RubyWorld Conference 2017 Statement of Intent

This year, the RubyWorld Conference will be held for the ninth time. We hope that it will give participants a true sense of the expanding Ruby ecosystem.

Some 25 years have passed since development of Ruby began. After many years of growth, what was first thought of as little more than an engineer’s plaything is now seen as a “fully-fledged” technology that is being put to practical use even in the enterprise domain. In fact, many global systems have been built using Ruby, and many people are impacted by Ruby in some way in their daily lives. In that quarter-century, Ruby has truly grown into a “mature” technology.

With any technology, while it is seen as new and cutting edge immediately following its debut, any change that is disruptive and breaks through the sense of stagnation of existing technologies is seen as a plus, and the technology is accepted precisely because of those changes. However, as it is accepted by more and more users and matures, and assets related to that technology increase, many users start to seek stability, and a tendency to resent change starts to emerge. But if we give in to those tendencies and stop making changes to the technology, it starts to be left behind by the changes in the environment surrounding it, and users start to feel a sense of stagnation. That sense of stagnation becomes the driving force behind the emergence of new technologies, and the technologies that have stopped changing become things of the past and obsolete. This is a pattern that has been repeated over and over again in the past.

Ruby is standing on the cusp of that watershed moment. Fewer people want that previous kind of disruptive change, and the voices of people who, for the sake of the stable operation of their business, are asking Ruby not to change seem to be growing louder. On the other hand, new trends such as the cloud, multi-core, and machine learning are changing the environment surrounding Ruby, and at the same time, it seems that, if nothing is done, there is a danger that Ruby will be left behind.

What is probably needed most is balance. That is, a balance between a degree of stability that will not render past assets meaningless and a degree of change that will not see Ruby left behind by the progress in surrounding technologies and trends. Achieving these simultaneously in a balanced manner will be extremely difficult, but not impossible. We have entered a stage in which the entire Ruby community, from the core developers who are involved in the development of Ruby itself, to the developers of frameworks and applications, is being asked to steer Ruby through these very difficult waters.

At this year’s RubyWorld Conference, we would like to think about a style of development that, while keeping stability on its horizons, will also allow change, a style that is firmly based in the real world. This is because we believe that this kind of style is the only way in which we can aim for sustainable development of Ruby while reflecting that balance between change and stability.

Yukihiro Matsumoto
Chairman of the Execution Committee of the RubyWorld Conference