Ruby For Good

Just returned from Ruby For Good, a DC-area conference where Rubyists gather to work on projects for non-profits.

The location was the Smithsonian Biology Institute, nestled in the foothills of Shenandoah Valley. The conservation school aims to care for and breed threatened species with hopes of eventually releasing them back into the wild.

Our group’s project, lead by an Iron Yard alum, was to build a Postgres-backed database that would serve the research community surrounding the Loggerhead Shrike, a fascinating songbird that is also carnivorous.

Our website provides information about the bird and allows researchers to upload and download observation data. Civilian scientists can also apply to post sightings of the bird.

Many of us were junior devs just getting our feet wet in Rails and I think our group worked so well BECAUSE of this and not despite our lack of experience. We were all open to trying new things (we dove right in using the Rails 5 beta release) to solve problems we hadn’t worked on together. Senior devs paired with us the whole time and were patient and instructive while getting us up to speed.

Our first session was devoted to planning- breaking down each user story into the simplest task possible so that by the end, by felt that there was something each person could tackle.

I worked on plugging in Devise and CanCanCan so we could set up multiple user roles with different levels of access to the site.

By the end of the three days, we had a functioning MVP that didn’t look half bad either:

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 7.56.43 AM.png

This was a hugely inspiring experience working with a team on a fairly complex open-source project. All of the team members are going to continue contributing to the project including myself. Looking forward to seeing the fruits of our labor go into the production and help out this little bird!

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