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It’s been two weeks since I returned from my first WWDC and I’m just now making a post about it (I have a somewhat decent excuse involving being out of town for 8 days on a motorcycle trip). Was it worth it? Did I get out of the experience what I was hoping?

The Keynote

Since this was going to be my first Stevenote, I wanted to be sure to get into the main room and not be stuck in one of the overflows; I wasn’t concerned with being close to the front, I just wanted to be there and be able to say “Yes, I did that”. I arrived at Moscone West at 6am—a full four hours before the keynote was to begin—to join the throng of attendees already in line, which started forming at about 9pm the previous night. A brief moment of hope was dashed when I realized what I thought was the end of the line was actually the line heading into the Starbucks beside Moscone West.

Once everyone started filing inside, the line got dense, and I mean dense. No matter, we were waiting to bask in the Steve’s RDF! When the keynote began, it became clear it was going to be all iPhone, all the time. First the mere glancing mention of Snow Leopard, then the drawn-out iPhone software demos that just seemed to go on and on and on. With only half an hour left and no mention yet of pricing and features, there was definitely very little time left over for a “One more thing…”, and sure enough, we didn’t get one.

Overall, the keynote was rather underwhelming. Really, if you haven’t yet watched the keynote stream, I wouldn’t bother unless you really want to see the whole presentation. Instead, check out Mahalo Daily‘s excellent WWDC Keynote in 60 Seconds to get the gist of what went on.

Oh, and the next time I’m at Macworld Expo or WWDC, I’ll be sleeping in and heading to one of the overflow rooms. I came, I saw, I attended; no more standing for 4 hours for me.

The Sessions

I can’t comment on the labs as I didn’t have much code with me to take to any of the engineers (thus removing much of the benefit of attending the labs) so the sessions were really the meat of the conference to me.

Some were great, filled with lots of useful information, while others seemed to miss the mark completely. The worst part was the session descriptions and titles weren’t always that helpful in giving you an idea what the sessions would be about.1 One of the better examples of this was the Core Data Tips & Tricks session that many people walked out of because it was far too basic (I’m told it started out with an explanation of what a relational database was).

Overall, the sessions more than made up for the cost of attending.

The Parties/Socializing

But everything that went on outside of conference hours is what really gives you your bang for the buck. From the sfMacIndie party the night before the conference began, to heading out with other developers for lunch and dinner, and just chatting it up between sessions, it was great to finally get to meet a bunch of the people I’d only thus far “known” (i.e. stalked) via their blogs and Twitter feeds. Plus, there’s the peoplewatching which is always interesting.

You Mac developers out there, you’re a decent, friendly bunch, ya hear?

CocoaHeads

Pre-show Discussions
Scott Stevenson‘s CocoaHeads WWDC was a great event and after seeing pictures of the crowd that packed into the San Francisco Apple Store to watch last year, I made sure to get there early. Myself and Paul Robinson wandered over more than an hour before it started and secured nice seats second row center.

Aside from the informative presentations given by the speakers, including a very intriguing visual debugging methodology developed by Daniel Jalkut, the question panel at the end netted some good stories and more nuggets of wisdom.

Tip for those wanting to get catch this next year (assuming it happens again, and Scott can’t find a larger venue): get there early!

The Food

It could very well be that my tastes are not as sophisticated as some other developers, but the food provided during the lunches at WWDC was more than acceptable to me. Having said that, I didn’t always eat lunch at Moscone West and got to head to some fantastic eateries for both lunch and dinner such as LuLu, ‘wichcraft, Mel’s Drive-in, and probably the most upscale food court I’d ever been to just beside the Bloomingdales.

In Summary

WWDC 2008 reinvigorated my desire to make great Mac and iPhone OS software. Not only that, I managed to check off each of the bullet points in my “what I want to do” list:

  • learn more about developing Mac and iPhone applications
  • Most definitely.

  • hang out with fellow developers, and possibly meet up with some that were/are motivating factors for finally getting Kepi Software up and running
  • Very much so, yes.

  • try to photograph some lemurs in the wild
  • Check.

  • check out San Francisco for the first time
  • I didn’t get to do this as much as I’d liked to have, but I got out and about a bit.

I even got interviewed by Scotty from the Mac Developer Network regarding the impending release of the iPhone in Canada.

So, would I do it again? Unequivocally, yes.


  1. For those wondering, yes I made sure to mention this on the Attendee Survey.

The Wish

Since I started programming, I’ve become increasingly interested in attending Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. Unfortunately, the cost for attending—specifically, conference access and the hotel stay combined with airfare from Canada—has always been high enough that it wasn’t a justifiable option for someone that was coding in their spare time (i.e. just for fun, not so much for profit).

