Thursday, July 23, 2009

WWDC: Worth it on so many levels

When I wrote this, it was so long ago that Matt Drance was still an Apple employee and not one of us crazy indie devs. My apologies for the now flashback WWDC post.

Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) was earlier this month from June 7 through 12 and I was thrilled to be in attendance for my second year.

The official main reason to go to WWDC is to get edjumacated on all the new Apple hardware and software. My main reason is to connect with other developers. The information about new technology and APIs is critical, don't get me wrong, but I can't watch videos of me hanging out with newfound developer friends—or at least I hope I can't. I'm not sure I want those published. The sessions, on the other hand, are published by Apple so I can watch some that I missed.

This year was even better than last because I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Last year I was following the advice of others; this year I was on a mission to really enjoy every moment of the trip. I knew enough to arrive on Saturday so I could relax and wander about San Francisco a bit before the chaos of the week began. This enabled me to register early on Sunday and meet with people on that morning and throughout the day.

Making Connections

A smart move on my part was putting together the cocoaFusion: podcast with Danny Greg. It's not like I planned that far in advance for WWDC but having that podcast gave me a chance to meet more developers through the "I listen to you on cocoaFusion: introduction" and it also opened up doors for a couple of non-Apple activities.

Since Danny works for Realmac Software and André Pang used to work for Realmac but now works for Pixar, I was invited to go with them to visit this animated movie wonderland. It was a great tour and André was very generous with his time. They also slipped me an invitation to the Pixel Assembly party that was co-hosted by Realmac and I was able to hang with the ADA award winning Sofa crew. At this event, I also sat and talked with an Apple Xcode engineer and another fellow that worked with Apple on its website store. Both these gentlemen were great to exchange information and ideas with and further proved that not all technical help comes from WWDC sessions or labs.

Not everything went smoothly that night. At this party, I had an Eric Stratton moment when I met Craig Hockenberry, "Hi, Kevin Hoctor, MoneyWell, damn glad to meet you." So eloquent. Such a firm grasp of the English language and so very interesting to listen to. Sorry Craig, I'll step it up in 2010. In my defense though, your fame and your height were both a bit intimidating.

Unplanned and Unexpected

Sometimes, cool things happen at WWDC without your even having to make them happen. For example, young Mr. Greg tweeted that he was going to a Core Data Lab so I asked if he would mind me lurking on his session. (I didn't have any questions on my own but thought I could learn from his.) He said no problem so I went down to the lab to meet him. As it turned out, he was delayed so I thought I'd park myself at the dining tables near the lab and get some work done. As I wandered over, I saw the Karelia Software guys, Dan Wood and Mike Abdullah at one of the tables so I plopped down across from them. As it turns out, I had a great discussion about how to hire a support person and their feedback on the whole experience. Unplanned, unexpected, yet invaluable advice.

Several other serendipitous situations like this one occurred throughout WWDC with me on the giving end at times. Hopefully I was as helpful to others as they were to me.

I finished up the week in style by standing outside Moscone West talking to Matt Drance, Mike Lee, and Scott Stevenson then I turned around to say hi to John Gruber (just happened to have one of my Daring Fireball T-shirts on so I looked like a proper fanboi) and then proceeded to make a fool of my self. The person to the left of John said he had several people talk about who they met at WWDC and Kevin Hoctor was in their list. I said, "Thanks, and you are?" and then Brent Simmons introduced himself.

Now this would not have been so embarrassing if I hadn't spent nearly an hour last year at the Chieftain talking to Brent who came over to our table to ask who we were and what we did. I apologized and said that he looked different and Gruber came to my rescue saying that Brent has lost weight. You are looking really good Brent. I'm still an idiot but lets call this one your fault anyway, okay?

Good Times

In addition to learning plenty and making a fool of myself, I had a ton of fun. My most memorable moment is probably standing in line for the Keynote with several of the Realmac guys, Mickey Roberson, and Michael Fey (a.k.a., Mr. Rooni), who started the infamous Steve Jobs rumor.

Whether it was sharing software ideas or code, checking out early versions of iPhone apps, or just enjoying great food, drink, and conversation, there was a constant stack overflow of good times. Thanks to all the guys and gals that took time to say hello to me (even the quick 'hi' by Sophia Teutschler on her way to the bathroom).

If there was any concern that my second year at WWDC wouldn't stack up to the first, that's been eradicated. Barring natural disasters or loss of limb, I'm planning to make sure I set aside the time and money to make this event every single year.