Showcasing speakers' proposals and timelines in an effort to demystify the CFP process and help new speakers get started.
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Showcasing speakers' proposals and timelines in a effort to demystify the CFP process and help new speakers get started


Where did the idea come from?

Ruby Central typically run Opportunity Scholarship programmes at their conferences. This is where people who would not normally attend conferences get a free ticket and get paired with a Guide. Guides are there to help their Scholars to settle in quickly at the conference, meet new people, and have someone to help them choose which talks to go to. A high proportion of Guides tend to be conference speakers.

For RailsConf 2016, I took part in the Opportunity Scholarship programme as a Guide. One day, in the Slack org that had been set up for us, one of the Scholars asked if any of the speaking Guides would be open to sharing their accepted proposal. What happened next was very interesting:

  • Many more Scholars expressed interest in seeing the accepted proposals
  • Many Guides were quick to share their accepted proposals
  • Many Guides shared multiple proposals — not only the proposal that had been accepted, but many which had been rejected.

This got me thinking: there are a bunch of people who want to see proposals and there are a bunch of people who are keen to share their proposals. Why don't we have a space to do that more easily?

Goals of Speakerline

At its most basic level, Speakerline is a place where you can see a range of proposals that have been submitted to conferences, and the outcome of those submissions.

As Speakerline develops, hopefully it will:

  • highlight what makes a successful proposal
  • help to show what doesn't tend to work in a proposal
  • show that many good proposals get rejected
    • maybe the proposal didn't suit the conference
    • maybe there were many submissions on the same topic
    • maybe there were so many good proposals that inevitably some good ones had to be rejected
    • maybe the speaker already had one talk accepted at that conference!
  • give aspiring conference speakers the confidence to submit to any conference they wish to speak at.

Using the Speakerline website

Setting up for local development

Getting started with Ruby and Postgres

First, you'll need to install Ruby 2.5.1. I like to use chruby and ruby-install to manage my Ruby versions.

Another popular alternative is using rbenv and ruby-build.

Next, you'll need to have PostgreSQL installed. This can be done on OSX using Homebrew or by using

Have a look at these further instructions for installing Postgres via Homebrew:

brew install postgres

On Debian-based Linux distributions you can use apt-get to install Postgres:

sudo apt-get install postgresql postgresql-contrib libpq-dev

On Windows, you can use the Chocolatey package manager to install Postgres:

choco install postgresql

Getting the Rails app running

Once Ruby and Postgres are installed, we need to install the gems used by the app:

gem install bundler
bundle install

Once all the gems are installed, we'll need to create the databases and tables used by the app:

bundle exec rake db:create:all
bundle exec rake db:migrate

Environment variables

Now we need to set up some environment variables.

I like to use dotenv to manage them.

Currently, the admin endpoint is authenticated using basic access authentication.


You'll also need to set RECAPTCHA_SITE_KEY and RECAPTCHA_SECRET_KEY. To get values for these, visit and choose the 'Register a new site' option.

Select 'reCAPTCHA V2' and add 'localhost' to the list of domains.

Seeding the development database

To seed the development database with some fake speaker, event, proposal, and submission data, run:

bundle exec rake db:setup

Be aware: this will overwrite any development data you have previously saved.

Starting the Rails server

All we have to do now is start up the Rails server and point our browser to http://localhost:3000

bundle exec rails s

Running the tests

RSpec and Cucumber are used for test-driven and behaviour-driven development.

All of the tests can be run with:

bundle exec rake

or to run only the failing (Rspec) examples

bundle exec rspec --only-failures

To set up the test environment, run:

bundle exec rake db:test:prepare

This will create the test database and populate its schema.

Contributing to Speakerline

I'd love any help with this project. Have a look at our Contributing Guide for more information on how you can get involved.

Please note that this project is released with a Contributor Code of Conduct. By participating in this project you agree to abide by its terms.


  • Thank you to Andrew Nesbitt for being patient and answering all of my Open Source questions.
  • Thank you to 24 Pull Requests. This README was heavily inspired by theirs!


Copyright (c) 2017 Nadia Odunayo. See LICENSE for details.