Spree Conf 2013
May 20 - 21 Washington DC
Learn More

Posts tagged ‘spreeconf’

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Clarke Brunsdon

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!

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: John Feminella

Last Thursday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Denis Ivanov who will be talking about how to perfect your e-commerce front end at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to John Feminella. John is the Co-founder at UpHex and will be speaking at SpreeConf about better, faster, smarter cloud deployments with Docker.

John Feminella

John Feminella

Co-founder at UpHex
John is an avid technologist, occasional public speaker, and frequent instigator of assorted shenanigans. John recently co-founded UpHex, a startup providing predictive analytics and automated insights for e-commerce businesses. When he’s not knee-deep in solving challenging technology problems, he stays active in the local community, guest-lectures at the University of Virginia, and mentors budding entrepreneurs at HackCville.

Better, Faster, Smarter Cloud Deployments with Docker

When you deploy a modern web application to a cloud environment, you usually provide some kind of manifest that indicates what its application dependencies are — for example, in a Ruby on Rails app, you’d provide a Gemfile. But what if you have environment or configuration dependencies, like needing an SSL certificate or a reverse DNS entry? Then you need another manifest for a configuration management system, such as Chef or Puppet.

Pretty soon, it starts getting cumbersome to put all that together. What if there was a better way to wrap those two things into one neat package that made deployment easier? Enter Docker; although it’s still very much in beta, it’s worth taking a look now, because it’s one of the most interesting recent developments in cloud computing.

In his SpreeConf talk, John will discuss how Docker works, the vast array of potential applications it has, and walk through some example deployments. By the end, you’ll know enough to decide if Docker has a place in your own workflow, and hopefully be excited enough to start trying it out.

Getting to Know John

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

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

There are so many interesting trends that it’s hard to pick, so I hope you’ll forgive me for picking two.

First, the rise of “bring your own cloud” is fascinating because it brings things full circle relative to ten years ago, when the only “cloud” offering that was widely available was virtual private servers. Then virtual machines became more popular, as computing resources got denser. AWS promised automatic redundancy and easy scalability. But people didn’t like the devops work required to maintain their AWS instances, so Heroku came along.

Now, people have realized that Heroku and friends are just specialized cases of a larger, more interesting problem: the ability to completely isolate your web application and its dependencies from your operating system. What if you could essentially package up all your cloud instances like that, so that you could run them anywhere, on almost any cloud provider?

That’s part of what Docker lets us do, which is why I’m excited to talk about it at SpreeConf. It brings us back full circle to the flexibility and commoditization of the VPS days, where you’re just paying for bits, bandwidth, and CPU. But it gives us all the power and flexibility of the modern configuration management toolset. My prediction is that most web development will look like Docker instances by 2015 or so.

Second, I’m excited that the prediction I made two years ago, betting that Facebook would tumble from its top spot as part of a broader trend away from spending time on social networks and a growing awareness of privacy concerns, seems to be coming true. But with SOPA defeated and CISPA not quite dead as of this writing, there’s still a lot to worry about in the online world, and we owe it to ourselves to pay attention more closely than ever before.

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

I quit my job to work on UpHex, which I co-founded with a really smart colleague. We’re building an analytics health-monitoring service, akin to a New Relic for your data streams. Most analytics services do a poor job on two fronts, and we want to fix both of them.

First, they often don’t tell you when something interesting is happening. You have to go visit them to find out what’s happening. If they do provide alerts, you have to set up clumsy, coarse thresholds that don’t reflect the dynamic nature of an online business, so you get lots of false positives (or even worse, false negatives!). This is 2013; why are people settling for such antiquated ways of watching their business?

Second, if they have a dashboard, it’s usually a morass of confusing chartjunk that’s hard to interpret, even for experts. Is a downward blip in some metric alarming? Should you care about it? Is there anything you can do about it, and if so, what? Is this related to similar blips on your other metrics? All in all, it’s hard to get a good picture of where things stand by looking at a collection of graphs, so why aren’t we trying to make this easier to understand for everyone?

UpHex is going to solve these problems. We’re just starting out, but our research so far (we’ve talked to over 100 companies!) has yielded enough excited customers to convince us that this is a good idea. If you’re interested, you can sign up to stay abreast of things by going to the UpHex website. If you’re a business that sells things online, and if you can spare 15 minutes, we’d love to talk to you; drop us a line at hello@uphex.com.

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

I’m most excited to see how people use established technologies like Spree in new and interesting ways to help make e-commerce a better, smoother experience for everyone.

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

I hope the first thing they do after my talk is download Docker and start playing with it. However interesting my talk might be to people, it would never hold a candle to the experience of using Docker yourself.

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

The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick

Tumblr: Pictures of People Scanning QR Codes

Everything is Amazing, and No One Is Happy by Louis CK

Come meet John and hear his talk about about better, faster, smarter cloud deployments with Docker at SpreeConf DC, May 20th – 21st. get your ticket now. Less than 3 weeks to go!

Registration Now Open for SpreeConf Lightning Talks!

The SpreeConf Lightning Talks registration is now open to all SpreeConf DC registrants! The Lightning Talks are always one of the highlights of SpreeConf. The talks range from being on the more serious side to making you laugh out loud in your seat. The speakers usually include a variety of experienced and first time presenters. If you have something you’d like to share with the SpreeConf audience about Ruby on Rails, e-commerce, Spree, or open source in general then the SpreeConf Lightning Talks are a great place to do it.

How do the Lightning Talks work?

The Lightning Talks will take place at the end of the first day of SpreeConf on Monday, May 20th at the Studio Theatre (the conference venue). Each talk will be limited to five minutes. You can use slides or any other props you’d like in your presentation. If you are using slides, we just ask that you send them to us a few days before the conference so we can consolidate them onto one laptop to help reduce speaker transition time.

Why would I want to do a SpreeConf Lightning Talk?

The SpreeConf Lightning Talks are a great opportunity to spread the word about the subject of your choice to an audience of developers, designers, store owners, and investors in the Ruby and e-commerce space. The duration of each talk is short so it’s ideal for topics where you can get your point across quickly. You could use the time to invite people to help you with a project, or discuss a new technology that you’ve found really useful, or ask for help with a problem you’ve been grappling with. Lightning talks are also a great chance for first time presenters to get their feet wet speaking in front of an audience.

How Do I Sign Up?

To sign up for the Lightning Talks just add your name and talk title to the list here. We’ll let you know the week prior to SpreeConf if your talk has been selected.

And if you haven’t registered for SpreeConf yet, there’s still time! Tickets are selling fast though so make sure to register soon.

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Denis Ivanov

On Tuesday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Ryan Bigg who will be talking about open source war stories at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to Denis Ivanov. Denis is a Lead Developer at Downshift Labs and will be speaking at SpreeConf about how to perfect your e-commerce front end.

Denis Ivanov

Denis Ivanov

Lead Developer at Downshift Labs
Denis is a software developer who has been professionally working with Ruby on with Rails since version 1.2.2 back in 2006. During his SpreeConf talk, Denis will share his experience perfecting the front end of a unique e-commerce store that began over 3 years ago as a Spree 0.11.X project and is growing faster than ever. The store has 97,000 SKUs, receives over 40% of its traffic from organic search hits and is currently serving over 1.5 million public-facing page views each month. Denis will share practical code samples and tips on how to please both robots and humans including: search engine optimization, client side performance (and some backend, too), and conversion rate management

Getting to Know Denis

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

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

I’m very excited about the state of coder education at the moment. The industry sees the problems it has and is eager to generate solutions. Between DevBootCamp and AppAcademy here in San Francisco, we get a good amount of interesting applicants for entry level positions!

However, I’m even more excited for free workshops like RailsBridge and RailsGirls. I’m a fan of both so naturally I come out and try to instruct at as many of these as possible. These particular groups have a focus of closing the disproportionate male-to-female gap in our field.

