Next week, I’ll be in San Francisco, California, for the annual Apple Developer Conference (a.k.a Worldwide Developer Conference – WWDC for shorts). For a change, I’ll attend something as a visitor :)
I have stopped going to the Conference a few years ago, because in my mind, it stopped being a developer thing, and became a public event. What was originally a semi-formal event, dedicated to making Macintosh developers feel at home with their fellow comrades (without any visible sign of rank), slowly became some kind of professional training where the guys who know but can’t say much (usually in black) taught us rookies how to use the new features of the OS. It became too frustrating for me, with my short or mid-term projects.
Knowing that 9 months from now I will be able to do all kinds of coooooooool things is OK. Learning how to fix my problems before my deadline is due… less so. Besides, it’s pretty expensive to come from Europe, even though spending a week in San Francisco is the next best thing after a vacation anywhere.
This year, I still have some questions to ask, but I plan on seeing a few friends and contacts in San Francisco, so I guess that should be a lot more interesting. However, a few things dampen my professional interest.
For some reason, the WWDC is now a public event. That’s where we (sometimes) get new stuff announced, stuff reportedly “for developers”. But if that’s for developers, then why is it public? I remember being handed a leaflet saying that I was not to talk about anything I could see at WWDC, and then heading off to see a webcast keynote! OK, then the keynote is not really a developer thing, it’s a general public one… fine.
Since the session list may contain something related to a product that will be announced during the keynote, it can’t be handed over until the keynote is over. All that’s left is the session contents themselves. And most of the information we are given will be made available in the documentation when the new OS comes out. And the sessions will be available in video some time in the future for all those who couldn’t be there.
Then all that’s really left for people actually present in the room is the possibility to interact with the Men in Black. I won’t deny I met some quite extraordinary guys up there, top notch programmers, and really friendly people… But most of the time they can’t help with the current system (we are already working on the next one), can’t tell when the next OS will be released (not allowed…), and discourage us from talking directly to them (go through DTS instead).
All in all, because the Conference stopped being an informal meeting for developers, it became very expensive for us Europeans for what it is. I have no doubt big companies can send their developers without a problem, but indies… That’s kind of a weight on the budget.
The hype surrounding the event became a problem, in my opinion. Keep professional event… professional. It’s boring for outsiders? Who cares? They are outside. Make that interesting and worthwhile enough for us to shell out thousands of dollars. Please. Pretty please. With a cherry on top.