OSCON Extracting Rails From Basecamp

Since I took quite a bit of notes at DHH’s Extracting Rails from Basecamp session, I thought I’d include them below. Note that these are just my raw notes, primarily for those who were unable to attend (and aren’t in Portland, as apparently David is doing the talk again at “FOSCON” (free-OSCON) for those who couldn’t afford to attend). Update Aug 4, 2005: I was misinformed about FOSCON, evidently David gave the Rails keynote which he is going to do this morning (I’ll have a separate post on this later). Basecamp project management tool existed first. Embraced constraints: – less people, more power – less money, more value (funded via consulting) – less resources, better use – less time, better time Start small and grow only as needed (frugality) Basecamp was 2.5 man/months, 4k lines of code, 2/3 designers, ¼ programmer (10 hr/week) Built half a product instead of a half-ass product They had to develop less software due to these constraints. But, why yet another framework? Because the options were not appealing. Worked in PHP for 5 years. Had to step outside the sweet spot. Felt like he was cutting against the grain. Built almost half of Rails in PHP, but the language was pushing back — struggle all the time. Looked for inspiration. In the enterprise world, there was too much enterprise. Too much focus on 99.999’s, not enough on the 98% — get something out there early and only once you have the users invest the time in scalability and reliability. Too much focus on 100 man shops, not enough on the ¼ man shops. Platform works against you when you’re not creating massive applications with massive teams. Liberate the good ideas. Great ideas are not tied to language/platform. – Change the language – Change the context – Retain the core insights of patterns/practices Call me shallow: – Aesthetics – want the code to be beautiful and easy to read/understand – Joy – happiness, motivation, joy of work – Less – less code, favorite part of programming is removing lines of code Laying out the framework up front doesn’t work, you must extract it from a working application. There’s no other way. I’ll know it when I see it. You have to feel an API to make it fit. Pleasing to work with API cannot be designed up front. Design matters more than test in TDD. Guessing the future is for fortune tellers. Why open source? For entirely selfish reasons: – Make others do the work – Bask in the glow of being a giver – What’s there to loose? It works! 1,000 patches in 9 months! Extract, pass, reap, rinse, repeat Getting traction for your open source project — if no one’s looking it doesn’t matter if it’s open source or not. Many abandoned projects because they got no visibility/involvement. Fear obscurity. You need a network to reap the effects. Get rid of humbleness, take on a normal appreciation of the value you bring to the table. Passion is infectious The baseline of excitement needs to be set by you — you need to be the most excited person about your project. Self delusions work! A conversation of success, build on the positive emotion of others. Go looking for trouble Tout advantages over the known, say that the biggest thing out there “sucks” “If it bleeds, it leads”, everybody loves a good fight Point at someone else and say, ‘you’re stupid’ trouble is easy to find and easy to start — you created this because you were not happy with the status quo. Prison newbie mentality — attack the biggest looking opponent immediately to gain some respect. Dealing with traction Scaling a culture Early influx can bend you out of shape Release not so early, then often — releasing too early can cause an influx which will overtake your culture. Set a viral example of kindness — what you do as project lead influences others. (watch out for the looking for trouble part as your new members will do the same). Signal that there is already a course and new members need to be willing to go in that direction. Don’t ever say RTFM! Overcome the sucky feeling of being a newbie. You need to care from the earliest stages of the project. In a response to the question, Why Ruby? Why not Python? David responded that ruby makes it easy to create domain specific languages. Notion of blocks is also important.