brigade, and (done
right) they can even help the Ruby community at large — call up
your friends and get hacking. What are you waiting for?