By Vini Natarajan

My first Rails Camp

2017 Rails Camp NZ was held at Mt.Cheeseman in Christchurch.

Rails Camp NZ is full weekend retreat, held annually for people interested in web development to gather and be awesome together. This year’s event ran from Friday 24th until Monday 27th of February 2017.

On Friday morning, I was very excited and eagerly preparing to go to the RailsCamp. The last camp I went to was a Scout camp years ago while I was at school. Even though many years have passed since, I still had the same level of excitement as I had then. Another Rabid Developer, Eoin, accompanied me to RailsCamp.

I had no idea what it would be like but Eoin explained to me that Rails Camp is an un-conference and you can work on whatever you like, with lots of other people.

People gathered at the Christchurch airport and a shuttle took us to the Mt. Cheeseman lodge. At the camp there was a lot of networking and I got to meet lots of people, which gave me confidence and enthusiasm and it also introduced me to a wider support network. Over 60 people attended Rails Camp, of which Rabid was one of the sponsors. I definitely had the feeling that I am very lucky to be in this industry which has such cool events like Rails Camp. After dinner, people were having fun playing Werewolf until late.

Saturday was a sunny morning, and I met all the wonderful people again in the cafeteria. After breakfast, I decided to climb the mountain with a bunch of people. It was a very rough road. I thought I could make it to the top of the mountain slowly but I stopped half way, it was not an easy climb and I am not a fit person. I decided to leave the rest of the people and wondered how these people are so able to climb. I could see a beautiful view of Mt. Cheeseman from where I stopped. After resting there for a short while I started climbing down and realised that it was very hard and much more scary than climbing up. Thankfully I managed to get back to the camp alone.


As there was good weather, a number of other people opted to climb the mountain while the rest were hacking on their own projects or were involved in discussions. The trending discussion was about dry-rb and how it makes the Rails framework lighter. dry-rb is a collection of Ruby libraries. It is a number of gems which are not all tied together, so if you want to use one part, like dry-validations, you can just install that gem, whereas if you want to do the same with a Rails gem like ActiveRecord, it requires several Rails gems together.

On Sunday there were some talks; the first one was Mr. Painting Robot by Samuel Williams.

He was talking about image extraction of Japanese painting. He explained how sequential points in the painting are extracted into brush strokes. His talk covered topics like painterly algorithms, line extraction, the 3 channel laplacian and the search and analysis algorithm. At the end of his talk he presented a video of his robot painting a star using a paint brush.

The other talk was about functional programming by Rob Howard. His topic covered the usage of pure functions in functional programming and how it generally makes composition more useful.

After that we had a group photo session of the Rails Camp attendees.

There was also a usability game show which interested me a lot; the game is all about how to use a website to complete a task as a new user. The whole idea of the game is to check if a new website makes sense for a first time user.

On the last night of Rails Camp there were presentations, anyone could present or teach others about the things they had learnt. It ran for about 2 hours. It was fun watching the chrome dinosaur game when the network is disconnected.

Topics I actively read and learnt at Rails Camp are:

  • Rails authentication and authorization (using Devise & Pundit)
  • Tips and Tricks for Vanilla JS
  • Functional programming
  • Solidifying my knowledge of CSS techniques

Thanks to Rabid for sending me to a superb Rails Camp! And a big thanks to all who had a hand in organising.