Monthly Archives: February 2009

Sprout IT ’09: SCIT Entrepreneurship Seminar on 28th Feb

What: Half day event by Symbiosis Center for Information Technology (SCIT) entrepreneurship cell in innovation and entrepreneurship
When: 10am to 2pm, Saturday, 28th Feb
Where: SCIT, Hinjewadi
Registration and Fees: Rs. 50 for students Rs.300 for others. No registration reequired.

Highlights of the event

Panel Discussion on “Entrepreneurship and innovation are two sides of the same coin”.

Mr. Vishnu Swaminathan, Cheif Innovation Officer Nationa Innovation foundation.
Mr. Monish Shah, Founder and CEO, Indra Networks.
Mr. Kashyap Dalal, CEO,
Mr. Rajeevlochan Phadke, CEO, Image Point Technologies
Mr. Sudhir Sharma, Elephant Director and COO

Bhartiya Yuva Shakti Trust presentation
BYST is keen on working with young people in the age group of 18 to 35, who are either unemployed or underemployed. We invite individuals with sound imaginative business ideas, along with the will and determination to succeed.

More details are here.

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One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Project comes to Pune – Please join

100 dollar laptop: production prototype
Image via Wikipedia

The One Laptop per Child association develops a low-cost laptop—the “XO Laptop”—to revolutionize how we educate the world’s children. Their mission is “to provide educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning.”

Now a bunch of volunteers have banded together to take the OLPC initiative forward in Pune. If you believe in this mission, you should join them. They will have a kickoff meeting on Sunday (1st March 2009) to decide how to take this forward. This would be a good place to find out more about the project and see how you can contribute. You don’t need to be a technical person to contribute.

If you are unable to attend this event, but would still like to contribute, join the OLPC India mailing list. For more details, see the OLPC Pune wiki.

Details: OLPC Camp Pune

What: Kickoff meeting for volunteers interested in furthering the cause of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) group in Pune.
When: 9am-5pm, Sunday, 1st March, 2009
Where: Room No. 207, Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies and Research (SICSR), 1st Floor, Atur Centre, Gokhale Cross Road, Model Colony, Pune. Map.
Registration and Fees: This event is free for anyone to attend. You are requested to register here.

Tentative Schedule:

Time Room No.207 Session conducted by
0845 Coffee and registration
0900 Introduction and Agenda Review
0915 XO World – Why, What, Where To Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay from The Fedora Project
1215 Break for Lunch
1300 Localization of Sugar -Introduction and Getting Started Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay from The Fedora Project
1400 Digital Bridge Foundation (DBF)- Introduction Amit Gogna from Digital Bridge Foundation
1500 Starting OLPC Pune Deployment – Road Ahead Open Discussion
1600 Break for Tea
1615 To be Scheduled …
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TouchMagix: Convert any wall or floor into an interactive touchscreen

TouchMagix is a Pune-based startup with a product that can convert any wall of floor into an interactive touch screen. Targeted towards “high footfall” areas like malls, conferences and lobbys, it is a technology with a lot of potential, and frankly, something that we don’t expect to see out of Indian companies. After being very impressed with the demo at their Bhonsale Nagar office, we interviewed founder Anup Tapadia for PuneTech. TouchMagix technology will be on display on both days of the Hi Tech Pune Maharashtra 2009 conference in Pune on 26th and 27th – it’s definitely worth checking out. Anup will also be speaking at the conference on Friday. Read on for the interview.

Q: Can you give an overview of TouchMagix?

A: TouchMagix is a technology that allows any projection screen to be made interactive. Imagine a picture being projected on a regular wall, and a person can walk up to the wall and start interacting with the objects in the picture, and they actually react to the touch. TouchMagix technology allows adding such multi-point interactivity to any projected surface i.e walls, floors or screens. The projected surface reacts to the human gestures. It reacts to a touch, or it can react to gestures from a distance. And this can be done with any existing surface.

