XDC 2014 Random Thoughts

Anyone who has been following this blog for any length of time knows that I love the Xojo Developer Conferences.  It’s my one time of the year that I can talk shop all day and night.  Here are some random thoughts on XDC 2014.

Las Vegas: I know a lot of people love, Love, LOVE Las Vegas.  I don’t.  I don’t gamble.  I can only take so many shows, and heaven (and my wife) knows that I’m not there to chase the girls.  Las Vegas is an adult Disney World with a license to lose your inhibitions.  But besides all that I feel that we lost a major part of what I really love about the conference.  Talking with other developers.

The Monte Carlo Hotel has somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 bars and nightclubs.  As the night progresses the ones further from the gambling room close and force you towards the game room.  The music gets louder too making it tough to, you know, have a conversation.

In years past the hotels had a single bar and while it might have closed at 1 or 2 AM it was the one spot you could ALWAYS catch another developer.  This big mega hotels in Las Vegas, not so much.

Another thing that really sucked about the Monte Carlo was the WiFi.  It worked (sometimes) on the first two floors.  In our rooms we had an ethernet cable.  Hello!  2001 faxed us and wants their ethernet back.  I’ve not been in a hotel in the past 10 years that didn’t have a WiFi system (even if it was paid access).  Thankfully, people brought (or bought) Airport Express cards for in-room connectivity.

Needless to say, I will have strong reservations about going to an XDC in Las Vegas again.  Perhaps it’s time to go back to Austin for a year.  Make it a homecoming!

The Battleship Code Contest:  I understand how these things go, they just didn’t have enough time to come up with a NEW contest.  It would have been great to come up with a gambling theme since we were in Vegas.  I was not the only one that was disappointed.  Last year there were close to 30 contestants – this year 11.  It was fun to see the tournament in action.  Geeks cheering on each other is good.

Perhaps the community can come up with an alternative game for next year.  How about something that involves Xojoscript like a battle bot game?

Community Sourcing for Session Topics:  This came up in the Feedback session.  It would be nice to have a period where the community could offer and vote on ideas for sessions.  Then, those of us that would like to speak would have to pick from one of the top X voted ideas.  I think this is brilliant as it might help attendance and breath some fresh ideas into the sessions.  It might also make us get out of our comfort zones a bit and do some real research.  I realize I’m probably in the minority of speakers on this one but I love this idea!

Engineer Vetting of Session Topics:  My entire team collectively attended every session.  The feedback I received from them was that some sessions were awful from the first slide (if there were any slides).  Every session needs to have the question asked:  What is a developer going to get out of it?  And then the slides need to be reviewed with the question:  Will someone looking at these PDF’s in six months even know what they were talking about?

Recordings of Sessions:  This one comes up every year and Xojo always shoots it down.  I get their reasoning:  they want quality, blah, blah, blah.  This is the twenty-teens.  Video is everywhere and it’s SO damn easy to do it this one baffles me.  Sure, I get that they want people to attend the conference but they could also SELL these videos to the community.  Make it 4 or 5 months AFTER the event.  Income streams is a good thing.

Make Slide Decks Available:  Again, like the video, make them available to the community 4 or 5 months after the event.  In a lot of them it doesn’t matter if they were released today.  There’s not enough detail in them that really explains anything.  The details are spoken out loud and the slides are section headers.  For me, they are a reminder of what I heard at XDC.

Do you have any thoughts on XDC 2014?  Where do you want XDC to be held next year?

12 thoughts on “XDC 2014 Random Thoughts

  1. Bob, I agree about Vegas. it is hard to sit down and have a coversation. The casinos want you drinking/gambling. they dont want you on wifi or in your rooms. or worse sitting in the casinos/bars/etc and not gambling/drinking (like you are a 20yo frat boy) and having an actual conversation.