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

There are a few Spree extensions that you might want to keep an eye on if you’re running a large Spree store. Our store didn’t get to 100K SKUs by manually entering the data through the CRUD interface. We make heavy use of an extension for Spree that uses various spreadsheets to update records en masse, called spree_batch_products).

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

Learning from others’ experience running large stores and keeping an acute ear for clever solutions to universal e-commerce problems. But in general, it is always a good time with the Spree team.

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

I want SpreeConf attendees to remember that as an industry we’re very focused on the back end performance because that is what is easy to instrument correctly, however, by far the slowest part of any webapp is the front end. I want to give them a high level understanding of the problems leading to this as well as a practical boilerplate/best practices approach to begin battling these effects in their projects.

I want my talk to be very actionable. First, I will convince people they should spend time on this. Second, I will tell them how to begin.

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

Check out AngularJS. Very exciting stuff!

Come meet Denis and hear his talk about perfecting your e-commerce front end at SpreeConf DC, May 20th – 21st. get your ticket now. Less than one month to go!

Networking Opportunities at SpreeConf DC

We’ve built lots of networking opportunities into the SpreeConf schedule to allow you to connect with the Spree community and build lasting relationships to improve and grow your business. You’ll have a chance to meet face-to-face with the creators of Spree, Sean Schofield and Brian Quinn, to learn more about Spree 2.0 and discuss and debate the future direction of the Spree platform. SpreeConf is also a great opportunity to compare notes with other Spree Developers about projects you are working on and implementation techniques. And of course, SpreeConf isn’t just for developers. We have plenty of founders and store owners that come to our conferences as well. Whether you’re a startup or an established online business, there will be other business owners for you to network with and learn from. There’s something for everyone at SpreeConf.

Check out our full lineup of social events.

Inaugural Ignite SpreeConf Gaming Gala - Sunday, May 19th

We’d like to welcome those of you arriving Sunday evening to our Ignite SpreeConf Gaming Gala. Brian Quinn and Chris Mar are your Game Night hosts and are committed to delivering an evening of unforgettable fun and intense competition. They’re turning in their consoles and are returning to their gaming roots with some old school board games like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. The evening will include lots of board gaming fun with plenty of beverages and snacks and an opportunity to meet your fellow conference attendees and the Spree team before the serious tech talking starts on Monday.

Lightning Talks - Monday, May 20th

At the end of our first day of presentations all SpreeConf attendees are invited to join us for a few cocktails and a series of five minute lightning talks on the subject of your choice. This is an opportunity to publicly share interesting projects you are working on as well as to suggest your ideas for the future direction of the Spree project. We’ll begin taking lightning talk registrations two weeks before SpreeConf starts.

Happy Hour - Monday, May 20th

Enjoy a few happy hour drinks with your fellow attendees courtesy of Braintree. Share what you learned during the training day and find out what interesting projects your colleagues are working on. Get a chance to check out Policy, one of DC’s hottest restaurant and lounges located in the vibrant U Street neighborhood. Join the SpreeConf Turntable.fm room and help us DJ the evening with some of your favorite tunes.

After Party - Tuesday, May 21st

Join us after the conference for a few hours of drinking and lively debate courtesy of Rails Dog. The Spree team will be in attendance along with most of our speakers. The after party will take place on the rooftop of Lost Society, a boutique restaurant and lounge located in the U Street corridor. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather. Lost Society has a great view of the Washington, DC skyline.

There’s less than a month until SpreeConf and tickets are selling fast. Get your ticket now before we sell out. See you there!

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Ryan Bigg

Last Thursday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Adil Wali who will be talking about lessons learned scaling multiple e-commerce businesses at SpreeConf DC May 20th – 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our own, Ryan Bigg. Ryan is the Community Manager at Spree Commerce and will be speaking at SpreeConf about open source war stories.

Ryan Bigg

Ryan Bigg

Community Manager at Spree Commerce
Ryan is a Ruby and Rails technical writer based in Australia. He co-authored the book Rails 3 in Action with Yehuda Katz. He was granted the Ruby Hero award recognizing his documentation for Rails. Ryan joined the Spree team in 2011 as Community Manager. His job is to make your life with Spree an amazing experience by triaging issues, replying to user questions, and contributing to the Spree project. He enjoys writing (text + code) more than most people would deem normal.

Open Source War Stories

At the end of 2011, Ryan switched from being a Ruby consultant to being one of the lead maintainers of the Spree Commerce open source project. During that time, he learned an awful lot about what it means to be responsible for something as massive as the Spree project. Refactoring the code without causing tears for loyal users has been an extremely challenging problem to have.

He has some rather interesting stories to tell, like the time he renamed most of the files deliberately on purpose, or that time he ripped out a component that people depended on, and everyone was still happy. There have even been instances where code has been moved out of the models and into new classes, which seems to be the cool thing to do.

Getting to Know Ryan

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

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

The most exciting trends to me right now are more JavaScript heavy apps that use frameworks like Backbone, Angular and Ember. There’s still quite a lot of change going on in this area. It’s in a constant state of improvement. I think having a JavaScript-based frontend on Spree would be a step in the right direction, showing off what Spree’s API can do.

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

There’s this e-commerce platform I’m working on right now called Spree ;) …

Besides that, I’m working on my Multitenancy with Rails book and keeping Sharon (my girlfriend) happy. Oh, and sleep. Sleep is highly recommended.

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

It’s SpreeConf. What isn’t there to look forward to? Amazing talks by amazing people at an amazing location. DC will be nice during the Spring, too.

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

Maintaining a project as large as Spree and having it be open source is a huge undertaking. We deal with the incoming posts and issues for Spree in very smart ways, and I’ll go through some of those in my talk.

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

I don’t read blogs as Twitter is my main source of information. If there’s a good blog post out there, it’ll be on Twitter.

Regarding books: While I haven’t read it yet, I hear good things about Sandi Metz’s Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby book. Like, really good things about that book. She’s speaking at SpreeConf, so while I’m semi-obligated to cross-promote her, I honestly think that this book is good.

Another one that’s been doing the rounds is Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture by Martin Fowler, which covers some great patterns (Data repository, Active Record, Data Mapper).

Technology + company wise: Tesla, Deep Space Industries and SpaceX. These guys are the future. Look at all the cool stuff they’re doing.

Come meet Ryan and hear his talk about open source war stories at SpreeConf DC, May 20th – 21st. get your ticket now. Less than one month to go!

Rails Dog Announced as SpreeConf Sponsor

We’re delighted to announce that RailsDog, which specializes in Ruby on Rails web development, Spree e-commerce development, and UI/UX design, will be sponsoring the SpreeConf after party. SpreeConf is a two-day event taking place May 20th – 21st at the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC and features training on Spree as well as presentations from thought leaders in the e-commerce and Ruby communities including Sandi Metz, Adil Wali, and Eric Koester. The Rails Dog sponsored after party takes place the second evening of the conference on May 21st on the rooftop bar of Lost Society. The Spree and Rails Dog teams will be in attendance as well as most of our speakers.

Get To Know Your Fellow SpreeConf Attendees

SpreeConf is a great opportunity to get to know the Spree core team and to meet your fellow Spree community members. This year’s SpreeConf attendee list includes folks from all areas of our community - developers, marketing managers, design agencies, store owners, founders, and investors. We’ve built lots of networking opportunities into the schedule so you’ll have a chance to meet each other, have some fun, and chat further about your Spree projects.

Conference tickets are selling fast so make sure to secure your spot at SpreeConf DC before we’re sold out.

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Adil Wali

Last Thursday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Gregor MacDougall who will be talking about his experience migrating a large scale PHP based e-commerce store to Spree at SpreeConf DC May 20th - 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to our keynote speaker, Adil Wali. Adil is the CEO at Kemists and will be speaking at SpreeConf about lessons learned scaling multiple e-commerce businesses.