It is a medium that attracts crowds of all ages and helps brands “Get Noticed” with fun and interaction. It has extensive applications in retail, malls, advertising, events, promotions and gaming. We believe that this is the way brands would communicate to their consumers in future. At TouchMagix we are focussed towards building technologies and services which will aid brand owners to create an everlasting impression in consumers mind. Right now we have launched this product, and our team is overwhelmed with the response from all over the world. Now the real challenge we are facing is to accelerate the process of deployment across the globe in short amount of time. We are looking for awesome people to join this wagon!

Demo of TouchMagix. Click here if you can’t see the video.
Q: Can you dig a little into the technology that goes into making TouchMagix?

As off now we have 2 products, MagixFloor™ and MagixWall™ which are like large multi-point touch-screens. Both the technologies use same set of hardware and software. The hardware comprises of a high-end PC, a projector and our proprietary TouchMagix sensor. The sensor feeds the signals to the PC software, which recognizes human gestures and generates an XML feed on loopback interface. This feed can be integrated with any designing software like Adobe Flash, Adobe Director, 3DS Max etc… to build games and content. We offer an Open SDK interface which can be used by creative agencies or game designers to build content for deployment on TouchMagix. We also provide a remote controlled media scheduler for rotating content on the media. We are also in the process of designing audience measurement tools that will give web based interaction statistics to an advertiser.

Q: There are existing systems in US, Israel and elsewhere which do similar things. For example, Reactrix Systems. How do you differentiate yourself from them, both from an IPR perspective and a marketing perspective.

We have a superior and cost effective technology than most of the competition around. Technology, is just one aspect of the media. The possibilities with the content that one can build on this media would establish our position. We are offering an Open SDK interface for developers that no other competitor is offering. We are also introducing a feature of audience measurement, and web management which will set us apart. Reactrix systems was a close competitor for us, but they recently shutdown despite investment of $75 Million. Any good idea badly executed can also lead to failure. Being in India, we have an cost advantage along with the technology edge to deliver this product to the world. We have a team with diverse experience in technology, advertising and gaming and we believe we can make this happen.

Q: What were the unexpected challenges that you faced in making this happen.

A: Loads of challenges surfaced during the process of development of this technology. It was like playing the game of snakes and ladders for last 2 years day-in and day-out. What we thought was working in the labs and we said hurray, was a basket of new challenges on the field. Elimination of pseudo sensing was one of the big challenges that we had to overcome.

Pseudo sensing is a problem in which the movements of the objects that are in the picture being projected need to be distinguished from the motion of the human. Earlier the system used to do false detections on the projected image thinking it was the human motion. Now we have overcome that problem.

Q: Unlike most other “IT” and “web” startups, your technology has a significant hardware component. This is not something common in India. Has that been a challenge for you?

A: I was fortunate to get an experience in both hardware and software during my journey of learning. My dad always says, “You are a jack of all trades, and master of some!”. This trait helped me in integrating hardware and software required to create the product. Having our own hardware solved lot of problems, which would have been difficult otherwise. It also helped in building the intellectual property around it.

Q: What conventional (and unconventional) means, you are trying out for marketing your product?

A: Basically we have 3 types of customers.

  1. Private companies advertising their own product in private spaces. e.g – An mobile company putting it in their every showroom.
  2. Public place owners where advertisers would like to advertise their products. e.g – A mall who would lease out their space to advertisers.
  3. Short term installations for events, exhibitions, activations, promotions, parties etc.

We would be handling 1st type of customers by direct marketing initiatives. 2nd and 3rd type of customers would be handled through channel partners who have local presence. In addition to this, we will also be doing online direct marketing.

Q: What funding options have you considered?

A: The first phase was funded by Family and Friends. Along with the business plan, the next phase funding plan also would be frozen.

Q: At a very young age, you have done a lot of interesting and varied things? Can you tell us a bit about your background and the various areas you’ve worked in?

