Rust 2019 (1): Change

Almost 10 years ago, I visited Japan together with a friend. It was for RubyKaigi 2009, the conference for Ruby. It was my first experience with a conference outside of Europe and definitely an enjoyable one. Ruby back then was at an inflection point: Ruby 1.8 was slowly starting to be the Ruby of the past and Ruby 1.9 came in, shipping breaking changes, but also a lot of fixes around the language core. The Ruby 1.9 introduction was a controversial one, but in my opinion a necessary one. I also think it was well managed, definitely better compared to other such endeavours. But it was definitely a move that the community would still feel for years to come, moving whole existing software stacks isn’t easy. Still, Ruby 1.9 was important: it marked a moment of professionalism. Before Ruby became popular through Rails, it was a project with barely enough maintainers, now it had resources to build something. Ruby 1.9 was a lot, but it was definitely a very intentional release.

Now, why am I telling you about Ruby? Because I had an interesting experience there. I’d have expected this conference to be about settling down a little and dealing with what was upcoming. About a little respite. Instead, the motto was a simple word: “Change”.

A whole set of conferences was created in the following three years[1], strong debates were had and “Ruby Drama” became a thing. The Ruby community developed its very own style and a lot of projects sprang into existence. Projects like RailsBridge and later the european variant Rails Girls, that later would become a template for similar projects. A lot of the community was accelerating. The community really did change. It already had its own style but it developed in even more different one, after. That sadly also meant that it became much harder to be a hobbyist Rubyist, if you wanted to follow suit.

There are calls for decelerating Rust. I don’t think that is a feasible option. Things will move, if we want it or not. Not being ready to move means letting go of control. Moving at a self-controlled speed is what gives you traction. For that reason, I think now is Rusts “Change” moment. In the following few days, I’d like to have a look at many aspects of the program that can an need to change.