Bozhidar Batsov: Ruby must be free from Rails fetters

Bozhidar Batsov thinks that the age of full-stack web frameworks is coming to it's end due to mobile and client-side applications
08 June

bozhidar batsov

 Bozhidar Batsov


Biggest Russian Ruby on Rails event

VP of Engineering Toptal, creator of RuboCop and editor of community-driven Ruby and Rails style guides. Speaker at RailsClub 2014.

At RailsClub 2014 he had a speeach about the recharge of Ruby web development.

We asked Bozhidar few question after the speech.

What are you working on right now? 

On my day job I’m working on a reasonably complex social trading application. In my spare time I’m mostly working on RuboCop and CIDER (a Clojure IDE for Emacs). But I have a lot of side projects as well, that anyone interested can peruse at GitHub. These days I’m also working on a cool presentation for

What is the best and worst part of your job?

Bests parts:

  •  I’m the CTO;
  • I get to work with a lot of cool technologies (RoR 4.1, node.js, redis, puppet, react, iOS, etc);
  • I have awesome colleagues;
  • I work on a financial app and I’ve always been interested in finance.

Worst parts:

  • Dealing with archaic 3rd party services;
  • Doing Rails updates;
  • Dealing with upstream node.js bugs.

What’s your main achievements at the moment?

Graduating from the Technical university of Sofia felt like an epic achievement few years back. 
On a more serious note — I’m really proud of all the work I’ve done in Tradeo and on many open source projects in recent years.
It seems to me that in our line of work your greatest achievement is always your last achievement.
I guess on the open-source front I consider RuboCop and CIDER my most important work so far.

On your opinion, how will Ruby and Ruby on Rails develop in the future? 

I’m thinking that Ruby should break the Rails chains and explore new venues — mobile apps (RubyMotion is pretty cool), desktop apps, system administration, etc. While Ruby is used for all sorts of cool things today, for the majority of people Ruby is still synonymous with Rails, which is never a good thing. Diversity drives progress and innovation.
As for Rails — I think that the era of the full-stack web frameworks is near its end (due to the rise of mobile and client-side apps). Seems to me that Rails should forgo the view layer at some point and go in a direction similar to that of the `rails-api` project. 

What’s the main problem which Ruby society faces at the moment?

Ruby has to rediscover its “cool” factor. When Ruby became popular about a decade ago it offered plenty of advantages over the most popular languages back then. In recent years, however, it seems that the language has stagnated a bit and all the cool kids are now doing Clojure, Elixir, Haskell, Scala, etc. I’m expecting that Ruby 3.0 will try address this with plenty of new features (like proper concurrency).
Rails faces a similar problem — in a world that’s quickly moving to client-side web apps and mobile apps the value of traditional web frameworks decreases. People increasingly opt to base their new apps on microservice architectures and Rails is not particularly well suited for them. The biggest problem Rails has to solve right now is that it’s still relevant.

What’s your favorite gem? 

RuboCop. Other gems with great code that come to mind are transpec, rspec, parser and sequel.

Is the good style of coding something permanent or does it change over time? If it changes, what factors influence these changes?

A language and the good coding practices for it evolve together. While good practices are generally timeless (it’s pretty doubtful that writing huge complex methods will ever be considered good style) the introduction of certain features might also introduce a shift in what’s considered a good practice (e.g. the new hash literal syntax in Ruby 1.9, the introduction of keyword args in 2.0, etc). 

Do you read any Ruby\Rails blog? 

I don’t follow any particular blog. The Ruby/Rails blog posts that I read are generally the ones that make it to Ruby Weekly. I also listen to two excellent Ruby podcasts — Ruby 5 and Ruby Rogues.

What do you like to do when not coding? 

I’ve always loved drinking beers with my friends, watching football, watching movies/TV shows and reading novels. I’m also an avid gamer and I play some guitar. Guess I might have some healthy hobby as well, but I cannot think of it right now.

RailsClub conference on which we managed to communicate with Bozhidar will take place this year in Moscow 23th of September.

Get your ticket here.

P. Solnica: "I'm excited about Truffle Ruby"

Software engineer with over 10 years of experience, Tech Lead at Icelab, speaker at RailsClub
23 November

Piotr Solnica at RailsClub 2017
Piotr Solnica at RailsClub 2017

A software engineer with over 10 years of experience, working as Tech Lead at Icelab. Active OSS contributor and maintainer of various projects for over 5 years. Former DataMapper core team member, creator of the popular Virtus gem, lead developer of Ruby Object Mapper project, and dryrb core developer.

On the RailsClub 2017, we've managed to talk with Piotr about his work, dry stack and future of IT.

Please, tell me about yourself. Where do you work? What do you do?

I’m a software developer from Poland. I worked mainly with web apps for last 14 years. I’ve graduated as bachelor in computer science. I’ve studied a bunch of languages and found a job as PHP developer, then I’ve switched to Ruby in 2007. That was my life for almost 11 years. Mostly doing Ruby and worked a little bit with functional languages for few months and now I’m back with Ruby as my main language.

