[Edit Notes: WWDC, the Apple developer event is something of a mecca for developers. For some, its an annual ritual. For others, its high up on the wishlist. In this post, Shalin Jain recounts his experience.]
My alarm clock is beeping and I can’t snooze it today. It’s 3:58am and the iHome dock beside my bed is at just the right volume for me to ignore. I gear up and call for an Uber; to head out to Moscone West.
It was my turn to queue up. I wasn’t surprised that there were at least 400-500 people already lined up by then. I was at the diagonal end of the building, and at about 7am, the queue extended past a couple of blocks, and Apple had to turn the single lined queue to a herd-like formation. It wasn’t until 9am that we actually entered the hall. While it does seem like a painstaking process, it really wasn’t.
Right behind me were two amazing entrepreneurs who had sold their previous startup and were in the making of their next one. We spoke until we got to the keynote hall and, wow, I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the day.
Day Before the Event
Everyone checks in a day before the event and some people actually start queuing up by noon. The first in line this time was an app developer from Fresco. People bring beach chairs and sleeping bags, and camp out to be the first one to get in. It is a darn good idea to do that if you can handle the cold weather.
The event started on time and the hall is simple yet magnificent. There is no on-stage or off-stage prop that distracts you. Apple employees and media people take the first 15-20 rows in the hall, followed by rest of the attendees.
This year’s Keynote is very unique in a way that it was purely developer focused. Everything announced for consumers – essentially the two new OS versions – is more of a platform for new possibilities for developers. This paves the way for new opportunities, APIs, stack and enhanced dev environments. There is not a single new hardware launched and yet, it was one of the most phenomenal keynotes post Steve Jobs.
Meeting Tim Cook
Next up was interacting with Tim Cook right after the keynote. He first met all the partners and special guests that included the likes of Box CEO, Aaron Levie. He spent a considerable amount of time meeting developers in person. He spoke to many of them and he surprisingly even recalled some of the repeat attendees and greeted them like they were close friends. He was so humble, approachable and was in no hurry to leave.
Many of us had the selfie moment with him. It wasn’t anything like a picture with a celebrity, as he shook hands, spoke to me and asked where I come from and what I do.
Apple evangelists, engineers and designers work very hard to make this event happen. The volume of available labs and infrastructure to work at the event was something like I have never seen before. Developers are treated like honourable guests. Great coffee, soda, cakes, cookies, chips, fruits (lots of them) and lunch (including a vegetarian option) are served to all attendees.
The award is so focused around “Why” the app got the award rather than just making an award ceremony. There was so much to learn by understanding why the winning app deserved it and what makes it stand out. Apple appreciates the innovation coming from the development community and makes sure it is learnt and understood by other developers. This way, the bar is set very high.
Student developers get special status at the event. They are the first to be awarded and appreciated, and there is a lounge (like a speakers lounge) dedicated for them. The youngest student developer this year was just 13 years old.
Should you attend?
This event is paper-free, expo-free, advertising-free and nonsense-free. This event is focused on everything about the future of the developers and the new opportunities for them. It is also about meeting some of the most passionate developers in this area of work. And so, if you are a mac, iOS or Safari developer, you have to be at an event like this, and you would not need to attend any other event for the rest of the year. And yes, of course, I would certainly be back here in 2015.