Andria’s WWDC 2012 Experience
As a first-time WWDC attendee, I didn’t really know what to expect from the conference. I anticipated that it would be amazing and extremely educational since, after all, it is an Apple event. However, from the very first moment it exceeded my expectations in every way. If you’re ever thinking of attending WWDC in the future, I advise that you go for it. It’s well worth the money, and it’s an experience everyone should have.
Here are the takeaways I have and things I’ve learned to do or not do the next time:
I didn’t actually attend the real keynote because I’d been told I would need to line up the night before to make it in. However, I know some guys that lined up around 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning and sat in the fourth row. So I think you need to arrive early, but not at 7:00 the night before, like the first guy in line did.
Having watched a live blog of the keynote instead of actually sitting in the room, I can say that I regret not standing in the line a few hours early and getting in to see the real thing. I’ll get in line early next year.
I felt like I was at an amusement park all week. Not because of the awesome fun I was having (though that was also the case), but because of the unbelievably long lines everywhere I turned.
For almost every session, people lined up 10-15 minutes early in order to get decent seats, and in some cases to even get into the session at all. For the really high-demand sessions, the lines formed an hour or more ahead of time and wrapped around in a long snake formation through the entire building. I ended up missing several sessions I wish I had been able to attend simply because I didn’t get in line early enough.
I don’t know what the solution to this is, but I feel like Apple needs to take a good look at it and resolve it. I think they could possibly have the new technology kickoff sessions arranged like the keynote, where they use the largest rooms but have overflow rooms for those that don’t fit. These seemed to be the highest demand sessions that everyone wanted to attend, but I know several people that didn’t get to simply because they couldn’t fit.
The moral of the story here is to be sure to get in line early if you want to attend a specific session.
This is, of course, why one goes to the Apple conference…right? The sessions throughout the week were extremely educational. There’s nothing like hearing about a new technology — or best practices for using an existing one — from the engineer who worked on creating it. Some speakers were amazing, and some looked like they might have a panic attack at any moment. But overall these sessions were exactly as I expected they would be — helpful in a very direct and useful way. For the ones I wasn’t able to make, videos are available for download, and I intend to watch every one of them.
I didn’t really understand the purpose of labs before going to the conference. But once I understood what they were, I knew how awesome and helpful they would be.
Basically the labs are just an area downstairs in the conference center where Apple engineers from all different groups are available to answer your questions and help you with any issues you have. I had questions ranging from how static libraries work, to why a specific bug in my application was occurring. It took about a 5-10 minute session for each issue to resolve problems that I had previously spent many hours trying to figure out. Not only had they been resolved, but I now magically understand why they were occurring in the first place.
This was by far the most underestimated and under-hyped portion of the conference for me. I had no idea how excellent the labs would be, and in the future I’ll be making lists of things to ask the engineers when I get there so I can make better use of the labs next time.
If you go to WWDC, you have to go to a few of the parties.
Even if you don’t go to the conference, you may want to go to San Francisco for the week just to go to the parties.
There are a lot of events each night – some are invitation-only or RSVP-only, and some are completely open. There are a few websites and apps that will tell you exactly which ones are happening each night and how to get in. You’ll want to plan this part of your trip ahead of time, so you don’t get stuck without an RSVP to something you really wanted to go to. Usually, you’ll either find that parties will provide you several free drink tickets or just have an open bar altogether. You’ll also find that most parties will have some form of food available.
There’s also the WWDC Bash, which has open bar and all you can eat food available, as well as a live band of some recognition. So, if you play your cards right, you could eat and drink all week long without shelling out much money.
And, you’ll meet lots of new and interesting people if you don’t act like a reclusive, introverted, nose-to-the-grindstone software developer, and actually interact with those around you