Adil Wali

Adil Wali

CEO at Kemists
Adil is a passionate entrepreneur and product visionary who loves the startup and high growth environment. He first connected with Spree through Crowd Interactive, a web 2.0 development company he founded that specializes in Ruby on Rails. Adil gets bored easily and likes to have fun, so he starts companies. He’s never had a ‘real job.’ He’s been a founder or investor in a bunch of stuff that’s failed. The stuff that hasn’t: ClearGears, ModCloth, Crowd Interactive, and Kemists where he is currently CEO. Some of you might remember Adil from SpreeConf Dublin. Adil was one of our most popular speakers and we are really excited to have him back at SpreeConf this year in DC.

Lessons from the Field: Scaling an eCommerce Business

eCommerce is one of the hottest and highest-growth spaces driving the world economy right now and while most companies attempting this space have quality products and a solid target customer, many of them will fail because they cannot execute quickly enough to beat their competition.

At SpreeConf, Adil will discuss lessons he learned scaling multiple e-commerce business, including ModCloth, one of the fastest growing companies in the world of fashion. The topics covered will be driven significantly by the audience, with the goal of providing tangible-lessons-learned with real ideas that you can try tomorrow whether you are on the technical side or business side of things.

Some of the topics Adil will cover include:

  • Data: why it’s important and how it breaks
  • Building and scaling a brand
  • Community, authenticity, and how to scale without losing your voice
  • Curation, product-mix, and how to not bore your customers
  • Premature scaling and how to avoid it
  • Scaling teams: ensuring structure and decision-making still work
  • Process: how to keep it minimalistic, but functional
  • Content strategy: taking SEO, SEM, and content seriously
  • Capital strategy: when and why money is important (and when it’s not)
  • Fulfillment and customer service: does it REALLY matter?

Getting to Know Adil

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

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

Marketplaces of all shapes and sizes have come a long way since the early days of eBay. I think the future of e-commerce is being defined by some of the innovators in marketplace experiences. In particular, the use of location-based commerce and latent-inventory models is super interesting.

I think ‘the way we work’ is changing. The distribution of teams is no longer a setback, and for some pioneers, it is a distinct advantage. Furthermore, collaboration technology and global bandwidth have come a long way. This is changing the landscape of company creation and growth, not to mention fighting worldwide poverty in a serious way.

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

Yes! We’ve been thinking a lot about ‘the future of work’ and have been heads-down working on a way for worldwide freelancing to be merit-based and frictionless. That project is called Hiiro (pronounced ‘Hero’). It’s currently in private alpha, but we hope to release it just as soon as we feel like we’ve nailed the user experience.

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

I’ve been to a lot of conferences, and I’ve found the overall level of talent and scrappiness to be the highest among the SpreeConf crowd. That’s not to mention that the Spree platform has come a very long way in the last 24 months, and there are still a lot of new things for me to learn from the great tech talks.

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

I hope that folks will remember at least one interesting ‘company-building’ pattern that they can go home and USE within 60 days.

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

I know it’s a classic and that most people have read it, but Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the kind of book you need read once every couple years. I also think that Free Agent Nation by Daniel Pink deserves a lot more attention, even though it was one of his earlier works.

There are tons of new companies that are worth looking at: TaskRabbit and SilverCar are some of the folks that are really innovating with marketplace technology. Blank-Label is probably my favorite supply chain innovator right now.

Come meet Adil and hear his talk about lessons learned scaling multiple e-commerce businesses at SpreeConf DC, May 20th - 21st.

Top Five Reasons to Come Back to SpreeConf

If you’ve attended SpreeConf before you know what a great experience it is. We want to make sure that you don’t miss out on the great lineup of speakers and events we have planned for the conference this year. As a thanks for your ongoing support, we’re offering past attendees a special discount off the regular SpreeConf ticket price. Email lynne at spreecommerce.com for the discount code.

#1 Learn About Spree 2.0

The Spree 2.0 release is just a few weeks away. SpreeConf offers the opportunity to talk with the Spree core team in person about how you can take advantage of the new Spree 2.0 features including: split shipments, the re-architecture of the Spree core, and internationalization improvements.

#2 Get Testing Advice from Sandi Metz

Tests are supposed to save us money. How is it, then, that many times they become millstones around our necks, gradually morphing into fragile, breakable things that raise the cost of change? Many times we write too many tests and we test the wrong kind of things. Sandi Metz’s SpreeConf talk will offer simple, practical guidelines for choosing what to test and how to test it.

#3 Put Rails 4 into Action

Rails 4 brings a bunch of really cool, new features including: Multithreading and ActionController::Live combine to provide clients with Server-Sent Events for real-time activity feeds. Turbolinks has blasted application performance way beyond what we’re used to seeing. And, changes to how rails applications cache information has made caching simpler and easier to use.Nick Gauthier will show some of the ways he’s used the new Rails 4 features to build applications efficiently with the latest web technology.

#4 Get Lessons from the Field

eCommerce is one of the hottest and highest-growth spaces driving the world economy right now and while most companies attempting this space have quality products and a solid target customer, many of them will fail because they cannot execute quickly enough to beat their competition. Adil Wali will cover lessons learned scaling multiple e-commerce business, including ModCloth, one of the fastest growing companies in the world of fashion. Denis Ivanov will also offer advice about how to perfect your e-commerce frontend through SEO techniques and conversion rate management.

#5 Find New Clients and Developers

SpreeConf is a great place to meet store owners looking for help with their Spree stores. It’s also a great place to find developers to join your team. We’ve built lots of networking opportunities into the SpreeConf schedule so you can discuss future Spree projects together.

There are less than five weeks until SpreeConf and tickets are selling fast. Make sure to secure your spot at SpreeConf DC before we’re sold out.

Get to Know the Creators of Spree

It’s a really exciting time for Spree. We are now one of the top open source projects in the world. We have 3,835 Github watchers and 372 GitHub contributors who have made more than 9,000 contributions. SpreeConf is your chance to meet the creators of Spree, Sean Schofield and Brian Quinn, and to hear their plans for the future direction of the project first hand. Sean and Brian will share in depth details about the Spree roadmap and the new features included in Spree 2.0. Don’t miss your opportunity to meet Sean, Brian, and the rest of the Spree team in person at SpreeConf, May 20th - 21st in Washington, DC.

How it all Began

Most of you probably know that Sean Schofield and Brian Quinn are the co-founders of Spree. But what you might not know is how the Spree open source project started and how Sean and Brian met. Sean created the Spree open source project in July 2007 after trying several open source alternatives and finding they lacked the flexibility to build exactly what store owners wanted. Brian discovered Spree when he was searching for an open source, Rails based e-commerce solution for one of his client projects. Brian contributed several internationalization features to Spree and in the process got to know Sean. They began working on client projects together and agreed to start an e-commerce consultancy company which eventually turned into Spree Commerce Inc. Since then Sean and Brian have worked diligently to improve the Spree platform and grow the Spree community.

Sean Schofield

Sean Schofield
Sean is the co-founder and CEO of Spree Commerce. He is an experienced programmer and entrepreneur and has over a decade of experience working with open source in both Ruby and Java. Sean is also a member of the Apache Software Foundation as well as a committer on several popular Apache projects including Struts. Sean dedicates his time to the Spree open source project and ensuring that it lives up to his vision of being the most flexible, open source e-commerce platform in the world. At SpreeConf, Sean will share details about the new features included in Spree 2.0 including split shipments, the re-architecture of the Spree core and internationalization improvements.

Brian Quinn

Brian QuinnBrian is the co-founder and CTO of Spree Commerce. He has been using Ruby for fun and profit for several years now (before Rails 1.0.) He is also the author of the innovative Deface project. He enjoys tackling hard problems, learning new things, and building awesome software. At SpreeConf, Brian will introduce the Spree Integrator, a project our team has been quietly working on the last six months which enables stores to integrate with all the internal “stuff” that companies need to run their stores like drop shipping, accounting, analytics, warehousing, etc. Brian’s Spree talk will include a live programming exercise that everyone can join in on.

