Ruby on Rails, Events

The strength of the Rails community, as seen at RailsConf

RailsConf, a 1.5 million dollar pep rally
In late April, I attended my very first RailsConf, held this year in Portland. For those of you who don’t know, RailsConf is the biggest yearly gathering of Ruby on Rails developers, featuring multiple tracks of experts giving talks on their specific area of expertise. It’s a pretty big deal.

Although it can be difficult to gauge the strength of a community, the large financial investment on RailsConf seems like a solid indication of its value to many developers across the country and world. And let me tell you, things are looking good.

Let’s Crunch Some Numbers

Here’s a bit of "back of the napkin" math to illustrate the strength of the community, measured in cash spent on RailsCof:

1,300 attendees x $750 per ticket = 975k (almost 1 million dollars. CRAZY.)

18 sponsors = $370k

Amazon gave a $100 credit to each attendee = 130k

Swag in the form of t-shirts, stickers, and other merchandize accounted for another 100k (total guess)

Not including the even more diffuse costs, I’d estimate the total amount of money spent to be north of 1.5 million dollars.


NOT including the cost to travel to and stay on location, which was certainly not inexpensive for a team of 11 from across the country. And our team was not the farthest away from home either as many European developers also came to RailsConf.

NOT including a week’s worth of opportunity costs as many large companies sent their senior employees.

NOT including the parties, which tended to be outrageous.

So What Does This All Mean?

So, given that entirely fabricated number, what can we learn? How does RailsConf support such a large amount of money being spent?

Three things I think:

RailsConf includes a large portion of decision makers, meaning that a lot of company owners and directors were in the crowd.

Rails skills are in high demand, so improving your company's Rails proficiency easily pays for itself.

General enthusiasm. People actually want to be there!

If nothing else, I think this information serves as a health check and affirmation for the strength of the Rails community, and is worth considering as the larger community begins to answer some questions about identity and purpose.

Check out our other articles on RailsConf:

Being Social at RailsConf Without Talking Tech: Possible?

22 Links From RailsConf Day 1

9 Links From RailsConf Day 2

31 Links From RailsConf Day 3

4 Links From RailsConf Day 4


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