after so many years traveling to San Francisco to attend (and speak at) EclipseCon…
… this year first time I had a 2nd trip to SFO to attended BlackBerry DevCon 2010:
So I thought it’s perhaps a good idea to make some notes where both conferences are equal and where they differ from my very personal POV.
It’s not easy to compare a small-budget-conference from Open Source communities like EclipseCon with a vendor-hosted-conference like BlackBerry DevCon. I noticed this from the beginning: DevCon has so many staff supporting the conference – I couldn’t believe 😉
The conference location at Marriot Hotel in San Francisco was very well choosen: enough space for session rooms and discussions – even the places where you got lunch were not so crowded as known from some other conferences. Only the session rooms were some degrees too cold.
The registration was well organized: you had to login to your registration data at one of the registration PC’s and then you got your badge immediately at the counter. Next step was to get your gift: a BlackBerry sweatshirt – and this was really nice: you could inspect all sizes and try to wear if it fits – so this was the first conference I got a sweatshirt with perfect size for my long arms and not looking baggily 😉
curious: after registration on sunday I went back to my hotel near Powell / Mason Street and of course visited the Apple Store. ‘hey ekke‘ … a german BlackBerry developer I met at Mobile Times Düsseldorf recognized me 🙂
sessions, labs, keynotes, developer day
as always at good conferences: there were more sessions then time to attend. I have to admit that the sessions I selected at DevCon were from high quality. the audio and video equipment worked well and in all session rooms it was easy to switch between presentation laptop and a camera to beam the screen from BlackBerry devices. I attended sessions from all areas of BlackBerry mobile development: UI + navigation, network, communication, integration, tooling, location based services, AppWorld, push services, browser, bb maps, SuperApps, command framework, OS6, TabletOS and more.
from EclipseCon I always like the daily Keynotes, where speakers from everywhere provide ideas and experiences and sometimes confront the audience with opposite views.
this was totally different at DevCon: the main conference (monday to wednesday) had no daily Keynotes but one large ‘General Session‘ on monday afternoon where RIM presented the new tablet, new SDK’s etc (if you’re interested you can watch the General Session)
on thursday was the ‘DeveloperDay‘ at DevCon – a day where RIM listens to the developers: the whole day round-tables and discussions – could be compared with BOF’s at EclipseCon. I attended discussions about Developer Tools, Location Based Services, AppWorld and BlackBerry Messenger SDK: open discussions and it seems that RIM really wants to know what developers need and where things can be done better.
this last day also had a great Keynote – and the speaker was not from RIM 😉 Ted Cohen talked about how the digital revolution already changed and will change the music industry. I really enjoyed this presentation.
one thing I noticed: there were no “Zen-style” presentations at DevCon.
mobile conference app
there was a free BlackBerry app you could download from AppWorld: the DevCon mobile Conference Guide. Of course it’s a good idea to have all your sessions and rooms available without starting your laptop.
but I wasn’t really satisfied with this application: I expected a BlackBerry SuperApp 😉 … but from my POV this app missed some of the keys of Apps the users like:
navigation between days was difficult: no menu to jump between days. there was no data caching: all data was always reloaded again, which is a great idea at an international conference where data traffic could be expensive 😉
there was no real integration: I expected that my sessions would be automagically integrated into my calendar, but there was only a button at each single session to create a calendar entry and if you hit the button twice, you got 2 identical entries.
the software to manage the conference was great. this starts with your registration at home: you could select your sessions in advance and got immediately feedback if there’s a free seat. if a session was moved to another room or timeslot you got an email.
each time you entered a session room your barcode was scanned and at the end you had to fill out the session survey from the website or from your mobile app.
you also got an email about outstanding session surveys.
the conference software doesn’t end with the conference, because now you have access to “DevCon on Demand” – this means not only access to all slides and sample code:
but also to audio with transcription which is very helpful if english isn’t your native language
this is really awesome – and again one point where you see what is possible with a higher budget then available for low-cost-open-source-conferences 😉
even if you didn’t attend the conference, for a single fee of 19.99 USD now everyone can get access to the conference.
talk with the experts
… an area where you could ask the experts and also arrange one-to-one meetings.
during the whole conference you could discuss with the experts from RIM about Java Development, Web Development, UI Design and Development, Enterprise Development.
My questions were answered qualified 🙂
if you had very specific questions you could also arrange an one-to-one meeting with one of the experts to take a look at your sourcecode. There were experts for Graphics and Animations, Data Storage, Application Integration, Multimedia, Networking, Location Based Services, Security and Cryptography, Debugging and Optimization, Themes, AppWorld, Locate Services, Push Services, Commercializations Services, Web Development, Go-to-Market and BlackBerry Developer Program.
I could imagine that this would be a good idea for EclipseCon, too. Experts for RCP, WTP, RAP, Equinox, EMF, ….. available for developer questions. I’m sure that there would be some experts from community or committers spending some time to support others.
closed vs open
of course some things were different between EclipseCon and BlackBerry DevCon !
at Eclipse there were discussions and open processes and you know exactly what each project is planning for next releases and when this release is planned. at DevCon you never get an information when exactly what is planned. per ex. OSX Support was demonstrated and can be downloaded as a technical preview. but without simulators and only debugging on a torch device, so its worthless at the moment. and no one tells you when you could expect the next release of EclipsePlugIn with OSX support. Same with TabletOS: no information when will Java SDK be available for Tablet.
I really like the eclipse way 😉
developer conference == developer conference !
doesn’t matter if DevCon or EclipseCon – both are developer conferences and as always most import is talking with other developers, exchanging experiences and discussions. I like to meet others face-by-face and not only in forums, twitter or emailing.
there was also a great party and some receiptions with great food and drinks 🙂
over all it was a good atmosphere and even it was my first DevCon I got in contact to many other developers – so it seems, that next year I’ll again travel two times to San Francisco and attend EclipseCon in march and DevCon in september 😉
this reminds me that EclipseCon 2011 CfP just opens:
I have to submit some talks from enterprise and mobile development 😉
I’ll also talk about my experiences with BlackBerry Eclipse Development at