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Finally Conf-Down



I tweeted this morning as I was updating my spreadsheet at upcoming iOS / macOS Developer Conferences, which I use to maintain a conference page (and anime conventions because I'm) invalid. com. I have also come into this survey to provide a segment to the occasional CocoaConf Podcast (iTunes, Overcast) This post will deal with the changes in the scene I have seen recently.

<img src = "http://subfurther.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/confs-spreadsheet.png" alt = "Spreadsheets for future iOS and macOS developer conferences [19659003] The immediate and Clear takeout is the significant contraction in this room for the past two years. After my countdown, the United States now has only 9 conferences exclusive to iOS / macOS developers (in approximate chronological order for this year):

  • Forward Swift
  • Teki -Con
  • RWDevCon
  • 360iDev
  • 360iDev
  • ] WWDC
  • AltConf
  • Swift by Northwest
  • Swift Summit
  • Try! Swift NYC

I say "just" because It was only about 4 years ago that CocoaConf conducted more conferences than this in itself for a single calendar year. And now, CocoaConf itself is gone; its organizers, Klein family, are conducting a single annual conference in place, Swift City Northwest. The remaining conferences are held almost entirely on the coast in cities such as N YC, DC, and of course SF. Only one is in the south, and no one is in the Midwest, Texas or southwest.

[It should also be noted that in some years, Apple runs a world-wide traveling series of “Tech Talks”, often when they have a new platform to build support for. The last one was in 201

5, and promoted the Apple TV SDK.]

In the spreadsheet, I use the event type "Later" to denote a conference that is expected to be held in the next 12 months but has no date yet and "defunct" for conferences I do not think will be held again. As I said on Twitter, my criteria are disabled. "No events have been happening over the last 12 months, and no one scheduled as now". Because of this criterion, this is my list of recently developed Apple developer conferences:

  • 360iDev My
  • CocoaConf
  • CocoaLove
  • DO IOS
  • IndieDevStock
  • NSC Conference
  • NSNorth
  • NSNorth
  • NSScotland
  • Playground
  • Úll

I did not include release notes on this list because their latest podcast episode made it clear that while they do not hold a 2018 event they are not hanging on either; It seems like they want to change the year they hold their conference. Daniel Steinberg also tweeted at me to say that both Do iOS and NSNorth have said they hope to return and similar feelings are expressed on the IndieDevStock and Playgrounds website. So, you know, maybe they are not all died.

[Also, I’m not interested in tracking conferences that went away many years ago and will obviously never return, which is why I don’t bother with an entry for Voices That Matter: iPhone Developers Conference from seven years back or the O’Reilly Mac OS X Conference from 15 years ago.]

 OReilly Mac OS X conference bag from 2005 or something

To keep things interesting, I track some conferences that are "close enough" to be of interest to This community, such as conferences for the IT professionals (Mac Admin & Developer Conference UK, MacAdmins), Mac PowerUser Events (MacStock), and did you know that it's actually a Conference for Film Maker Developers? Because it's actually a FileMaker Developer Conference. This variation is nice for the video track, which I use as an interstitial when I live, so I can give my voice a break.

Yet, I think it is interesting to note that there has been an obvious, significant contraction on the conference side. Some of the survivors seem to be healthy (Ray Wenderlich says RWDevCon is almost sold out ), so is there any way to sense what is and does not work here? Some thoughts …

IOS is Old News

The obvious explanation is that after 10 years, iOS is old news that most people want to work with it already do, and there is less travel / training money available . It makes sense, to a point, but if so, how can the No Fluff Just Stuff tour do 17 events this year, hawking old warhorses like Java and ours?

Still, the idea that iOS is old and unsexy can be seen in the fact that almost every new conference focuses on Swift, even put it in its name: dotSwift, try! Swift, Forward Swift, Swift by Northwest, Swift Summit, etc. Good for marketing, but as a speaker I find it a bit restrictive: I do not feel like I could talk about saying, debugging with instruments or automatic layout in storyboards since they really would not be about Swift. One reason I do not plan any conversations this year is that I just do not have any novel or insightful to say about Swift at the moment, since I do not currently work as much as many other people are.

