Goruco Videos

Jake Howerton

Into the Heart of Darkness: Rails Anti-Patterns


Everybody has hopefully heard the term “code rot”. This talk will be one part guided tour and one part expose on the phenomenon within Rails projects. Since Rails’ release in July 2004, it has served as a beacon of light for many developers, but there is a nasty underbelly to this story. With the growth of its popularity, these problems have become widespread enough to foster an entire ‘Rails Audit’ and ‘Rails Rescue’ microindustry. We have all been guilty of writing terrible code or making bad technical decisions at one point or another, but we need not be held hostage to or be ignorant of these issues.

This talk will:

  • explain some of the most common Rails anti-patterns
  • prove these things actually happen in the real world by showing code that I or others have actually written and pushed into production systems (method and class names may be changed to protect the innocent)
  • explain how to identify these issues within your code base
  • help you determine how bad (or good) your current situation is
  • introduce tools for ensuring they do not creep back in (cucumber, CI, etc)
  • show you how to measure their reduction and your progress back to the light


Jake Howerton is a developer from Brooklyn, NY. Jake has been a (relatively) active member of #nycrb and been working professionally with Ruby and Ruby on Rails projects since late 2005. Jake has served as the Chief Technologist of startup space Sunshine Suites, and is currently working to help scale infrastructure for TuneCore.com. Some might say that Jake has an unhealthy obsession with entrepreneurial pursuits, economic theory, and backpacks.