Pivoting our format

A brief history of time

“The largest room in the world is the room for improvement” — Anonymous

2016 feels like aeons ago. It was a very odd year, strange and frightening, exciting, ground-breaking and unforgettable. Some of us became fathers and some of us got married. We all mourned the passing of so many legends and craved for a better 2017.

It was also the year of the first edition of SwiftAveiro.

v0.1

In spite of having a large and skilled iOS developer community, there hadn’t been a proper Portuguese Swift-dedicated conference yet. The scene was vibrant however, with fantastic meet-ups that left us looking for more. In an effort to raise the bar, SwiftAveiro was born.

We sold out in less than a month and brought 96 developers from across the country. It was a pretty standard single-track conference with just five speakers, barely any goodies and a spartan coffee-break, but feedback was overwhelmingly positive, mainly thanks to the quality of the talks and speaker friendliness.

A promising start, especially since we didn’t have any experience running conferences, despite its rough edges.

Amongst our flaws, lack of socialisation was on top of the list. It may seem paradoxal considering many attendees praised speaker friendliness, but it does make sense: most attendees simply did not get a chance to interact with the speakers, although the ones that did praised their approachability. In short: the conference itself was structured in a way that made interacting with them difficult.

This was a thorn on our side because networking was one of our topmost priorities. SwiftAveiro is, after all, an event about the community and if the community doesn’t have a chance to interact directly with our speakers then we’re failing our prime directive.

Bringing the Alps to the Atlantic

Inspired by a very interesting conference that one of our speakers (and now full-fledged organiser) organised, we’re pivoting our format to something new and experimental. We want to try it out with the Portuguese community, see what works and what doesn’t, tweak it, make it our own and share our experience globally. In our opinion, this is a format worth exploring.

In short, we’re forking the Alps.

The main idea is to promote learning through experimentation.

In regular conferences, the amount of knowledge we take with us is limited since we tend to forget details as time passes. We’d adopt an idea or two and ignore the rest, wasting valuable information that could fundamentally change how we work.

To fight this, we’re hosting a series of workshops led by high-quality speakers (aka mentors): Benjamin Encz, David Rodrigues, Ellen Shapiro, Greg Heo, Ivan Bruel, Jorge Ortiz, Krzysztof Zabłocki, Ørta Therox, Rui Peres and Sally Shepard.

Each mentor will teach a small group of attendees at a time, split them in teams and guide them towards a common goal. The idea is to try out new technologies, libraries, patterns and methodologies with an expert right next to you. This is important because we learn a lot via experimentation and failure and we seldom have the time to do it.

Muscle-memory matters.

Each attendee should work also with someone new all the time in order to a) socialise and b) learn from each other. Pair-programming is highly recommended!

We feel this format will allow attendees to bring home a lot more know-how (and friends too).

Moreover, since each workshop takes only a small number of people, everyone will get their chance to interact with the mentors. We’re hoping this interaction will continue outside the conference thanks to the nature of Aveiro itself. Being a small city does have it advantages; most bars (and even restaurants) are geographically close. We believe people will group organically and hope they get to socialise a lot more than last year.


Current status

This year’s edition will be held at Hotel Imperial (right in the centre of Aveiro) in June 1st and 2nd. Tickets are currently still available and for more information please visit our website.

We’re super excited and working hard to get everything up and running.

Looking forward to see you in June!