Inspiration from RailsConf

RailsConf 2008 is over, and it was by far better than last year. I'm not one for drawn-out conference wrap-up posts so here's a summary of my most inspiring moments and if applicable how they're going to affect JRuby going forward.
  • IronRuby and Rubinius both running Rails has inspired me to finally knock out the last Rails bottlenecks in JRuby. Look for a release sometime this summer or later this fall to be accompanied by a whole raft of numbers proving better performance under JRuby than any other options. Oh, and huge congratulations to both teams, and I wish you the best of luck on the road to running larger apps.
  • Phusion's Passenger (formerly mod_rails) has made some excellent incremental improvements to MRI for running Rails. It's nothing revolutionary, but judging by the graphs they've managed 10-20% memory and perf improvements over the next best MRI-based option. We're going to try to match them by more aggressively sharing immutable runtime data across JRuby instances such as parsed Ruby code (which on some measurements accounts for almost 40% of a freshly-started app's memory use). We'd like to be able to say that JRuby is also the most memory-efficient way to run Rails in the near future.
  • The Maglev presentation inspired me to dive back into performance. For the most part, we stopped really working hard on performance once we started to be generally as fast as Ruby 1.9. Now we'll start pulling out all the stops and really kick JRuby into high gear.
  • Wilson Bilkovitch impressed me most when he used the historically-correct "drinking the Flavor-Ade" instead of the incorrect but more popular "drinking the Kool-Aid".
  • Ezra's talk on Vertebra, Engine Yard's upcoming Erlang-based XMPP routing engine, almost inspired me to try out Erlang a bit. Almost. At any rate it sounds awesome...I am all set to write an agent plugin for JRuby when it's released and the protocol is published
  • My keynote was generally pretty well received, but I had several people say I should have smiled more, and that it came off as a bit defensive. I think a lot of that had to do with getting only 10 minutes for the whole thing and trying to jam too much in, but I'll definitely pay attention to that in the future.
  • This was my first US-based Ruby-related conference where I did not play Werewolf. I don't expect to ever play much (or maybe ever) in the future. I've decided I don't really want to play a game where the best players are the ones who can learn to lie most convincingly. It seems like a crucial flaw in the game, and if I ever do play again I will try to make a strong case that to win, kill the most experienced people first. They'll never be a net good, because if they're good villagers with strong deductive skills, they're also likely to be good warewolves, with strong lying skills. Eject them immediately.
All told, a great conference. I'm looking forward to RailsConf EU 2008 and RubyConf 2008.
Written on June 2, 2008