WWDC 101 – Guide to An Awesome WWDC

At my first WWDC,  I had a ton of questions going into it on how to make it the best experience.  Here are some thoughts & lessons learned on how to make your WWDC the best.

Be ready to learn. Grab your thinking cap & be ready to learn from every session you go to AND from every developer you meet.  No matter who you are, there are things that someone else is better at than you.  Soak up all the knowledge you can.  If you have problems doing certain things (or questions about best practices), ask questions to any one who will listen.

Map out your sessions & labs. In addition to the WWDC web site, there’s a great app for the iPhone & iPad to help you figure out what sessions to attend.  Scan through the whole week before you get there.  Some sessions will be offered more than once.  There are sessions that will be announced after Monday’s Keynote.  Check the schedule often to make sure you don’t miss anything.  Make sure you check the labs.  There are wicked smart people there who can quickly solve that pesky UIScrollView problem you’ve been working on for weeks.  You can get the app here: https://developer.apple.com/wwdc/app/

Embrace new things, but be afraid. You’ll have access to the latest OSs and sample code once you’re there.  It’s extremely tempting to quickly download all the new stuff & install the latest OSX on your computer or iPhone OS on your phone.  Slow down.  Think about it first.  There are pros & cons.  For example, if you install the latest Xcode version or operating system on your only dev machine, you’ll be able to see first hand what they’re talking about in the sessions.  However, your old projects may take work to compile with the new tools.  After installing the latest OS last year, I spent an entire day trying to get my iPhone app to compile.  Because of that, I was barely able to ask questions about my app in one of the labs.

Bring your code. There will be times when you either sleep in late or decide to skip out of a session.  There will also be times for you to go to the labs.  You’ll really want your code then.  Bring everything you’ve done & everything you have at even a prototype stage.

Bring the right tools. You should bring a computer and whatever devices you develop for.  Your computer should be set up with all your provisioning profiles, etc.  You should also bring the 3-prong extension for your MacBook’s power cable (so you don’t take up 3 plugs in the power strips in the sessions).  Last year there was free wifi in Moscone that worked remarkably well.

Keep track of your stuff. Everyone at the conference was extremely honest & trustworthy.  There were, however, people last year that got MacBooks & iPhones stolen during non-WWDC hours.  Make sure everything you bring has a password set.  If you need to get up in the middle of a session to go to the bathroom, ask your session neighbor to watch your stuff.  Make a backup of EVERYTHING before you go to WWDC.

Shake hands. Many developers by nature aren’t outgoing people (no offense, just calling it like I see it).  This is a great week to meet people.  You already have lots in common with everyone there.  In between sessions is a great time to shake somebody’s hand & introduce yourself.  Ask where people are from, if they have any apps in the App Store (or out for the Mac), what their latest project is, where they live, what their favorite session has been so far, where the best party is that night, etc.  Go out to lunch & dinner every day with other developers or other folks in town for WWDC-related things (like the press).  If you’re out at a party, offer to get drinks for people.  If you have a plan for lunch or dinner, invite other people along.  The relationships you make while at WWDC will do you more good over the next year than the actual sessions.  (Bring business cards – even if you print them out yourself.  Put a picture on your twitter account that actually looks like you.)

Be nice.  Be patient. There are lots & lots of people all trying to get to the same sessions, parties & restaurants.  You are going to have to stand in line.  You are going to have to wait for a table.  Chill.  Everything will be ok.  Everyone’s experience will be better if you throttle back a bit.  While you’re waiting in line is also a good time to shake hands with someone new.

Show off – when it’s time. Every big name Mac, iPhone & iPad-related press company will be in town.  Keep your ear out for where they’ll be.  Last year TUAW had someone who tweeted that they’d be someplace for a couple hours.  He looked at quite a few apps & wrote lots of stories.  People sold lots of apps because of those stories.  However, don’t be a pain about it.  Writers are really no different than anyone else.  They are people too.  Shake hands first.  Take your time if you can.  Be nice.

Go to the parties. There will be more parties each night than anyone could possibly hit.  It might be tempting for some to stay inside & code.  Don’t even think about it.  Go out.  You don’t have to be a drinker or partier to have a good time.  In fact, taking a couple “health nights” and not drinking is definitely a good idea even if you are a full-time party machine.  This is what’s important:  meet people, share stories, learn from each other, buy each other’s apps, follow each other on twitter (to keep in contact later…not at the party), have fun.  You can check out http://wwdcparties.com for the latest on what’s going on.

Eat & sleep. You need to learn a lot this week. It takes energy & concentration to do that.  Eat well (good food, not huge food).  There will be snacks at Moscone in between sessions.  They’re mostly sugar though – don’t plan on the snacks getting you through the day. Eat a good lunch and a good dinner – with your new friends!  You know how much sleep you need each night to stay functional.  You can maybe skimp for a day, but you’ll seriously lose out on the conference if you try to get by all week on less sleep than you normally do.

That should get you started in the right direction.  I hope to meet everyone there.  Please follow me on twitter, figure out where I am, then walk up & shake my hand.  I’ll do the same.  It’ll be great to meet you.

-Bryan Duke

 

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