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After Joel's tweet:

exhausted from first #devdays. waiting for the us airways shuttle back to new york.

I thought it would be nice if someone could write a review of the first conference of SO DevDays.

Other DevDays reviews

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Why on earth is this CW? –  GEOCHET Oct 7 '09 at 22:56
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yeah kind of a bummer that oscar opted to make this CW; people should get rep for spending time on writing their thoughts. –  Jeff Atwood Oct 8 '09 at 5:14
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Here's a pretty nice review: jimdio.net/?p=23 –  Jonik Oct 8 '09 at 7:14
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Where these recorded? I would love to watch the Python and Mono presentations... –  David Pearce Oct 8 '09 at 9:48
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Why don't we just get rid of CW on meta? It serves no point. Meta is about discussions, almost everything here should be CW by the current definition. –  alex Oct 8 '09 at 11:07
    
@Jeff: I have had so many "this should be CW, there's no real answer, this is rep surf etc etc" in the past, that I marked this as CW since the beginning :( I guess that's more for the SO than the meta. –  OscarRyz Oct 8 '09 at 14:15
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A practical issue: Should we use this q for reviews of all DevDays, or have separate ones for each city? –  Jonik Oct 8 '09 at 14:26
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Should create one for each and then link them across to each other in the question area. –  random Oct 8 '09 at 14:49
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Another review on the blogosphere: blog.xpdm.us/2009/10/08/stackoverflow-devdays-boston-in-review –  Jonik Oct 9 '09 at 5:29
    
...and some more here: bundl.it/MjYwMTI –  Jonik Oct 9 '09 at 6:05
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I don't think this question should encompass all of the reviews. The authors should receive reputation for their contributions. Leave this as CW; and move on to other questions. Link the related posts here though. –  George Stocker Oct 15 '09 at 22:08
    
@George: Exactly that's what I thought when I make this CW O=) –  OscarRyz Oct 15 '09 at 23:00
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@Oscar That doesn't really make sense. If you thought the authors should get rep, why make it CW? –  random Oct 17 '09 at 8:54
    
So authors can past the link here? :P Nahh really I never thought about that, but now that George Stocker suggest it, I think that should be the way to go –  OscarRyz Oct 18 '09 at 6:54

7 Answers 7

It was very good - I would have to say that Miguel de Icaza stole the show with his Mono presentation. He was immensely entertaining and informative.

Here were my impressions:

  • Keynote (Joel Spolsky): This I completely missed due to showing up late so I don't know how this went.

  • Python (Ned Batchelder): Excellent presentation and my second favorite overall. Ned is a great presenter and had some really cool examples of expressive and clean Python code (spellchecker and custom web template engine specifically).

  • iPhone (Dan Pilone): This was a great talk that illustrated the process of developing and publishing an iPhone App. Dan is a very good presenter and did a great job.

  • Fogbugz (Joel Spolsky): This was actually a lot cooler than I thought it would be - Joel unveiled Fog Creek's new source control repository (Kiln) which is very interesting and exciting as well as new FogBugz 7 features.

  • ASP.Net MVC: When and Where (Patrick Hynds and Chris Bowen): No offense to the presenters but I found this the weakest presentation of all. It was very entry level and I felt that most folks would have appreciated a more advanced presentation on ASP.NET MVC.

  • Understanding JavaScript Testing (John Resig): This was very good as well - John had some very interesting things to share and did a good job. By far the coolest thing he shared was TestSwarm (Distributed Continuous Integration for JavaScript - think SETI@home for JavaScript testing).

  • Mono (Miguel De Icaza): This was an aswesome presentation that was also hilariously funny. Miguel has a very dry sense of humor that consistently brought the house down. He did a fantastic job presenting Mono and spent about half of his presentation talking about MonoTouch (Mono on the iPhone) - this was an excellent companion to Dan's iPhone presentation earlier in the day.

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Truth. Although I didn't miss the entire keynote, but only the beginning. Apparently, the biggest point that Joel was driving home was that everything a software engineer does should be done to...get laid? –  Thomas Owens Oct 8 '09 at 0:11
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I'm pretty sure somebody else made that point already. From jwz.org/doc/groupware.html - "So I said, narrow the focus. Your "use case" should be, there's a 22 year old college student living in the dorms. How will this software get him laid?" –  Greg Hewgill Oct 8 '09 at 0:37
    
Ah, yes. That's the part I walked in on. Joel went on to talk about usability and simplicity in software. –  Thomas Owens Oct 8 '09 at 1:19
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Miguel's jabs at ObjC/Interface Builder were hilarious! I was seriously impressed and inspired by MonoTouch. –  Dan McClain Oct 8 '09 at 10:53
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Given the polish of the keynote video, I half expected Joel to announce a TV series during his midday spot. And yeah, Miguel was killer. –  David J. Liszewski Oct 8 '09 at 14:30

Here are my thoughts for DevDays Boston:

Keynote (Joel Spolsky): The intro video was kind of goofy, but it served to get everyone in the mood from the looks of it. The presentation itself was actually extremely interesting and raised some good points. I actually got quite a bit out of it and I think the "Copying DNA" slide was one of the highlights of the day.

Python (Ned Batchelder): I haven't done any Python work yet, so this did get me interested in looking into it a bit more. The only issue I had was the while the spell checker was a neat bit of code, it didn't look to be like someone that could have been used "real world" where as the simple templating engine could be and I would have liked to hear a bit more about how the spell checker could have been improved for performance or if it was just something neat to look at.

iPhone (Dan Pilone): This was a good talk and some of the information on the app store was every enlightening, but the demonstration part of the talk was very basic. This is likely more the fault of the length of time than the presenter though.

