Hitchhacker’s Guide to the MySQL Conference – Ruby/Ruby on Rails Edition

The Hitchhacker’s Guide to the MySQL Conference
Ruby/Ruby on Rails Developer’s Edition
Following on from the excellent Hitchhacker’s Guide to the MySQL Conference – PHP Edition by Jay Pipes, I’m doing one for the Ruby and Ruby on Rails developer in you. If you haven’t registered yet, remember, I can provide you a 20% discount code, so make sure you get it from me, via emailing me. Tutorials, are selling out, fast.

The Keynotes
A Head in the Cloud – The Power of Infrastructure as a Service is a keynote delivered by Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon.com. Why would the typical Rubyist be interested in this? Clearly because of the fact that many sites, end up using Amazon Web Services to scale. An example, being Twitter, whom store a lot of data on AWS, and we all know they’re written using Rails.

While the other keynotes aren’t Rails specific, they are a great start to the day, and interesting announcements tend to be made before or after a keynote, so wake up early! Yes, even if you were at a BoF till 2am in the morning…

Tutorial Day (Monday, 14 April 2008) – schedule
My recommendations would include going to the MySQL Replication Tutorial by Lars Thalmann and Mats Kindahl, in the morning, as this is a great way to ensure your Rails application scales. This can be followed by either Memcached and MySQL: Everything You Need to Know by Brian Aker, and Alan Kasindorf (dormando, if you’re on IRC) or Real World Web: Performance & Scalability MySQL Edition by Ask Hansen, but I’m told that its completely sold out! If you’re interested in something to spend the entire day in, I can highly recommend either Giuseppe Maxia and Jan Kneschke’s talk on MySQL Proxy: The Complete Tutorial, or head over to Stewart Smith’s talk on MySQL Cluster Tutorial. Keep in mind that Stewart’s tutorial is going to be quite hands on.

Sessions (Tuesday, 15 April 2008) – schedule
After the keynotes (remember to be there!), I would personally recommend that you attend Lessons Learned in Building a Highly Scalable MySQL Database presented by the folk, behind The Hive. Alternatively, visit Mike Zinner’s talk about MySQL Workbench: The Ultimate Database Design Tool for Developers – the ease of creating and designing databases, makes it feel very “Rails-like”.

At 11:55am, your choices are wide-varied, and choosing one talk, is going to be hard. Consider paying a visit to Practical MySQL for Web Applications by Domas Mituzas. Not only is he a support engineer at MySQL, he also engineers the back-end for Wikipedia; sure, they’re not a Rails-based application, but I can assure you, the commonality between web applications will ensure this is an interesting talk. If your application makes use of full-text search, consider going to Full-Text Search with MySQL 5.1: New Features & How To, by Alexander Rubin. If you’re writing a new application, it probably makes sense to start using 5.1. Replication for Dummies by Pat Galbraith should also be an interesting talk – if you missed the tutorial the day before, definitely go for this; if you attended the tutorial before, you’ll be re-enforcing your knowledge, and might make use of good Q&A time as well.

After the hearty lunch, a must not miss would be Big Bird (Scaling Twitter) by Blaine Cook. Popular, used by many, micro-blogging tool, they’ve gone through improving how the application performs, and scaling it to heights, much beyond simple ActiveRecord usage. Be there.

At 3:05pm, Monty Taylor’s High Availability Landscape of MySQL should be the one you’re at. Monty is very conversant with many a language as well, as part of his work on the NDB connectors, but here, you’ll be learning about replication, DRBD, and possibly Cluster/NDB. Anyone know of a Rails application using MySQL Cluster/NDB?

At 4:25pm, definitely go to the talk by Jeremy McAnally, titled: Talk = Ruby + MySql.new(bie): An Introduction to Using MySQL with Ruby. Jeremy’s the author of books and articles on Ruby, Rails, and MySQL, and granted the talk is targeted at beginners, no matter what level you’re at, you will probably learn something new.

By 5:15pm, your energy levels might slowly be sapped, but persevere, and you’ll be rewarded. While none of the talks are Ruby/Rails specific, I’d recommend attending either Backup and Recovery Basics by Kai Voigt (trainer at MySQL, will be an interesting talk as you will have to backup, and recover your database at some stage) or Services Oriented Architecture with PHP and MySQL by Joe Stump (learn from Digg, and apply your knowledge to Ruby/Rails).

Sessions (Wednesday, 16 April 2008) – schedule
Begin the morning having a hearty breakfast, and moving on to the keynotes. After which, if you’re into GIS and spatial extensions, the talk you must be at is the one offered by Seth Fitzsimmons, from Yahoo!, titled Using MySQL’s Spatial Extensions with Rails. If however you aren’t a GIS junkie, consider either Giuseppe Maxia’s talk on MySQL Sandbox, or Roland Bouman’s talk on Information Schema and its applications.

