Time to reinvent your developer conference trip policy

With the ticket sales storm of Build 2016, it is now officially time to reinvent your IT conference policy.

Microsoft-focused software companies have traditionally educated their developers in conferences run by Microsoft. This has been both a boon and a bane – many devs have learned their Microsoft stack well and with reasonable cost, but at the same time they have grown into the narrow-minded monoculture that has so pervaded the enterprise dev conferences. But things are changing.

Back in the old days, Microsoft’s offering for developers has been twofold: There has been the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) for product launches and a future view, and TechEd for continuous education. PDC wasn’t an every year event, but reserved only for years where there was something special to announce. TechEd was held every year, around the world – and was aimed at both developers and IT professionals.

PDC became Build, and we’ve had it every year now. It has always been a US-only event. TechEd later swallowed a few other conferences and then reincarnated into Ignite, and it has only been held in the US (once this far). Although Ignite has some developer sessions, it is really geared at platform understanding. Not really the material for most developers, at least if Ignite 2015 can be judged upon.

The disappearing dev conferences

With Ignite having retreated to the US and IT Pro worlds, developers are only left with Build. And you can’t use Build to educate your developers. This year, those few thousand tickets they sell for a Build… they sold out in five minutes.

So even if you’re ready to pay for the cost of a three-day conference in the rather expensive San Francisco, there’s no guarantee you’ll get in.

And if you happen to be one of the lucky ones, the conference is all about laying the groundwork for the future, not education for your everyday dev job.

So… With little fanfare, we have moved into a world where Microsoft dev partners need to look outside Microsoft’s conference offerings to educate their developers. Your local Microsoft subsidiary may have something, but rarely anything even close to the magnitude of a TechEd in your own continent.

What if you're a Finn?

Always keep checking www.microsoft.fi/developer for a list of local events. In particular, join us for DevTalks on 7th April 2016 – a three-track day filled with interesting local presentations.

If you're into ASP.NET Core (formerly known as ASP.NET 5) development, also check out our one-day ASP.NET Core seminar!

What to do in 2016?

Look for other options. They exist both locally and globally. Here are some ideas, mostly from a Finnish perspective:

There are probably a lot of others – typically there’s been an Oredev (in Malmö, Sweden), but I’m seeing no details for 2016 yet. Many small conferences have improved over the last few years, and getting more attendees will help them improve further.

Also, start taking your online resources seriously. Channel9, Microsoft Virtual Academy and Pluralsight are nothing to be scoffed at. Employers need to accept that just doling out subscriptions and study time may well be one of the most effective approaches to some learning challenges.

January 21, 2016 · Jouni Heikniemi · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: General

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