The Fulfillment

My employer has room in the budget to send some of us Systems folk to a conference each year, and I had been discussing with my boss which one would be a good fit this go around. For the past two years I’ve gone to the FileMaker Developers Conference as I’ve been doing full-time FileMaker development at work during that time period. This year I’m the lead developer on the project to build the web front end to that database, and the amount of benefit I’ll get from DevCon this year isn’t nearly as significant as it has been.

My boss asked if there was another conference I’d rather go to that would be more beneficial. In the end, the one at the top of my list wasn’t the most directly applicable to my job (it was far from being completely irrelevant, though). I even mentioned it initially only as an off-hand remark along the lines of “Boy, I’d love to go to this one, but…”. Early last week she came into my office and said that I could go.

I finally get to attend WWDC.1

The Conference

This year’s WWDC runs June 9-13 in its usual stomping ground of San Francisco. The flights are booked, hotel reservations made, and WWDC E-ticket activated.

Scott Stevenson posted a great article back in 2005 aimed at helping attendees get a grip on what to expect and how to get the most out of WWDC. Since then, there have been a number of similar posts that I’ve also read over, though they tend to say roughly the same things as Scott.

The Keynote

Not only my first WWDC, but my first Stevenote, too! Finally, I’ll get to experience standing in line for hours, only to then go stand in another line, and possibly another, all to bask in the RDF. Frankly, I’m not too concerned with getting good seats, so long as I can make it into the hall. I’ll just watch the stream later if there are things I want a closer look at. I’m in it for the experience.

The Food

I’ve read some mixed reviews regarding the quality of the food provided to attendees of WWDC. It will be interesting to see, as someone who has attended a conference put on by an Apple subsidiary, how WWDC will compare to the wide range of quality food selections provided at FileMaker DevCon.

Worst case, I hit up one of the dozens of eateries in the general vicinity of Moscone that people seem to rave about online. I’ve already received a personal recommendation to check out Eddie Rickenbacker’s. Any other favourite haunts I should make an effort to check out?

The Crowds

The iPhone SDK has been big news for these last few months. I plan to attend a mix of sessions from the Mac and iPhone tracks, but will most likely favour those from the latter as I’m more green in that topic area (and after all, isn’t it de rigueur right now?)

As previously noted, this will not be my first time at a developer conference. It will, however, be my first time at one of this scale. FileMaker DevCon typically has an attendance of around 1,400 to 1,600, if I recall my figures correctly; WWDC 2007 had over 5,000 registered developers according to Steve Jobs’ keynote. Add to that the potential for a massive increase in attendees this year due to the influx of people interested in jumping on the iPhone development bandwagon, and it should be nice and cozy in Moscone.

Having said that, what I need to keep in mind is while there will be many times more people at WWDC than FileMaker DevCon, Moscone West is also many times larger than the conference center of the J.W. Marriott Grande Lakes, where the latter event has been held these last two years.

What I Hope To Get Out Of WWDC 2008

My long-held desire for wanting to attend WWDC is split about 50/50 between gleaning as much information as I could about developing for the Mac platform, and hanging out with other developers. I’m signed up to attend Buzz Andersen‘s 5th Annual WWDC Party and have another developer meet up in the works. I hope to at least get to say hello and introduce myself to a bunch of the developers I’ve come to “know” through the MacSB and cocoa-dev lists, various and sundry blogs, and most recently, Twitter.

To be clear, I don’t just view this as a chance to hang out and relax at a conference. I’m heading to San Francisco in June because my boss feels it will be beneficial to me as an employee first, and as an independent developer second. This will be a business trip. The bonus of the situation is that the information I take in will be equally applicable to my coding for Kepi Software as for potential future projects at work, so it’s win-win. Plus, when the sessions are over for the day, I’m off the clock so the options for what I do with my time are wide open!

The Bottom Line

I’m pumped, both professionally and personally, about attending WWDC 2008. Let’s see:

  • learn more about developing Mac and iPhone applications
  • hang out with fellow developers, and possibly meet up with some that were/are motivating factors for finally getting Kepi Software up and running
  • try to photograph some lemurs in the wild
  • check out San Francisco for the first time

Yes, please. And as Daniel Jalkut put it, “…most people at the conference won’t know me when they see me”. You can study my ugly mug in my Twitter profile image. See you all there!

Next stop, C4?2


  1. And on the company’s dime, at that! The primary reason I received the go-ahead from my boss was the potential for developing in-house iPhone OS (and to a similar extent, Mac) applications in the future.
  2. That one I’d have to pay for myself. I’m heading to Japan for 3 weeks in November, so I’ll likely have to wait for C4[3]