I went to the DevDays event in Boston with my startup partner. I’ll describe it briefly - though bear with me because I am writing this from a laptop at a public library in the middle of Massachusets in some hippie town.
We drove up from Long Island the night before. We took the Port Jeff to Bridgeport Ferry and arrived at a friend’s house in Cambridge. My employer gave me the day off since I paid for the event myself.
Getting to the event was easy - we took the T from Porter Square to Park Street, then switched lines and the subsequent walk was pretty short. (A good thing, since like an idiot I didn’t bring a rain jacket, nor did I check the weather before packing and leaving from NY)
Registration was a breeze and of course there was some swag from FogCreek. We sat down in the auditorium and had our eardrums blasted out by the rock music for a few minutes, then we decided to wait in the lobby until the music was lowered or until the event started. The volume remained ridiculous so we went in just before the start.
The intro was almost painful to watch, but funny in some places (Joel and Jeff did a little video clip with some self-deprecating humor.) I give it a B for effort, but overall it was a little off. It was riddled with inside jokes for those people who listen to the stackoverflow podcast.
Ned’s Python talk was really good, though I expect that if you knew Python it might have been a less than time well-spent. I am not a Python developer so it was a great eye-opener for me for the power of this language - especially if you want to get some non-trivial work done quickly. He walked through code that showed how a dictionary spell checker and word-substituter worked. Succinct code and impressive functionality. I learned a bit about Python. (Monty - not the snake)
Dan Pilone’s iPhone talk was good. he gave his view on the hype and the reality of making money with the platform and dispelled the bad press/rumors about the evil empire that Apple (may have) become. He described the process and answered some questions about the process. I was able to ask him some questions during breaks as well and he was happy to spend the time answering them. For iPhone developers this was probably lots of review, but for me it was not wasted time.
The first break brought more of the abusively loud noise. People had to yell to be heard (while standing next to each other). I think Joel got a few complaints and made a joke of it later on. Someone rational had the sense to agree and eventually lowered the volume for subsequent music breaks.
Joel gave a well-prepared and slick walkthrough (amazing how much functionality he covered in the short time) of FogBugz 7.
Joel dropped a bomb and announced that he is going into competition with one of the sponsors of the show. Yep - FogBugz will have something called Kiln which allows code reviews from within the FogBugz browser as well as hosted Mercurial repositories.
I wonder what smart bear has to say about that - I wonder if they’ll pull their ads and sponsorship, or perhaps I am reading more into this than is there.
Joel gave a good demo of FogBugz 7 and I earned a few little shortcuts and time savers and one or two features. It almost makes up for having bought the last Fogbugz book (about 6.x) just before 7.0 was released.
The Microsoft dog and pony show could probably have been dropped. Perhaps I am being overly critical - especially given that:
- I was not interested in the topic
- It was getting really warm
- I needed to use the facilities
I went outside and told the staff about the heat problem. They were on it in a jiffy. Kudos to the event staff for that. I also have to say I was impressed with the toilet facilities. It was able to handle the load of all those developers pretty well. I was also very thankful for the proximity given the result of some food I had the night before.
John Resig gave a talk about some pretty impressive stuff, though I have never used java script and probably never will. It is clear he and others have done some great work in that area.
Miguel did not disappoint - he put on an entertaining show full of impressive Apple-defying feats, ObjectiveC bashing, and general humor. It was worth coming to Boston just to see him. Novell is a lucky company.
All the speakers were well-prepared and informative, though I suspect that if one worked with the technologies presented for a little time they would have known most of the content. I had assumed I would only be interested in hearing Miguel and Dan speak, but the python talk and the java script testing were really eye openers for someone not familiar with those worlds.
Although the internets was supposedly available through some magic wireless network I was not able to get on. Apparently only 1 byte of IPs was available. Not a big deal - I went outside with my iPhone to get emails and phone calls.
Lunch was yummy - there was a choice of three sandwiches with an apple, chips, soda, water and a cookie. A granola bar was available at the first break and cookies were served in the afternoon. It was at least as good as kindergarten. The sponsors and promoters did a great job at providing value for the attendees! For $99 you got fed, entertained and got to learn a bit of stuff . At the very least you had access to the presenters for more advanced discussions during breaks.
It was a good day and we followed it with a business meeting the next day with a vendor since we were in the area. I’ll try to post more about this when I have time, though there is not really much more to say.
Thanks Joel and team for the opportunity.