This past week, I had the pleasure of attending the first ever Rogue Rails workshop and conference. As an added bonus, the event was held in the city where I live, which almost never happens. I live in a smaller city with a small but growing tech community, so it was really nice to have an event like this.

We started with a three-day workshop on doing agile development with Ruby on Rails. The 20 attendees were grouped into five teams of four developers each and we spent the three days working together on a small Rails project. There were five mentors, including Ryan Bates of Railscasts fame. The mentors rotated teams throughout the workshop, so every team was able to work with each mentor.

The workshop took us through the major parts of an agile development project: project inception, coming up with an MVP (minimum viable product), planning and executing an iteration, and retrospecting. While working on the project, we pair-programmed and used outside-in test-driven development.

Interspersed throughout the workshop, we had short talks on the various techniques and practices we were using, but also things like deployment, continuous integration, design workshops, front-end Javascript frameworks, and more.

This was a fun experience. I work on an agile team, so most of the practices weren’t new to me, but it was helpful to experience from a different perspective and with different people. I realized that I’ve fallen into some bad habits and ruts that I need to correct.

The final day of the event was an open-space conference at the beautiful Bigham Knoll Campus in historic Jacksonville, OR. After brief inspirational talks by Kent Beck and Sarah Mei, the 40 or so attendees proposed topics for the day. We organized them into three tracks of five sessions each and then spent the rest of the day discussing the topics. I attended discussions on remote work (particularly relevant to me given last week’s post on the topic), growing a tech community in a small center, multi-disciplinary teams, pair programming, and new tools and frameworks. Other sessions included working with legacy applications, introducing agile practices in a classroom setting, getting to continuous integration/continuous deployment, and many others. There were some great discussions and lots of interesting people to meet.

Rogue Rails was a relatively small event, which worked out very well. We could all go out for dinner together at the end of the day and get to know each other better. The workshop was intense, so there wasn’t really time for a hallway track. The dinners made up for it. The conference was designed to be its own hallway track which carried into the closing dinner. There were attendees from around the world, which was wonderful to see. The organizers, Zeal, did a great job.

This was well worth my time, and I highly recommend attending next year. Thanks to the organizers, sponsors and other attendees for making it a well-spent week.