Is it your first time in Russia? How do you like it? How do you like RailsClub?

It’s my first time in Russia. I really like Moscow, it’s really nice city. I like that it’s big. There’s a lot of space. I live in Krakow, so, it has crowded, narrow streets, lots of buildings close to each other. We’ve got nice weather in Moscow! And it’s always raining in Krakow. I really like. People are nice, the conference is awesome. I’m really enjoying it. I also like that people have a lot of questions. I’ve been talking for less than three hours with like 20+ people. That’s really encouraging for me.

Can you give us keynotes from your report?

I’ve talked about the project with which I was working since 2011. I’m basically trying to build a new set of tools to work with databases in Ruby. To shift people to alternative approach, not a typical object-oriented approach, when it comes to working with databases. The talk was about upcoming version 3.0, which is expected to be realized in October. The main thing is to show that this library, despite it is much more advanced than existing solutions, it’s finally as easy to use as this existing solutions.

As far as I understand, your library is designed to replace Active Record. What is main advantage and disadvantage of your product?

The main advantage that it is much more flexible than active record because you don’t have to module your app domain in the same way as your module database tables. You can have different sets of attributes for certain modules and certain modules don’t have to be one-to-one mapping between the tables and their representation in Ruby. This means that when your application growing and you starting to see more and more domain specific concepts you will be able to module them just by using API that we have. It’s also easier to make changes in databases because you have chainset API that we introduced recently. We can use it transfer data from representation that your application receives into a structure that is compatible with your database. We don’t have it in Active Record - concept of data transformation. And, second advantage - it’s kinda lightweight, because the data structures that we load, the objects, that we load, they are smaller than Active Record objects. They take less memory and they are faster. As a result , Rom is faster, it can work with different databases. people are using Rom with data that they pull from YAMA files or csv files or HTTP API and then they combine these data and with what they have in their database, maybe store in their database after some transformation. It’s just much more flexible and support.
Disadvantages are mostly related to the fact that it’s still young project. First few years of my work was mostly experimentation and project started at 2013 and 1.0 version was released in November. That’s not a lot for open source project. 3 years for open source is like 3 months in case for a normal project. As a result, we’re lacking the documentation, which is in big priority right now, our community is much smaller, we use less 3rd party tools and extensions than in case of Active Record. We don’t have 3rd party solutions for stuff like file uploads or authorization.  We are on our own in a lot of common cases. That’s the biggest disadvantage. If you don’t feel like build a plugin for a file upload, it’s not gonna be good fit for you.

How do you see the world of programming in 10 and 50 years and will Ruby and Rails have place in it?

I have no idea, really. That’s hard question. I don’t know. I can't see the future. I think Ruby is doing well. I’m excited about alternative Ruby implementations like Truffle Ruby, which is getting more and more attention. I’m also looking forward to Ruby 3. I think it’s gonna be easier to predict the future once Ruby 3 is realized. But I think that we have a strong community. Language is not everything, ecosystem built around language is also important. And I think we have very strong community which is evolving very fast these days. We see more and more new projects. It’s doing well. There are other languages, such as Elixir, which is getting a lot of attention these days. But it’s a young language with very young ecosystem so it’s gonna take a while for younger languages to get where we are already in terms of our experience and our knowledge and how we work together. I think Ruby is doing fine and it’s gonna be quite good for next few years.

In your opinion, what is the hypest technology in programming these days?

I don’t know. To be honest, I’m not really following hype. It’s to distracting. I would like to check out everything. But I think Elixir is a big hype. In a good way.

What advice can you give to “average programmer” to stand out the crowd?

Write and read a lot of code. That’s my advice for many years. I think people spend too much time discussing code and reading books instead of sitting together and coding. You can learn a lot from just this and discussing it afterwards. The more write and read - the better you become. For me, the fact that i’ve started contributing to open source helped me to learn so much. I’m sure that I’ve spend 10 times more if I was just relying on my job. So, contributing to open source is also a great way to learn not just how to write code, but also - how to work with people. You learn how to communicate, you meet a lot of different people, you work how to work in team, it helps you a lot. These two things are very important.

What makes you excited about your daily work?

I really enjoy using things that I’ve written. It’s because it motivates me to continue working on them and improving them and it’s such a joy for me to build them and use in a project as a tool. I also really like just working with people. I hate to be lone wolf, just writing stuff that nobody will see. Writing stuff that other people can use gives me a lot of joy and fun.

Do you have any plans to write a book?

I have a plan to write a book about my project - rom rb. This will be not too detailed book. It will explain rom rb in very basic way. Short introduction without going too much in the details because it’s big project. I don’t have time to write a big book and I want people to be able to quickly learn the basics and understand how it works. The cool part is it is possible to understand how rom works. It’s good to understand how tools that you use works.

Do you have nightmares related to your job?

I don’t remember any nightmares related to my work. I’m a happy man!