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
07 June 2017   903

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.

N. Sutterer: "Ruby is dead. Long live Ruby!"

Creator of Trailblazer that introduces several new abstraction layers into Rails, Rails contributor and gem author, speaker at Railsclub
15 January 2018   377

Nick Sutterer at RailsClub 2017
Nick Sutterer at RailsClub 2017

Hello! Please, introduce yourself in few words.

My name is Nick Sutterer, I’m developing software for like 22-25 years and I work like a consultant of my open source project for different companies. Sometimes I give presentations at conferences.

Is it your first time in Russia, Moscow, RailsClub?

It is. Everything for a first time. I’m blown away!

How do you like it?

Great! It’s amazing! Since I arrived, people care about me, people take me out, people show me the city, people give me history lessons. It’s amazing. Great food. We go to places and have a drink. I go to hotel, sleep, and everything starts again. That’s amazing! I’m really enjoying it.

Can you tell us about your report in few keynotes?

My talk was about the lack of innovation in Ruby language and about innovations that is happening in frameworks, that use Ruby. I’m just showing what we have. I try to inspire people and Ruby core team to pick some ideas from other technologies and make Ruby even better.

Your talk is called “Ruby is dead”. If Ruby is dead, what’s alive?

Ruby is dead. Long live Ruby. I’m trying to be provocative with my talk. I’m still coding Ruby everyday, I’m still traveling to all conference because I still believe that Ruby is an amazing programming language. There’s languages, showing up recently. Elixir or Golang for example. They have completely different way. They deal with problems and they are way more innovative. But they are brand new. I, actually, don’t think that Ruby is dead.

What you don’t like in Ruby the most?

I hate that we keep thinking in really old way. We reject innovation. It is especially due to frameworks like Rails. I would love to the more development of Rails, with all it’s huge audience. Ruby is lacking a lot of features that a lot of other languages have, like pattern matching and method overloading. The problem is that sometimes I feel that we are behind the innovations that happen to other languages. Specifically features, that make other languages amazing. We don’t have them, and it’s very sad.

What is your way to improve Ruby?

Every time is meet Matz at conference, I tell him for few hours what should be done to improve Ruby. Without any providing any help. It’s all about innovations. I try to innovate in my own framework, Trailblazer. So we can put the way we write business code to new level. I try to inspire people with my library code they use new concepts in Ruby that never been there before. I think that helping them to write the applications.

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

I don’t think Rails will have place. I really love Rails community and people in Rails Core. But I don’t think that Rails will be a thing in 10 years. But I think Ruby will still be around. It all depends on what is going to happen with Ruby 3.0. When it will be released and what features will it bring. I think Ruby will still be there. But I can’t tell you what will happen in 50 years. Because in 50 years there won’t be a need to program anymore. We will probably just write diagrams on the air.

In your opinion, what technologies are the most hypest today?

Craft beer and coffee, haha! Everything that hipsters do! Now everything is switching from OOP to FP. We are trying to avoid to have unwanted side effects in order to not let users to screw up internal state. Functional programming makes it impossible to users to do stuff in wrong order, for example. Like problems that we have in Ruby. I see a lot of development in functional languages because they are also way easy to paralyze and they have a lot of advanced features.

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

Important thing in IT is that you always need to play with new tools. Even if you are not a super programmer, you have to look at the community and check what’s going on. It is really important to keep moving. Otherwise, I see that my current job at the police is really slow. They using very outdated technologies. A lot of people are affected. It is non productive. It’s good because a lot of people are keeping their jobs . But it is important to adopt new technologies. I’m not saying be a coding hipster and change your framework everyday. But a lot of new things in last 10 years make sense. People should use it and not just sit there and enjoy excellent job. They can get fired tomorrow.

What makes you excited about your job?

That’s beautiful question. I think that idea of open source is that you expose code that you think is helpful and people will tell you that it really is. This is what keeps me programming. When I write something and I see that a lot of people use it and they say like “It is so much better that I used before!” It’s great! This is making my day. It’s all about what comes back. I also program my own stuff and sometimes I think: “Yes!” But mostly I like when something what I do is helpful to other people.

Do you have any plans on writing a book?

I have already wrote one book. Two years ago, it took like 16 months. I was writing and inventing at the same time. That was a huge mistake! I was keeping updating my book with changes in my library code. It was massive. I plan to write more books, because it was fun. It has to be with the right timing. I’m not gonna write a book about, for example, a new version of my framework now because it’s still changing. I’m not gonna make this mistake again. It’s so much work! Unbelievable.

Do you have any nightmares, related to you job?

I used to have those kind of dreams few years ago. Sometimes I still have them.You always imagine software as something visual. Brain just does that. My dreams about those thing and passing the objects. And it’s always the wrong object! It’s the only nightmare that I have. I was able to have good work\life balance. So I have very rare the bad sleep. Even if I don’t look like it.