How to Host a Developer Event

Posted on 04 October 2011 by Johannes Fahrenkrug. Tags: Programming

I'm currently in Berlin attending an event by Nokia and Microsoft that supposedly should attract developers to the Windows Phone 7 platform. The event enticed me to write about what (from the perspective of an attendee) would be the important ingredients for the success of such an event.

  • Reliable, secure, and fast WiFi. Preferably, it should be free, too. But I'd be willing to pay a reasonable fee for it, as long as it's fast and reliable. Also, please don't make me log in on some website every half an hour. It's terribly annoying.
  • Power. Out. Lets. Enough of them. I like to go online, code, and try out things during the event. Please provide enough power outlets so I'm not inhibited in using my machine.
  • USB sticks with whatever SDK you want me to learn and work with. If the SDK is not 4GB (I'm looking at you, Xcode), and the WiFi is fast and reliable, you might not need USB sticks. Otherwise, it's in your (the event organizer's) interest, to get your SDK on every attendee's machine as fast and as easily as possible.
  • Give me a device. This sounds presumptuous, doesn't it? But think about it: Companies want you to develop for their platform. The success of their platform depends on you writing software for it. If you give a developer a device, the chance that he/she will at least play around with it and possibly even try writing an app for it is very high. That's exactly what you want. Developers might spend some of their free time to learn about your platform if you give them a cool toy to play with. Don't miss that opportunity.
  • Don't bore me with slides all day. At your event, you don't just want to market your platform to the developer. Your event might be the one shot opportunity to lower or completely remove the threshold for a developer to develop for your platform. The most effective way is to let developers follow along on their own machines. Tell them what to install a week or two before the event and have USB sticks ready for the ones who did not get around to installing it before the event. Then slowly develop a simple app step by step for everyone to follow along. Everyone will get aquatinted with your tools and your platform and you'll lower the threshold more than you could ever do with the prettiest slides. You want developers to go home and keep on developing for your platform. Don't miss the unique opportunity to remove that threshold during your event and actually get everyone started.
  • Have knowledgeable developers on site, not just marketing people.
  • Have great coffee.
  • Have an easy, central spot on the web to find all the source code and links to the relevant documentation.
  • Have microphones for the Q&A.
  • Provide real contact email addresses of the people you can contact when you have a question.

Those are my thoughts. What do you think? What did I miss?


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