Starting Up Fast: Lessons from the Rails Rumble

Location: Pavilion 9 - 10 Level:
Average rating: **...
(2.70, 30 ratings)

The Rails Rumble is a 48-hour innovation competition in which teams of up to four developers embrace their environmental constraints to create a number of compelling microapps with Ruby and Rails. In this panel we’ll talk to a number of Rumble participants and discover the tips, tricks, and techniques they used to successfully launch innovative web properties in an extremely short time frame.

Panelists will include a number of winners and other developers (and designers) who performed impressive feats during both the 2007 and 2008 contests. Attendees should come prepared with lots of questions for the panelists, such as:

  • How they leveraged Rails, various Gems, and plugins authored by the community to help them succeed.
  • How they scoped their projects and structured their Rails applications to enable them to launch early and iterate often.
  • How they embraced the mantra of “simplest thing that could possibly work”, removing extraneous features and setting reasonable goals for themselves.
  • How they found partners whose skills complemented their own, and how they organized their team.
  • General productivity tips and work habit recommendations.

Their advice will be applicable to both future innovation competitions (such as the upcoming 2009 Rails Rumble) as well as to any project that attendees may hope to bootstrap in their own copious spare time. We’ll also discuss how to get involved with innovation competitions and why their condensed nature and marketing opportunities can be a great motivator.

Photo of Nick Plante

Nick Plante


Nick Plante is a programmer, author, community organizer and (most of all) a nice guy. As an independent consultant and a partner in Ubikorp Internet Services, Nick specializes in helping web startups accelerate their development with Ruby and Rails.

Nick is founder and chief organizer of the Rails Rumble innovation competition, an annual event promoting entrepreneurship and developer productivity in the Rails community. He also heads up the NH Ruby Users Group, has spoken at industry events, and contributes to numerous open source projects. Nick’s book, Practical Rails Plugins, was published by Apress in June, 2008.

Photo of Joe Fiorini

Joe Fiorini


Joe Fiorini is a software engineer/evangelist. He is currently a member of the product development team at Within3, a technology startup building a community platform for the healthcare industry. He specializes in software development with Ruby on Rails utilizing agile methodologies to deliver a working product quickly.

This past year Joe was a member of the Rails Rumble team that developed, a web application that suggests places users can meet in between their respective locations. Out of 250 applicants around the world, this site took first place.

Photo of Ben Scofield

Ben Scofield


Ben is the Development Director for Viget Labs’ NC office, where he builds Ruby on Rails applications for Web 2.0 startups. He’s spoken at Railsconf, Rails to Italy, Railsconf Europe, and Rubyconf over the past two years, and is the author of Practical REST on Rails 2 Projects, from Apress.

For the past two years, he’s won the solo division of the Rails Rumble (in 2007 with the Irksome web-based IRC client, and in 2008 with Forever Home, a better way to find dogs needing adoption). He also works on several hobby projects as he has time.

Photo of Chris Saylor

Chris Saylor


Chris Saylor is the Director of Development for Todobebé, a media company dedicated to the adventures of parenting for spanish speaking-families. He leads his team in building a suite of web sites, mostly in Ruby on Rails, which include a CMS, social network, forum, and OpenID provider. He is passionate about processes, systems architecture and Extreme Programming.

He is a member of the winning team in the 2007 Rails Rumble competition with Tasty Planner, a recipe sharing and meal planning site that is still growing and under active development.

Chris is the organizer of the Miami Ruby Brigade and is a founding member of Refresh Miami.

Photo of James Golick

James Golick

Protose Inc.

James Golick’s software experience ranges from artificial intelligence to web front-end and JavaScript development. Most recently, James has fallen back in love with web development thanks to Ruby on Rails.

Since discovering Rails just over a year ago, James has become a prolific contributor to its open source ecosystem. He is the author of several well-used plug-ins and gems, and a contributor to countless others, including the framework itself.

James is the founder of GiraffeSoft, a boutique rails consultancy, based in Montreal, Qc. Known for their ability to turn projects around quickly, without sacrificing maintainability, GiraffeSoft has quickly become the go-to shop for ruby and rails development in Montreal. Case in point, the 2008 Rails Rumble, in which the GiraffeSoft team designed, built, and deployed a web application in just 48 hours. They won the “most useful” prize.

News and Coverage
co-presented by Ruby Central, Inc. O'Reilly
  • Engine Yard
  • Heroku
  • Sun Microsystems
  • Blue Box Group
  • New Relic

Sponsorship Opportunities

For information on exhibition and sponsorship opportunities at RailsConf, contact Yvonne Romaine at

Download the RailsConf Sponsor/Exhibitor Prospectus

Media Partner Opportunities

Download the Media & Promotional Partner Brochure (PDF) for information on trade opportunities with O'Reilly conferences or contact mediapartners@

Program Ideas

Post your suggestions for speakers, topics, and activities on the RailsConf wiki or send an email to

Press and Media

For media-related inquiries, contact Maureen Jennings at

Contact Us

View a complete list of RailsConf 2009 contacts.