Just over a week ago I attended the EuRuKo 2012 event in Amsterdam. I have to say, I was largely impressed.
The event was hosted in the gorgeous Pathé Tuschinski, a cinema about 30 minutes walk away from the central station. It wasn’t that difficult to find, provided you didn’t get it mixed up with the similarly named cinema down the road.
This year to be quite honest I didn’t attend many of the talks, instead I was mainly networking around the venue. I have to say though the introduction to this years event made me laugh, and really set the tone for the rest of the event. The keynote this year was a continuation of Matzs’ keynote last year regarding Rite (now mruby) and Ruby in general, which was a nice touch.
Since the venue was right in the middle of Amsterdam, there were no problems at lunch getting food. Communication was no problem either as people in Amsterdam seem to be amazing multi-linguists.
It’s also worth noting that this years Euruko was actually filmed by a dedicated production team, the results of which can be found on vimeo.
After lunch I checked out the CocoaPods talk by Eloy Durán, which by all accounts turned out to be one of the most controversial talks this year. It started out as a pretty normal talk describing how Cocoapods (written in ruby) makes incorporating third party libraries into your Xcode project a breeze. Then all of a sudden, it turned into a musical meme fest. As someone who didn’t get the in-joke, I was a bit dumbfounded to say the least. It was a bit like seeing an obscure internet meme for the first time.
Whatever was going on inside Eloys’ head, I still have no idea. But really this shows a great side to Euruko: it’s not just about Ruby. It’s not a stuck up corporate conference where they strictly stay on topic. Anything can happen during a talk. On the second day, there was even a talk on making the perfect coffee – something you would not find at WWDC for sure!
Sadly though the bizarreness did not continue onto the next talk. ZeroMQ: Supercharged Sockets by Rick Olson did not feature dancing Octocats doing a musical number.
The rest of the talks for the day were mainly technical and covered topics ranging from Garbage Collection & JRuby to Erlang. There were also the usual set of lightning talks which provide a cool platform for attendees to pitch their problems, thoughts and products.
The second day pretty much followed the format of the first.
The second keynote was provided by Geoffrey Grosenbach, in which he discussed how people can learn from watching other developers code. I had heard this argument presented before, but watching someone like Geoffrey present a well-formed argument on its merits is a whole different experience. It was one of those talks were if it was the only talk in the conference, I would gladly still have paid for it.
My only criticism of the second day was that the ending felt a bit lacklustre. The previous year in Berlin there was a singalong to Ruby which was amazing. Nothing in the ending this year could compare to that.
Enough of the talks…
Well a conference is more than talking to people all day. What else could a participant do?
On both days there were no problems with refreshments. Tea & Coffee were provided by an excellent team. If you really wanted a break you could simply pop out to one of the numerous restaurants near the venue.
This year there were around ~600 attendees, and although the cinema screen was impressive the room was basically packed for most of the more interesting talks.
Interestingly one of organisers created a mini-game whereby a participant could scan their RFID-enabled identity badge over one of 6 white boxes spread around the venue to “check-in”. Prizes were awarded to those dedicated enough to check-in. I felt this was a rather ingenious idea, which added a cool element to the conference.
Also of help was a Euruko Mobile App which provided a neat summary of the events and even push notifications! I’m now convinced that every conference should have an app.
On both days there were events afterwards to go to.
The first was at Club Home, which was not far from the venue. It opened its doors a bit later than expected, so people were stood around for a while. The club itself I could only describe as a double layered sardine can, as in it was so small and packed I could hardly see where I was going. For those used to nightclubs, i’m sure it was great. Still, free drinks were provided so it wasn’t all that bad.
The second was at Roest, which seemed like the most difficult place to find in Amsterdam. After tagging along with some Euruko attendees who happened to be passing by the central station, we walked for what seemed like hours until we stumbled across a locked gate across the canal, which stood between us and the venue. There were no tricks this time, we had to walk right around. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally arrived.
In terms of aesthetics, it was way cooler and quirkier than Club Home. It was basically a warehouse stuck in the middle of a sandpit next to the canals. I almost thought I stumbled across a real-life Gary’s Mod map, as there were bizarrely placed props everywhere. Free drinks were again provided.
So really, was it really worth attending Euruko 2012? Yes, absolutely. It’s a great magnet for ruby developers. It also doesn’t fall into the trap of being a conference where everyone just strictly talks about Ruby all day, so it actually has some much-appreciated depth to it.
Bring on Euruko 2013 in Athens!