A late WWDC08 impression September 25th, 2008
A very late post since WWDC08 was in June of this year, but better late than never applies. Going to San Francisco solo was quite the experience as you can imagine, but you've got no chance to sit still when you're there. The city is full of life, and the sights are unbelievable. Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge are absolute musts for your tourist itinerary and San Francisco is simply an amazing place to be.
WWDC08 proved to be very enjoyable and interesting from day one, and never disappointed. I missed access to the keynote because I succumbed to my caffeine addiction at a Starbucks, and had to see it in an overflow room on a video-screen. Apparently you need to get up at 5 o'clock if you want any guarantees that you're gonna see Steve Jobs in person. Too bad, but it was fun nonetheless.
The Mac OS X State Of The Union address by Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, was really cool, showing you all the upcoming technologies and new features in the upcoming version of Mac OS X called Snow Leopard. Regarding features it was revealed that Snow Leopard would be a maintenance release and wouldn't contain a single new feature. Instead Snow Leopard is going to be fully 64-bit and it's focus is going to be stability and performance. Wil Shipley is going to be glad, because I heard him state to an Apple employee he found Leopard to be riddled with bugs on its release last year and he had never seen an OS release from Apple with so many bugs.
The sessions were plentiful,very interesting and a joy to follow. There weren't as much hands-on sessions as other years because of the emphasis on the young iPhone SDK. The sessions would tackle a certain topic at a intro-level at the beginning of the week and more advanced sessions on each topics would be held on thursday and friday. A lunchtime speaker event Small Teams, Complex Pipelines: Writing Software at Pixar was a very interesting look behind the scenes of in-house software development at Pixar Animation Studios. All in all, you couldn't get bored at WWDC even if you tried to!
Each conference room had excellent video-screens and presentation staff on hand to smooth out any problems including large mixing desks in the back of the room to provide crystal clear audio to the masses. People who whine about the entry price for conferences like this should try to organise one and pick up a renting bill for 20+ large Mackie Mixing desks and accessories. And I'm not even considering building and maintaining the conference network infrastructure. Excellent wireless connectivity and ultra-quick wired connections throughout the entire Moscone building, and specially designed websites for your iPhone to keep you up to date with the schedule and events of WWDC08.
A WWDC08 ticket isn't exactly cheap at 829 Euro, but for that price you get a nice breakfast buffet each morning featuring bagels and donuts and all the coffee and juice you can drink, excellent lunch salads and chilled sodas, unlimited coffee and juice all throughout the day, and all the excellent track, labs and sessions of course. If that's not enough, buffets are provided on evenings where there are late tracks or events like the Apple Design Awards which to my surprise featured applications built by Dutch and Belgian companies: Macnification and Checkout!
Speaking of Belgians, I literally bumped into some Belgians at WWDC08 at breakfast. I was minding my business and dressing my warm bagel with some cream cheese and suddenly found out all the people on my table were Belgian.
I also met up with Werner Ramaekers who I had contacted just before I stepped onto a plane to San Francisco and seemed to be attending WWDC08 also. I discovered his Belgian sounding name on the Yahoo Upcoming page for WWDC08. Turned out he not only was an ex-resident of my hometown Tessenderlo but a nephew of my best friend and a basketball fan like myself. No problems finding conversation topics during dinner with the hometown-connection and the 2008 NBA playoffs in full effect during our stay in San Francisco. We attended the Beer Bash at Yerba Buena Gardens and enjoyed beers and food while Phil Schiller introduced the Barenaked Ladies to the stage.
Another example of a stroke of luck: walking into a Borders at Union Square with a shopping list called 'books to buy' containing an entry of Neuromancer by William Gibson to find him signing books on the top floor. At that point I was hoping to walk into Francis Ford Coppola while (finally) buying my copy of Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier ;-)
I'm already looking forward to WWDC 2009 and can't wait to be in San Francisco again.
Check out all my WWDC08 photos on Flickr