About 6 months ago, I submitted several abstracts to ApacheCon, and two were chosen. The first was cross-language Regular Expressions, which is no big surprise, given my history with that topic. The other selection surprised me: Ruby for Java Developers. This is a talk I have prepared for No Fluff, Just Stuff, but never had a chance to deliver it (you don't get to do Ruby talks when at the same conference as Dave Thomas, nor would I want to). During the interim, Ruby has gathered even more steam, so I was anxious to give this talk and see what kind of interest was present. I talked to several people over lunch about Ruby, and everyone I talked to at the conference said they were interested my talk.
The appointed time arrived, and I wasn't disappointed. They booked it in the large keynote room, and I had over 100 people for the talk. I had to rush a bit because I had too much material (I'm sure those of you who know me will be shocked by that), but the talk turned out really well. I ran up to and slightly into the afternoon coffee break, so I made the offer for people to stick around and ask questions after the talk. I had about 10 people come up and ask me about various aspects of Ruby, and everyone was interested and engaged.
I've been positioning myself both within ThoughtWorks and externally as a pragmatist on Ruby. I really like Ruby, but I'm not ready to sell the farm on more mainstream languages yet. Ruby has tremendous potential, but there are still hard problems to be solved in Ruby before it can storm the castle walls of Java and .NET. I fully believe that those problems will fall (and I think ThoughtWorks will solve many of them, just as we solved problems in Java and .NET). Of all the candidates for "Next Big Thing", Ruby is the clear, ahead of the pack contender.