After running two successful Nordic Ruby conferences in Gothenburg (2010 and 2011), we knew we wanted to do something different this year. Since many of our attendees are from Stockholm, we decided to move the conference there.
We went for an "East meets West" theme representing both the move from the west coast of Sweden to the east coast, and bringing a Japanese programming language to western Europe. With that in mind, we found the perfect venue — Yasuragi Hasseludden — a Japanese style spa in the Stockholm archipelago.
Having the conference at a spa also fit perfectly with what's always been our vision for Nordic Ruby; a great event that's brings people together, where everyone can have a shared experience, and leave recharged and inspired. Nordic Ruby has always been single track, with everyone having lunches and dinners together, to give that shared experience. We've also always had slightly different format than most other conferences, with short talks, each followed by a break at least as long. This ensures that everyone has plenty of time to meet and talk to other attendees and speakers, and gives everyone the chance to digest the avalanche of information that a conference can be.
Yasuragi proved the perfect venue to take these ideas to the next level. We included accommodation at the spa in the ticket price, which meant that people didn't disappear to different hotels at the end of the day, giving even more of a shared experience. The calm and relaxing atmosphere meant that people left the conference feeling energised, rather than drained as is the usual feeling after many other conferences. And of course, the Japanese style of the spa was a perfect homage to the origin of Ruby.
We had some amazing speakers this year too, and we're very grateful to them for coming all the way to Sweden to share their knowledge and passion. We had fantastic experienced speakers such as Corey Haines and Steve Klabnik, but the speaker who blew everyone away was Katrina Owen. Katrina had never spoken at a conference before, but she presented her thoughts on the therapeutic aspects of refactoring in a masterful way. The audience was at the edge of their seats, spellbound by her pitch-perfect storytelling. She's since gone on to present at many other conferences, with equal aplomb.
What makes Nordic Ruby such a great experience for all of us though is the attendees. They embraced and added to the atmosphere of the conference, donning the yukata (traditional Japanese bathrobes) they were given, and taking full advantage of the environment. People reconnected with old friends, and made many new ones. In the end, that's what really matters. Our goal with Nordic Ruby has always been to facilitate this by providing a great opportunity and environment for it.
We're busy planning next year's Nordic Ruby. As successful as this year's conference was, there are always things to improve. If you want to help out, we're always looking for sponsors. We couldn't make Nordic Ruby happen without the great support from our sponsors (Hashrocket, Engine Yard, Valtech, GitHub, and ProjectPuzzle this year). If you're interested in sponsoring next year, get in touch.
P.S. Check out more photos by our photographer Antony Sastre in our Flickr album.