N. Sobolev: "I entered Elixir in about 2 months"

Elixir-lang.moscow organizer, Auth0 ambassador, CTO at wemake.services, speaker at RailsClub 2017
11 October

Nikita Sobolev
Nikita Sobolev

CTO at wemake.services, organizer of elixir-lang.moscow conference, speaker at RailsClub 2017.

On the RailsClub 2017, we’ve managed to talk with Nikita about his report, his job and future of Elixir.

Tell us about yourself, who are you, what are you doing?

My name is Nikita, I write on Hype.codes sometimes about Elixir. I, basically, am now engaged at different conferences and meetings. I'm talking about what a cool language Elixir is and try to evangelize it in various ways. In fact, with a mercenary goal - I have my own small company called "wemake.services". We sell custom development to our customers. We want to sell Elixir development, because we like it, and we are happy to work with it. Therefore, my selfish goal is combined with disinterested.

How did you get into the Ruby ​​event?

In fact, I know that many rubists are switching to Elixir, and I decided why not even more Ruby developers could be dragged into this wonderful world of functional technologies. I applied for it, got the approvement, and here I am.

What was your report about?

My report was about the basics of Elixir, about its ideology, how to build the architecture of an application, about how you can write business logic, how it differs from other programming languages. I assumed that the audience knows Ruby, I know Python. They are similar enough, so it was a report for them. I hope it was clear.

What are your impressions of the conference?

I really liked it. Very good conference. One of the best this year, on which I was. Despite the fact that I never understood a single report.

How do you see the programming world in the next 10 and 50 years and is there a place for Elixir?

I think yes. I'm not ready to talk about 10 or even 50 years, but it seems to me that in next 5 years Elixir will have its own strong niche, connected with processing a large number of real-time applications, asynchronous requests. We hope to get fixed in this niche, together with Elixir.

What are the main pros of Elixir?

A low entry threshold, even though it is functional. I entered Elixir in about 2 months. At the same time, I did not know any functional programming language, and I can say that I still do not know. I write on Elixir, not noticing that it is from a different paradigm. This is a very great dignity. Elixir is gaining popularity very fast. Low entry threshold = fast popularity gain.

What are the main differences between Elixir and Erlang?

The main difference is syntax. Either way, they are very similar. They have common pros and cons. But Elixir really has a much more pleasant syntax. To us, those who are used to writing in Ruby or Python, this approach is understandable and does not cause any rejection. We can start writing on Elixir the same way as we write on Ruby.

Recently, the IT field for employment has become very popular. Which advice would you give advice to the average "IT specialist" to stand out from the crowd?.

You can stand out the crowd with 2 things - work hard and learn, and talk about yourself, talk about what you can do, share knowledge with others. Thanks to the combination of these two factors, you can achieve a lot.

Do you have any plans to write a book? Or maybe you are already the author of some book?

No, unfortunately, I did not write and do not plan yet. I do not know what, I do not have those that I could put in the book. But I hope that someday they will appear and I would not be willing to write anything fundamental.

What in your work makes you truly happy that brings inner pleasure?

We, as a project team, are always happy when we finish the project. We have a whole day of happiness. Similarly, we experience stress, if the project goes wrong for some reason, and when issues are fixed, as a result, happiness becomes even greater. But we also need to feel the process - when we write what we like, when we make a very high-quality product, we get pleasure not only from the result, but from the process. And in fact, it's even bigger pleasure. Since we sometimes work with large corporate or governmental clients, result is not visible. And the process is remembered and remains forever.

Elixir is a young language, and there are very vacancies and elixirists in the labor market. How to increase the number of Elixirists? And how do you think, when there will be enough of them?

In fact, I believe that there won't be many Elixirists. Elixir is a very niche language. It is not a general programming language. Its concept and features allow it to become a very good niche tool. At the moment, amount of vacancies growns on the wave of hype. There will never be the same amount of vacancies as for Pythonists or Rubists. But, I think that there will be more of them in a whole.

Do you have nightmares related to your daily work?

Of course. Whenever someone calls me, I think the server crashed. But, in reality, I don't have nightmares. Sometimes when I go to bed, and read something before, or watch a video or a report, and I don't want to fall asleep, but I want to try something cool. So I have to force myself to say sleep. It happens. 

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!