A: I started exploring computers at a very young age. At the age of 14 I became the world’s youngest Microsoft Certified professional to achieve MCSD, MCSE, MCDBA. I was fortunate to receive written compliments and motivation from Bill Gates, Azim Premji, Dr. Raghunath Mashalkar, Dr.Irwin Jacobs and many others for this achievement. At the age of 16 I started off my company TechnoKarma Labs with a vision to build innovative indian products for the global market. Our first product was 802.11b based mesh router. This router was a low cost and more efficient alternative to the way wireless networks were being deployed. During this time, I was also associated with International Institute of Information Technology, Pune (I2IT) for research in High Performance Computing under mentoring of Dr.Vijay Bhatkar. After my 12th standard at Fergusson College, I was offered to join in as a full time MS student in Networks & Telecom at I2IT skipping my engineering degree. At the age of 19 I received my 1st Masters degree. As part of my masters thesis, I had worked on a low level distributed memory management system for virtual machine clusters. After my Masters, I worked for 1 year with Qualcomm at San Diego, USA. I developed 2 products in distributed mobile computing at Qualcomm’s Corp R&D which were patented. I received an offer to join University of California, San Diego (UCSD) for Ms-PhD program in Communication Theory and Systems. I decided to join UCSD for PhD. My topic of research was Ad-Hoc networks and large scale distributed systems. During my stay in San Diego, I got a chance to work with a Venture Capital firm and get a view of several start-ups that they had invested in, or were planning to invest-in. This experience was invaluable. After completing the Master’s courses and some MBA courses I decided that I would like to come back to India, and start off TouchMagix. Presently I am on leave of absence from UCSD. I have been consulting to several start-ups in India and US on technology and product development.

Q: You could have chosen to do your startup in San Diego, or in Silicon Valley. Why did you choose to come back to India?

A: I see India as a place with ample opportunities for an entrepreneur. My dream always has been to see India as a product innovation hub rather than a BPO hub. I decided to setup my company in Pune to pursue this dream. TouchMagix Media Pvt. Ltd. is the first entity of the TechnoKarma Labs. I dream to have many more product companies like this in times to come. I love to interact with like minded people who share this vision.

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Pune-based SMSONE runs SMS news service for rural communities

Ravi Ghate talking about SMSONE. Click here if you cannot see this video.

From Mid-Day:

A Pune-based company has been running a SMS newsletter service for mobile phone owners in rural Maharashtra dedicated to local news for the last two years. This service reaches out to nearly 300 communities spread across 25 districts in the state.

And most importantly it has become a source of income for the rural youth, who call themselves ‘mobile’ journalists. They are paid Rs Rs 3,000 to Rs 6,000 per month.

“I had no job before I started this SMS newsletter in Parbhani. This venture has given me name, fame and a steady income,” said Ahmed Siddique, editorial coordinator for Parbhani district, who joined SMSONE Media Services Pvt Ltd last year.

“The concept was awarded the social innovation award by the The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) on February 11,” said said Ravi Ghate of SMSONE, who began the newsletter by training 300 unemployed youth in mobile journalism.

See the full article. The video embedded above has the founder Ravi Ghate giving a good overview of how the whole thing works.

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Hi Tech Pune Maharashtra 2009 Conference: 26 & 27 Feb

Hi Tech Pune Maharashtra is a two-day conference on technology that is held in Pune every year. This year, the theme is “IT in Governance” and the schedule features a number of very interesting speakers. I attended this conference last year, and live-blogged it here and here.

Here are some of the lectures that I am looking forward to. On Thursday, Dr. R.A. Mashelkar is giving a keynote speech on a vision for Pune. Mr. Vijay Kumar Gautam, the COO of the Commonwealth Games is also speaking. I had the opportunity to hear him talk at the last Hi Tech Pune conference, and I was absolutely blown away. He is a great speaker. Anil Valluri, MD of Sun Microsystems India is also speaking. Although I know nothing about him, I am hoping that as MD of Sun, he would have interesting things to say.

On Friday, afternoon, Anup Tapadia of TouchMagix will talk about product innovation. TouchMagix is my new favorite Pune startup and we are publishing an interview with Anup on PuneTech later today. So, I think that should be interesting. TouchMagix technology will also be on display on both days, so that’s another reason to go check it out.

Baba Kalyani of Bharat Forge will speak later. One of his talks that I attended started of slowly, but improved significantly later, and was worth it in the end. So that is another one that might be interesting.

