March 25–27, 2015

Ancient City Ruby

Casa Monica Hotel, St. Augustine, Fla.

Register Now
St. Augustine celebrates 450 years of history in 2015

Join us in historic St. Augustine

for a third year of sun, fun, and Ruby

Ancient City Ruby isn’t like most conferences. We set sail on pirate ships. We explore the city. We get to know each other. Ancient City Ruby is a single–track event designed to foster learning and build community in a fun, close–knit environment. (And of course, this year we’re also celebrating St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary.)

Sponsoring Ancient City Ruby was a great way for us to build relationships and increase our product reach. We met a number of talented developers we’d consider hiring and got to know some of the big names in the Ruby community. The smaller, niche atmosphere made it perfect for meeting people and spreading the word about our application, and our team came back enriched and excited about what they learned.

Lee Blankenship, Search Discovery

Thanks to our Sponsors

  • Wyncode

    Wyncode Academy is a Miami-based development boot camp immersing ambitious individuals in a demanding and inspiring learning environment.

  • Cloudspace

    Cloudspace is an Orlando, Florida based web and mobile development shop with a knack for realizing big ideas. We love agile, lean, open source, iterative development and moving at startup speed.

  • Digital Ocean

    Digital Ocean provides simple cloud hosting, built for developers.

  • Hello Labs

    Hello Labs, makers of the BeQuick MVNO platform and Fanhub, is a software company based in South Florida.

  • Ascentis

    Ascentis delivers on-demand (SaaS) human capital management software solutions.

  • Code School

    Put the programming books away and learn by doing with Code School. Code School offers a variety of JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Ruby, Git and iOS courses to help you expand your skills and learn new technologies.

  • Hashrocket

    Hashrocket is a top-tier consultancy building solutions for the Web, iPhone and iPad.

  • Honeybadger

    Honeybadger is the exceptional monitoring service for your Ruby apps that gives you the context you need to diagnose and fix application errors, faster.

  • Ignite

    Ignite turns inventive ideas into inspiring solutions as the innovation lab of Adecco Group.

  • LessFilms

    LessFilms creates awesome videos with a unique brand of humor and delight.

  • Mandrill

    Mandrill is a scalable and affordable email infrastructure service trusted by more than 375,000 customers.

  • The Whitney Laboratory for Marine Science

    The Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience is a full time University of Florida research center for biomedical research and biotechnology.

  • UNF College of Computing, Engineering and Construction

    UNF's College of Computing, Engineering and Construction offers exciting, demanding and engaging degree programs that lead to highly rewarding careers.

  • Montoya & Associates

    Montoya & Associates designs strategic benefits solutions and provides top-notch service in the financial, insurance, and employee benefits industries.

  • Sticker Mule

    Sticker Mule is the fastest and easiest way to buy custom stickers, with super fast production and free shipping.

  • StickerGiant

    StickerGiant prints quality custom stickers and labels with legendary customer service, 24-hr turnaround and free die-cutting. Take 10% off with code AncientCityRuby2015.

Become a Sponsor

Sponsoring Ancient City Ruby is an excellent way to support the Ruby community. Our sponsorship levels offer a variety of options for greater brand recognition and community backing, providing the opportunity to connect with talented developers from across the globe. Get details in our Sponsor Guide (PDF).

More Info (PDF) Sponsor Now

Or, call Amy at 1-877-885-8846


Thursday March 26

8:15 - 9:15am Breakfast & Registration
9:00 - 9:45am

Hampton Catlin

Ruby Survey: 6 Years of Data Revealed

For the past 6 years, I’ve run the Ruby Survey (almost) every year. It asks the same questions every year, plus some new ones. Its goal is to track changes in technology, community, fashions, attitudes, and tooling. This is the first time I’ll ever be fully sharing the data and it should make for an interesting exploration of the past, present, and maybe future of the Ruby ecosystem. Oh, and I’ll probably cuss a lot too.

About Hampton

Hampton Catlin is the inventor of Sass, Haml,, and several Rails features. He’s also the founder of the libsass project and the author of “The Pragmatic Guide to Sass.” Hampton is the owner of Rarebit, a technology art collective he runs with his husband.

9:45 - 10:00am Lightning Talks
10:00 - 10:45am

Jay Hayes

Rubyist meets Swift

There are a lot of reasons I love Ruby. It makes me a happy programmer. Apple recently released its latest programming language into the wild, Swift. Swift is an object oriented–programming language with a functional personality.

I will give you the whirlwind tour of what I have learned in my dabbling with the language. We will compare constructs in Swift to similar implementations in Ruby and contrast the differences. We’re talking language and syntax here, the good stuff. No need to bring your iOS or Cocoa chops :wink:. Perhaps we have established a trajectory to find happiness developing native applications as well?

