Sam Phippen: I came to Ruby due to frustration

Sam is really exceeded that he can easily write to other leading developers and immediately get help with any Ruby issue
Sergey Siminskiy's picture
Sergey Siminskiy
07 June

Sam Phippen

Sam Phippen


Biggest Russian Ruby on Rails event

Member of the RSpec core team, developer at Fun and Plausible Solutions, speaker at RailsClub 2015.

At the conference Sam talked about Mocking language.

We had a chance to ask him a few questions after the speech.

How have you became a Ruby developer? 

I became a Ruby developer literally out of sheer frustration with an existing PHP application to which a client was asking me to add orthogonal features. Instead of building them into the existing app, I used rails, it was fast and efficient and I never looked back.

What are you working on right now? 

I work for a company called Fun and Plausible Solutions. We’re a consultancy and as such the projects I work on are extremely varied. My current client as I write this response is called They sell personalised children’s books that take advantage of technology. I’m helping them build and scale their e-commerce stack.

What is missing in Rails, in your opinion?

A good testing framework. But seriously, Rails is a surprisingly complete framework. I think in a lot of places, it has too many features. In particular, I think the world could do without ActiveRecord callbacks and turbolinks, which make it far too easy to shoot yourself in the foot.

What's your favorite programming language besides Ruby? 

This is kind of a big question. I grew up on Java and Python, coded a lot of C while I was at University and many other languages besides. I’ll never stop liking Java, people abuse it a lot, but in it’s pure form Java is a great language.

Which technology, in your opinion, will be the most promising in the near future?

I could not be more excited to program in Rust. It’s type system and compiler are beautiful and it’s safety guarantees are second to none.

What is Open Source for you? 

This is a very hard question. I think around Ruby in particular, Open Source means community. The fact that I can just ping Aaron, Zach, or whoever and get immediate help with my crazy ruby problem is super great. I get people asking me how to do things in RSpec just the same and I try to help them out too :). Often, this means bringing another maintainer into the conversation, because even though I’m a maintainer, my knowledge of RSpec is not encyclopaedic.

What’s new recently attracted your attention in the world of web development?

ActionCable. Just no.

What’s your favorite resources (blogs/websites/twitter channels) about web development? 

Too many to name. I will say I find Jen Schiffer’s medium to be absolutely hilarious. Sarah Mei (@sarahmei) is a very dear friend of mine and some of her tweet chains about our industry are simply superb. Two people who I’d like to highlight as fascinating new members of our community are Kylie Stradley (@kyfast) and Sara Simon (@sarambsimon).

What’s the last book about programming that you liked? 

I don’t read programming books all that often, but Java concurrency in practice is a great staple. Much of what it teaches is not actually Java specific, but ways to reason about concurrent programming. It’s been very helpful to me throughout the years.

What’s your advice to the developers, which want to be successful?

I honestly don’t think I’m in a position to tell anyone how to be a successful web developer. I can only talk to my experience. My background is so stereotypical it hurts. Both parents have worked in or near programming for their entire careers. I went to a good University and got a strong CS degree. My path is the standard of our industry, but I don’t see why that should be the case. This industry is beginning to touch the entire world, and if we don’t bring in people of all backgrounds, we’re going to end up producing horrible solutions. I do, however, have advice on how to be a successful team: hire people who aren’t like you, who can challenge your ideas and improve what you do.

Not tired from programming? 

Coding tires me, but I spend a lot of time going to conferences and meeting new people, which energises me back up. Mostly, I want to stream as many new ideas as possible into my head. Also: a good cup of tea always helps.

What report would you like hear at RailsClub? 

I’m very excited about Koichi’s talk, he’s always interesting. Anna’s talk also looks fascinating.

What would you do, if you had two months of free paid time?

I have the initial conceptual stages of a book in my head. I think getting that into a manuscript form would be great.

Who you wanted to became in childhood?

Something close to what I’m doing now.

What do you expect from the conference and from the Russian-speaking community?

I’m very interested to learn more about how Russian people develop Ruby. I find in each place I visit that people write code differently, it’s always nice to compare and contrast styles.

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

Get your ticket here.

A. Davydov: It's vital not to stop and find conceptually new solutions

An Open Source enthusiast and one of the core developers of the Ruby-framework Hanami shares ideas about Hanami, Ruby and the developer's life
Diana Ugay's picture
Diana Ugay
10 August

Anton Davydov
Anton Davydov

An Open Source enthusiast and one of the core developers of the Ruby-framework Hanami.

On the eve of RailsClub 2017, on which Anton will be one of the speaks, we questioned him about the job and his views on Ruby development.

What are you working on right now?

I am working for a Healthcare start-up, which can improve the lives of so many people in the US. Unfortunately, I can't tell you more about it as I have signed the NDA. Talking about Open Source projects, now we are working on the version of Hanami 1.1. Besides, Sergey and I create a library for Event Sourcing in Hanami. It already works without a global state as well as does subscribe & broadcast for events, supports multiple adapters and allows you to easily add your own ones. The library is to have much more cool features in the future, such as retries, the construction of the event tree and eventbox documentation.

