If you want some hardcore technical training, do you go to a conference?
There’s so much great content available online. Much of it is free. And you can digest exactly what you need and skip things that are irrelevant to your immediate needs.
But conferences are incredibly valuable. I have had many "aha!" moments at conferences. I’ve made and solidified extremely valuable industry relationships at conferences. A conference trip can be a great chance to clear your head from day-to-day operational/development concerns to consider larger questions of architecture, patterns, technology choices, etc.
Don’t go to conferences for technical training. Go to broaden your horizons. Go to engage in conversation with peers and industry experts. Go to find out what’s working (and NOT working) for other developers in the trenches. Go to be inspired. Go to reset.
Recently I’ve been having conversations with various folks about the value of traditional technical conferences, especially in light of the current economic turmoil. Training budgets are normally slashed during economic downturns. Fair enough. Postpone training the whole team on C# 3.0. But send your top folks to the important conferences. During bad financial times you need to evaluate current approaches and consider future directions more than ever!
I bring all this up to remind you about DevTeach.
DevTeach is a great conference. The next instance is coming up soon (December 1 – 5, 2008). Last I heard there was still room. But you should not go to DevTeach for technical training.
(BTW, there’s a Last Minute Special for DevTeach: Register 2 attendees and get a free registration!)
I don’t believe that the greatest value of a conference is from training, but that is how DevTeach is promoted ("Training you can’t get any other way"):
So I politely posit that you should ignore that marketing message and consider the following reasons to attend DevTeach Montreal 2008 specifically:
Keynote:Why the Next Five Years Will Be About Languages by Ted Neward
Ted Neward talking about the future. Enough said IMHO.
No Microsoft marketing fluff. Nobody towing the company line. Authentic voices saying what works, what doesn’t work, what’s crap, what’s gold, and what’s important to pay attention to. It’s not the training, it’s the insight and advice that is so valuable.
Access to Speakers
Want to talk to an industry expert about ALM (application lifecycle management)? Wait outside Joel Semeniuk’s last session and buy him a beer when he’s done.
Want some honest opinions on Entity Framework? Want to debate best practices for source control? Grab Barry Gervin in the hallway (well, don’t literally grab him…).
Want some insight into how ASP.NET scales? Richard Campbell will be milling around and he rarely runs out of things to say. And if you offer to buy him a drink, check the price first… I’m just warning you in advance. :)
The speaker-to-attendee ratio at DevTeach is fantastic. You really can spend time asking questions and picking the brains of speakers in the hallways or at the hotel bar. (Figuratively picking their brains – no developer zombies, please). Many of these speakers get on stage at TechEd and other major international conferences where they are swarmed after their sessions.
All Attendees Get Visual Studio 2008 Pro, Expression Web 2 and Tech-Ed DVD
That alone is worth the admission price.
Party with Montreal .NET Community (Wednesday Dec. 3th)
Don’t discount the value of these networking / social events. While the bartenders and servers are out back making fun of all the geeks talking gibberish (and the shocking male-to-female ratio), you get a chance to hear other developers share their experiences.
Too Late for DevTeach Montreal 2008?
This post is probably not coming early enough for you to hop on a plane for DevTeach on December 1st, but keep an eye on www.devteach.com. There should be instances coming to Vancouver and Toronto in 2009. Plan to be there!