There are other talks that you might find interesting. See the full schedule. The conference will be at the Hotel Orchid near Balewadi Stadium (or, to use its real name: Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports City Balewadi). It’s from 1:30pm to 7pm on Thursday (26th) and full day on 27th. It is free for anybody to attend, but you must register here.

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Can Pune Emulate The Silicon Valley Technology Startup Ecosystem?

Shaniwarwada, Pune
Image via Wikipedia

This article is cross-posted from Amit Paranjape‘s blog.

I have always wondered about the parallels between Silicon Valley and Pune. Some might call this farfetched, but there are some really interesting and some coincidental similarities. Pune (as does any other Indian City) has a long way to go to even get closer, but that should not stop us from brainstorming on leveraging these similarities as building blocks, and strive towards emulating the leader. Silicon Valley is unique. Maybe one day, we can indeed see a vibrant Pune Technology Startup Ecosystem, thriving and prospering – on the lines of the Great Technology Entrepreneurship Capital of the World!

I started this self-brainstorming exercise by simply listing those Pune characteristics that parallel Silicon Valley (The degrees of similarities might vary …):

· Good quality of life (Compared to other Indian Metros).

· Temperate Weather.

· Technology Entrepreneurship Culture.

· Fledgling Startup Ecosystem.

· Education Hub:

o Many Good Colleges

o Leading Research Institutes

· Magnet for people from all over India/World:

o Pune has the highest number of foreign students (amongst Indian cities)

o Large number of foreign expats, and visiting researchers

o Recently, Pune has also benefited from the ‘Reverse Brain Drain’: Many highly qualified professionals and successful entrepreneurs (of Indian origin) from the US/Silicon Valley have moved back to Pune.

· Proximity to a Financial Capital.

· Large IT talent pool (Thanks to the many IT Outsourcing Companies).

· Leading ‘Green’ Technology Hub in India. (Headquarters of companies like Praj and Suzlon).

· Hub of Hi-tech manufacturing (Note: San Francisco Bay Area has quite a few high-end manufacturing companies as well).

And some coincidental ones …

· Leading Wine Producing Region in India.

· Developing into a key hub for specialty fruits, vegetables and Flori-culture.

· Open (and tolerant) culture.

Some of the obvious things that are lacking in Pune include – Infrastructure and Sustainable Development. The other ones include greater focus on pure research, and venture funding. [I will discuss these and more in further detail in following articles in this series.]

As I was continuing with this brainstorming and gap-analysis, I stumbled upon a great article written by the well-known Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist and Essayist, Paul Graham on ‘How To Be Silicon Valley’, in May 2006. He describes the key characteristics of the San Francisco Bay Area that led to the development of this amazing ecosystem over the past few decades. He also explores how similar Ecosystem Development could happen in other cities/towns anywhere in the world.

In my article, I make an attempt to use the key characteristics identified by Paul Graham, and try to map them to Pune. I believe that Pune is amongst the best places in India where a Silicon Valley like Ecosystem can take shape. Obviously, there are many challenges. I am not going to use sobriquets such as ‘Pune – The Silicon Valley of India’. Silicon Valley is unique – there can be only one.

I am also not doing a comparison (either/or) between different Indian cities here. Many writers routinely refer to Bangalore as the Silicon Valley of India. While to me, Bangalore is definitely not there at this point, it might very well be on the right track. To me, if places like Bangalore, Pune and others introspect and strive for the key characteristics that are described by Paul Graham, then all of them have a shot (tough, it might be!) at creating Silicon Valley like Ecosystems someday.

Note – I recommend that you do read Paul Graham’s article: “How To Be Silicon Valley”, before reading further. This will enable you to better relate to my observations below.

I am going to follow a format, similar to that used by Paul Graham. Listed below are the key characteristics and how Pune fares with respect to these.

Presence of Rich People who are not Bureaucrats

Paul Graham argues that a technology ecosystem needs rich people who can take risks, and invest the necessary seed capital. These investors shouldn’t be purely financial investors who don’t understand the domain that they are investing in. Nor should they be bureaucrats who simply evaluate short and medium term financial returns and are risk averse.

