WWDC 2017

Jun. 11th, 2017 12:40 pm
tensegrity: (Default)
I finally won the lottery and was able to attend WWDC this year in San Jose.

Good grief, were there really only 5,000 attendees? It felt like twice that many. It was a lot of people and a lot of time spent in crowds moving from one place to another. On the other hand, Apple has definitely had time to figure out how to manage this type and size of event. There was a small army of staff functioning as cheerful and intelligent sign posts and bollards to back up the crowd control ropes. The timing of the presentations also left plenty of time to exit the enormous presentation rooms, get to the other end of the convention center, and line up to enter another enormous room for another presentation even with crowds so big that no one could move quickly.

There was a lot of thought put into the various break areas, and I do mean various. You could sit outside at a table or on a towel on the green (sadly, astroturf) parts of the plaza. You could camp out on cushions in a stepped seating area integrate into the main stairs. There was a bright seating area. There was a darkened hall that also had monitors showing the current presentations with closed captioning. There was music, just loud enough to cover the crowd noise, and places to sit out at the edges of the halls where there was no music. There were options for soft comfy seats, tables for groups, and tables for just working. And just about anywhere you went, you could find an electrical outlet.

The food options always included vegetarian and healthy choices, and the quality was decent. Once I figured out the timing and placement of snack services, I didn't have to worry about going hungry or being thirsty. The biggest issue with eating was finding a place to sit, and that generally meant having another chance to chat with someone from somewhere else in the world, whether from Germany or China or South Africa or Puerto Rico. I even met someone else from Kansas City.

Yes, there were women attending. Not enough of them, but they were there. I even had to stand in line for the bathroom a few times during the week. I even ran into a few black females developers. Honestly, there seemed to be fewer black developers than female developers attending, in spite of tickets being handed out via lottery. Still, it was a wonderfully diverse group of nerds.

It's great to see Apple continuing to push the implementation and use of accessibility features. It helps to put a human face on the people it really helps. (As much as I try to push for accessibility in the apps I work on and have for years now, I was still caught off guard by what a difference Siri makes in the lives of some people. I confess that when it came out, I thought of it as a silly convenience, not an accessibility feature. I was wrong, Thank you, Todd Stabelfeldt.) I still think it's potentially even more effective to show decision makers that properly implementing accessibility helps everyone, not just people you think of as disabled. Apple could do even more by requiring that accessibility features be implemented where appropriate in order to put apps into the app store. One step at a time.

So, I had a good time and learned a lot. Even more I have an enormous list of things I want to learn more about now that I'm back home. So many exciting ideas was a huge take-away from the experience. Still, one of the downsides to this even for me is that really using all this lovely technology tends to require getting locked into the Apple ecosystem. In my work world, that is almost never an option. Apple has chosen to chase profits over market share, but my clients have other constraints on their business choices and that affects what I can do. So I have to look at all the shiny toys with an eye toward the real world. If I sell a particular technology, can I also support it on Android? Life would be so much easier (and yet still complex and challenging) if I were only supporting one platform.

Would I go to another WWDC? Oh yes. Will I get to go? I don't know. At this point I'd be tempted to pay my own way if my employer wasn't willing. The problem is that just having money isn't enough because of the whole lottery thing. And if my team grows over the next year (and I'm surely hoping it does), we won't be able to risk having the entire team go to WWDC, and having finally been, I'd have to step back and let someone else go. Maybe I can try to go to Google IO nest year instead.

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