RR 395: Ruby in the Forbidden Land with Nathan Ruehs

Episode 402 · January 15th, 2019 · 39 mins 31 secs

About this Episode



  • Dave Kimura
  • Charles Max Wood

Special Guest: Nathan Ruehs     

In this episode of Ruby Rogues, the panelists talk with Nathan Ruehs. Nathan is a programmer residing in the Milwaukee area. He started working for a large corporation right after college and is currently trying to explore newer methods to incorporate Ruby in his day to day work. The panelists and Nathan talk about ways to sneak Ruby into big companies, difficulties in working with legacy systems and more.


Show Notes:

0:00 - Charles introduces the panel and reminds listeners to check out DevRev.

0:30 – Advertisement: Sentry

1:27 - Nathan introduces himself by briefly describing his background and states that he is exploring ways to use Ruby in things that he’s working with.

1:50 - Charles asks Nathan about Ruby in general and techniques to use it in large organizations. He shares his own experience from his University days when most of the software had set stacks and it was difficult to deviate from them.

2:24 - Nathan agrees by saying that changes in bigger organizations are indeed hard, but he has had some amount of success in sneaking Ruby into side projects, automation and testing but not in official production code yet.

3:34 - Dave shares his story about his company undergoing a gradual change from being a heavy .NET shop to using Ruby in certain projects to finally getting acquired by Sage which had Ruby on Rails for the most part.

5:20 - Charles talks about the time at University when mostly everything was mainframe based, hard to replace and integrations were extremely difficult.

6:30 - Nathan says that they are using mainframe too and have no automated tests, no code refactoring and the company is trying to move off mainframe, but the process is quite complex.

7:40 - Charles asks about the duration required to make the transition to which Nathan answers that they are working on it for 3 years, but the progress is quite slow, and their goal is to do it by the year 2025.

8:37 - Dave discusses how companies try to move to efficient methodologies like agile from waterfall, but then get scared or don’t get expected results and fall back into the old comfortable way of doing things. Charles chips in saying that the flipside is that companies do hire people that make them aware of the dangers, security issues and lawsuits that could arise from working with ancient systems and code, not to mention the high costs involved in hiring people with those skills, so in the end it is a tradeoff. Nathan agrees while saying that they are trying to mitigate the high costs by adopting an outsourcing model.

10:50 - Charles asks Nathan where exactly he gets Ruby in the picture. Nathan answers in detail that he learnt Ruby in college, and in his current job, he started working on small automation projects. He tried different options and wrote some applications, generated reports and expanded into automation for customer setups as well. After that he moved on to building complicated automation tools.

14:15 – Dave talks about the need for automation and affirms that Ruby is a good choice for it.

15:40 – Charles says that he has written a fully blown Rails application to automate podcasts as well.

16:15 – Dave asks if Nathan uses Ruby for projects outside of work too. Nathan says that he has used it for things like automating the recording and uploading of a Bible study lecture and would like to start a Rails project to hone the skill.

17:55 - Nathan talks about how developers do not prefer to use code for everyday tasks that are not a part of the production code, so he writes apps for them to help automate those tasks.

18:40 – Advertisement - TripleByte – 1000$ signing bonus for listeners.

19:40 – Charles asks if Nathan uses Ruby for projects other than DevOps or automation. Nathan answers that he wants to build a Ruby on Rails app that would be a dashboard for customers.

20:24 – Charles shares experiences from his old job where they would deploy Ruby using their packaging system. Nathan explains how complex the process is on his local machine.

21:40 – Dave says that while the deployment procedure is complicated, it is done to not compromise on security. Charles talks about the reason being PR fallout and data breaching as well.

22:54 – Charles asks for how long people try incorporating Ruby for their own small projects at work before moving on to companies that actually use it fulltime. Nathan explains the challenges of moving to other jobs without having official Ruby experience.

24:40 – Dave says that the resources available to learn Ruby are plenty nowadays. Charles talks about the fact that companies do hire people with just basic Ruby experience as well. They discuss about the looking at positives about the current workplace, better benefits when working for large organizations, stability and that it finally depends on what an individual wants from a job.

29:23 – Charles asks Nathan if they are having trouble finding mainframe developers to which Nathan answers in affirmative while giving his own experience.

31:00 – Dave enquires about what happens to mainframes if there is a hardware problem. Nathan answers that it is difficult to solve while giving IBM’s example and states that migration is costly. Charles also echoes his opinion, that it is getting harder to replace mainframes.

32:50 – Nathan mentions that his work is available online on the website -www.nathan.ruehs.net.

33:00 – Picks!

38:15 – They conclude by saying that hopefully the podcast helped people in getting some ideas on working with Ruby and to follow what works better in general.

END – Advertisement – Cache Fly!




  • Safety glasses while working on wood projects.
  • Die Hard movie