Maybe It’s Time For Virtual XDC

For many years I’ve been a huge fan of the Xojo Developers Conference (XDC). It was the highlight of the year where I could see the many friends I’ve made with Xojo developers around the world. I was also able to meet a lot to prospective clients too. I enjoyed the one-on-one experience with friends, clients, and Xojo staff. I enjoyed learning a bit about what’s coming up in future versions of Xojo.

Yesterday we learned that XDC has been postponed again. This time from October 2021 to the end of March 2021. It will still be in London.

I loved everything about XDC. Except maybe the travel, the cost, and few attendees. I helped defray the costs for 10+ years by speaking at the conference on a variety of topics and as a consultant I could write off much of it because of meeting prospective clients. But at the end of the day the attendance of the conferences hasn’t changed much in the years I’ve been attending and a good chunk of the audience are people that I’ve already met. While I like the people I’ve met as a consultant I wanted to meet many more new people.

If we’ve learned anything in 2020 and 2021 is that maybe we don’t have to go to conference. Many (most?) developers conferences decided to go virtual. That idea seemed absurd a year ago, to be honest, but now? Not a bad idea for several reasons:

a) The pandemic is still happening and travel is restricted and/or hazardous.

b) Why limit the attendance to those that can afford it? Having a virtual conference means many more people could attend and no one has to leave their home. Sure, it’s not as much fun but it could be more productive.

c) It’s less expensive to have an event. I mean, sure, Apple does professional level presentations for their major announcements but after a full year of Zoom, WebEx, GotoMeeting, and so on I think most people are fully aware of what they’re getting with online video.

Anyway, those are my thoughts after thinking about it overnight. I’m sure I’ll attend another XDC in-person at some point in my life but it would have to be the right location and timing with everything going on in my life. A virtual conference would almost certainly let me attend.

What are your thoughts?

12 thoughts on “Maybe It’s Time For Virtual XDC

  1. You missed the environmental impact that traveling has.

    Then there’s the convenience.

    I thoroughly enjoyed Apple’s virtual Developer Conference. As I could not follow live due to the time difference, being able to download the talks that interested me and watching them when I had time was brilliant.

  2. What would you like to see on a virtual conference?
    Have some pre-recorded videos (like keynote) be published at a certain time? Or streamed via YouTube maybe?

    Put attendees in a chat like, discord, so they can live comment them while watching?
    That’s great as someone may post more context information or someone may post a question there and someone else can answer right away.

    You would probably not get what you like most: Sitting with attendees in the lobby or a bar later to discuss their problems and discuss how you could help as a consultant.

    maybe we can get some local events for fall or do some get together virtual.

    • My favorite part was sitting around in the lobby and bar/restaurant and talking shop for hours on end. I liked the keynote address when Geoff actually told us about stuff – but now that it’s more guarded it’s not nearly as much fun. Having the keynote and other major presentations prerecorded could be a good thing.

      I seriously doubt that I’ll attend any Xojo events in the foreseeable future. I’m not consulting and I can’t justify the cost and I doubt my employer will be inclined to send me either.

  3. Going virtual would make the conference accessible to a lot more people but, like you, one of the things liked most was meeting everyone & talking face to face.

    And often I would take time after the conference as a vacation.

    So while I can see why virtual would expand the conference there are aspects I’d miss.

    Much as Ilike getting together I’m unlikely to attend one in the near future so maybe virtual would work for the time being

    • I went to the conferences for the people and contacts – not the content. But what you and I wanted/needed from a conference like XDC is not the same as what many (most?) others need.

  4. Bob, you hit the nail on the head. These were my thoughts last year and I had also suggested this to Xojo. Live conferences can be good, but the fees Xojo charges for them, while understanding the organization etc., are just too unattractive. I would be happy to pay €50 for a virtual XDC pass so that Xojo can use it to cover IT costs. In addition, interested people with a small purse and from the last corner of the world would then have the opportunity to participate in an XDC.
    In my opinion, Apple did a good job last year of showing what such a format could look like. Zoom presentations, for example, also offer the advantage that you can see the visual presentation directly on the screen, compared to a seat in row 10 with a weak projector. So, I only see advantages in virtual delivery.
    Maybe this blog post will encourage the organizers to think about it.

  5. Good post Bob!

    I wish I could have not gone to Miami XDC 2019. After the keynote and Web 2.0 not being ready, I really wanted to just go home. If it was streamed I could have just turned it off.

  6. Disclaimer: I doubt I’d attend given how long I’ve been out of this particular game. 🙂

    Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with the virtual format. I love the accessibility of the events. Being virtual means people without the means to travel (childcare, work, money, etc) can still attend and that’s a *huge* bonus for the event in terms of speakers and attendees. That said, I hate how it impacts the socialization aspects of the events because even thoughtful planning can’t really replace getting together with people for lunch/dinner/drinks.

    I did see one virtual conference with a pretty neat idea — the software had a virtual meeting place that showed “tables” with topics associated with them. Each table was shown as a big circle with the avatars of who was “sitting” at the table around it, and it would list a topic of discussion. People could join and leave tables as they wanted during any point of the conference, so it sort of acted like a hallway discussion area. It wasn’t perfect, but it was an attempt at solving the problem which was pretty neat and worked somewhat well.

    For something like XDC, I think a virtual format makes a whole lot of sense even if it’s not perfect.

    • Virtual vents definitely have pros & cons
      One thing they definitely do well is, or can, lower the bar to attendance and so can expand the audience dramatically.
      For Xojo that would be a great thing as the conference has been about the same size since the very first ones way back in Austin.

      Trying a new format cant hurt as it certainly doesnt mean you can never go back to an in person one. It might even improve attendance at in person ones.
      You never know until you try

  7. I’m currently enjoying WWDC. I download the videos in the morning and watch one during a break. Great stuff there.

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