RailsConf 2024: a recap

May 15, 2024 · 7 mins read

I came back from RailsConf 2024 a couple days ago. The experience was amazing, and I feel both energized and socially exhausted, in a good way. Here’s a recap of my experience while it’s still fresh.

First days: Detroit & talk preparation

I got in three days before the beginning of the conference, both to give myself some time to explore the city and to better prepare and rehearse the talk I was giving.

Though I ended up doing a lot more talk preparation than city exploring, I loved the energy of downtown Detroit! The city sometimes gets a bad reputation (“isn’t that the city that went bankrupt?”, “don’t drink the water there!”), but my experience was very different. It was a lively city, with plenty of cafés, bars and attractions. Though as with many American cities, it’s not the most walkable. It’s the Motor City for a reason, after all.

The conference hotel was in the same building as the General Motors Headquarters, which explained the classic cars inside the building. The building was also notoriously hard to navigate, which at least gave an easy ice-breaker for conversations.

The Renaissance Center, HQ of General Motors and location of the conference hotel.

Detroit-style pizza at Buddy’s

Canada is one bridge away… to the South

The talk

I had given talks at smaller local meetups before, but this was my first time giving a “legit”, 30-minute talk in a conference. Preparing it consumed almost all my free time in the weeks beforehand, and I was pretty nervous beforehand.

Shout out to the RailsConf organizers for giving speakers all the tools we needed to have the best experience. They paired me with a mentor speaker to get feedback on it. I was matched with Noel Rappin and his feedback was very helpful as I was struggling to structure a longer talk. The speaker liaisons were also very present and helpful, and I never felt I was on my own.

Also, I draw what probably is the best slot for a speaker: the first talk of the first day! I could then attend the rest of the conference freely, and skip the stress. Whoever gave me that slot, thank you!

Picture of the audience during my talk

The last hurrah

On the very first day, Ruby Central announced that next year will be the last RailsConf. This came as a shock to many in the audience who either attended RailsConf regularly or, like me, watched the recordings every year. We realized that we were taking the conference for granted, and hearing the news was hard but made this one felt special.

Ruby Central hosted a Q&A panel for the community and shared their plans for the future. Organizing both RubyConf and RailsConf every year was eating up all their energy and bandwidth and they couldn’t focus on other things that mattered, like supporting the local ruby communities, fundraising, building ties with the Ruby Core team and improving Ruby documentation.

While I’m sad to see RailsConf disappear, I completely understand RubyCentral’s decision and agree with their long-term strategy for keeping the Ruby language and ecosystem healthy. It also made me think about all the work that goes on behind the scenes to keep basic infrastructure like rubygems.org running 24/7.

Talks and keynotes

All four keynotes were all amazing. We got:

  • The inspiring story of the solo-founder behind The StoryGraph
  • Many stories about Startups choosing Rails in 2024. As someone who wants to do more advocacy for Rails but doesn’t know how, this one hit hard.
  • A look at a new ruby profiler, Vernier
  • The classic tenderlove closing keynote, which starts with a stand-up comedy routine and ends deep in the ruby C internals. Honestly, by now I don’t know which one of the two parts is harder to pull off, but they’re both executed really well.

The talks I attended were also good, though I always get massive FOMO at multiple-track conferences. I’m looking forward to catching up on the ones I missed when the recordings are available.


It’s almost an overused sentence by now but it’s still very true. What makes ruby amazing is its community. Everyone I met was open, welcoming, kind and optimistic.

I especially liked seeing how much the community and the conference welcomed juniors and ruby beginners. There was a special program to provide free tickets and mentorships for juniors who applied, and pair them with more experienced developers.

I really feel this because when I reflect on what my best time was during the conference, it’s whenever I was interacting with the people. The hallway track, game night, speaker dinner and late-night-drinks were all highlights.

Hack day

One new experiment for this conference was a talk-free Hack Day, where attendees could participate in more hands-on activities:

  • Coding on open-source projects with their maintainers
  • 2-hour hands-on workshops
  • A dedicated session for meeting book authors

My social and coding state of minds are not super compatible, so I did not code myself. But I enjoyed talking to maintainers of various open-source projects and telling them that their projects mattered and were useful to me, and I heard that people who coded really enjoyed it.

Hack day also allowed for some talk-free time to enjoy the hallway track or rest, which is more than welcome at a 3-day conference.

Optimism and gratefulness

As I’m coming off the conference high, I feel very grateful and thankful to RubyCentral for the amazing work they have been doing behind the scenes, keeping the community and infrastructure running all these years. Thank you.

I’m also more optimistic about the future of Ruby and Rails than ever. The community is strong, and the joy of writing ruby is still here. It’s up to us to spread it and be vocal about it. The future of ruby is bright, and the people amazing.