About Jay

I have been programming for about 10 years. 3 of those years I have been writing Ruby. Recently I have developed a deep interest in good software design, appropriate levels of testing, and other programming paradigms.

I am a consultant and (Ruby) instructor at Big Nerd Ranch. I am one of a handful of nerds that who works remotely full-time. I love working remotely, but it is not without its challenges! My wife and I own a dance studio where she does the teaching/dancing, and I greet the people. :blush:

10:45 - 11:00am Lightning Talks
11:00 - 11:30am Break
11:30 - 12:15pm

Pamela O Vickers

Your Company Culture is “Awesome” (But is “Company Culture” a lie?)

We all want to work for a company that cares about and promotes a balanced, fun, and, in a word, “awesome” culture, but unless a company has safeguards in place against bad clients, bad projects, and bad apples, this great company culture only exists on paper.

What can we do as developers, team leaders, or mentors to protect ourselves and others from cultural failure? What are successful companies doing to maintain their workers’ happiness?

By examining what a developer needs for professional happiness, this talk will propose a functional, actionable company culture model while exploring the sometimes difficult task of owning your company culture and protecting it when things go wrong.

About Pamela

Pamela is a developer on the digital team at Blue Bottle Coffee, working remotely from Atlanta, Georgia. She is an organizer and co-founder of the Atlanta chapter of Rails Girls, and is a big advocate of mentorship in the tech community.

12:15 - 1:30pm Lunch
1:30 - 2:15pm

Ben Lovell

RESCUE SQUAD: Rails Edition!

Have you ever worked on a soul–destroying Rails application? I have! Inconsistent and non–idiomatic code, spaghetti concerns, and terrible, excruciatingly slow tests are just a few of the symptoms you might encounter — with complete developer indifference being the sad consequence.

As a traveling consultant and software journeyman, I’ve picked up a bunch of hacks along the way to help make the unbearable bearable. Don’t give up hope — this is a job for the rescue squad: RAILS EDITION!

About Ben

Ben takes himself very seriously. He works for the Money Advice Service in London, England. He is a Rubyist, occasional gopher, open source lover, maintainer, and joyous contributor. When not shipping bugs, Ben may be found grooming his beard.

2:15 - 2:30pm Lightning Talks
2:30 - 3:15pm

Rebecca Poulson

The Junior Jump — from Student to Team Member

Whether you’re a student or a CTO, it’s worth taking a moment to consider the transition from student to professional. The Junior Jump will explore strategies that will help you become or mentor a confident junior developer. We’ll discuss how candidates and employers can use the interview stage to set a foundation for a productive transition, how to figure out what kind of mentorship/pairing model will work best with the resources available at your company and examples of projects that are challenging and appropriate for developers transitioning into their first jobs.

I’ll draw on my own experience working on the DMCA claim system at Kickstarter, as well as interviews with experienced software leads and developers currently in their first jobs. We will hear anecdotes from developers from university, bootcamp and self–taught backgrounds and as well as engineers experienced in mentoring junior devs at very diverse companies.

About Rebecca

I’m currently an engineer at Kickstarter, and prior to that I was a playwright and theater director. I love my job because I get to make tools that empower creative people to pursue their passions. I was born just this side of the Canadian border (and as a result, am unfailingly polite). I studied Art History at The University of Michigan and completed fellowships at Fog Creek Software and The Flatiron School. In my free time I write and make fancy cocktails. I’m a segment producer for Nerdette Podcast, where we celebrate smart people who are shamelessly enthusiastic about what they love.

3:15 - 3:30pm Lightning Talks
3:30 - 4:00pm Break
4:00 - 4:45pm

Laura Frank

Containerized Ruby Applications with Docker

Docker’s lightweight virtualization may supplant our hypervisor–backed VMs at some point in the future, and change the way that tomorrow’s Ruby applications are architected, packaged and deployed. Using Docker, your Ruby applications will sit atop an excellent platform for packing, shipping and running low–overhead, isolated execution environments. You will get a brief intro to the Docker ecosystem, get to know the tools and processes needed to create containerized Ruby applications, and learn best practices for interacting with the Docker API from Ruby.

About Laura

Laura Frank is a developer who creates tools to make development processes simpler. She started coding after receiving a hand-me-down DOS system, and has been lost in the code mines ever since. She is currently a senior software engineer at CenturyLink Labs and lives in Chicago.

