Getting ready for your first WWDC
An overview of the conference filled with handy tips
It’s that time of the year again. Apple has announced the dates for its Worldwide Developers Conference 2017 and we - tech enthusiasts - can’t wait to hear what Apple has been working on.
I had the opportunity to attend last year’s event and decided to share some tips here. So get ready!
Over the last years, WWDC (pronounced dub-dub-dee-see) became so popular that Apple had to introduce a raffle system, where developers can register for an opportunity to buy a ticket. If you already got selected, congrats and be prepared to be amazed, after all, you are going to the most important developer conference of the year!
If you didn’t register or weren’t selected, do not lose hope, you may still get to enjoy the great vibe of San Francisco during that week. AltConf is a great alternative conference also hosted in SF in the same time as WWDC. It’s community- driven, developer-centric and free if you manage to get a ticket. If you are not a developer, you can also find Design and Marketing focused conferences around SF.
Now let’s talk about the specifics of the conference and how you can get the most of it as a first timer. 😀
Getting your Credentials
If you want to watch the Keynote, you want to get your credentials on Sunday. The event will be packed on Monday morning and without a credential, you may end up missing the morning announcements.
The Stunning Keynote
Apple kicks of the conference with the famous Keynote where they announce the big changes on their platform and sometimes new products. It is crazy, the press & tech industry will be talking about it on Monday, so fans and most enthusiasts attendees start lining the day before. When I saw people starting the line at lunchtime the day before, I thought it was a bit too much for me so I ended up going to the line around 3am (I couldn’t sleep anyway), and it was great! Although we didn’t end up getting great seats, I met awesome people and enjoyed a good atmosphere before the event. It’s really up to your preference here, but if you find a nice group of people to stay with, I bet you won’t regret spending your precious time on the line the night before.
Later on Monday
The rest of the day is already booked as well. State of the Union takes place after lunch, and will give a more extensive overview of the development announcements. Later that day Apple presents the Design Awards for Featured Apps that innovated during last year. It’s not as popular as the other ones, but it’s a great place to get inspired and to learn about trends & new technologies. By the end of Monday, you will probably have an idea of Apple’s vision and what is most interesting for you as a developer.
Sessions are 45–60 minutes talks about a specific topic. There are tons of sessions from Tuesday until Friday so you will need to carefully select them. The WWDC App will help you finding what’s more applicable to your needs. The topics are usually focused on new technologies announced on Monday, performance & optimization to existing frameworks and platforms. It’s very impressive how prepared the speakers are and the environment is super welcoming.
Tip: Prepare your schedule the day before and don’t hesitate to leave a session if you think your time would be better spent somewhere else.
Labs is a space that Engineers from different teams will be available to talk to you. They are generally friendly and will help you with your struggles or give advice about a specific framework/technology. It’s very hands-on so if you need help with something I would recommend having it somewhat prepared to show on your Mac. Something I heard a lot was “Have you filled a bug yet”, so if you are planning to bring bugs to the table, I’d recommend opening them beforehand.
You will have the chance to talk to an Apple Designer or App Store Specialist to get a comprehensive feedback or opinion about your apps and ideas. If that interests you, make sure you arrive early to book your appointment. Also, time is limited during those conversations so I would also recommend prioritizing your questions.
Apple invites interesting people to share their inspiring stories during lunch breaks. It’s not the most comfortable space for eating, but it’s worth it.
Taking it back home
If you are planning on passing the knowledge to your co-workers, I recommend taking notes during the conference. There is so much information covered each day that you may end up missing an important one so keeping track of your highlights can be very valuable. Another tip here is to use their Sessions PDFs to prepare your custom document or presentation.
Tip: Every session will its video and a PDF with the slides published at developers.apple.com so you can reference when needed.
Make some connections
Meeting people is an essential part of any conference. At WWDC the group is very diverse, you will find passionate developers, CEOs, designers, reporters, and even smart teenagers. They are from all around the world, and usually working on interesting projects so don’t miss the opportunity to connect with them: Be friendly and talk to people.
Also, make sure you have Twitter, it will be a great tool to connect with companies and people there. You can even try finding people near you going to the conference as well. That’s what I did last year: I searched on Twitter for WWDC posts in Vancouver – Canada, so I was able to connect with developers from my hometown even before SF.
Other Tips and Impressions
- If you want convenience, get a hotel near Moscone Centre, that way you can save some time when jumping between activities.
- Download Xcode from the wired network spaces. They have adapters to thunderbolt port and they are fast! You will have it in seconds.
- The Internet was great for the most part, but I found useful having my LTE as a backup when it didn't work. I recommend Roam Mobility.
- Apple has a great Music selection in between sessions, so if you into Music, I’d prepare Soundhound or Shazam for them. This Music Playlist I made from their selection can take me back to the conference in a matter of seconds.
- Lyft and Uber are great ways to quickly move in SF.
- More importantly, hold to your belonging. I ended up losing my wallet on Tuesday and it was an adventure. Not having money or cards in a different country is bad enough, but keeping the immigration document in my wallet made the trip back home a bit stressful, so watch out for your documents.
During WWDC, San Francisco gets packed with Techies all over the world so many companies will host parties/gatherings in the evening to either advertise their product or get developers to like them. There is a super handy app and website that will show you what’s happening that week. Don’t forget to get your tickets before, as they sold out pretty quickly. If I had to pick one event from last year Tip: I would choose #fabricParty hosted by Twitter.
Apple celebrates the conference with a party called Bash and it happens on Thursday evening. It has great food, good selection of drinks and a Live Music Band making the perfect time to interact with new friends after a busy week.
Beautiful San Francisco
San Francisco is a great place for sightseeing and there are several things to do as a tourist so if you can make some time before or after, I would definitely stay a bit longer and explore the city. Tip: If you want to visit Alcatraz, make sure you book it in advance.
Other than touristy places, you can approach companies you like and ask to visit their office as well. That also includes a little trip to Mountain View and Palo Alto to visit Apple and Google.
WWDC is an exciting conference to be at and it affects the whole industry. Apple announces its vision of the future and empowers developers to make better and more useful applications for its platforms. If you got a ticket or make to SF, make sure to make the most of it!
Hope you enjoyed the tips and if you are still anxious you can read the two most interesting posts I read before my first conference:
Feel free to add more tips or ask questions in the comment section! #goApple