This last weekend I attended, and spoke at, NCDevCon 2010 in Raleigh, NC. As expected, NCDevCon was a great conference put on by an amazing crew of dedicated volunteers.
ContentThe content of this conference was very different than last year's CFinNC. Personally, I think the content this year appealed to a much wider audience. Last year's conference was clearly more focused on ColdFusion, CFML and Flex. This year, the focus seems to be more on Web Development, RIA's, and more general topics, yet with hands-on sessions that promoted the education of non-CF and Flex people on those technologies. I thought it was a great plan.
Unfortunately, because I was TAing, preparing my own presentations, and being interviewed for DZone, I did not have a chance to attend as many presentations as I had hope. But those presentations I did attend were fantastic.
Eric Cobb's - Hands on ColdFusion Session 1I was TA for the first hands-on ColdFusion session taught by Eric Cobb. TAing is a lot of fun. It gives me a chance to meet and help out new developers, which is one of my favorite things to do. Eric is a great speaker with a good presence. His session was well done, and I am glad I was there to help him stay focused on the content while I helped a few of the students with technical issues.
Dee Sadler's Flash Catalyst and UI design and Fireworks, UX/UI and WireframingThe two presentations I was most looking forward to for this conference were from Dee Sadler. Dee did NOT disappoint. Flash Catalyst and Adobe Fireworks are two products that I have heard a lot about, but with which I have ZERO experience. Dee's presentations showed me some of the power and usefulness of each. I was especially impressed with the wire-framing capabilities in Fireworks. I have had Fireworks installed on my machine for the last two years and have never realized what I was missing.
Adrian Pomilio's Rapid Development with Flex and GrailsAdrian's presentation was an eye-opener for me and was, I think, one of the biggest hits of the conference. I questioned whether or not I should go to it, but following Dan's advice, I took a chance. Adrian is a powerhouse speaker with a presence that won't let you turn away. He kept my attention the entire session with great examples, good advice, and just enough content to pique my interest and show me what's what without digging too deeply into the specifics.
Simon Free's Hand's on ColdFusion Session 4I TA'd for the first half of Simon's hands-on session. Again I had a great time working with the n00bs ;) and really enjoyed meeting so many people with an interest in ColdFusion. Simon is a fun speaker who is always good for a laugh (usually at him).
AttendanceThe attendance at the conference this year was disappointing, I think. It really seemed like there were no where near as many people as last year. I really have no idea why that might have been. It certainly wasn't due to a lack of great content, nor was it due to the price (FREE!). I heard a lot of speculation about what it might be, but I hope that it won't discourage the organizers too much. I want to see this conference succeed year-after-year.
One speculation I made about the conference is: I wonder if the registration for the conference opened too early. Could it be that people got excited, registered well in advance, and then forgot all about it, made other plan, etc? I wonder if teasing the registration for a while and then finally opening it only a few weeks to a month before hand would help keep some of the excitement alive. Again, I am just speculating, I really have no reason outside of my gut to believe this would make a difference.
FoodFor some reason, some people judge a conference by its food offering. Last year there were a lot of complaints about the box lunches, persoanlly, I liked them. I ate mine and Ben's.
This year's food was fantastic. Incredible BBQ and Chicken with classic southern side-dishes. It was the most unique eating experience I have had at a conference and they were fulfilling, comforting meals.
Networking EventThe Saturday networking event was help at The Flying Saucer in Raleigh. The Flying Saucer may be one of the greatest places on Earth. Many of us also went there on Friday night. The atmosphere was great, the service was super, and the company was perfect.
Last year's networking event was at a nice place, but the music was too loud. This year's event was at a great place and the talking got too loud. But that is a good thing, because it means we were actually able to talk. If next year's event is held any where else, I will skip it and go to the Flying Saucer instead ;)
ConclusionI regret that I had to leave the conference after lunch on Sunday. It was the only time I could get out without waiting an extra day. I missed primo content at the end of the day. But NCDevCon, in my opinion, was a success and I can hardly wait for it to happen again.
Great Job to all of the volunteers who helped make it happen. I will now attempt to name as many as I can. Sorry to those that I miss.
- Dan Wilson and Shannon Scarlett-Wilson
- Jim and Brenda Priest
- Byron Raines
- Roger Austin
- Bucky Schwarz
- Dennis Clark
- Simon Free
Like I said, I know I missed people. Sorry :(