Here are my takes on the railsconf 09. It was my first railsconf. I've attended many JavaOne and MSFT PDC's, dating back to 1990. What struck me most was the enthusiasm of the community. You get that vibe in general, but to see a ballroom full of rails enthusiasts is another story.
In Java and MSFT events they are pushing new technology, even when it is barely baked. I expected this railsconf to do the same with rails 3, but there was not much content talking about rails 3. DHH did spend his keynote talking about some major highlights. My take is that rails 3 will be more elegant, flexible and performant, but the migration will be painful.
At the keynote DHH opened up talking about the attacks on rails. He was telling his on story about how he came to understand they were not personal attacks and it really just did not matter. It made me realize how early stage the rails community really is.(I'm not talking about the technology, but the community.) The vibe is: the rails world has been growing, but is it grown up enough to become a major player? You can especially hear it when people start talking about enterprise rails. Those conversations always start with a justification of how rails is ready.
The rails community at large is a passionate group that believes they have a better way of doing things. (Even if it is not entirely true.) It has a rebel feeling. I love that. The rails community needs to own its success. Strut around with more confidence. (BTW I'm NOT saying DHH does not have confidence!) Getting early adopters to use it is easy, getting wide spread adoption is much harder. Right now it still feels like early adoption. I'm not sure the rails community wants wide spread adoption. Careful for what you wish for.
Other highlights for me:
* Obie Fernandez being so passionate and honest about what he and hash rocket have gone through.
* Jim Weirich - Writing Modular Applications. Jim did a great job outlining a taxonomy for describing dependencies. The base material dates back to the 80's.
* Pen & Teller - They rock.