Paul Graham describes the example of how the money made on the risks taken in the 1980s (e.g. Sun Microsystems) was then re-invested again in the 1990s (e.g. Google, Amazon) and now being re-invested again. Essentially, startups create startups – this how this ecosystem starts and grows.

Does Pune have rich people, who are technocrats? The answer is yes. Maybe nowhere enough, but the successful technology entrepreneurs of the 1980s and 1990s have built up some good reserves and have started looking for interesting technology ideas to fund.

Not Just Buildings

Large buildings and nice campuses don’t make the Silicon Valley! The massive new IT Parks we see today in many Indian cities, don’t equate to Silicon Valley. We need the DNA of a startup that was founded here and grew.

Unfortunately, Pune doesn’t have many IT firms that became very big (like Infosys – though one could argue that Infosys in fact started in Pune, and moved on…). However, there are a few good examples of non-IT technology companies (Manufacturing, Industrial Automation, Green Energy, etc.) that made it big.

Universities & Research Institutions

Pune has a strong education culture and some excellent engineering and science & technology colleges, including the 2nd oldest engineering college in India. A new Indian Institute of Science Campus is also being planned. Distance wise one can argue that IIT Bombay is less than 3 hours (150 km) from Pune.

In addition to the universities, Pune has many leading research institutions in a variety of technology areas – National Chemical Laboratory, Institute of Virology, Indian Meteorological Office, Inter-University Center for Astronomy & Astro-Physics, Agricultural Research Institute, Various Defense Research Organizations, etc.


Paul Graham talks about a city/town having a ‘personality’. He further states that you don’t build such a personality – you let it grow. I believe that Pune has grown a strong personality over the past many decades. In fact, this is one of the attributes that Pune is quite famous for. A ‘Punekar’ (resident of Pune) can be identified by many interesting traits!

Pune has a personality of a small city/town; a personality of knowledge & learning; a personality of creativity (not just in technology, but in other areas such as arts and music); a personality of a distinctive life-style; a personality of tolerance & openness to new ideas. Historically, it has embraced and assimilated people from different parts of India (and the world).

And while the new Pune is morphing into a cookie-cutter solution of suburban development seen in other metros, the old – new Pune combination still maintains a distinct identity.


According to Paul Graham, ‘Nerds’ constitute one of the most critical building blocks of such an ecosystem. You can call them anything – But Pune is increasingly a preferred destination for many techies (or nerds, or whatever you want to call them!). Historically, Pune has always been a center of attraction for the learned – not only in technology areas, but in other areas such as History, Sociology, Arts, Music and Languages.

Many of these people find Mumbai and other Metros to be too big, too fast, and too glamorous. Pune is compact, liberal and relatively quiet in comparison to most Indian cities. These nerds don’t mind paying a lot more to live in such a place with it’s unique identity (see earlier section). Quality of life is important for them. Note – Pune real estate is quite expensive, and the overall cost of living is amongst the highest in India.


Given Pune’s strong education ecosystem, Pune is a ‘young’ city. It is vibrant with fresh energy and drive. Culturally, it is less conservative/more liberal – whichever way you want to look at it. There are also quite a few people here who are ‘young at heart’.


Even after having all the right mix of the above key characteristics, you need to provide ‘Time’ for a Silicon Valley to be built. While Pune has many of the desirable ingredients, it still needs more time. And it is critical that these characteristics don’t degrade/disintegrate over that time period. I will discuss this further in future articles in this series.

Competing with the ‘Original Silicon Valley’

Paul Graham’s last point relates to competing with the ‘original Silicon Valley’. Any new challenger will definitely face competition from the original one!

I do think that there is room for more challengers. Speaking about Pune/India, we have an advantage of having more generalists (engineers who are more application oriented that theory oriented; and can quickly span interdisciplinary boundaries). The costs in India have risen significantly this decade, but still remain low compared to the west. Thus, if planned and used correctly, the same capital can stretch longer here. Pune and India have a large and growing young population. Many innovative ideas are driven by young people – both as innovators, as well as consumers. It is here where India in general and Pune in particular has a strong credential.

