Another highlight of the time I spent at RubyConf 07 was hanging out with the Ruby Emacs crew. Interestingly enough, this included Matz himself, who regaled us with a great historical anecdote. When he was first starting out writing Ruby, he was coding the Emacs
ruby-mode.el for it at the same time. He expressed some frustration with modes for other languages like Python and Pascal in which the editor could not look at a line of code and figure out where it should be indented to, so he resolved that Ruby as a language should not fall into that particular trap. With that in mind he chose the end keyword as a block delimiter so that it would be easier to write an Emacs mode for.
All that to say, Emacs and Ruby have a history that's been interconnected since the beginning. Recently I've noticed it seems that things have fallen into a state of relative disrepair. At the very least the situation could use some improvement. So the night after my talk I gathered anyone who was interested in Emacs/Ruby integration for a discussion. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the crowd that gathered—for a while we even outnumbered the Werewolf players. We started to put together a plan for how the state of our tools could be improved.
First off was the simple idea that we should actually use the mailing list that's existed for so long to communicate. The emacs-ruby-dev mailing list sees a short flurry of traffic after every Rubyconf, but it's silent most of the year. But we've never gotten quite this many people gathered in the interest of working together, so I think this could very well go somewhere. I like the idea of forming a focused 'Strike Force' for getting this done. Publicising a strong group identity creates strong motivation to see the project succeed, as evidenced by the Ruby Hit Squad. The other big idea was to coordinate using the EmacsWiki. For a while we had a Basecamp project set up, but it quickly died. I think the lower barrier-to-entry of a wiki is worth the chaos that's often associated with it. It's especially true in this case because the EmacsWiki is already a prominent community establishment.
As for the actual tasks, a number of things were suggested:
ruby-electricmode. This could use some work and would probably be the best starting place since improvement here helps everyone.
Anyway, that's quite a lot of work. We talked about how to best get everyone involved, and it looks like tracking the project with git and using a rubinius-esque open commit bit would encourage participation. If this sounds like something you'd like to be involved in, please get on the mailing list and make yourself heard! Even if you don't code much elisp, there's still documentation, feature suggestions, testing, and more that you can help with. Watch this space as I'm sure to report on the project as it progresses.