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.

A. Davidov: "I like when my work is helpful for people"

Software developer. Open source enthusiast, Hanami core, Ruby Hero 2016, speaker at RailsClub 2017
18 October

Anton Davidov
Anton Davidov at RailsClub 2017

Software developer. Open source enthusiast, Hanami core, Ruby Hero, speaker at RailsClub 2017

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

What's your name? Where do you work, what do you do?

My name is Anton, I work at the American start-up. We are developing a healthcare application to help people in America buy and receive the right medicines. There are some issues with it in US. Unfortunately, we are not yet released, so I can not name the place where I work. But if you ask me about this in a month or two, I'll say. At work, we use full dry stack (dry web and rom), also we have several services on hanami.

How do you like RailsClub?

This is my fourth RailsClub. I am very happy to come every year, see many new faces, communicate with old friends, learn something new, discuss problems, and have fun.

Tell me about your report.

In my report I will motivate people not afraid to code in open source, because I believe that there are some problems in the community and by my report I want to try to solve them. This is absolutely not a technical report. Its main goal is motivation. I will be very happy if after today, at least one or two people will stop being afraid to make a mistake and do something. I will tell you about my mistakes and problems, about other people's mistakes. It is important for me to convey that the errors is normal.

What do you think are the most popular technologies?

If to speak in general - machine learning is still in hype, and people are trying to do something on it, at least in Russia. A lot of people talk about the blockchain, trying to mine Ether, buying farms for millions. And if we talk about programming and about Ruby in particular, this is an interesting question. We can say that the functional languages ​​are in hype, but it seems to me that this is far from being the case. There is a cult around functional languages, and people are just trying to be involved in it. Also, now it is a trend (like 10 years ago) the problem solutions. I mean - people have a problem that they are trying to solve it. That's the way dry, rom, hanami, trailblazer appeared; that's the way other programming languages like Crystal appeared.

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

The world of programming in 10 years I see as my place of work in 10 years - I mean, I can't see it. But if I fantasize, I'd like to see something like cyberpunk from the novels "Neuromantic" when people directly connected to the computer through a neural interface with full immersion. I would like to see that people will go somewhere in this direction.

What advice would you give to an average programmer in order to stand out the crowd? 

The first advice - do not be afraid to talk about problems. People everywhere face problems, and in IT too. If a person tells about his problem and how he solved it, other people can get benefit from it. The second advice is to solve problems not only at work, but also in the community - to engage in open source, to do conferences, to speak and write good articles.

People in other spheres, for example, in aircraft building, feel great joy and enthusiasm after the end of the big project. What in your job brings such feelings?

This is a funny question for me, not even in terms of the question itself. While studying at the institute, I was practicing at an aircraft plant in the department of indestructible control. I've seen that atmosphere and people are not always happy when they make big planes. They usually have problems like that the spare part for a million rubles came with micro cracks and somehow it needs to be used, so as a result the aircraft does not fall apart.
I really like it when I get a good feedback. When my work was useful for someone. Then I feel the excitement. Speaking more broadly - all my work is aimed at getting a good feedback and solving people's problems.

Do you have nightmares related to work?

I have one nightmare related to my work - I start Rails coding again. Seriously, for almost a year I have not touched the Rails at all. And I grew a big beard and hair on my head, I began to sleep better.

Do you have plans for writing books?

Fortunately, no. I have dyslexia, it is difficult for me to write texts sometimes. The biggest thing that I have is a channel in a telegram where I write large messages by the standards of telegram channels. I had an idea to try to collect this all in a heap and make a huge collection or a reference book, there are many related topics. But in general, I do not see myself as a writer. At school, I had an assessment between 1 and 2 in Russian, so for me it's really difficult.

As far as I know, your report was last at Rails Club for few times already. Why is it so and how do you feel about it?

I was the last in 2015 and 2017. In 2015, I had a lightning talk, it just turned out to be the last of 3. This year I specifically asked to put me in the end. I will not have a technical report and I will be able to motivate someone. The idea is that people will get tired of listening to some complicated technical things and think with their heads for 8 hours in a row, it's like a working day. At the end of the day, people want some kind of show, and just my report will be that show. And, secondly, I would be pleased if people leave the conference with a feeling of excitement.