See You at SpreeConf!

Here are a few closing words from Sean about why he is excited for Spree Conf…“Conferences are all about connecting with people. We have a great online community but sometimes there is no substitute for meeting in person. There are people I’ve been working with from all over the world for several years now. It’s always fun to see them in person. Each year there are also new people in the online community that show up for the in-person conference. It’s great to meet the people behind the code.”

Don’t miss out on your chance to meet the creators of Spree and to connect with the Spree community. Tickets are selling fast. Less than 5 weeks to go!

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Sandi Metz

Last Tuesday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Gregor MacDougall who will be speaking about his experience migrating a large scale PHP based e-commerce store to the Spree platform at SpreeConf DC May 20th - 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to Sandi Metz. Sandi is a software architect, programmer, and author and will be speaking at SpreeConf about practical guidelines for choosing what to test and how to test it.

Sandi Metz

Sandi Metz

Software Architect, Programmer, and Author
Sandi was a long-time software architect at Duke University, for whom she still consults. She has been solving real problems in large, long-lived object-oriented applications for more than twenty years. She is also the author of the book Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby: An Agile Primer.

Practical Guidelines for Testing

Tests are supposed to save us money. How is it, then, that many times they become millstones around our necks, gradually morphing into fragile, breakable things that raise the cost of change? We write too many tests and we test the wrong kinds of things. Sandi’s SpreeConf talk will strip away the veil and offer simple, practical guidelines for choosing what to test and how to test it. Finding the right testing balance isn’t magic, it’s a magic trick; learn the secret of writing stable tests that protect your application at the lowest possible cost.

Getting to Know Sandi

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

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

I’m excited about the increasing interest of the Ruby/Rails community in object-oriented design (OOD). OOD is both a passion and a bias of mine, and I see a lot of applications that have grown to where they can reap its benefits. We’re in the midst of a massive integration where the ideas of the masters of OOD are being stirred in a pot with the needs of programmers to get real product out the door; we’ll all benefit from what comes from this mix.

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

I’ve agreed to create a video series for Practical Object Oriented Design in Ruby. I’m currently at the ‘watching video creation tutorials’ stage so it will be a few months before they appear, but I’m learning something new and pondering object-oriented design. This is a treat for me and with luck, will be useful for others.

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

I hope that SpreeConf attendees walk away with an understanding that testing is easy. And, experts are no different than you—they just know a few more tricks.

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

I’m intrigued by the Go language but haven’t found time to more than be interested. I’m reading Thinking Fast and Slow, which outlines how we think and is, well, thought provoking. I’ve also been enjoying Implementing Domain Driving Design, an informative and approachable exposition of DDD.

Come meet Sandi and hear her talk about practical guidelines for choosing what to test and how to test it at SpreeConf DC, May 20th - 21st.

Free Custom Stickers for SpreeConf Registrants Courtesy of Sticker Mule!

We are really excited to announce FREE custom stickers courtesy of Sticker Mule for all SpreeConf registrants who sign up and submit their artwork by April 26th. Sticker Mule is a long time Spree user and big supporter of the design community. They help thousands of people, startups, bloggers, artists and companies order awesome custom stickers that are printed beautifully and ship fast. Check out some of their amazing designs in their online gallery.

As part of the free custom sticker giveaway Spree is also offering a $75 discount to attend SpreeConf. Just enter promo code “STICKERMULE” when registering at spreeconf.com. The two-day conference takes place May 20th - 21st in Washington, DC and includes a full day of training on Spree and Ruby on Rails and presentations from e-commerce and Ruby experts including Sandi Metz, Adil Wali, and Eric Koester.

Once you have registered for SpreeConf you can take advantage of the free custom sticker offer by emailing your artwork to lynne@spreecommerce.com. Please provide either vector artwork (.ai / .eps) or the highest resolution bitmapped image (.jpg, .png, .psd) you have available.

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Gregor MacDougall

Last Thursday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Peter Berkenbosch who will be discussing how to thoroughly test your Spree store at SpreeConf DC May 20th - 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to Gregor MacDougall. Gregor is a Senior Software Developer at FreeRunnning Technologies and will be speaking at SpreeConf with his colleague Clarke Brundson about his experience migrating a large scale PHP based e-commerce store to Spree. Learn more about Clarke in a future blog post.

Gregor MacDougall

Gregor MacDougall

Senior Software Developer
FreeRunning Technologies

Gregor is a software developer with over 15 years of experience. He focuses on a large variety of web applications built on top of open source software using agile methodologies. Gregor’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 Gregor

We asked Gregor 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?

I’m excited by the improvements being made in software craftsmanship, specifically, writing less code, better code, and more reliable code. I support the effort being made to continually improve the way that we write code through both changes to our processes and our tools. I’m proud of the fact that I write better code today than I did in the past, and you should be too!

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

I’ve been working on a lot of Spree related projects lately, including some extensions that others might find useful:

  • spree-license-key - Automatically sends out a software license key to a user once their payment is captured, so that they can activate the software.
  • spree-multi-domain - Enables users to run multiple spree sites off of a single instance. I’ve been focused on improvements to currency selection, shipping methods, and the payment methods are available for a specific store
  • spree-custom-store-email - Allows for customized e-mails to be sent for a specific store (from spree-multi-domain). We’ll be working on something similar for product specific e-mails in the near future.
  • spree-pre-order - Provides the ability to create multiple payments for a single shipment. The first is a deposit which is automatically captured on purchase and the second is a payment to complete the order once the item is ready to ship. It’s tied to a specific payment processor right now, but we’re looking to improve that in the future as well.

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

I’m most looking forward to meeting the members of the Spree core team, and talking with them about the future direction of the project. We have a few different projects using Spree, including a very large project which will support 60+ stores moving forward. We have a small wishlist of things which would be helpful to include in the core Spree application for a store this size. We also have ideas for improvements to the extension system. I’m also looking forward to meeting other developers maintaining large stores to talk about styling sites, customizing Spree, and the business side of things. Continual improvement isn’t just something we apply to our code!

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

I want SpreeConf attendees to remember that you can make large changes in large projects by doing things in small steps. It can be difficult to make that choice since initially it may seem easier to bite the bullet and do everything at once. However, an unfortunate situation often arises.

You have the old system (which is technically awful, but responsible for making money), and the new system (which is technically good, but running only for developers). The new system doesn’t support all of the features for the old system, so you can’t roll out the new system to everyone. A money making opportunity arises, that requires features only supported by the old system, and some new custom functionality. The company decides that it needs to make those changes, so they get made to the old system. Now, you’re trying to hit a different target for the new system. Because the old system is responsible for making all the money, it gets priority, and the new system gets pushed back.

If you’ve ever been in this situation, you know how frustrating it can be, and how challenging it can be to launch the new system. I want people to remember to think hard about making the decision to throw out old code, and replace it with better code. Your intentions are always in the right place, but the uncertainty involved with such a drastic change can mean that all of your efforts will be put into a project which will never get finished, never be rolled out to production, and never make money. It’s a situation that you should always pause, think twice about, and consult with your colleagues regarding the risks and rewards. Take some time and see if you can break it down into smaller chunks, so that you, and your team can be productive.

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

We’re big vim users and fans of Tim Pope a man who has improved my productivity greatly. On the technology front, I love RSpec (for Ruby testing) and Gerrit as a code review tool. For books, I enjoyed reading Succeeding with Agile by Mike Cohn, Working Effectively with Legacy Code by Michael Feathers, Managing Software Debt by Chris Sterling, and Continuous Delivery by Jez Humble and David Farley. For companies, I can only follow the self promotion route and talk about my current place of employment FreeRunning Technologies, a bunch of nerds who write solid code, and solve tough problems for a reasonable price. What more could you need!