    I would love to crowdsource ideas for topics. Every topic I have submitted (or talked on) has come from crowdsourcing. Christian gave me one topic. Paul gave me another one. etc. I dont have a clue what to talk about. I dont know what others might think is useful. This goes for the local user groups I attend. I get requests for topics.

    as for videos. we all know why there isnt any videos. Geoff wants us at the conference. Well some people it is cost prohibitive (like living is a country not equal to USA) or cant make it at the time of the XDC (like me this year). or whatever. Releasing the videos 3, or 6 months later would be another revenue stream for them. Even if I attended XDC, I would almost always buy the videos. Why? so I can remember what people said or see the sessions I missed as I was in another one. There is no reasonable reason why we dont have videos.


    • I too, would probably buy the videos, though it would be nice if it was a considerably lower cost for attendees than for non-attendees.

      Or maybe that gets included in the Pro Licenses six months after the event. Lot’s of ways to skin this cat and have it be helpful to everyone.

  2. I came the closest I’ve ever come to attending one of these REAL shindigs, but as usual I looked at the venue and decided against it. Las Vegas: bzzzt. Orlando: bzzzt. Texas: bzzzt. Apart from anything else, it’s impossible to make a mini-vacation out of the conference. I dislike places that are hot, humid, tourist traps, or buried in the middle of conservative America. I would like to see a conference on the west coast (e.g. Seattle, Portland, San Francisco. Even San Diego at a pinch).

  3. Las Vegas may be nice every few years, but for next years I hope for some other locations. The Omni Hotel in Austin was nice and very central in the city. Also again in Denver/Boulder would be nice as there we could also drive into the Rocky Mountains and the airport is huge to get good flights.
    Finally going back to Orlando 2016 would be nice for taking kids to Disney World.

    • I’m not sure the Omni could handle a much larger audience. The meeting rooms were pretty tiny, if I recall correctly.

      Denver area would be nice. Great area to sightseeing.

  4. It was two times in the omni with 100+ people.
    Even all in the ball room for dinner one day.

    And the nice thing was that you had a round floor with snacks and surrounding the conference rooms.

  5. Even if videos aren’t an option, it would still be great to be able to get the slides a few months later. The company could charge enough that people would still consider going to the conference as their primary choice once they factor in the enhanced learning from presentations vs. slides alone, the Q & A after each presentation, meeting and talking to fellow developers, etc. If I was still able to work, I wouldn’t hesitate to go to the conference (it was both informative and fun).

  6. Attendence at XDC is limited to 100 or so attendees plus the entire Xojo engineering staff.
    Xojo, on the other hand claims to have 250,000 or so non-attending users.
    And these people are not to have videos of the presentations nor even the lecture slides.
    It’s hard to see an upside from the p.o.v of a non-attending user.
    Xojo engineers, in addition to the time spent at XDC will also presumably have prep time and recovery time.
    And all this time is time not spent meeting schedules or fixing bugs.
    So what exactly is the point of Xojo’s annual XDC?

  7. More community recognition
    Recorded videos

    I so agree with these two items. I also feel they’re such a lost opportunity for Xojo, who should be doing everything in their power to get people to get up to speed with and in love with its product.

    More community recognition happens in many ways, but it all seems to have been clubbed into the forums which, while nice, don’t nearly work as well as active engagement. Things like XDC session decision or letting the community complement the documents with their own clarification and examples would go a far, far way into making people feel more invested and in turn evangelize the platform more. Feeling you’re making a product better in a tangible way is the best incentive to promote that product.

    As for recording the sessions it’s true that in this time and age it’s embarrassing that they’re not available even in paid form. Considering people would accept a straight unedited video transfer plus the slides on the side (something like iTunes U does) over nothing, it makes no sense to argue that it’s not done because it could be done much better than that.

    It would also be enormous to those of us (of which I think there’ll be more if Xojo grows with things like the Macheist bundle) which for personal and currently unavoidable reasons will NOT be able to attend an XDC (and, most importantly, to those of us who can’t attend *ALL* XDCs). Having them as paid content is perfectly reasonable.

  8. Not really, I think.

    Everyone is stating they’d like to be the judges to that, and would pay if they consider them to be worthy.

    It’s not the same. Right now those who can’t attend an (or who can’t attend *every*) XDC are out of luck. No way to make up for not being able to attend (in my case, as stated, it’s not a matter of money but of physical impossibility)

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