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11: Justin Weiss - choosing Rails, guest hosting on Ruby Tapas, and enjoying Ruby

Published 1/26/2015

Ruby developer and author Justin Weiss joins me to talk about his experience working with Avdi Grimm on a guest episode for Ruby Tapas, why he chose Rails, and his book. Then, Justin gives you his 30-second suggestion to help you become a better developer.


  • Justin's book, Practicing Rails https://www.justinweiss.com/book/
  • Justin's Blog: http://www.justinweiss.com/
  • Sign up for Justin's awesome weekly newsletter: http://www.justinweiss.com/list/

If you are enjoying the show, would you consider buying me some tea?

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea episode 11. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and I'm your host and today I interview Justin Weiss. Justin is a prolific Ruby developer and he's also writing a book about Rails called Practicing Rails. In the interview I decided to talk to Justin about why he chose Rails as the specific niche for his content publishing and then we talk a little bit about why Justin likes Ruby so much. Justin also has a preview of his book available for free that we talk about at the end of the show. So I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoyed interviewing Justin. Welcome to the show Justin. I'm really excited that you're here and I'm excited to talk to you a little bit about where you came from and all the stuff that you're doing. It seems like you're doing a hundred different things. Before the show we were talking a little bit and I was asking him, hey are you thinking about doing a screencast and Justin was like, well I've kind of got my plate full so it seems like you know and that's true. You're putting out a hundred different things so I'd love to hear kind of where you came from and why you got into development. Yeah so in terms of getting into development I mean I've been running software I guess for as long as I can remember starting with like you know in the Apple II designing levels and stuff or whatever game I was playing that kind of thing. So this has always kind of been a passion of mine something that I've been really interested in. But I guess for the actual professional development it was just kind of the what I guess people think of the standard road you know what to school for CS ended up getting internship ended up getting a full time job and then kind of moving on from there. In terms of the writing and stuff I'd always kind of wanted to start a blog and everything. I was a huge huge fan of the Ruby bloggy ecosystem in like the 2007-2008-ish and whenever I'd started I just couldn't keep it going and I could just never get a whole lot of interest in what I was writing and so I'd have like these kind of fits and starts which I guess is fairly common from what I've heard in people I've talked to. Sure yeah and so for anyone who hasn't visited Justin's blog it is located at let me make sure I get this right Justin Weiss.com which we'll put in the show notes. Justin's been writing for in your year in review for 2014 you said you've basically been writing for about a year right? Yep and you've had over a thousand people subscribe to your newsletter? Yeah yeah that's huge absolutely huge. Yeah I mean the best part of this whole thing has just been the you know the people I've been able to talk to the conversations I've had that kind of thing through the through emails I'm really happy about that. In fact the reason why Justin is even on the show today is because I've subscribed to his newsletter for quite a few weeks now and I decided to just reach out to him because myself and a few people at work at Whiteboard are we're all kind of following Justin and the things that he's doing so if you don't know what Justin has been up to he's writing a book he doesn't have a official release date right? Right right not quite yet but it's soon. Practicing Rails which will definitely be in the show notes as well. He's writing a book he's talked at a conference this year he's writing a new blog post every week which these blog posts are not just like you know hey I've been thinking about this thing it's like really well fleshed out long you know long form blog posts and he's also he did a guest spot on Ruby Tapas recently talk a little bit about that process and how you got involved with Avd. So Avd and I have kind of talked a little bit through Twitter and comments and things like that and he I don't know if you you know he just had a kid and so he was trying to queue up a whole bunch of guest spots on Ruby Tapas so that you know he could spend some time with the newborn and everything that's great and so he kind of reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in doing a I guess spot and it sounded like a lot of fun I've been a huge fan of his for a long time and so he kind of you know let me choose a topic I ran it by him he's like yeah just you know go ahead it sounds like fun so that was that was really cool I was a great experience I actually kind of approached it the similar way to how I approach writing a blog where you know it didn't outline flush it out I can't with some code samples and then went through the actual screencast recording sure yeah that's awesome and I'm also a subscriber to Ruby Tapas so I haven't gotten to your episode yet I'm trying to go one at a time yeah which there's a lot of content there it's it's pretty impressive but I don't really is but yeah so all this just to kind of center around the basic fact that you've chosen rails as as kind of like the only the only constant in all of your work is is rails I won't say the only constant there's quality is a constant I guess but the kind of common factor is that you've chosen rails can you talk a little bit about about why I know you mentioned the the Ruby community the blocking community but can you explain a little bit more about why you chose rails and yeah and why anybody else might would choose rails if they're just starting out yeah so I mean I love Ruby I've I've loved Ruby since the first time I saw it coming from from the previous work that I had done in Java and everything it was just kind of a total breath of fresh air I was like everything I hated about Java was you know specifically addressed by by the pleasure I felt like actually writing Ruby code that's awesome to the point where the last time that I I switched jobs like one of the requirements on my list was like I want to work someplace where I can work in Ruby professionally so it's it's been something I've been interested in in a long time one of the things that I've actually I mean I've also been really interested in the like the software development process and a lot of the the books and things that were released in the early 2000s the Kent back the mountain Martin followers