Come meet Gregor and hear his talk about migrating a large scale PHP based e-commerce store to Spree at SpreeConf DC, May 20th - 21st.

Braintree Sponsors SpreeConf DC, May 20th - 21st

We’re really excited to announce Braintree, the fastest growing payments platform for online and mobile commerce, as the happy hour sponsor for SpreeConf DC. SpreeConf is a two-day event taking place May 20th - 21st at the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC and features training on Spree as well as presentations from thought leaders in the e-commerce and Ruby communities. The Braintree happy hour takes place the first evening of the conference on May 20th at Policy, one of the most popular restaurants and lounges in DC’s vibrant U Street neighborhood.

Meet the Spree Community

In addition to the happy hour, we’ve built several other networking opportunities into the SpreeConf schedule to allow you to meet some of the really cool and interesting people that are part of the Spree community. You’ll have a chance to meet the Spree core team and discuss and debate the future direction of the Spree platform. SpreeConf is also a great opportunity to meet other Spree developers from around the world and compare notes. And of course, Spree isn’t just for developers. We have plenty of founders and store owners that come to our conferences as well. Whether you’re a startup or an established online business, there will be other business owners for you to network with and learn from.

Conference tickets are selling fast so make sure to secure your spot at SpreeConf DC before we’re sold out.

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Peter Berkenbosch

Last Thursday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Eric Koester who will be discussing how to capitalize on the micro-prenuer revolution at SpreeConf DC May 20th - 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to Peter Berkenbosch. Peter is the owner of PeRoICT Solutions and will be speaking at SpreeConf about how to thoroughly test your Spree store.

Peter Berkenbosch

Peter Berkenbosch

Owner of PeRoICT Solutions
Peter is an early Spree adopter. He launched his first Spree Commerce store for a client back in 2008 and since then has written a number of Spree extensions. Static Content is the first and most popular Spree extension that Peter wrote. It is now an official Spree extension. Peter is also the owner of PeRo ICT Solutions, an agile web-development company that focuses on Spree implementation and development. In 2012, Peter launched SpreeCasts, a website where he educates developers about Spree through screencasts.

Peter’s SpreeConf talk will focus on the details of testing your Spree store. He will discuss how to test the store integration and create adjustments using a test driven style. Peter will also provide an in-depth look at how to test a real store with code samples.

Getting to Know Peter

We asked Peter 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?

I really like the fact that Ruby on Rails is now considered more “Enterprisy” than before. The Rails framework is really starting to gain more attention in the traditional corporate world.

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

I’m currently building a webshop for a home couture store in Amsterdam. It’s really a great shop with a lot of products and a not so average design. I’m hoping to extract a few Spree extensions from it in the near future. It might even show up in my talk.

I’m also planning on recording more SpreeCasts. The episodes will be part of a larger series that focuses on building a webshop from scratch.

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

I’m really looking forward to meeting all the “Spreeple” again. The community around Spree is really wonderful and it’s always a pleasure to see everyone in person.

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

I would love for my talk to provide some understanding about how developers can approach building a webshop using testable modular parts without pressing F5 all the time.

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

I really like NewsBlur as a replacement to Google reader (Google Reader will be shutting down July 1st). Of course, I would like to mention spreecasts.org as well. More content is planned for the site and will be published in the coming weeks.

Come meet Peter and hear his talk about how to thoroughly test your Spree store at SpreeConf DC, May 20th - 21st.

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Eric Koester

On Tuesday we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Chris Mar who will be discussing the new split shipments functionality that’s coming in Spree 2.0 at SpreeConf DC May 20th - 21st in Washington, DC. Today we’d like to introduce you to Eric Koester. Eric is the Founder of Zaarly and will be speaking at SpreeConf about capitalizing on the micro-prenuer revolution.

Eric Koester

Eric Koester

Founder at Zaarly
Eric Koester is a serial entrepreneur and most recently the founder of Zaarly, a leading online marketplace to discover and work with talented local service providers. Eric also serves on the board of directors of Startup Weekend and volunteers his time working with Steve Blank and others to teach and grow the NEXT entrepreneurial curriculum in more than 100 communities around the world in 2013. Eric is a well known writer and author, including the books Green Entrepreneur Handbook and What Every Engineer Should Know About Starting a High-Tech Business Venture, and was named one of the 40 Under 40 for Washington, DC in 2011 and the Tech Hire of the Year in 2010.

Capitalizing on the Micro-preneur Revolution

Entrepreneurship is hot. Perhaps it is the down economy, the popularization of the rich and famous rags to riches entrepreneurs, or maybe just a sense of wanting to “do your own thing”, but estimates predict that there are over 40 million members of the “freelance economy” - independent workers, contractors, small business owners or part-time workers. And an amazing opportunity has arisen as new companies rush to serve this new entrepreneurial class - from helping with website creation to accounting to billing to marketing - a new set of customers is coming online in need of help.

The team behind Zaarly spent months speaking with local entrepreneurs and small business owners to build a product to serve them better. The result was Storefronts, which were released in September 2012 as a tool for individuals, freelancers and small business owners to sell their services online. This exercise of speaking to this new class of entrepreneurs and hearing their thoughts about their lives, their businesses and the services they are using in their lives offered some fascinating insights into today’s new entrepreneurs. Eric will be speaking at SpreeConf about his learnings on what today’s entrepreneurs want and need as we build new tools to power this growing ecosystem.

Getting to Know Eric

We asked Eric to give us his thoughts on the latest happenings in the small business and entrepreneur communities and some of the interesting projects he’s working on right now.

What trends are most exciting to you right now?

The “Entrepreneur Next Door” trend is a really interesting one. What the 2008 financial crisis did was kick start many more individuals to go out and start their own thing - an Amazon or Etsy shop, a decorating company, a lawn care business, a catering company or any one of numerous “skill-based” businesses out there. And the result is that you’re seeing companies like Square, Zaarly, Etsy, Uber and dozens more emerge to support them. I anticipate seeing a real surge in local businesses with more and more consumers shunning the big-box stores to support local entrepreneurs.

The “Information Democratization” movement is something else I see really causing disruption. Any industry that runs on information asymmetry (with someone having information and someone else not), are ripe to be disrupted. That may mean pricing transparency in collectibles (eBay), busy-times for taxi rides (Uber), financial advising (Wealthfront) or dozens and dozens of more examples. I even love the Data.gov/Open Data initiative spearheaded by Todd Park - helping unlock all this valuable information for the general public. That may help create some really powerful tools for the general public. The term Big Data is overplayed, but the reality is that if done well we can start to put data to work for us to lead more efficient lives - which comes as we democratize information.

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

I’ve become really interested in what has happened to small business owners since the 2008 financial crisis. What many people aren’t talking about are the lingering effects of that crisis and the resulting regulations on small business banking and lending. Today, there is $100B less in loans being given out by banks to small business owners - a drop in nearly 20%. So as a result, I’ve teamed up with some people in the SBA’s Office of Advocacy to get out and start talking to hundreds of business owners to learn how they are dealing with this and what they need to succeed. If people know of small business owners (not startups, but businesses that are more traditional - not a fit for VC or angel funding), then I’d love to talk to them.

I testified twice before Congress about the JOBS Act - and was incredibly excited to see it pass. But now the rules are tied up at the Securities and Exchange Commission. This means that new rules around Crowdfunding and permitting advertising of fundraising are still on hold. It’s something we can’t forget and I’m continuing to find ways to put pressure on the SEC to move ahead.

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

Haha…to be totally honest, I’m most looking forward to people letting their hair down afterwards at the after-party at Lost Society.

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

It’s never been easier to “support your local economy”. If we would support our local small businesses and entrepreneurs the way that we support our NFL, MLB and NBA teams, we’d really be able to make a huge difference in our hometowns.

80% plus percent of people say they’d love to buy local, but less than a third actually do. This new micro-preneur revolution changes that - letting you support a business owner on a platform like Uber, a craftswoman on Etsy, a craftsman on CustomMade, a developer on Elance or a baker on Zaarly.

