This is not a blog about technology or coding how-to's. It's a blog about the random things I do in my life, and I did get the amazing opportunity to attend WWDC (Apple's big World Wide Developers Conference) in San Francisco at the beginning of this month. So here is my attempt to give you a fun run-through of the week from the perspective of a relatively new developer attending her first big event.
Many people know about WWDC - it's the event where Apple typically introduces new operating systems and gives a keynote presentation that many nerds (myself included) all over the world watch to see what is new and what to look forward to. This year was no different in that respect - the Keynote is available to watch online, so you can see what iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite have to offer yourself. But this year was different for me because I got to go! The keynote wasn't until 10 am, so I got into line around 7, and it was already wrapping around Moscone Center (where the convention was being held).
While waiting in line, an old man on a bicycle rode by and said loudly, "Where's all the women?!" He had no idea what was going on or why we were all waiting, but he was observant enough to see that men significantly outnumbered women. I talked to a few people who said that this year they were impressed by the number of women were attending - several times, though, I was able to look around and not see more than two women in a sea of people. On the upside, I never had to wait in line for the bathroom.
The big, exciting thing for developers this year was the introduction of Swift, Apple's new programming language for Mac and iOS developers. Without going into too much detail, Swift should be easier to read, safer to use, and more powerful. I heard mixed feelings from other WWDC attendees about Swift. Many experienced developers may not want to have to learn a new language, and it's also still in a beta stage, so it is still being ironed out. I'm excited about it, though. Everything I do seems new to me, so learning another new thing should be right in line with what I've been working with for the past year and a half.
Most people don't know or care much about anything else that happens during the week of WWDC. In addition to the Keynote, there are sessions, labs, and a handful of special events. I made it a point to go to as many sessions as possible to learn about Swift, new features, debugging, and anything that sounded useful for me. I learn better when I can focus on one thing at a time, so the lecture style sessions were great for me. Developers can download and watch them online at home, but I find myself easily distracted when doing something like that. I also attended the Labs when I was not going to sessions. Labs are where you can sit down and ask actual Apple engineers questions. I went to learn more about Swift. Because I feel like such a newbie at times, I felt like my questions were a bit dumb, but I got some good, useful answers. Also, trying to figure out some of these things at home would have taken much, much longer. Because the language is new, there aren't as many resources online, so Googling for answers can be extremely difficult.
I also got the opportunity to go to some special sessions and events. There's the Apple Design Awards, where they give awards to developers for especially outstanding apps. I also went to an event called Stump the Experts, where the attendees in the audience "play" against the Apple experts on stage. It was pretty silly, and I knew the answer to very few obscure questions, but it was fun to watch.
WWDC has a few lunchtime sessions where they bring in people to tell their stories and share their experiences. The three this year were Natalia Berdys, an autistic developer sharing her point of view and experiences that lead her to developing an app for pre-schoolers, Dave Filoni, an executive producer at Lucasfilm talking about how he always loved Star Wars and drawing, and got lucky enough to work with George Lucas, and Leland Melvin, an astronaut who shared his experience of almost losing his dream because he went temporarily deaf during a training experience. While none of these taught me anything new about Swift or anything quite that technical, it was good to hear other people talk about their experiences and how technology or passion has lead them to where they are today.
The other exciting event that happens at WWDC is the Bash. You get to have food and booze at the Yerba Buena Gardens next to Moscone Center, and enjoy a small concert. This year Bastille performed, and made the joke that this was the smartest and most male group they had ever performed for. They sounded great live (watch below!), and I really enjoyed the evening.
WWDC is a crazy-huge event, filled with good people, fun events, and an overwhelming amount of information. Hopefully next year I'll be lucky enough to attend again!