Apple Development is a Bulldog

 WWDC 2017 Main Entrance

Each conference is completely overshadowed by WWDC. It used to be that no one would hold a conference between June and October because the new pieces on WWDC would still be technical under the NDA so you could not officially speak publicly about them. That meant that all you could talk about was necessarily old news, which led to an August conference for a hard sale.

Today, WWDC is almost impossible to come in and all its videos are quickly made available to non-participants (last, most or all of them have been live streamed). So if you're only interested in getting Official Info from Cupertino, just stand in front of the fire hose.

And frankly, that's what most want. If you see the platform as just a collection of APIs, tools and languages, you can argue that third parties are unable to bring anything else to the table. It's not like there are many third party tools that most iOS developers use – Cocoapods and Carthage, I guess? Maybe SwiftLint? God forbid RxSwift? But most of them are built-in pieces. So if you can already get an increase of them, why travel for something else?

[Well, I’d argue things like clarity, novelty, and honesty: speakers with real-world experience can talk about how the APIs hold up in real life or if they’re not as good as Apple says, they can offer insights into more advanced uses or unanticipated issues, they may be able to offer more passion and excitement than WWDC engineer-speakers, etc.]

Few personalities can sell seats

Another factor is whether people are going to see certain speakers or not. Who is really familiar in iOS / macOS develops circles? It's not as if we have many open source projects with leaders who follow. Many conferences relate to bookwriters (like me), but book sales continue to decline, so I do not suppose we have much to do.

Bloggers? John Gruber of Daring Fireball rarely speaks, for example, at the 2014 XOXO Festival, and of course in his live episode of The Talk Show every year in WWDC. I do not remember Michael Tsai (whose link blog is important reading) ever do conferences and I draw a blank on other remarkable names.

Podcasters? We do a little better there. Daniel Jalkut and Manton Reece of Core Intuition have both spoken at various conferences (including CocoaConfs in DC and Austin). OTOH, The Accidental Tech Podcast guys are rare speakers: I remember Casey Liss, who keynote a CocoaConf DC, and Marco Arment registered one under the radar at CocoaConf Next Door in the WWDC 2017 week, but it's about it. OTOH, Curtis Herbert of Independence talks at several conferences, and was the organizer of the CocoaLove conference. Yosemite by CocoaConf always used to have Andy Ihnatko, but that conference seems to be done as well.

Are you home an alternative?

Part of the conference call problem is that it is damn expensive. Even though a conference keeps the registration under four shapes, city hotel stays often cost much more than the conference ticket, as well as airline tickets and meals. You really have to hug the pennies just to spend a week at WWDC under $ 4000. It was one of the things I liked about CocoaConf: they toured and came to where the participants were (so you might run to it) and they usually create shop at affordable airport hotels instead of expensive downtown.

For international participants, border crossings are also a stress and risk, especially given the bad foreign traffic that is now official American policy. It is understandable that foreign developers would think twice about coming here (or, for that matter, non-US citizens who work for Apple would risk leaving the United States for Tech Talks, since they may not be left).

And when you think about it, if most people in the world experience WWDC on a screen, then maybe other conferences should go too.

This weekend I participated in Visual; Conference, a seven-hour web-based webinar for developers / writers / artists who work with visual novels. The presentations were all streamed via GoToWebinar, with back-channel chat and questions to speakers handled by a Discord channel. For $ 10, I had to attend hanging clothes, have a beer and nachos for lunch and learn about the iOS app giving $ 1 million per day

 Banner from vnconf.com

Videos from Visual; Conference 2018 is available as a playlist from the conference's YouTube channel.

Perhaps we can bring these worlds together. Not that a WWDC season should ever start by saying "Spoilers for Doki Doki Literature Club all …" (but would not it be good?), But maybe someone should provide an online iOS / macOS conference a shot? It may be especially good for a niche that maybe only 50-100 people in the world are going to be interested. Even with this approach, there are problems with time zones, since you do not bring speakers and participants together physically – Visual; Conference started with its Japanese speakers at 11.00 ET / 8AM PT, although this was 1AM for the speakers in Japan, and they were gracious to staying so late for us. If you wanted to keep an online conference open for just Europe and America, it will be too early for someone too late for someone else or both.

Honestly, I'd rather have CocoaConf back, but since that does not happen and it's literally not an Apple Developer Conference within a day's drive from me this year, I assume I'm stuck.


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