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

My wife picked up the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and “strongly encouraged” me to read it. I’m glad she did as it’s something everyone that cares about your industry should read - she nails it and offers some learnings that apply to a diverse thinking that men and women alike should read.

Come meet Eric and hear his talk about Capitalizing on the Micro-prenuer Revolution at SpreeConf DC, May 20th – 21st. The $199 early bird rate ends March 31st so register now and save!

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Chris Mar

Last week we introduced you to SpreeConf speaker, Nick Gauthier who will be discussing how to put Rails 4 into Action at SpreeConf DC May 20th - 21st in Washington, DC. This week we’d like to introduce you to Chris Mar. Chris is one of the core team members at Spree and will be speaking at SpreeConf about the new split shipments functionality that’s coming in Spree 2.0.

Chris Mar

Chris Mar

Senior Software Engineer at Spree Commerce
Chris joined Spree Commerce as employee #1 and is a member of the Spree Core team. He joined Spree Commerce to be part of the vibrant Spree community and to contribute to making e-commerce fun and easy. He enjoys developing with Ruby and Objective-C. A startup guy at heart, he supports the Washington DC tech scene. He spends his free time playing with legos, snowboarding out west, shooting photos around the world and home brewing beer.

Fun with Shipments

One of the exciting new features that will be introduced in Spree 2.0 is split shipments. The Spree team has been hard at work the last couple of months developing sophisticated shipping and warehouse logic that will enable multiple shipment functionality for e-commerce store owners. Chris Mar has been leading the charge and will talk at SpreeConf about the details of the split shipments design and will discuss how you can customize the new split_shipments functionality to meet your store’s needs.

Getting to Know Chris

We asked Chris 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?

There is an object oriented renaissance in the Ruby on Rails community. People are moving away from the skinny controller/fat model pattern and extracting logic into objects. I love the testability of these objects and the clarity they can provide.

I hope this trend continues. On new features for Spree 2.0, I’ve been trying to extract logic into smaller objects and reduce the size of the God objects. Some of them are more than 600 lines!

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

I’ve been doing a lot of work on the way Spree builds shipments. Many stores have more than one warehouse or shipping rules based on size and weight. We are trying to create a customizable system to support small home based businesses all the way up to worldwide enterprises.

I’ll be covering the shipping changes in my talk at SpreeConf DC. I’ll be diving deep so developers will understand how to customize for their needs. Expect lots of great object diagrams and real world examples.

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

Spree was born in Washington, DC. It has a vibrant tech community. The city is wonderful to visit that time of year. There will be a lot of energy at the conference.

I’m really happy Adil Wali is coming back to SpreeConf. His talk was the highlight of last year’s SpreeConf in Dublin. His deep e-commerce experience is unmatched. Everyone will learn something new at his talk.

I expect this to be the largest SpreeConf yet. We are expecting developers from all over the world. It will be a great time to meet other members of the community and discuss the future of our favorite e-commerce project.

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

Spree is an important project and depends on community support. Thousands of stores are taking orders and making money every day. We are working hard to improve Spree while maintaining our tradition of flexibility. We can all work on this together.

We have almost 400 contributors on the project. This is a group effort. I hope everyone leaves energized and ready to roll up their sleeves and ready to dive into the project.

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

My favorite book from the past year is Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby by Sandi Metz. It distinguishes itself from most Ruby books which focus on Rails. We’ve relied on the MVC pattern for so long; we’ve forgotten our object oriented roots. You may know the concepts but she makes you see Ruby from an enlightened perspective.

Bonus! Sandi will be at SpreeConf DC. I recommend you read her book before the conference. Her talks are meticulous and packed full of great information.

Come meet Chris and hear his talk about Fun with Shipments at SpreeConf DC, May 20th - 21st. The $199 early bird rate ends March 31st so register now and save!

Get to Know SpreeConf DC Speaker: Nick Gauthier

We are excited about our awesome lineup of speakers for SpreeConf DC taking place May 20th - 21st at the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC. To spread our enthusiasm, we are starting a new series called “Get To Know Our Speakers.” We’re kicking off the series today with SpreeConf speaker Nick Gauthier.

Nick Gauthier

Nick Gauthier

Co-Founder at Exobrain & B’More Awesome
Nick Gauthier is a web freelancer, consultant, and trainer specializing in Ruby on Rails and JavaScript. His experience spans from SQL to Sass and he always tests, all the time. He wrote Recipes with Backbone with Chris Strom and recently released his eBook Mobile Web Patterns with Backbone.js. Aside from freelancing Nick runs B’More Awesome, a Baltimore-based web training organization, and he also co-founded Exobrain, an online mind-mapping tool.

Rails 4 in Action

Nick will be speaking at SpreeConf DC about some of the ways he’s used the new features in Rails 4 to build applications efficiently with the latest web technology. Nick explains that Rails 4 introduces a bunch of really cool, new features: Multithreading and ActionController::Live combine to provide clients with Server-Sent Events for real-time activity feeds. Turbolinks has blasted application performance way beyond what we’re used to seeing. And, changes to how rails applications cache information has made caching simpler and easier to use.

Getting to Know Nick

We asked Nick 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.

1) What trends are most exciting to you right now?
This may come as a surprise, but I’m currently very excited about design. It’s great to see so many new products being released with a focus on user interaction and not just a barrage of features. It’s really added a new challenge for web developers to meet the design goals of an application, because it’s generally a hybrid of front and back-end coding, and it’s always unique and interesting.

I’m glad Rails is doing such a great job supporting this new style with a two pronged attack of increased performance (caching and turbolinks/pjax) and excellent functionality as an api for client-side code. Front-end libraries like Backbone.js and Ember.js pick up where Rails leaves off when really custom interactions need to take place.

2) Any interesting projects you’re working on that others may be interested in?

Always! I’m currently working on Exobrain, which as mentioned earlier is a simple and focused mind-mapping application. I’m also working on a new web-based presentation application, but it doesn’t even have a name or url yet so I can’t share it :-(.

As part of working on client projects, I’m working on an easier and faster way of wireframing UX and transitioning to an implemented application with a gem called throwup (still in its early stages). As a support for the presentation application, I’ve been working in a lot of real-time systems, and part of that is a gem called tubesock (also in its early stages). Tubesock makes it easy to use websockets in Rails, and I wrote about it recently.

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

First and foremost, I’m looking forward to all the familiar faces from last year’s SpreeConf (and of course all the new faces!). I’m also always excited to see people in the Ruby on Rails community doing Real Stuff™, serving real users with real products, so I like to hear from people using Rails and Spree to support their business.

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

I hope they remember to always push the boundaries of current technology and to try to accomplish what has yet to be done, even if there isn’t a gem for it!

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

I’m currently reading The Design of Design by Frederick P. Brooks Jr., which is a book about the process of designing complex systems. Frederick Brooks has been designing complex architecture (computers, buildings, helicopters, and more) about 12 times longer than I have, so I’m learning a lot.

Come meet Nick and hear his talk on Rails 4 in Action at SpreeConf DC, May 20th - 21st. The $199 early bird rate ends March 31st so register now and save!

Ten Reasons Why You Can't Afford to Miss SpreeConf

We’re really excited about SpreeConf DC and hope you are too. The two-day event takes place May 20th - 21st at the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC and features training on Spree as well as presentations from thought leaders in the e-commerce and Ruby community. This will be our third conference and if you haven’t come to one yet, we’ve put together ten great reasons why you can’t afford to miss SpreeConf DC.

#1 Learn About Spree 2.0

SpreeConf is a chance to learn more about the new and exciting features that have been added to Spree. This year’s conference includes several talks focused on the new functionality included in Spree 2.0. The Spree team has been hard at work improving split shipments and adding new international features. Come and talk to the Spree team in person to find out how you can take advantage of the latest and greatest advancements in Spree.

