I'm Speaking at RailsConf 2014!


When our tests fail all we get is output in a terminal. Testing is core to the culture of Ruby, and the tools are sophisticated, but something big is missing from the workflow. Namely, a powerful debugger.

Integrating Pry creates an interactive, enjoyable TDD workflow. In this talk, I’ll recount the somewhat unique development experience that made me a believer. I’ll demonstrate with Pry a responsive and immersive TDD cycle, taking a test to green before it exits its first run.


Best case scenario, the audience understands the value of making a debugger like Pry an integral part of their workflow rather than an afterthought. I want to show people how enjoyable an interactive TDD workflow can be. I want people to become fans and supporters of Pry.

I want to demonstrate with examples the pain of how most Rubyists TDD, which is mostly about being in the dark. I want to contrast that with a workflow that integrates Pry, which is about being immersed in the system while testing it and implementing it, and getting much faster feedback. I am considering demoing the TDD lifecycle in Smalltalk. Whether I do or not, I want to show how a debugger drives and informs the TDD process.


I am a TDD believer and have been practicing it for many years in various languages.

I don’t have much involvement in Pry other than being a fan. I have been promoting it on the Gaslight blog over the years. I Like Pry But…, Pryme Time.

I saw Conrad Irwin’s talk at Rails Conf in Portland and it was vey well received. I consider this follow up. An intermediate and practical application of Pry as part of a regular TDD workflow.

The unique development experience that I allude to in my abstract is that I was a professional Smalltalk developer for some years. Like many Rubyists, I’m skeptical of IDEs and I’m most productive with a terminal and VIM. But I also loved working in the Smalltalk environment, which is arguably the worlds most unforgiving IDE. That enjoyment had a lot to much do with an integrated, interactive debugging tool that drove that process. I’ve never encountered anything quite like it in any other language.


Joel Turnbull (joelbywan@gmail.com) Joel Turnbull is a Code Designer at Gaslight. He’s been a staple in the Cincinnati development community for over 10 years. This is his first presentation at a Rails Conf.

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