2020 has certainly been a challenging year for many due to the COVID-19 pandemic that’s swept the world. Many companies are enforcing working from home as its main strategy now, and even more (rightfully so) aren’t requiring any travel. I, myself, haven’t traveled anywhere except to get essentials since at least early March, and the company that I work for has suspended all travel for the foreseeable future. We certainly don’t know when this pandemic will stop, but life has to begin to operate again at some capacity.
The first sign that we saw of some normalcy in the tech community was Apple continuing their WWDC conference, which kicked off the week of June 22, 2020. This year the conference was entirely online and pre-recorded. To me, this made the conference even better, and dare I say: This was the best version of WWDC that I’ve ever witnessed in the 15 years that I’ve been watching them. The fact that the keynote was pre-recorded left Apple with an enormous creative pool from which to draw from to make the nearly 2 hour video engaging and entertaining.
The session videos also had amazing production value and were able to be shorter and more concise, even though they contained the same information as would’ve been presented on stage. A lot of this was due to the fact that they didn’t have to shuffle people in and out of a physical space, or deal with the dreded live demo bugs that crop up in seemingly every live demo at WWDC. The recorded videos were also available immediately due to the fact that Apple didn’t have to send them to post production to iron out any issues. I was able to glean information a lot quicker and begin implementing the new technology sooner thanks to the shorter sessions that had an almost “live code-along” feel.
Many may know that I’ve not been to WWDC since 2015 due to the cost and the seemingly increasing difficulty rate of actually getting a ticket to the conference. In fact, I’ve never won the ticket lottery for WWDC, and the whole exclusiveness of it is a bit off-putting — even when I was just starting out in iOS development, the sheer cost of a ticket was unimaginable for a high school and then college student. The fact that the conference was available exclusively online and free to everyone this year has surely helped keep more people from feeling excluded from this amazing developer community.
360 iDev 2020
One of the conferences that I love, but have never been able to attend in person due to schedule/travel conflicts is 360 iDev. I’ve attended their 360 iDev [min] conferences before, but not the main conference. 360 iDev is a community-driven Apple developer conference held in Denver, Colorado, that focuses on a lot more than just the technical details of how to implement a List view in SwiftUI. It delves into the impacts of tech in our world, and touches on topics that are much needed to make developers better people as well as better developers. For example, this year’s Keynote touched on the social impacts currently ongoing in the US; another session touched on how to make user interfaces more accessible for users of all types. Sessions like these set 360 iDev apart from many other developer conferences.
This year, the conference was forced to move online due to social distancing guidelines. Depsite having to accomodate this new format, the conference moved on with all 3 days filled with great content, great speakers, and lively Slack rooms filled with chatter.
The conference utilized hopin.to to handle the video streams, and even had a Chat Roulette style feature that let you meet face-to-face with conference attendees and sponsors to swap contact information, or just catch up. This was definitely a next-level virtual conference experience that left me fully engaged with the speakers and their presented content.
This year has been anything but normal, but I’ve loved being able to continue to connect with the developer community, to continue to learn about exciting new tech, and grow as a community in our changing (and challenging) world. Both of these conferences have helped me to do that, and I’m extremely grateful to both Apple and 360 iDev for continuing to go ahead with their conferences this year.
I hope that if WWDC is fully virtual again next year, they follow a similar path as 360 iDev did with the ability to chat with attendees, or even have face-to-face enagement. I feel that really the only aspect I missed from WWDC was bumping into developers and being able to talk about things or catch up.