Fogbugz (Joel Spolsky): The new source control repository was pretty neat, but unless you are in a position to use or possibly use Fogbugz, some people might not get much out of the presentation.

ASP.Net MVC: I'm going to have to agree with Andrew Hare in regards to this presentation in that they spent a lot of time on talking about the very basic code that is generated when you create a new MVC project. I think this could have been much better if the presentation was targeted at a slightly more advanced level than it was.

Understanding JavaScript Testing (John Resig): Very interesting presentation on JavaScript testing and definitely some good take-a-ways in the presentation. I am kind of disappointed that he didn't talk about jQuery a bit more, but the presentation that he did give more than made up for it.

Mono (Miguel De Icaza): I think this might have been an inadvertent potpourri style presentation, but it definitely had some extremely interesting content in it that I didn't know was going on in the Mono development arena. Also, Miguel managed to get quite a few laughs out of the crowed which served to wrap up the day quite nicely.

Other thoughts:

  • No actual badge was given out, instead there was a wrist band which I think was meant to serve the same purpose.
  • In terms of goodies floating around, there were some stickers and the StackOverflow ones seemed to be the most popular and a branded screwdriver from codero, plus the usual pens and pad of paper.
  • There were also copies of Painless Project Management with FogBugz, Second Edition but I'm not sure how many there were.
  • The WiFi didn't really work that well and my iPhone had no reception in the conference room. Apparently the router ran out of IP address which is why some people weren't about to get online.

Bottom Line - Regardless of any negatives, I think that overall the day was worth my time (and money) and I would definitely go again if there is a DevDays in Boston again next year.

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I picked up a copy of Painless Project Management with FogBugz, Second Edition from SO, and realized on the train ride home the Joel signed the foreword. –  Dan McClain Oct 8 '09 at 10:39
    
I assumed the books were for sale or demo only and not for me to just pick up and take. –  Jon Oct 9 '09 at 0:37
    
@Jon: This may be inadvertently ironic to point out, but that would be over literal interpretation of 'picked up', which is slang for 'bought' –  Stu Thompson Oct 17 '09 at 9:39
    
the books were 'free' at london *of course by free i mean included in the £85/$99 ticket price –  geocoin Oct 29 '09 at 15:54

I left feeling like I spent my time very well spent by going. I would have liked the internet connection to be more stable and the chairs to not hurt my back but I got so many ideas on new technologies to use and new business ideas that I'm still sorting through it all. I went to a very expensive conference a few weeks ago here in Boston and I don't think it had as big of an impact on me. I felt like the room was filled with people who were very smart and were looking to learn something cool and have fun. I think the consistent theme of "fun" made the conference a joy to be apart of.

The highlights were the funny movie during the intro, the FogBugz demo, Miguel's talk, and seeing a lot of my old coworkers. I mention FogBugz because I had no idea how good the product had gotten since I last looked at it. I never had a bad opinion of it but I couldn't stop thinking "How do I get to use this thing?" When they announced the StartUp package I was thrilled and can't wait to try it now for the company I'm in the process of starting up now. The MVC talk was interesting but just OK. I wasn't sold entirely even though I wanted to be.

If you're reading this and on the fence about going to the one in your city you should go. You're actually crazy for even considering not going.

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I'm glad I'm not the only one that found the chairs uncomfortable :-) –  Kyle Cronin Oct 9 '09 at 14:38
    
the chairs were horrible. –  tim Oct 9 '09 at 15:04

You can check out my very detailed reviews of DevDays Boston on my blog:

As I wrote there,

Overall, I think DevDays was well worth attending. On the networking side, I got to meet a few local developers (of whom I’ve posted a few pictures on Flickr) and catch up briefly with some acquaintances from school. On the technical side, I got a broad overview of several popular technical areas from leading figures in those areas.

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The best $99 I've spent this year.

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Let me rank them by really excited to be here 1-10 rating:

Miguel De Icaza (Mono for iPhone and Visual Studio, and SuseStudio.com) 10.0001
 [You can tell he feels he and his team have the best way to develop. Now with slicker tools]
Joel Spolsky (Keynote) 10
 [No trepidation about having it all go wrong was visible]
Fogbugz 7 (Joel Spolsky) 8.1
 [the day wore on, but fogbugz and kiln have great features]
Dan Pilone (iPhone) 8
 [He really wanted to show us that embedded development just has a first class set of tools in XCode]
Understanding JavaScript Testing (John Resig) 7
 [He wanted people to test their JavaScript and got more excited when talking about his distributed approach, but less so when rounding up other methods]
Ned Batchelder (Python) 6
 [The content was definitely good, but Ned wasn't too enthusiastic about the 10am slot I think]
Patrick Hynds & Chris Bowen (ASP.Net MVC) 5
 [Post lunch is tough on everyone. Had there actually been a war story told, I'm sure this would have gone up]

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Yes, I was also disappointed by the lack of war stories and Cambridge isn't that scary. –  rob Oct 17 '09 at 16:44

This is an OK idea, and I am sure it will happen, but I would like to see it kept to people's personal blogs.

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Maybe it's better the way it is now. It's easier than going to 10 different blogs. It also gives them a bit of continuity, allowing one answer to complete another more organically. –  alex Oct 8 '09 at 11:12
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I like this as well. This is META after all. What else would do besides read people talking about devdays? –  C. Ross Oct 9 '09 at 14:41

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