In future articles in this series, I will explore specific steps that I think Pune needs to take towards its goal of emulating a Silicon Valley like technology ecosystem.

Please provide your feedback, other ideas and comments on this article. I will try to incorporate these in the future articles in this series.

This is a very important topic for all people interested in and/or working in the technology area in Pune!

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Microsoft Community Days: “Safeguarding your Applications” – 28 Feb

Pune (Microsoft Technologies) User GroupWhat: A half-day event by the Pune (Microsoft Technologies) User Group (PUG) on security issues in safeguarding your applications
When: Saturday, 28th February, 9:45am-3:30pm
Where: Kalpa Banquet and Party Hall, E-101, Kumar Business Court, near SKC Mall, Mukundnagar, Pune
Registration and Fees: This event is free for all. Register here.

Details – Safeguarding your applications

Information security
Image via Wikipedia

Fundamentals of Security: 40 Minutes
Common attack patterns, data classification, and security data in storage/in transit

Authentication: 40 Minutes
HTTP Basic/Digest/Kerberos, forms authentication, and .NET framework identities and principles

Authorization: 40 minutes
Common authorization techniques, principles of least privilege net role based security, and code access security

Input Handling: 120 Minutes
Cross-site scripting (XSS), persistent XSS, non-persistent XSS, SQL injection, one-click attacks, XML and XPATH injection, canonicalization issues, file upload/creation, and exception management

Logging & Auditing: 20 minutes

Q&A: 30 Minutes

About the Speaker – Sachin Rawat

Sachin Rawat is the co-founder of Crypsis, which offers consulting and training in the field of Information Security, Hi-Performance Computing (CUDA) and Software Development. Crypsis has offerings built around Microsoft’s Security Development Lifecycle which includes Threat Modeling, Design Review, Code Review, Deployment Review and Pen-testing. Crypsis offers Vulnerability Assessment and Security Audit Services for the IT infrastructure of organizations and is developing a product addressing visual media piracy detection.

Sachin has earlier worked as a Security Engineer with the Microsoft ACE
Team, where he worked on application security assessment for LOB applications.

He holds a B.Tech. (CSE) from IIIT-Hyderabad and has cleared ISC2’s CISSP certification exam. He was the only student among the top 10 winners of Security Shootout Competition organized by Microsoft, which had over 30,000 participants across India.

About Pune (Microsoft Technologies) User Group

”’Pune User Group”’ is a local user group of developers interested in Microsoft technologies and platforms. It has an informational portal with very active forums, it holds monthly user group meetings, an annual developers conference, and it also has a number of special interest groups.

For more details see the PuneTech wiki profile of PUG.

For other tech events coming up in Pune, see the PuneTech calendar. See also other PuneTech articles tagged: PUG, and Microsoft.

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Why Ruby is cool – take 2

Official Ruby logo
Image via Wikipedia

Earlier today, we had an article by Nick Adams on why you need to learn Ruby and Ruby-on-Rails. That post attracted a detailed comment by  Ravindra Jaju which elaborated on some of the themes touched upon in the original article. Since it brings out nicely the power of Ruby, we decided to post the comment as a new article to ensure it reaches all the readers who don’t necessarily read the comments. (By the way, you should subscribe to PuneTech comments by email or via RSS.)

Those interested in Ruby should check out Ruby Fun Day in Pune on Saturday, 21st February. If you want to learn Ruby, take a look at, a site that provides free, online courses for Ruby, by Pune’s own Satish Talim. Also check out the Pune Ruby mailing list, which is reasonably active.

This “article” only makes sense in the context of the original article, so ensure that you’ve read it before you read this:

Depending on where you come from, the syntax 5.times… may appear either beautiful or plain weird. But whatever the initial impression, one starts appreciating it as the power unfolds. The syntax ‘5.times’ might look like something completely out of the blue at first glance, but once one recognizes that 5 (or any number for that matter) is a first-class object, things start falling in place.

