As an Apple (Mac OS X, iOS) developer, the big thing every year is Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). WWDC is a week-long event where all things technical related to Apple are discussed. Back in the old days, it was just a Mac thing, were Mac geeks and developers get together to talk about soooper-sekret things pertaining to the future of Mac development. It’s not a commercial trade show. But as Apple has expanded beyond the Mac, WWDC has expanded as well, with of course iOS being a big feature these days. I do miss the old days where WWDC was a smaller gathering, almost a geeky fraternity, where half the fun of going was to see all your friends, get cool swag, and see who could Stump the Experts (Moof!). Alas, I’m sounding like an old fart now — all these young hep iOS kiddies spoiled it. 😉
But the cool thing is, with Apple’s growth, of course WWDC had to grow. Trouble is, it can only grow so much. There’s just a limited amount of time, resources, sessions, session presenters, facilities space, etc. to hold the show. Consequently, the past few years have seen WWDC tickets sell out in a matter of hours, and many developers that need the opportunity lose out. You see, WWDC doesn’t just give you information on the upcoming Apple technologies and how best to take utilize them, you have access to Apple engineers to discuss your problems and get direct help on your own app development. There’s a lot of good that comes from the direct interactions, so it hurts when you’re unable to attend.
Apple’s solution? They bring the information to you! Thus the “Tech Talk” tour.
The last Tech Talk I attended was back in 2004, here in Austin, on Mac OS X Tiger (10.4). Apple came to Austin and it was a pretty small gathering from what I can remember. A few sessions to talk about what was in Tiger. I remember leaving feeling informed and ready to tackle the new world order, but alas… that doesn’t always happen. More on this later.
Fast forward now to 2012. In the past 8 years I’ve been unable to attend WWDC regularly for numerous reasons. Bummer, but such is life. So when I saw the opportunity to attend this tech talk, I jumped. The best part? It was right here in Austin so the only travel I had was 20 minutes up I-35. What’s not to like? A mini one-day WWDC-like conference.
Apple! – Please keep coming back to Austin. 🙂
The subject of this year’s Tech Talk was iOS 5. From the session schedule it was evident it was focused on iOS 5 – not just iOS, but what iOS 5 brought to the table.
Sessions covered a range of things: iCloud, Newsstand, AV Foundation, UIKit customizations, Game Center, Xcode improvements like Storyboarding, Location Awareness, Automatic Reference Counting, and so on. All very good things. But I’ll tell you what clinched it for me were the 2 opening sessions that everyone attended.
Before getting to the conference I wasn’t sure what I would learn. I’ve been working with the Mac for way too many years, and iOS for a while now, and at least based upon session descriptions I figured I knew much of what was going to be discussed but it’d still be good to go because there’s always something you can pick up. Sessions often cover gotchas, tips and tricks, best practices, so I knew it’d be time well-spent. But the best time? Well… this always happens when I see John Geleynse walk on stage. 🙂 John’s been with Apple over 20 years, I believe. For many years he was the User Experience Evangelist at Apple and now is the Director of Technology Evangelism. So John understands what it takes to write great apps and has always worked to encourage and enable us developers to write great apps. So the moment I saw John walk on stage, I knew this was going to be a day well-spent.
Things started off with John talking about what it takes to make great apps: the key ingredients for such a thing. The following session talked about iPhone and iPad user interface design issues. Listening to these two sessions inspired me heavily. And it hit me. Whenever I attend these things, I get inspired. I see all these new and great things, I see the latest technologies, I hear about the right way to develop great apps and how to really make them. And then… I can’t. I’m all too often hampered by other factors beyond my control that prevent me from writing great apps, be it the people I work for, the people I work with, the realities of development, or what have you. It’s always depressing and takes the wind out of my sails. But this time it’s different. Hsoi Enterprises has given me a new vehicle, one only hampered by myself. I can be cutting-edge. I can be free to create. Yes there are still realities to contend with, but it’s nice to have the final say. I finally feel free to accomplish great(er) things. It’s so bad that after I got home, I only got about 4 hours of sleep because my mind was racing and dreaming of what to do. I’m working on a new project right now (details when I’m ready), and the first 2 sessions of this Tech Talk just inspired me to do better things with it. I’m excited, invigorated.
After that, I attended sessions on adopting iCloud, UIKit customizations, Xcode improvements, Location Awareness, and Performance optimization. I wish I could have attended the sessions on AV Foundation, Game Center, In-App Purchase, AirPlay, and Core Image. But alas… only so much time. It would be cool if the sessions were made available somehow, either the session slides on a DVD for attendees or recordings of the session presentations. But such is life, can’t have it all.
I learned a lot, a lot more than I expected. I also found that much of my deeper iOS exploration has been going on the right track. Things that you can’t really learn without writing iOS software. Advanced concepts of design, construction, and so on. Things that you can only learn from experience. Things I’m learning, figuring out, and were able to be confirmed by what I heard during the sessions. Quite nice, and it all strengthens my knowledge and abilities in this realm.
You have to realize, this all was provided at no cost to me. Apple flew out some 20-30 employees (maybe more), rented out the convention center, provided breakfast, lunch, snacks, and even wine/beer and cheese reception, t-shirts, brought all their presentation equipment. I mean, this was a huge production and I don’t know how much it cost. Then when you consider they did this same talk in New York, Seattle, Berlin, London, Rome, Beijing, Seoul, São Paulo, as well as Austin? Wow, what did this cost Apple? It cost me nothing. But what does Apple gain? A huge developer following. It’s an investment in their platform and products because the more successful we developers can be, the more successful Apple will be. I’m thankful Apple sees the value and merit in doing such a thing, and I’m thankful to John Geleynse and his team for putting on the talks. I’m looking forward to the next one.