Early morning session was The Even Darker Art of Rails Engines by James Adam. Good overview of Rails Engines as they are implemented in Rails 2.3, including caveats of some of the shortcomings. One issue is that when application routes and engine routes collide, the engine route takes precedence. James considers this a bug (I’m inclined to agree). Another gotcha is migrations. Migrations in an engine are not visible unless they are copied into the top-level migrations directory, but this is tricky because the version number/timestamp on a migration in the application may collide with that of a migration in the engine. Finally, public assets that are bundled with an engine must be copied into the application’s public directory in order to be visible to the web server. Overall, engines have a lot of potential as well as room for improvement. As things stand, they are reasonably easy to deal with across in-house applications, but it becomes much more complicated when they are published by third parties. It’s also worth noting that Rails 3 promises to have mountable applications based on Rails Engines and Merb Slices.

Late morning session was In Praise of Non-Fixtured Data by Kevin Barnes. It was interesting to see some of the options for avoiding fixtures that have arisen although for day-to-day work I have already switched over to Factory Girl. I doubt it’s rational, but the idea of data generators being added directly to the model class bothers me. That’s one of the reasons I stick with Factory Girl.

Early afternoon session was “The Future of Deployment: A Killer Panel” with Marc-André Cournoyer, Christian Neukirchen, Ryan Tomayko, Adam Wiggins, Blake Mizerany and James Lindenbaum. The panel members represented different layers of the deployment stack including Thin, Rack, Rack::Cache, Sinatra and Heroku. Discussion centered around how the different components came into being, how they’ve come to interact and how they might need to develop for the future. If I spent more time working with complex deployment issues, I probably would have gotten more out of this session, but as it is my needs are quite simple.

Mid afternoon session was I Rock, I Suck, I Am – Jumpstart Your Journey to Agile by Davis W. Frank. Davis went over some practices and guidelines that helped him adapt to the Agile workflow. Sometimes it seems that Agile pays off the same way that REST does – it’s a simple, well-structured way to breakdown complex tasks.

Late afternoon session was Obie Fernandez’s Blood, Sweat and Rails. An interesting talk about some of the perils of launching a formal consultancy. Dealing with contract lawyers and keeping up with collections are serious drawbacks.