Try playing with this further using ‘irb’ (the ‘interactive ruby’ command-line tool which is a part of the ruby distribution) to explore the object ‘5? further as follows: 5.class, 5.methods, 5.methods.sort [send message ‘methods’ to 5, which returns an ‘Array’ – further send a message ‘sort’ to this returned Array object if you like to see the methods ordered]. And if you haven’t guessed this already, do note that brackets to function calls are absolutely optional if the syntax is unambiguous (so, the above is equivalent to

5.times(){puts “Hello Pune!”}

which is equivalent to

5.times(){puts(”Hello Pune!”)}

What comes within the braces ({}) after ‘5.times’ is a block – ‘5.times’ is by itself uninteresting, unless you can do something 5 times, no? Blocks are a very powerful concept, which are defined at one place but executed elsewhere. They have access to the context where they are defined (closures). Use of blocks (and associated Proc objects) can lead to very interesting, succinct code!

And again, if you are a C/C++ or a Java programmer feeling wary about jumping into something new and have that feeling of your uber-cool libraries not being accessible from Ruby (and hence a new learning curve apart from the heart-burn) – fear not! Ruby, being an interpreted language, runs in a VM of its own. And the Ruby VM developers have made sure that access to your favourite libraries is as easy as possible. The ‘official’ Ruby VM is C code, but obviously the cool thing that the JVM is, you can run Ruby inside the JVM (Java Virtual Machine) too. Many have already made these libraries accessible via Ruby. I would term the Java VM as more powerful in this regard, giving you access to native libraries apart from all the Java goodies (look up ‘ruby+ffi’ on yahoo/google search).

Then again, metaprogramming takes Ruby fun to newer heights. Rails wouldn’t have been (easily) possible had it not been for Ruby’s abilities in this regard. How would you feel if told that there are database access methods named (for example) ‘find_by_name’ or ‘find_by_name_city’ that aren’t defined anywhere but still create appropriate SQL calls (’where name = …’ or ‘where name = … and city = …’) because you can intercept ‘function undefined’ events, look at the function name and arguments, and create the right SQL on the fly? Or even before that, a class mapped to a database table ‘knows’ which table it is supposed to represent in an object form, just by looking at its *own* name? The good news is that all the cool libraries developed as part of the Rails initiative can be used in plain Ruby code without all the rails framework overhead too.

Well, enough said for a comment. You’ve got to experience it to believe it!

(PS: Not saying here that Ruby is unique – Python, for example, is cool too – but a Python-junkie would be a better marketeer for it 😉 )

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Why you need to learn Ruby and Rails

Official Ruby logo
Image via Wikipedia

With increasing visibility for the Ruby programming language, and the passion that people show for Ruby-on-Rails for web development, we felt that we would like to delve a little into what makes Ruby so cool and Rails so hot. Especially, in light of the fact that Ruby Fun Day is happening in Pune on Saturday, we wanted to give our readers a feel for why the should consider attending Ruby Fun Day. With that in mind, we invited Nick Adams of Entrip and SapnaSolutions (both those companies use Ruby-on-Rails as a cornerstone of their offerings), to tell us why Ruby and why Rails.

Ruby is an interpreted language like Python, Php, Perl, and a whole host of other popular Unix based languages. It was invented in 1992 by a Japanese man. However it only shot to fame in the last few years when the web development world started getting very excited about a new framework called ‘Ruby on Rails’, which arrived in 2005. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, I’ll look at Ruby in its own right. Then, we’ll take a look at Rails and what’s cool about it.
The first thing you’ll notice about Ruby is it’s beautifully easy syntax:
5.times { print "Hello Pune!" } 
Goodbye to semi colons, variable declaration, etc it makes for readable code while ensuring you don’t spend more time than you need with coding. Ruby is 100% object oriented, in fact, everything in ruby including variables, are objects. That can be a little overwhelming at first, but it begins to make sense as you use a framework like rails and really reveals its true power when you want to change or add to the core ‘String’ class, on the fly. It means, in basic speak, that Ruby is very flexible. But there is more. Ruby has cool features like blocks, iterators, and a wealth of all the expected higher level language features like ‘capitalize’ and ‘reverse’ methods for strings.
Ruby on Rails
Image via Wikipedia

Rails is of course a web development framework. It is important not to see Rails as simply a collection of new classes and methods designed to aid web development. There are two things that I believe are important to understand before you dive into Rails. One is the MVC pattern of design. The MVC pattern of system design separates application logic into distinct parts making development fast, but also scalable and logical. The second is the rails conventions. Although sometimes ambiguous and debated, sticking to the basic rails conventions and understanding how the framework is designed to work will greatly aid collaboration, and futureproofing of your app.

