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Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Clarke Brunsdon

Posted on May 07, 2013 by Lynne Brehmer

Last Thursday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, John Feminella who will be talking about about better, faster, smarter cloud deployments with Docker at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to Clarke Brunsdon. Clarke is a Founding Partner and CTO at FreeRunning Technologies and will be speaking at SpreeConf with his colleague Gregor MacDougall about his experience migrating a large scale PHP based e-commerce store to Spree.

Clarke Brunsdon

Clarke Brunsdon

Founding Partner and CTO at FreeRunning Technologies
Clarke is a programmer with over 13 years experience with the last 5 primarily focused on working in Ruby and Rails. He founded FreeRunning Technologies in 2008 and focuses on how to provide the most value to his clients and making sure the technology fits their real-world business priorities. Clarke’s SpreeConf talk will discuss how he and his colleagues at FreeRunning Technologies took a large, custom built, error prone, unmaintainable PHP ecommerce platform, and made a gradual transition to the Spree cart, checkout process and models. He’ll explain how they avoided a single, large switchover date, opting instead for a series of small incremental improvements leading towards the end goal. You’ll learn how these techniques can be applied to your own e-commerce migration projects in order to help you make a similar smooth transition.

Getting to Know Clarke

We asked Clarke to give us his thoughts on the latest happenings in the Ruby space and some of the interesting projects he’s working on right now.

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

The same things that excite me today are the same things that excited me about programming ten years ago, but we now do them so much better. For me, programming and technology have always been about putting awesome people with great ideas together, and seeing what we can build. Now we’ve got amazing tools like git/github, gerrit, rspec, bundler and Google+ hangouts that let us build and share ideas, collaborating with fantastic ease and efficiency.

Any interesting projects you are working on that others might be interested in?

We always joke at FreeRunning technologies about how much we “hate code.” Before we start any projects ourselves, we look to see if there are any other open source projects we can extend and improve upon, rather than starting a project ourselves. While we have created some Spree extensions that people might be interested in (spree-pre-order, spree-flexible-weight-rate, spree-license-key, spree-custom-store-email), there isn’t much for public repos I’d show people.

As far as ‘private’ projects go, we’re currently migrating a private company that currently manages the e-commerce of dozens of high-profile sites onto Spree. They’ve been an e-commerce provider for the last 6 years and have an incredible technological debt as well as entrenched business practices that is making the rollout very tricky, but so far very successful.

What are you most looking forward to at SpreeConf this year?

Face to face communication! We’re incredibly enthusiastic about the state of Spree and where its going, but that doesn’t always communicate well over IRC. I want to let all the Spree developers know now much we appreciate the project and that we want to do everything we can to help it grow and mature.

What do you hope SpreeConf attendees remember about your talk when they get home?

Our talk centers around doing a large scale store migration to Spree. I think the most important thing to remember is that tasks like this are never quick, and never easy. It’s very easy to convince yourself that it’s going to be easier and quicker than it is, and that’s a mistake you learn to stop making.

I want everyone to leave our talk looking at Spree is a living, breathing project. I want them to understand that the incredible features and platform it provides should not be taken lightly.

Do you have any interesting picks - blogs, technology, books, new companies to follow?

I’m personally a huge fan of the collected works of Tim Pope. He writes so many useful vim plugins and ruby gems, I’m unsure if he’s just one man or a front man for a group of programmers. The book that has changed the most about how I worked was Rapid Development by Steve McConnell, a book not about programming but about the ecosystem and environment of software development.

It’s hard to believe - there are less than two weeks until SpreeConf! Hurry and get your tickets now!