At 11:55am, I can recommend either: Falcon from the Beginning by Jim Starkey & Ann Harrison, or Tom Daly’s talk on Web Workloads for Comparing, Testing and Tuning MySQL Performance , SPECjAppServer2004, EAStress and Faban. Its definitely a tough sell, with the Applied Partitioning and Scaling Your Database System by Phil Hildebrand, and if you’re after contributing to MySQL, and being part of our community, don’t hesitate to come see me talk about Paying It Forward: Harnessing the MySQL Contributory Resources.

After lunch, at 2:00pm, if you’re into database normalization, consider How to be Normal, a Guide for Developers by Mike Hillyer. However, the two talks I’d personally be at (if only I can split myself) would be Monty’s talk (the father of MySQL!), titled Architecture of Maria: A New Storage Engine with a Transactional Design and Jay & Tobias’s talk, titled MySQL Performance Under a Microscope: The Tobias and Jay Show. Did I mention, that nowadays, it only make sense to write code and web applications with great character set support, and Domas Mituzas will be giving you an interesting session on Practical Character Sets. With so many conflicting talks at 2pm, all I can hope is that there are some excellent blog entries, and folk end up taking videos! (And no, I checked – no way to split myself, 4-ways, unlike today’s modern processors).

At 3:05pm, take a break, and enjoy yourself at Astronomy, Petabytes and MySQL by Kian-Tat Lim. If you’re still fuelled, go take a gander at Markus & Dups talk, titled Integration of Frameworks for Rapid Web Development (sure, it might be PHP-centric, but you can learn). Once thing Rails developers will want to know though, is how to make sure you’re using the query cache properly – Baron Schwartz will tell you in The MySQL Query Cache.

At 4:25pm, I can highly recommend going to Grazr: Lessons Learned Building a Web 2.0 Application Using MySQL by Patrick Galbraith and Michael Kowalchik, because even if you don’t find much Rails-centric content, the lessons learned and what worked/didn’t, will be useful to all. However, if you’re interested in storage engines, where Falcon is really the “Web 2.0 enhanced” storage engine for MySQL, consider Falcon for InnoDB users by Kevin Lewis and Ann Harrison.

At 5:15pm, its a no-brainer that you should be at ActiveRecord Under the Microscope by Jeremy McAnally. There are times to use it, and there are times to avoid it – Jeremy will tell you when, in general.

Sessions (Thursday, 17 April 2008) – schedule
After the fun from last night (quiz show, et al), make sure you’re at the keynotes yet again…

At 10:50am, I’m sure the realisation that this is the last day of this great conference is going to hit. Never fear, you better savour it. Assuming you’re deploying your application on software made by our new corporate overlords, consider visiting Frank Mash’s talk, titled: Optimizing MySQL and InnoDB on Solaris 10 for World’s Largest Photo Blogging Community. That’s Fotolog for what it’s worth. There are a whole bunch of scaling related talks that are sure to be interesting, but let’s try to focus!

At 11:55am, DTrace and MySQL by Ben Rockwood from Joyent, might be interesting to ensure you get a performant database. However, seeing that the hooks themselves aren’t mainstream (yet), consider
Sheeri Kritzer Cabral’s talk titled: Database Security Using White-Hat Google Hacking or if you’re wondering what Google does, visit Mark Callaghan, and listen to him speak about Helping InnoDB Scale on Servers with Many CPU Cores and Disks.

At 2:00pm, Ronald Bradford will share the Top 20 Database Design Tips Every Architect Needs to Know, and it would be my definite pick.

At 2:50pm, the last session of this great conference before the closing keynote, I’ll recommend High Availability MySQL with DRBD and Heartbeat: MTV Japan Mobile Services by Patrick Bolduan (whom I met in Japan last year, great guy, and the talk should be real interesting). While centred around PHP, Arjen Lentz should impart general knowledge of what a deadly sin is in general, if you weren’t using ActiveRecord and you were querying things the wrong way from your Rails application, so consider visiting Deadly Sins Using MySQL & PHP by Arjen Lentz and Jonathon Coombes.

And that my friends, is me signing off, and telling you what a jam-packed week this is going to be.

Register Now!
There are a ton of options for the discerning Ruby, or Ruby on Rails developer. If you’ve not registered yet, please do so now! If you’re not averse to paying full-price for items, I (and any other speaker) have a 20% discount code, so drop me an email at colin AT mysql DOT com.

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  1. Andy Goh says:

    Looks interesting, whee.. Do you provide discount code for the flight as well? ;)

  2. I’m going to add a plug for my talk, and dob in my co-presenter Carl as a bit of a rails geek:

    Exploring Amazon EC2 for Scale-out Applications

  3. Great list Colin, looking forward to the conf!