Along with my fellow Reevoo developers, I spent Thursday and Friday at RailsConf Europe, conveniently held here in London at the TUC Conference Centre (which was swankier than I expected, albeit in a slightly Soviet way). Looking back through my program, I realise how few of the sessions on offer I actually attended. About a quarter of them, in fact: having four simultaneous tracks made sure of that, of course.

Still, the talks aren’t the chief benefit of a conference like that: having four hundred like-minded people in the same place is, and some of the conversations I had were really interesting and useful.

Having said that, some of the talks were pretty informative and thought-provoking, but two really stand out in my mind.

Kathy Sierra’s opening plenary1 session on building passionate users, which focused on psychology, was full of fascinating points—for example, research suggests that using a casual tone increases reader comprehension by 40%—and she also made good use of some of these to make her presentation entertaining and enthralling.

The other was Simon Willison’s manic fifty minutes on Django, the Python web framework of which he’s one of the original developers. He showed some really interesting features of Django—features that Rails doesn’t have—that got my attention. The slick automated administrative interface not only looks good and works well, it also erases one of the more tedious, less alluring aspects of developing an application. This is one of the things facilitated by its improved database introspection ability. The sophisticated lazy loading also looks like a good way to make working with the database more idiomatically Python.

It’s amazing how popular Ruby has grown recently due to Rails. That’s great for someone like me who has been using Ruby for years. On the other hand, however, I’m wondering if it isn’t getting a bit too popular for my tastes; maybe it’s time for me to start looking for the next thing!

The conferences don’t stop here for me: I’m going to EuroOSCON in Brussels next week.

1 This raised the interesting point that no-one I talked to—myself included—knew what plenary actually meant!