What’s so cool about Rails? I recently interviewed someone who has worked in Java, Php and Rails for web development. I could sense the passion in him to work for a company that specialises in Rails, and didn’t need to explain why. If you have ever built a web application in .net, java, or php, you’ll really appreciate the power of Rails. It’s fast, modular, and working in Ruby is fun because you create clean, readable code. It’s free. Ajax and Web 2.0 style features are easy. Fully unit testing your app is easy. Roll out new ideas in weeks instead of months. Setup is easy, in any environment, but being open source it favours ‘nix based environments like Linux and Mac.
It all sounds great, doesn’t it? I would advise, however, that Rails is best understood by those who have understanding of the web and building database driven web applications already. Rails is a framework built on long standing notions, it’s not a magical new web development language. It makes what exists already, much easier and faster. Understand the Web. Understand Web Applications. Understand MVC. Then learn Rails, and you’ll never look back!

About the Author – Nick Adams

Nick Adams is the co-founder of Entrip, an integrated travel utility that gives a map-based interface to plan your trip, capture your experiences in multimedia, and share them with friends. SapnaSolutions is the Ruby on Rails Development company behind EnTrip. They make Web Apps for clients and develop in house products. He can be reached at nick [at] entrip [dot] com
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Ruby Fun Day: A barcamp for Ruby developers – 21 Feb

What: Ruby Fun Day, an unconference style get-together for all those interested in Ruby
When: Saturday, 21st Feb, 10:30am-4:30pm
Where: Thoughtworks, GF-01, Tower C, Panchshil Tech Park, Yerwada, Pune
Registration and Fees: This event is free for all. Register here.


If you don’t know what Ruby is and why it is cool, see today’s PuneTech article: Why you need to learn Ruby and Rails.

The second edition of Ruby Fun Day will happen on Saturday, Feb 21 at Thoughtworks, Pune. The first edition which happened in Impetus Technologies, Noida was a great success.

Ruby is a very powerful OOP language, while at the same time fairly intuitive and easy to learn and understand. Rails is an MVC web framework where models, views, and controllers are fully integrated in a seamless fashion for the Ruby programming language. At the end of the day, Rails is all about helping you stay productive and happy while building awesome web applications.

Ruby Fun Day is an unconference like Barcamp – a sort of on the fly, day long get together for ruby geeks to talk about geeky stuff and hang out. RubyFunDay 2 is going to be a pure Code Burning session. Every session would be full of live code demonstrations.

If you are based in Pune (or on a short trip to this city) and excited about Ruby or Ruby on Rails, this is a not-to-be-missed event! For more details visit the official event page at

If you would like to present a session at this event, visit the event wiki at . The only constraint we have is, it should not be mere presentation, you will have to show the live code in the session.

(Thanks to Kapil Bhatia of Vinsol for this write-up of Ruby Fun Day.)


Sr No Topic Name
1. Basics of Ruby Programming Language OR Advanced Metaprogramming with Ruby Sur
2. Integrating voice and text (sms) gateway with rails application Saurabh Purnaye
3. Test::Unit vs RSpec vs Expectations Aman + Dhaval
4. DSLs made easy with Ruby Sunit + Saager
5. What’s new in Rails Sur
7. REST full Rails Kumar Chavan(Bakal)
8. Importants of wrting “test cases” in ROR. Kumar Chavan(Bakal)
9 Web application testing using Watir Sai Venkat
10. Using Ruby to drive functional tests in Selenium Vijay Nyayapati
11. Ruby OOP: objects finally dethrone classes! Aman King
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