I am the author of The Rails Way books and founder of Hashrocket. AMA

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”

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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. =(

  7. 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. :-\

  8. 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!

  9. 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?

  10. Obie, first off thanks for all you do in the ruby and rails community. Killer stuff. Bought your rails 4 way right when I could on leanpub. My question is were you think rails is heading. Heavy question I know. But all this hype about node.js/javascript. I keep seeing posts where people/companies are switching from Rails to Node. Thoughts?

  11. 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!

  12. 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

  13. Hi Obie!
    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.

  14. Hello Obie!

    This is a little late and I am not sure if you will see this, but what does it take to get into an apprenticeship program like the one at Hashrocket or Thoughtbot? I’m self taught developer that’s been at it for about a year. I have a rails app deployed, a simple javascript app deployed, and a blog (originally built in rails but in the process of a re-design and switching to jekyll.). I have done some front end work with the current company I am working for, and have introduced them to tools such as git and compass. I really enjoy programming and web development, and would like to make it my full time gig.

    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!

  15. 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.


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