Hi everyone, my name is Obie Fernandez. As stated in the title, I am author of The Rails 4 Way and it's predecessors, as well as other books such as The Lean Enterprise. I'm currently Co-founder and CTO of Lean Startup Machine, my third startup. I'm probably most well-known for founding Hashrocket, a web agency that specializes in Ruby on Rails and is infamous around the world. In the early years, our youthful arrogance, fast growth and hard-partying beach lifestyle were the talk of the community.
This year I turn 40 years old and mark 20 years working on software professionally. Was able to get to where I am today without a college degree too, while raising 2 (now 3) kids, and traveling the world.
[my personal homepage](http://obiefernandez.com)
[Lean Startup Machine](http://leanstartupmachine.com)
[The Rails 4 Way](http://leanpub.com/tr4w)
29 thoughts on “I am the author of The Rails Way books and founder of Hashrocket. AMA”
Do you have Mexican roots/ancestors ?
how did you start programming?
Wow, never knew your full story.
Just wanted to say thank you, you and your book helped me here in Brazil to move from rails 2 to rails 3 a couple years ago…
Didn’t even knew you also wrote the rails 4 way. I will definitely check it out.
What’s key when shifting from developer to entrepreneur ?
has traveling the world helped you become a better programmer?
I bought the Rails 4 way when you were writing it on Leanpub, its one of the books I must read in the near future.
Anyways, what tips can you give me to be a better developer?
Also what do you look for when hiring a Rails developer?
did you dropout of college, or did you just bypass college completely? if so, why?
Do you use any personal productivity technique? Such as GTD (Getting things done), you guys seems to be insanely productive (conferences, books, keeping up with recent tech trends 0_o, how do you do it?
how does your apprentice program work?
I’ve been a Rails developer for a few years and feel like my skills have plateaued. Sometimes my development process feels more like “brute force, keep trying things until it works” than elegant and methodical. I get humbled watching RailsCasts, feeling like I wouldn’t be able to build out my code in the same way.
Any suggestions on how to get better at debugging and Rails app architecture? Too often I find myself just dumping variables to the logs/views and thinking there must be a better way. I’d really love to get a better handle on OOP and refactoring because I often feel like my controllers/models are doing too much or are too tightly coupled to other components.
I’m looking forward to The Rails 4 Way and I’m happy to see that you guys lean towards the same rspec/haml/etc. camp as I do.
Any tips on getting a job at Hashrocket or somewhere like it (smaller awesome boutique development shop)?
What has been the most effective strategy to get investors ?
Throughout the 20 years you’ve worked on software professionally, what problems still continue to keep you up at night of solving more efficiently towards faster/easier development and deployment?
Having named Hashrocket as such, does it make you sad that hash rockets have gone the way of the dodo? Cuz it makes me sad. =(
Hey, hashrocket’s apprenticeship sounds interesting. Any advice in applying??
Obie, thanks for making time to answer our questions.
My question’s probably a tricky one, but I’ll toss it out there. . . .
I’ll be 30 in a little over a month and have been web-developing since the age of 15–mostly front-end stuff. I am a professional developer whose skills have grown disproportionately toward front-end development all but entirely to the exclusion of learning server-side development (and core object-oriented programming). I’m busting my ass trying to catch up, voraciously reading books and tutorials about and watching videos on Rails, Angular, and software-engineering principles, etc., and coding, coding, coding–often for four to six hours in addition to the eight hour I work for my primary job each day. Know that I’m not counting on having talent or innate ability at this stuff and believe that, when I succeed, it will be entirely through sheer effort and force of will. All of this seems to be working, but I have little confidence in my knowledge/ability, because it seems like the more I know, the less I know. (Know what I mean?)
What, if any, advice do you have for a person in my position? My goal is to become an AWESOME engineer and ultimately (though within the foreseeable future) a successful entrepreneur through my efforts.
Edit: I’m noticing that you’re getting different variations of this question. Sorry. :-\
Hey Obie, I just want to say that I really appreciate all that you do for the rails community through your books and networking. I will never forget getting the opportunity to chat with you at Mother’s Bistro for some awesome breakfast in Portland at RailsConf last May! It really stuck with my how you were so willing to reach out and just just chat about programming and life in general with my coworker and I. Hope to see you in Chicago in April!
What are the aspects of Ruby on Rails you’ve felt have stagnated to dramatically improve towards the framework being even better than it is today?
Being a reader of TR4W, is it things like better adherence to OO principles that decent_exposure and things active_record_serializers allow you to do or other things?
Seriously though, HashRocket inspired my company beyond belief. We still say “What would HashRocket do?” when discussing some projects.. lol
Thanks for making the web a better place!
Could you beat Steven Bristol in a fight?
I’ve noticed that I’m not the only person on here looking for answers about what life is like without a degree.
Pretend you’re 22 again, working a bullshit full time job in a warehouse and trying to become a programmer after work every night. Do you, Obie, go back to school for CS, or try to finish a few side projects and somehow get your foot in the door?
Ordering a paperback copy of tr4w now, thanks for doing the AMA
Common advice to developers that want to become awesome is to “keep on coding”. For programmers that want to contribute to open source, the often suggested approach is “find software or libraries that you use, and see if you can contribute”. For me, this is like a vicious cycle – in order to contribute to open source you need to start using open source software, and in order to do that you need to pick up a side project to begin with – and I’m always draw blanks when it comes to choosing side projects to pick! What side projects did you pick up when you were a growing programmer? What were your reasons for picking those projects? What would be you suggestions on where to look for side project inspiration? I’m on a 8 hour 5 days a week job – do cool companies allow you to get involved in their work if you are willing to work for free and contribute hours during off hours or weekends? How do I reach out to them? I’m constantly looking out for something to code.
Also, do you place any value on these bootcamps that keep popping up? They are expensive, and I would much rather get the apprenticeship if possible.
Your books are awesome btw!
Hashrockets are so two years ago. How do you deal with this?
coffee or tea?
What Rails version do you think will be the last i.e. the time when Rails become irrelevant?
Did you every consider “The Rails 3 Way” to be an .. awkwardly titled book?
Bought the Rails 4 way, great work as always by the way. I need to finish reading the entire thing.
How does one go about becoming a conference speaker and becoming a more influential member of the programming community at large?
I’m a Junior myself and my dream is to become a leading figure in a language and a well renowned conference speaker. I’m aware it’ll take quite a bit of time, and that’s what makes it so interesting to me. I love to learn and grow and this seems like a good goal to pursue.