Isn't there something similar in Ruby with the Wisper gem...

Yes, it is very similar, but Wisper implements pub/sub only in the memory of one instance, while we want to allow the developer to choose how to process such messages: in one instance or to scale a few.

What about new adapters? How will they be added?

You just have to resolve them into a container. For now, we have in-memory and Redis adapters which you can play with. Kafka, RabbitMQ and, probably, PostgreSQL will show up in the future. 

What is your view on the development of Hanami in the next four years?

As now there's definitely a monopoly of Rails, I would like to see a worthy alternative in Hanami. This will allow all frameworks to develop. Thus, Hanami already solves business problems and many developers are inspired by this tool. I hope that in the future we will manage to view on Ruby as a dying language and popularize new ideas.

Do you think Hanami can become a mainstream in the future?

I've noticed some significant changes in the attitude towards the framework and its ecosystem over the last year. To measure it you have to take a look at the gems downloading scale, the frequency of the posts publishing, the conferences'references. A year ago, when people heard about Hanami, they would circle a first finger by a temple, whereas now they come up and tell us that they enjoy the framework, and they are already using it.

Why do you think it was Rails that became the standard in Ruby development?

To my mind, there are several reasons for this. Firstly, everyone was tired of verbose Java- and PHP-frameworks, so there was a need to create a simple and operative solution. Secondly, the framework allows you to quickly launch products, the creation of which in other languages would take weeks and even months. For many of the developers it was like a breath of fresh air and Rails has quickly gained popularity.
Now, there is no other MVC-framework of full value except for Rails. There are Sinatra and other http-frameworks out there, but they do not provide the developers with the opportunity to start working on business tasks with just one command.

In your opinion, what are the problems the Ruby community is facing right now?

Well, a lot of my friends are saying or have said that they are too bored with Ruby. They do the same thing day after day, which, consequently, kills the motivation, that's why a lot of them begin to study other languages ​​and technologies. People lack something radically new, some ideas that will allow them to look at their work from the different perspective.
It is vital not to stop and find conceptually new solutions, which nowadays the guys from dry/rom are busy with. Unfortunately, any new approach - not only in Ruby - is almost always perceived with hostility. On the one hand, some criticality should definitely take place, however, it usually kills the motivation to move on and grow as a community.

What is the path of the Ruby developer for you in general?

There's no single answer for this question, I guess. In my opinion, a good developer is interested in the capabilities of different languages and systems. If so, the specialist himself is to decide what is good for him and what is not. Thus, they would be able to choose really useful approaches to be used in work in the future.

Which gem, in your opinion, can serve as an example of an ideal code?

I certainly would not point at Ruby core (laughs). it's  quite hard to talk about such ephemeral concepts as the quality and the beauty of the code as I myself can't say that I write a good, so I do not always like it. To me, the best gems are those that simply solve existing problems and do not create new ones.

How do you learn something new about Ruby? Do you read blogs or use other sources?

I like link aggregators, e.g. Reddit. I also use RSS, which allows you to get acquainted with different points of view on the same problem.
For example, an article appeared recently about why Hanami is bad. There was, in fact, the only one point: the call method is magically called in the framework. The majority of the community was trying hard to explain that this was normal: excessive explicitness hurts sometimes. It's very interesting to read such things as you start to look at things from a different angle.
I also have my own Telegram channel, and the followers often send me some interesting links.

You were doing a platform for a collaboration on the Open Source-projects of OSS Board, weren't you. Are you still working on this project?

That's correct, I continue working on it right now. It seems to me that I failed to promote the OSS Board properly. That's very difficult to find people who will create tasks there and do them, especially when the task is slightly more difficult than making changes to the form. The main problem of the project is the search for specialists who will be able to add a well-described task as you need to monitor it, update it and communicate with the developers, which is actually is a very great work. However, there are still people who help, which I am very grateful for.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in the career?

I received more than 80 comments with questions about each line on one of the pull request in Rails. I never finished it, but as a result I started take such things easier.
On top of that, I finished the project in Google Summer of Code, while a lot of people give up in the first month, even more - on the second, and only a few gets to the end.

What kind of project was it?

This was a plugin for Sidekiq, which shows the statistics for all the tasks. Unfortunately, I've abandoned it due to the lack of time, although it is a fairly popular library.

What are your main achievements in life?

To me, it is that I did not shy away from speaking in English for the first time in my life at the conference EuRuKo-2016 in Sofia in front of the audience of 700 people. It is way easier to make a report in Russian as this is your mother tongue. You can imagine that it is very anxiously when you do not know English well and do not have the experience of such performances.

In your opinion, who from the Open Source developers can be considered an example to follow?

It's definitely worth it to look at what other developers are doing. They generate and implement interesting ideas that you can help to develop or just take a good note. However, first of all you need to focus on yourself and not compare yourself with others.

What are you going to talk about at the conference and why is it worth listening to?

I am to talk about the experience. I've been working not only on the framework, but also on its ecosystem for the last year and a half. To some extent I can be called a developer advocate of the Hanami framework. Thus, I will talk about why this work is needed, what mistakes I've made along the way and how to take this experience and apply it to another framework or technology.