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

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.

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!