#2 Stay On Top of E-Commerce Trends

E-commerce is one of the fastest growing industries in the global economy right now. Many e-commerce companies fail because they can’t execute quickly enough to beat their competition. SpreeConf speaker, Adil Wali, will share the lessons he learned about scaling multiple e-commerce businesses, including ModCloth, one of the fastest growing companies in the fashion industry. We’ll also hear from Eric Koester, founder at Zaarly, about how to capitalize on the micro-prenuer revolution by serving this class of “freelance entreprenuers” who are taking advantage of platforms such as Airbnb, Etsy, Kickstarter, and of course Zaarly.

#3 Learn About Other Technologies

SpreeConf obviously has a strong empahsis on e-commerce but it is also a chance to learn about the other important technologies that enable Spree (and the rest of the Web). For instance, this year we have a great talk from Nick Gauthier about how to put Rails 4 into action for your e-commerce application and an awesome session from Sandi Metz covering practical guidelines for choosing what to test and how to test it.

#4 Meet the Team Behind Spree

This is an opportunity to meet the creator of Spree as well as the core team that maintains the project. If you are either currently using or contemplating using Spree for a project, you can’t afford to miss out on the chance to talk to the people that power the technology! Are you having difficulties with something in Spree? Do you have a feature request? Now’s your chance to tell us in person.

#5 Meet Fellow Spree Developers

In addtion to meeting the core team, the conference is a great opportunity to meet fellow developers in the community. You’ll be networking with other developers around the world who are also working on Spree projects and have the chance to compare notes. Previous SpreeConf attendees have included developers from Gucci, Chipotle and Blue Nile as well as various startups and developer shops.

#6 Meet Fellow Store Owners and Founders

SpreeConf isn’t just for developers. We have plenty of founders and store owners that come to our conferences as well. Whether you’re a startup or an established online business, there will be other business owners for you to network with and learn from. Previous founders and owners who’ve attended SpreeConf include Makerbot, Birchbox, Sticker Mule and Github.

#7 Help Shape the Future Direction of Spree

SpreeConf is also a chance to discuss and debate the future direction of Spree. We use the conference as a chance to communicate our latest thinking about where the project is headed but it’s also an opportunity for you to lend your voice to the discussion.

#8 Decide Whether Spree is Right for You

If you’re a developer or store owner considering Spree, this is the perfect opportunity to evaluate the technology and our community up close. We have plenty of developers and owners who come to our conference that are currently using Magento or other e-commerce solutions. If you’re considering learning a new technology or making a big investment in a new e-commerce platform, you owe it to yourself to check Spree out up close and personal.

#9 Find a New Job or Customer

One of the main reasons to go to any technical conference is to look for a new job or to get new customers. SpreeConf is a great opportunity to hire someone onto your technical team or to find customers looking for professional services.

#10 Meet Interesting People and Be Inspired

Finally, conferences are all about the people. Whether your motivation is to learn or to conduct business, SpreeConf is the perfect opportunity to shake things up and travel somewhere new to meet some really cool and interesting people. We have a great online community but sometimes there is no substitute for meeting in person. When you get a large number of smart people together in one place it usually results in suprising and interesting benefits and amazing creativity. We’ve built lots of networking opportunities into the schedule including lightning talks, a happy hour, and a SpreeConf after party.

SpreeConf DC Speaker Lineup Announced

We are proud to announce the speaker lineup for SpreeConf DC taking place May 20th -21st at the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC. The two-day event, sponsored by Contegix, features training on Spree as well as presentations from e-commerce and Ruby on Rails thought leaders. Some of our speakers include:

Adil Wali

Adil Wali
Lessons from the Field: Scaling an eCommerce Business
Adil is a passionate entrepreneur and product visionary who loves the startup and high growth environment. He is a founder at Crowd Interactive and ModCloth and is currently the CEO at Kemists. Adil cares tremendously about user experience, product vision, and building ridiculously good teams.

Sandi Metz

Sandi Metz
Magic Tricks of Testing
Sandi was a long-time software architect at Duke University, for whom she still consults. She has been solving real problems in large, long-lived object-oriented applications for more than twenty years. She is also the author of the book Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby: An Agile Primer.

Eric Koester

Eric Koester
Capitalizing on the Micro-preneur Revolution
Eric is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of Zaarly, a leading online marketplace to discover and work with talented local service providers. Eric is also the author of several books including the Green Entrepreneur Handbook and What Every Engineer Should Know About Starting a High-Tech Business Venture.

Nick Gauthier

Nick Gauthier
Rails 4 In Action
Nick is a web freelancer focusing on Ruby on Rails and JavaScript. He co-authored Recipes with Backbone with Chris Strom and also wrote Mobile Web Patterns with Backbone.js. Nick runs B’More Awesome, a Baltimore-based web training organization, and Exobrain, an online mind-mapping tool.

Sean Schofield

Sean Schofield
Spree 2.0 and Beyond
Sean is the creator and CEO of Spree Commerce. He is an experienced programmer and entrepreneur and has over a decade of experience working with open source in both Ruby and Java. Sean is a member of the Apache Software Foundation as well as a committer on several popular Apache projects including Struts.

Brian Quinn

Brian Quinn
Introducing the Spree Integrator
Brian is an early contributor to Spree and was one of the first core team members. He’s been happily hacking on Spree for fun and profit since 2008 and is fanatical about all things open source. Brian officially came on board as the Spree CTO in May 2011.

See the full list of speakers and session topics at spreeconf.com.

Early Bird Promotion

We’re offering a special $199 early bird rate through March 31st. After March 31st the conference registration fee increases to $299. Our last U.S. SpreeConf in New York sold out quickly so act now and secure your spot at this amazing conference!

Register Now for SpreeConf 2013

SpreeConf DC Registration Opens Today - Special Early Bird Rate

We’re excited to announce that registration for SpreeConf DC starts today. The conference will be held May 20th to 21st in Washington, DC. Keeping with tradition we’ve selected a unique venue for the conference, the Studio Theatre, Washington, DC’s premier location for contemporary theater. The conference hotel is located just a few blocks from the Studio Theatre and provides easy access to the National Mall and the White House.

The two day event includes:

  • A full day of training on Spree, Rails, and other topics
  • A second day of speakers from the e-commerce and Ruby space
  • Coffee, snacks, and lunch provided both days
  • Conference t-shirt
  • A board game night to welcome you to DC and meet fellow attendees
  • A happy hour and after party with the Spree team and conference speakers

Special Early Bird Price

We’re offering a special discount for folks who book their tickets early. The early bird conference registration rate is only $199. That’s a 30% discount off the regular ticket price of $299. SpreeConf NYC sold out quickly so make sure to get your tickets early. The early bird rate expires March 31st.

Full Speaker List and Talks to be Announced Shortly

We’re going to have another great lineup of excellent speakers from both inside and outside of the Spree Community. There will be talks geared towards both developers and store owners. Follow us on Twitter so you can be the first to know when the full line-up of speakers has been announced.

SpreeConf Dublin Recap

Now that we’re back and the jet lag is wearing off it’s time to do a proper wrap up of SpreeConf Dublin 2012. At our first conference in NYC we were suprised to see so many people from Europe show up and decided to host another one a little closer to home for our European users. Since Brian Quinn already lives in Ireland we decided to turn the tables and bring the conference to his native land!

