Steve Klabnik: Few people study Assembler, but I'm interested

At the RailsClub conference, Steve Klabnik rewrote piece Ruby-interpreter into Rust
07 June 2017   917

Steve Klabnik

Steve Klabnik


Biggest Russian Ruby on Rails event

Member of Rust Core Team, Ruby Hero 2011, active open source contributor, author of “The Rust Programming Language”, “Rails 4 in Action” and “Designing Hypermedia APIs”. Speaker of RailsClub 2012 and 2016.

At RailsClub 2016 he spoked about exploring Ruby through Rust.Ruby is written using C. Many of the classes that we know and love are written in Ruby but some are not. Studying how the MRI works, we can learn a lot about Ruby. In the report, Steve showed a hilarious hack: rewrote the piece of Ruby-interpreter to Rust. From this report, you can learn a lot about the internal arrangement of Ruby and how to start hacking code in C.

We had a chance to ask few question after his speech.

What are you working on right now? 

I am mostly working on the Rust programming language. But something like a language is super huge, so there's all kinds of things: I'm re-writing the official book, I'm working on our server package, I'm doing some work on our package manager… so much to do!
I also have a side project, intermezzOS. It's a «teaching operating system», that is, it's a little OS, but also a book to go along with it to teach people who have never done OS work how to do it.

What is Open Source for you? 

To me, Open Source is about making collaboration first and foremost in the development process. That is, instead of everyone doing their own thing, you work together towards your goal. That doesn't mean that everyone always works on everything, but it means that you make major decisions about the project together, you always have someone review your code before it gets merged, and you try as much as possible to include as many people as possible.

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

There's three things I'm interested in:

  1.  WebAssembly. This is going to pave the way for even more ambitious web applications than we had previously.
  2. Ember's FastBoot project. A drop-in way to take care of the initial page load issue for single page applications.
  3.  Glimmer 2. This is an implementation detail of Ember, but it reminds me of when React hit the scene: I think it's a huge leap forward in the way that Javascript-heavy web applications can achieve speed.

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

I don't follow any one thing: I mostly read Hacker News and Reddit, and read the articles from everywhere.

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

«Assembly Language step by step: programming with Linux». Not many people learn assembly these days, but I think this book presents it in a way that's very approachable. Its early chapters contain a lot of amusing metaphors that really help you grok the concepts.

Not tired of programming? What do you do when it happens?

Sometimes! You'll notice that a lot of the stuff that I'm doing is also writing: to me, just programming itself isn't all that interesting, it's combining programming with something else. So that's what I do: I switch to documentation, or teaching. It's still about programming, but it's not directly programming itself.

What would you do if you had a couple of months of free paid time?

I would try to finish re-writing the Rust book, as it's the most important work that I'm doing. I'm lucky enough that it's already a part of my job. Second, I would work on intermezzOS all day: I really love it, but since it's not my job, I never have enough time. 

Who you wanted to become in childhood?

I really, really wanted to be an Egyptologist. I've always found ancient Egyptian culture fascinating. But then I discovered computers, and found something I thought was even more interesting.

RailsClub conference on which we managed to communicate with Steave Klabnik 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   376

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.