Friday March 27

8:15 - 9:15am Breakfast
9:00 - 9:45am

Romeeka Gayhart

3D Printing, Ruby and Solar Panels

Did you know that SketchUp has a Ruby API? Did you know that you can use SketchUp to do all kinds of things, including designing 3D printing templates? In her past career in the solar energy field, Meeka Gayhart used SketchUp for doing renderings and shading calculations for solar arrays. Come learn about how easy SketchUp is to use, and how to create your own drawing and design tools.

About Romeeka

Meeka is a software developer and consultant at Quick Left in Boulder, Colorado. Prior to her career in tech, she worked in the solar energy field, which was one of many career choices that has utilized her Anthropology and Spanish degrees extensively. She is currently certified to give CPR, administer diabetes injections, notarize documents (in Pennsylvania), train others in ladder safety, teach English as a second language, serve alcoholic beverages, and lead a kayak trip. In her spare time, she records music, hikes around Colorado and tries to explain what she does professionally to her parents.

9:45 - 10:00am Lightning Talks
10:00 - 10:45am

Noel Rappin

Estimation and Trust–Driven Development

What makes some projects succeed and others fail? Often the problem is that the stakeholders in your project have stopped trusting one another. The root of this problem is not always technical, but can be that your team has structured its workflow in a way that is making your life more difficult and making it hard for stakeholders to understand and accept your progress.

As developers, we tend to dismiss project process as a “soft skill,” right up until the moment you hit a deadline and realize you needed a better structure in place six weeks ago. Estimation is a particularly fraught process, and tension between developers and stakeholders will often manifest there first.

You may think that ugly project management is a fact of life and there’s nothing you can do about it, but that’s just not true. Agile processes are filled with small ways you can increase trust and improve the way your team works.

About Noel

Noel Rappin is a Senior Developer and Talent Coordinator at Table XI in Chicago. Noel has authored multiple technical books, including “Rails 4 Test Prescriptions,” “Master Space and Time With JavaScript,” and “Trust-Driven Development.” Follow Noel on Twitter @noelrap, and online at

10:45 - 11:00am Lightning Talks
11:00 - 11:30am Break
11:30 - 12:15pm

Carlos Souza

Building Better Web APIs with Rails

At some point every Rails developer needs to build an API, but what’s the best way to do it and avoid the mess many run into when serving multiple client applications?

In this session, we’ll go over how to use Rails to leverage the HTTP protocol and build rock-solid web APIs. This includes fine–tuning route endpoints, content negotiation, versioning and authentication. We will also review common practices for keeping your code organized, clean and testable.

About Carlos

Carlos Souza teaches web technologies at Code School and has been working with Ruby for the past 5 years. When not making loud noises on his mechanical keyboard, he can be found rock climbing or playing guitar.

12:15 - 1:30pm Lunch
1:30 - 2:15pm

Scott Parker

Ancient Rails

As Rails enters its tweens, “legacy Rails” projects are increasingly common. Even if you haven’t dealt with such projects, every line of code we leave in production is destined to become legacy code.

As developers, our everyday decisions make it easier or harder to work in a codebase over time. I’ll share some of the decisions, both wise and unwise, that I’ve made or encountered in five years of working with aged Rails codebases. With just a bit of forethought, your Rails projects won’t be “aged” or “legacy” — they’ll be timeless.

About Scott

Scott Parker is a generally okay human being. He builds payments APIs as part of Braintree. He has worked for a number of companies previously including Groupon, Obtiva, Pizza Inn, and Hollywood Video. He has accidentally taken down production in two of those four companies.

2:15 - 2:30pm Lightning Talks
2:30 - 3:15pm

Kerri Miller

Beyond Good and ORMs: Uncovering The Hidden Features of Your Database

ORMs such as ActiveRecord or DataMapper are fabulous tools that have improved the speed at which we’re able to develop working, shippable products. As DSLs for working with our persistence layers, they’ve proven their worth time and time again, but at the cost of stunting our collective knowledge about the built-in, powerful features that different databases have to offer. Let’s take a look at some of those features, rediscover what we’ve left behind by accepting abstraction, and recover some tools that can help ensure the long-term health of our applications.

About Kerri

Kerri Miller is a Sr. Software Developer and Team Lead based in the Pacific Northwest. She has worked at enterprise companies, international ad agencies, boutique consultancies, and start-ups, she mentors and teaches students, and she finds time to work on Open Source projects. Having an insatiable curiosity, she has worked as a lighting designer, marionette puppeteer, sous chef, and professional poker player, and enjoys hiking, collecting Vespas, and working with glass.

3:15 - 3:30pm Lightning Talks
3:30 - 4:00pm Break
4:00 - 4:45pm

Ernie Miller

Ruby after Rails

What happens to Ruby when Rails dies?

