Wednesday, July 11, 2012
As I wrote last week, I attended and spoke at CocoaConf DC. CocoaConf is a Mac and iOS developer conference that’s held in different locations throughout the year (the next one will be in Columbus, Ohio August 9-11). It was an excellent conference, and I’d encourage any other developers to attend one if you get the chance.
I’m not generally excited about going to conferences as I’m an introverted guy and the idea of spending a few days constantly socializing is off-putting. Combine that with a high dollar and time cost, being away from home, and the usual focus on drinking heavily, and I rarely even consider attending a conference. CocoaConf, however, is a very different sort of conference.
I’m not sure what the actual number was, but I’d guess CocoaConf DC had less than 100 people attending. That’s far smaller than most other conferences, which makes getting to know the other attendees and speakers much easier. Don’t let the small size fool you into thinking there weren’t interesting people there, though. The conference was packed with folks with very impressive backgrounds and technical skills. I’m not sure how they got so many great speakers and attendees for such a small conference, but I’m not complaining.
A common trend in conferences these days is to decrease the technical content and increase the socialization. I get why people would want to do this, but I’m not a fan of this trend. I go to a conference to meet people, but the context of that relationship is technical. I’d much rather chat with someone in the 15 minutes between sessions about HTTP Live Streaming or Core Text than go to a party and make idle chit-chat. CocoaConf did this really well. The first day went from 9:00am to 8:00pm, and was packed with technical content and short breaks between each session for chatting. They even provided all meals so that we didn’t have to waste time looking for food.
The technical content was very good as well. I increased my breadth of knowledge significantly over the course of the two days and look forward to putting my new knowledge to good use. The speakers took their subjects seriously, as did the attendees. There were no speakers apologizing for taking up time when the attendees could be at the bar. They understood that this conference was not just an excuse to have a party, but that we were there to learn and share ideas.
I’m very glad I went to CocoaConf and I plan to return next year. I met several new developer friends (some even in the local area!) and learned about a number of technologies I previously knew nothing about. If you’re a Mac or iOS developer, watch for it to come to your area. I think you’ll find it’s worth your while.