RedDotRubyConf 2016 Review

This year, RDRC, started in 2011, held it’s 6th edition on June 23–24, 2016, and it’s also the 4th time I am organising it.

Last year, after I was done with RDRC 2015, I was agonizing over whether there would be one for 2016 because I was welcoming a baby in September. However, when I saw Akira’s slides’ “The Kaigi Must Go On”, I decided to just bite the bullet and plough on with it. RDRC must go on too!

The decision to do RDRC 2016 didn’t come without a price though, as the organisation did took quite a toll on me (although it’s my fourth time). Honestly, I was quite burned out with the conference (and with work too), and because of that, I took about a month to rest and recover which is why this post took a while. :)

Every year, I am especially grateful for all the help received that made RDRC such a success each year and honestly, the conference would be impossible without the help from the vibrant community, from the generous sponsors, from the hardworking speakers and all the attendees. Thank you! ❤️

Thank You Team

These are the great folks in the community who lent their precious time to make RDRC a success this year. Thank you:

  • Guo Xiang, for being the awesome co-organiser
  • Juanito, for working on stuff that I missed/didn’t had time to do
  • Ming Ding, Theng Lee, Choon Keat, Jason Yeo, Sam Hon, Sheng Loong, for blind voting of CFP submissions
  • Chee Aun, for helping out with all the design stuff
  • Laurence, for taking photos
  • Michael Cheng, for taking videos
  • Natalie Tay, for emcee-ing the conference
  • Sayanee, for giving out emcee-ing advice to Natalie
  • Ted, Ming Ding, Theng Lee for helping with registrations
  • Aloysius, for finding the awesome After Party venue
  • And Melissa, my intern, for doing a lot of work

Thank You Sponsors

These are the companies (services) you should consider joining (using) because if they care about giving back to the community, in my opinion
it means they will care about you too. 😉 Thank you:

Thank You Speakers

They are the soul of the conference, and I can’t thank them enough!

Thank you to all the speakers! All of you are awesome! ❤️💜💚💛💙💖

Thank YOU

Ruby might not be cool anymore (ah?) but we see more Rubyists every year! To see all of you learning and enjoying yourselves at the conference is what made all the hard work worthwhile!

Let’s continue to make Ruby great!

Sadly, I was not in the auditorium when this happened and so, I am not in the photo. 😂


Let’s look at some stats shall we?

As compared to RDRC 2015, we have slightly more attendees this year. Actually, we could have had more attendees (the venue can sit 420+), however I closed the registration earlier because, logistically, I had already ordered stuff for 400 pax and I believe people valued personal space.

Interestingly, the number of attendees from Singapore dropped 21% to 33%. There could be some anomaly in terms of data captured, but it looks like RDRC is becoming a regional conference in South East Asia? 😅

Infographics Created by Melissa

Conference Resources

Looking for slides or videos? Check out Chee Aun’s awesome list.

About CFP Speakers Selection

Every year after the conference, we will receive some feedback about the quality of CFP speakers, in the essence of:

Some talks are bad or boring, either in terms of topic or presentation..

I would just like to say something (hopefully I don’t come off as defensive) with regards to comments like that above.

And my response is..

All the CFP participants and eventually the selected speakers on stage are developers first and speakers second, and hence doing a tech presentation is definitely not something these selected speakers do on an everyday basis (lack of practice means no perfection right?).

FWIK, many of them do give talks (and practice) at local meet ups though, but these meet ups could be conducted in their non-English native tongue, and so doing a presentation in English could be very different too.

Why don’t we just pick only experienced or native English speakers then?

Simply because, diversity.

Everyone has to start somewhere and ultimately, I don’t wish for RDRC to become an exclusive conference where only the strong/proven can speak. RDRC should be a conference that welcomes first-time (Eng) speakers too, and be a starting point for them to start their speaking journey.

“But it’s a paid conference!”, you say. That is true indeed, and so I understand that a certain level of quality is still expected of the conference as a whole. Hence, we try our best to have a mix of the experienced and new speakers, but I hope we would never turn away first time speakers cause that I believe is what the Ruby community is all about.

On the comment about “boring” talk topics..

For this year, we actually went through a round of blind voting for the CFPs before we did the final curation/selection.

Having done the curation for 4 years straight, I am seeing a trend where there are less of the Rails and software engineering best practices topics being proposed for the CFP which a part of the audience might like to hear (given that such topics usually offer the most number of actionables). Instead, I see more quirky topics and different usages of Ruby.

This means there were less (work-related) actionables that an attendee could take away from the talks and hence deemed “boring”, but in essence, this is a reflection of how the community is moving.

Also, as a final side note, there are times when we were really impressed with the CFP submission but the talk in the end didn’t turn out as expected. So we still have some hits and misses with our curation and probably more can be done to improve this (including helping first time speakers)?

Of course, there’s more art to this, but I hope this clarifies somewhat.

The Start of The End

I really love the Ruby language I have learned so, so much in this ecosystem (yes, Rails included 😀), such as software engineering best practices.

Most importantly, I felt happy as a software engineer whenever I used Ruby, and that’s what motivated me to organise RDRC for the last 4 years — because I hope many more would come to know about Ruby (or Rails) too, and be on their way to becoming a happy engineer.

I believe RDRC had somewhat of that impact as people have came up to me and told me how learning Ruby / attending RDRC have changed their lives, and I am happy to see other conferences sprouting in the region too, like RubyConf PH and RubyConf MY.

Remember, I mentioned I was burned out in the 3rd paragraph of this post? Hence, I thought that RDRC 2016 would be the last (or at least a break).

However, several folks in the community have decided to inherit the will and continue to keep RDRC going, so I am glad to say that RDRC will go on (although I’ll be taking a back seat as an advisor).

It’s been a good run for me for the last 4 years. I hope you have enjoyed RDRC as I did organising them. Thank you. 😍

I also “wrote” a Conference Planning Playbook based on my experience in organising RedDotRubyConf for the last 4 years which you might be interested 
if you are thinking of starting a tech conference in Singapore too. Good luck!