What Went Right

  • Country - There is a pretty cool Ruby scene going on in Ireland and thanks to their incredible hospitality, I suspect there will be more events like this happening in Ireland in the future.
  • City - Great city that was really easy to get around in. Many people brought their spouses, children, etc. and they all had a good time while we were at the conference.
  • Venue - It was much easier having our second conference in a venue that is used to hosting conferences on a regular basis. Everyone seemed to enjoy the unique venue as well.
  • Speakers - We had another strong group of speakers at this conference. I thought the talks were even stronger than our last conference.
  • Pacing - The frequency and duration of breaks was optimized after our first conference. The schedule for this second conference was much better.
  • Variety of Talks - Just like our first conference, we included a variety of talks and included some highly engaging non-technical talks that everyone really enjoyed.
  • Food - The food was served on time and was actually pretty tasty. I’ve never had soup at a conference before and I was surprised we were able to get decent vegetarian options in Ireland.
  • Hotel - The hotel location was super convenient to sight seeing and restaurant options in Dublin. While it was not close to the conference facility it was possible to walk to the conference or take the free Klarna bus.
  • Lightning Talks - The lightning talks turned out to be much better than the hackathon we attempted at the last conference.
  • People - Like any good conference, the highlight was the awesome people who turned out for it. So many great people doing really interesting things with either Spree specifically or Ruby/JS in general.

What Went Wrong

Honestly, the conference went off pretty much without a hitch. I suppose if we tried really hard to come up with a list of “problems” we could name a few.

  • Screen Height - The screen in the front of the room was way too low and the bottom portion of the slides were hard to see for those sitting in the back. This was, however, somewhat mitigated by the screens on the sides of the room.
  • Ambient Noise - The chairs were super squeaky (but comfortable) and the door in the back of the room was extremely loud when opening and closing. On the first day there was also the occasional banging noise coming from the brewery complex. It was noticeable whenever the speaker was taking a long pause and only seemed to effect a few of the training sessions.
  • No Recording - We knew going into the conference that there would be no recording of the talks so this didn’t really come as a surprise. There is quite a bit of logistics (and money) involved in getting this done properly. We are likely to record all of the talks for the next conference if there is sufficient interest (now that we have a little more experience hosting a successful conference for our in-person guests.)

The Next Conference

There will definitely be more SpreeConfs! The second conference really built on the first one and we got a lot of great feedback from our guests. The next conference will most likely be back in the USA. We haven’t decided on a date or location but we’re strongly considering the Bay Area (since we haven’t been to the West Coast yet) as well as Washington DC (since that is where our company is located.) Suggestions and feedback are welcome!

The Slides

The speakers have made their slides available online and they’re available to everyone. Enjoy!

Day 1

Chris Mar - Build, Customize, Sell

Gregg Pollack - A Sip of CoffeeScript

M Scott Ford - Testing Spree Stores and Extensions

Nick Gauthier - Intro to Backbone.js

Day 2

Sean Schofield - The Spree Vision

Brian Quinn - Using Backbone JS with Spree

Erik Michaels-Ober - Cover your Code!

Ryan Bigg - How to be a Good Open Source Citizen

Daniel Honig - Enterprise Spree - Using Spree to build solutions for one of America’s largest brands

Adil Wali: Lessons from the Field: Scaling an eCommerce Business

Paul Campbell: Not available

Yehuda Katz: Eradicating Cruft

Advance ticket sales for SpreeConf Europe

At the beginning of the year we held our first ever SpreeConf in NYC. The conference was a huge success and we announced our plans to hold our first SpreeConf Europe on August 22-23 in Dublin, Ireland.

Today we’re pleased to announce the details of the conference including a full schedule of awesome speakers. In keeping with our tradition of holding the conference in unique venues, this conference will be held in the very awesome Guinness Storehouse. The official conference hotel is conveniently located in the city center with easy access to restaurants and tourists attractions. There is also free transportation between the hotel and conference thanks to our friends at Klarna.

Great Value

Ticket prices are only €100 and include two full days of conference activities including the following:

  • Full day of training on Spree, Rails, Backbone and Coffeescript
  • Free transportation to and from the conference hotel
  • Coffee and snacks throughout the conference
  • On-site lunch on the second day
  • Conference T-Shirt
  • Happy hour and lightning talks in the evening
  • Private tour of the Guinness Storehouse (w/free samples!)

We’re also working on scheduling an after party in the world famous Gravity Bar.

Special “First 50” Promotion

We also have a special deal for people who like to book early. Conference registration is only €50 for the first fifty registrants. That’s a 50% discount off an already reasonable price! Our last conference sold out quickly so act now and secure your spot at this amazing conference!

Welcome Contegix!

We’d also like to welcome Contegix as our primary sponsor for the conference. Contegix is a strategic cloud computing and managed hosting company and they are the preferred hosting company for several large-scale e-commerce deployments.

Best SpreeConf Ever

Last week we held our first ever SpreeConf over a two day period in NYC. This was an important step for our project since conferences provide great feedback and energy for any open source movement. The conference gave us a chance to interact with other Spree developers and store owners. We also had a fair number of people attending who were there to evaluate Spree for their next project.

What Went Right

We were extremely pleased with the how the conference turned out. Here are some of the highlights as we saw them:

  • Turnout - Lots of people showed up (complete sell out)
  • Duration - Two days for the conference was justified
  • Great location - Guests stayed extra days and brought their significant others
  • Dedication - People traveled from far away countries to attend
  • Engagement - Attendees seemed engaged throughout the two days of talks
  • Training - Lots of 1.0 stuff that went beyond the README
  • Speakers - Awesome lineup of speakers so not a huge surprise
  • Keynote - Nerds love MakerBot!
  • Hotel - Great rooms and nice bars. Close to the venue.
  • Hackathon - Cool location. Great turnout. SpreeConf whiskey!
  • SWAG - Cool t-shirts from You Design It and free copy of Rails 3 in Action!
  • Positivity - No haters. Everyone was really positive even when there were snags.

What Went Wrong

There were a few small problems. Most of the issues were related to our choice of venue which is not typically used for hosting conferences. While the venue had significant advantages (such as zero cost) for the next conference will be going with a location that has professional conference facilities.

  • Temperature - The second day in particular was way too hot
  • Lunch - The caterer messed up the timing and portions
  • Party - Due to issues with the landlord the party was cut short and there was a problem accessing the elevator

The Slides

We promised to make the slides available after the conference. We have invited all of speakers to put their slides online and now we have a nearly complete list of those presentations below.

Day 1

Jeff Squires - Introducing Spree 1.0

Josh Kalderimis - (coming soon)

Brian Quinn - Spree Themes with Deface

Chris Mar - The 3 P’s Preferences, Payments and Promotions

Day 2

Sean Schofield - The Spree Road Map

Ryan Bigg - Rails Engines Lessons Learned

Jeff Casimir - Metrics Driven Rails Performance

Brian Quinn - Spree’s Hidden Gems

Wynn Netherland - A Spree Themer’s Toolkit

Neil Capel - The Recommendation Conundrum

Ryan McGeary - Just In Time Inventory with Spree

Scott Chacon - The Open Source Business

Bre Pettis - (coming soon)

Announcing Our First SpreeConf

Today we’re pleased to announce our first ever SpreeConf to be held in New York City on February 15-16, 2012. This is a great opportunity to learn more about Spree and the other technologies that power it. We have a great lineup of speakers and a really incredible keynote speaker. There will also be a full day of training on Rails, jQuery, Coffee Script and Spree.

Conferences are the life blood of any open source project. They represent an invaluable opportunity for the developers and users of software to connect and help shape the future of the project. The conference will not be exclusively focused on Spree. Our goal was to do something that would be interesting for Spree users but also helpful to Rails developers in general. So there will be some general talks that may touch on Spree when applicable and there will be some Spree talks that will also introduce concepts that are applicable outside of Spree.

The price of the conference is only $99 and it includes a full day of training and a second day of talks. The space for training is limited so we encourage you to sign up now since we expect to fill up the training slots quickly. We’ve also made arrangements to get a special hotel rate with the Cooper Square Hotel which is located near the conference. For those traveling on a budget, you may be able to find something more affordable through our friends at Airbnb.

This project is maintained by a core team of developers and is freely available for commercial use under the terms of the New BSD License.

Spree, Spree Commerce and the Spree logo are all trademarks of Spree Commerce, Inc.