Ruby rode the Rails rocketship to worldwide renown. While a handful of developers were writing Ruby code before Rails came along, many (if not most) of us owe Rails a debt of gratitude for taking Ruby mainstream, thus allowing us to make a living writing code in a language we love.

However, the application design preferences expressed by Rails are falling out of favor. Our apps have more complex domain logic that becomes burdensome to manage by following “The Rails Way.”

Is that it, then? Does transitioning from Rails mean leaving Ruby behind?


If we’re being honest, I think it’s fair to say that all of us have thought about this at one point in the past year or two, or maybe before. Whether while we’re cursing the mess we got ourselves into with ActiveRecord callback spaghetti or complicated modeling brought on by the predisposition to make everything in app/models a subclass of ActiveRecord::Base, we think “this just isn’t fun anymore. What happened to the programmer happiness I felt when things were simpler?”

But I strongly believe that even in a world where it’s said that every programming language needs a “concurrency story” and functional programming is on the rise, there’s room for Ruby. It’s certainly not a language I want to stop writing any time soon, even if only as part of a larger whole.

There’s no easy answer to the question posed at the start of the talk description, so don’t watch this talk expecting to hear one. Instead, expect to be prompted to think critically about the way you view yourself as a programmer, and what that means for your life and career.

About Ernie

I’ve been programming since I was 6, and professionally for the past 16 years or so. I’m passionate about creating things, and see software development as an especially powerful medium for creation. Sometimes I still can’t believe that people actually pay us to have this much fun.

I’m currently the Director of Engineering at nVisium.


Wednesday, March 25 from 9am – 4pm with a break for lunch

Objects, Rails and Long-living Code


  • Noel Rappin

(separate from conference price)

We talk a lot in Rails about managing complexity in our applications, and keeping them flexible and maintainable over the long term.

Techniques and phrases like “DCI,” or “Rails is not your application,” or “Composition is better than inheritance” or “Dependency Injection” get thrown around. All these techniques sound impressive, but if you look to Rails for simplicity, then they may seem like overkill. In part, the techniques are about what kind of design is best suited to planning for unknowable future change.

One thing missing from this debate for many developers is a chance to create and work with code developed using some of these techniques. In this workshop, a sample application will be presented and extended using many of the code techniques listed, with special emphasis on isolated testing. You don’t know the boundaries of a technique until you overuse it. And in this workshop, we’ll use all the OO Techniques. Attendees will have a much better sense of how these OO and more structured techniques work in Ruby and Rails, and where they work and might not work for their future projects.

About Noel

Noel Rappin is a Senior Developer and Talent Coordinator at Table XI in Chicago. Noel has authored multiple technical books, including “Rails 4 Test Prescriptions,” “Master Space and Time With JavaScript,” and “Trust-Driven Development.” Follow Noel on Twitter @noelrap, and online at

Wyncode Presents Ruby on Rails: First Expedition


  • Beverly Nelson

(separate from conference price)

This introductory workshop gives you a first look at application development with Ruby on Rails. We will get everyone up and running with “Hello World,” practice some Ruby basics, and progress to building a complete Ruby on Rails application. During this all–day workshop we will get a taste of application structure, design, version control with git, and deployment.

The curriculum is designed for developers and beginners with no Ruby on Rails experience but a general familiarity with html, web application basics, and relational databases will be helpful. In this general introduction participants can expect to come away with a high level overview of how to build web apps quickly with Ruby on Rails and receive tools to further their learning. This workshop is a great starting point to hit the ground running.

Requirements: Laptop, Pre-workshop questionnaire

About Beverly

Based in Florida, Beverly is a PHP turned Ruby developer at PureCharity. She combines her passion for programming and education through teaching others to code. She serves with other mentors in the RubyFriends user group, teaches kids to code at Tech Club, and is actively involved in organizing Railsbridge events. When she’s not coding, she enjoys time with her family, reading, and assisting with First Lego League robotics.


  • St. Augustine Distillery Tasting Tour

    Thursday, 6:15pm Tour the distillery’s historic plant and taste handcrafted small–batch spirits

  • The Pirate Ship Experience

    Thursday, 6:45pm Take to the high seas on the Black Raven with food, drinks, and friends

  • Late Night Revelry

    Thursday, 9pm Keep the party alive at the historic Ice Plant

  • Late Night Games

    Thursday, 9pm Skipping the Ice Plant? Join us back at the Casa Monica for assorted card & tabletop games


Ancient City Ruby returns to the delightfully historic Casa Monica Hotel in the heart of beautiful St. Augustine, Fla.

The room block for Ancient City Ruby is full, but you can book lodging nearby at the Best Western Bayfront Inn (about an 8–minute walk from the Casa Monica).