The New Ruby Central and How We Got Here
You may have seen the announcement in our latest news update, or heard word on the street, that the boards of Ruby Together and Ruby Central have combined under the umbrella of Ruby Central. It’s a fusion that felt like a long time coming, and one that will make things easier for members of both of our organizations, and for our teams too.
So, what happened to Ruby Together?
What even was Ruby Together?
Ruby Together started as a trade organization that paid developers to work on RubyGems, Bundler, and more, using funds from members. Members could be any person or company who uses Ruby, and the work they paid for was free for anyone to use. Over the past six years Ruby Together grew to take on more ambitious projects and give back continuously to the Ruby ecosystem. Here’s a little bit of our story…
Ruby Together was born out of necessity.
Back in the Ruby dark ages, everyone who worked on RubyGems.org was an unpaid volunteer. We were able to maintain this until… we weren’t. In 2013 RubyGems.org went down completely — and stayed down for multiple days — all because no one had the time to fix a potential security issue fast enough. When the security issue was discovered everyone on the team was balancing work obligations. We decided that whichever one of us was done with work first would be the one to apply the security patches. As it turned out, no one was able to fix the problem before the weekend. Unfortunately, someone independently discovered the security issue and used it to hack the RubyGems.org server.
The week that followed was a very bad week. Multiple people who worked on RubyGems.org took unexpected time off from their paid jobs. We had to create completely new servers from scratch. We also had to download and verify every single one of the hundreds of thousands of .gem files, to make sure the hacker hadn’t replaced any of them while they had access. It felt like all the work we had done up until that point was a huge waste – and also showed us what a massive risk not having paid developers maintaining our systems could be.
After the incident, André, who was working on Bundler at the time, began to focus his efforts on finding funding to pay developers working on Bundler and RubyGems. In late 2014 he received an enthusiastic response from Stripe, who was the first to provide financial backing for the cause. Engine Yard followed soon after, and in February 2015 we launched Ruby Together as a trade organization.
In the years that have followed, we’ve funded the ongoing maintenance of Bundler and RubyGems, and managed to prevent any incidents of server downtime from occurring. On top of that, our members’ support has allowed us to expand our funded projects beyond infrastructure maintenance, making it possible to fund projects like Ruby Toolbox, Ruby API, and SimpleCov, and programs like RubyMe.
We’ve also reached some huge milestones:
- there are now over 175,000 gems (up from 101,000)
- there are over 1,216,000 versions of gems (up from 583,000)
- we have served 64 billion (!) gem downloads (up from 4.5 billion in 2015)
and made several other accomplishments.
We’ve done all this while upholding values that support the wellness of the Ruby community.
But there was an ongoing dilemma…
While we were carrying out our mission in more ways than we could have imagined when we started, Ruby users were confusing the mission and purpose of Ruby Together with that of Ruby Central. It was already an uphill battle to obtain support from companies for Ruby Together’s infrastructure-related open source work, as it’s work that is mostly invisible and has historically been done for free. The confusion between our two organizations only added to that challenge.
To try to address this, Ruby Together board member Jonan Scheffler put forward a vision of a single Ruby non-profit, and worked hard to get everyone on both boards engaged with that idea. Although at first there was some hesitation, it began to feel more and more like the right choice as the pandemic spurred Ruby Together towards new methods of community outreach and motivated Ruby Central to develop a membership program. Ultimately, both boards were able to hash out the details in a way everyone felt was a great fit.
We’re very happy to continue carrying out our original mission as a new organization that is still aligned with Ruby Together’s values.
So, what’s next?
For Ruby Together members, your membership will continue to support the same work. We’ll continue to support paid development work on Bundler and RubyGems, and we will continue to fund other Ruby projects whenever we have funding to do so. You’ll still be able to connect with us in the ways that you were, and your Ruby Together membership will be transferred to the Ruby Central membership system automatically.
In addition, Ruby Central is launching a new membership program that will eventually include newsletters, virtual events, a dedicated Slack workspace, early registration and discounted tickets to our conferences. For corporate members, we plan to provide support with building brand awareness, and access to resources, people, and events.
Our goal is to grow our membership program and be the main hub for all Ruby programmers and institutions.
We know that combining the mission of Ruby Together to financially support developers, with the immense value Ruby Central conferences provide our community, will only make us stronger. We look forward to continuing with you on this next chapter of our journey.
We’re excited to hear back from you! If you’re a member and have any questions or feedback at all about this transition, please reach out to us.
November 10, 2021