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East Meets West

A talk by Yuki Sonoda at RubyConf 2009

About the Talk

November 19, 2009 9:10 AM

San Francisco

San Francisco

Four short presentations by active members of the Japanese Ruby community.

  • "Making Ruby a Bazaar Project" by Yugui (Yuki Sonoda)

    From the Ruby core team, to English-speaking Rubyists.

  • "Jpmobile" by SHIDARA Yohji (darashi)

    From Japanese mobile-web world, to Latin-1 developers.

  • "Asakusa.rb Rocks!" by Akira Matsuda

    From the most active Ruby community in Japan, to world Rubyists.

  • "So, You Should Attend RubyKaigi2010 :)" by KAKUTANI Shintaro

    From RubyKaigi, to RubyConf.

Making Ruby a Bazaar Project

Ruby needs your help. There are many issues. But there are too few developers. 92% of Ruby's development in this 3 years were done by only 10 developers. 73% were done by only 5 developers. Ruby seems to be a cathedral project rather than a bazaar project.

There must be many reasons for this situation. I think a large reason is the language barrier between English-speaking Ruby world and Japanese-speaking Ruby world. So I will talk about how to solve this problem.

All of the top 10 committers speak Japanese and live in Japan. So they discuss in Japanese. Some of the most important decisions are done in these discussions. But this means that most of Rubyists, who do not speak Japanese, can not understand the discussions. For non-Japanese speakers, there has been no way to understand the most important issues in the development of Ruby.

I want to share the current issues of Ruby. I also want to request help from Rubyists who don't speak Japanese.

  • Building test beds

  • maintaining

  • more testing before release

  • more discussion on language features

  • prototyping next generation features

And then, Ruby must be a bazaar project as Rails is, so that Ruby is sustainable.


We Japanese have many characters. Not only characters, but also encodings. Even in the modern age, UTF-8 is not the only option. For example, we have to use Shift_JIS on Windows systems, EUC-JP on UNIX, ISO-2022-JP for email exchange. We still need to wander around these encodings to complete daily programming tasks. That is why m17n is so important for Ruby, and for us.

The advance of mobile-phones makes the situation more complicated. Emoji (emoticons) were implemented on mobile-phones by mapping on unused area. We have three major mobile-phone carriers in Japan. These carriers implemented different Emoji character sets and encodings. They, of course, are not compatible. Even worse these assignments are partially overlapped each other. Remember, we already have several major encodings for regular Japanese characters. Introducing Emoji on them multiply the combinations. In addition, I have to say that no `official' machine-readable specifications are available (google is trying to solve this problem). It should sound stupid but is the real situation of Japanese mobile web development.

In the session, I want to share this complicated situation and how we have been fighting with the issue of encodings, as a Rubyist from Japan.

Asakusa.rb Rocks!

This talk is about Asakusa.rb - a Ruby users' group in Japan.

Though Japan is the mother country of Ruby, is seems that Ruby in the US is more widely-accepted than that in Japan. Particularly, Ruby web app development is much more progressed in the Western world, probably because of the big wave called "Ruby on Rails". All the new technologies, exciting news and worth reading books about Ruby web development are coming from the western Ruby world into Japan.

But on the other hand, as for Ruby language, the situation is quite the opposite. Ruby is mainly developed in Japan, by several Japanese developers, so lots of Ruby treasures such as useful assets and important news are buried in Japan without be translated into English. I suppose, Ruby looks like a huge black box to you, isn't it? The problem here, is that Ruby is made in Japan, Rails is made in Western, and both have their own communities separately.

So, we founded a Ruby users' group named Asakusa.rb. One of our mission is to be a hub between those two separated Ruby communities and join them into one "World Ruby community". I'm going to talk what we've done and our future plans.

So, You Should Attend RubyKaigi2010 :)

RubyKaigi is the de-facto authoritative Ruby conference in Japan, held annually since 2006 and hosting a mix of Japanese and English talks.

We're trying to blur the language barriers more. Thanks to Chad Fowler, we've encouraged us by your message. (1)

I'm the one of main organizer of RubyKaigi, so I'll show you RubyKaigi is a nice and safe conference for non-Japanese rubyists through RubyKaigi2009 as an example.

RubyKaigi2009 was held in 17-19 July 2009 in Tokyo. We made 16/58 talks and 5/22 lightning talks in english (2). The total number of RubyKaigi2009 attendees was ~700 including ~50 non-Japanese speakers/attendees from almost all over the world. (3)

In Japan,there are nice rubyists to meet and nice places to visit. We're looking for more non-Japanese speakers/attendees in RubyKaigi 2010!

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