all those types of things and so I feel like a lot of those those things can be applied to whichever language that you're currently working in at the time but it's also a lot easier to to write about something like that if you're if you have a specific example to tie it to if you're just talking about like oh this is what extract class looks like and in the super abstract way like nobody's gonna understand it but if you can actually say like this is what the code looks like beforehand this is what the code looks like after it's a lot easier to grasp and so there's a lot of the stuff on on the blog that's not specific to Rails but it uses Rails as a like a medium for transmitting like for actually transmitting abstract concepts and so yeah that's I'm sorry I don't mean to cut you off go ahead oh no no worries yeah it's and so that's that's kind of one of the reasons that almost everything is Rails because that's what I like writing in and it's also a great way to try to communicate topics through real examples yeah and and I've I've chosen Ruby as well as kind of my my favorite language at least at the at this moment and it seems like Ruby has this unique quality to it that it's like the acme language like it's the most basic version you know it's almost pseudocode feeling in some in some ways and so I feel like I can explain like you're saying explain these kind of more abstract concepts and most people from any language could approach Ruby and say oh I know what that's doing because I've seen it before with the exception of just a few things like maybe blocks are a little bit hard to understand but even those are like once you once you've heard a single explanation of it it's it's relatively easy to understand not necessarily relatively easy to write but it's relatively easy to look at it and say oh yeah that that that reads like human language to me which I think is necessary for a great programming language yeah absolutely and I mean that one of the things that originally made me fall in love with the language was reading about how the the focus was absolutely like 100% on the programmer experience and if that made it so that the the interpreter was really really complicated or really difficult to understand or really slow or wasn't just up to par with the other with the other interpreters that were around at the time like you know so be it that because it was not written for computer it's written for human that was that just totally fit my own I way of thinking yeah that's great and I've heard from some of the people who were there kind of in the early days is that like the idea that the concept behind Ruby is what you were just saying which is it's it's built for developer happiness not just developer productivity but developer happiness which is which is just such a unique concept you know so well awesome so if you had kind of one takeaway I know now you're working in in more of a manager or managerial role then necessarily active development but if you had one takeaway to both beginners and seasoned professionals who are just looking to become better developers you know the people who are listening to this show are taking you know 10 minutes out of their day to try to cram in something that can provide like actionable value to their career or whether it's a hobby or whatever what would you say if you just had you know 30 seconds to help these people become better developers so the the agile process like it fits everything it the idea of learning what you're going like what you should be doing putting it into action as soon as humanly possible evaluating it so seeing like how this is better or worse than what you were doing before and then going back to the beginning and trying to like figuring out how the new stuff that you're learning feeds back into that process to make you better that's kind of the process I've followed in my own like my own personal development in the code that I write in figuring out how like in figuring out hey is this a good place to refactor is this a bad place to refactor well like put the code side by side and see which one is better and and then use what you learn there to inform your future your future refactorings and so that just kind of like read try evaluate loop his has just paid off hugely for me and his really a fast and in great way to to become better at whatever it is that you're doing that's awesome I couldn't agree more just and I really appreciate your time and I appreciate the the insight that you've provided to people who are listening and and also man I just really appreciate the stuff that you're doing for people through through your writing and if you're listening to the show you should also go and subscribe like right now at JustinWeiss.com again it'll be in the show notes if you don't know where the show notes are they're at Developer Tea dot com and you'll find the show there in the most recent shows area it'll be at the top of the list and go and sign up for Justin's newsletter and also look out for practicing rails it's going to be coming out soon ish according to Justin so so look out for that and it'll definitely provide some value especially to people who are starting out learning rails just and again I really appreciate your time and if you have anything else to say to listeners now's the time. All right well yeah I appreciate you having me so with the the practicing rails I actually opened up early access to it for a discount until it's it's actually like finished and everything and with that you can get the current copy which is pretty much content complete just a few minor editing tweaks and that kind of thing that I want to make to it and then you'll you'll get the full copy as afterwards released. Great well I'll be doing that today then and hopefully the people listening to this will will also join me thanks much Justin yeah thank you for having me. Thanks so much for listening to Developer Tea I hope you enjoyed this episode and the interview with Justin. Make sure you drop over to Justin's website at justinweiss.com sign up for his weekly newsletter where you get a ton of great content that's highly specific to rails and make sure that you also sign up for the preview of the book practicing rails. Thank you for listening once again I really appreciate all of the comments that you all have been sending me through email and on Twitter. If you want to reach out you can reach me at Twitter at at Developer Tea or you can email me at Developer Tea and gmail.com. There's also a contact form on the website at developertea.com. If you've been enjoying Developer Tea and if you think that it provides valuable content to developers just like you the best way that you can help other people find the show is to drop into iTunes and leave a review and a rating. Thanks so much for listening and until next time enjoy your tea.