NSConference 2011

I’ve just returned home from NSConference, a conference for Mac and iOS developers. Rather than recapping what actually went on (and Alex Blewitt has posted some excellent notes about day 1, day 2 and day 3 on his blog) I thought I’d offer some general comments and opinions which may help waverers decide if they want to go in the future.

The format has evolved slightly over the last few years during which it has been taking place and this time it ran for three days and consisted of five keynote presentations, 16 technical presentations, 22 blitz talks and several technical support labs. Like the previous two years numbers were limited, this year to 150, and it was a complete sell out within days of the tickets going on sale. Although it will inevitably cause a scramble for tickets next year it is great to see this because two years ago when tickets went on sale for the first NSConference sales were understandably slow and the organisers really worried about whether it would be able to go ahead or not.

All of the speakers are primarily developers and designers and as such are not professional presenters but every single one did a fantastic job and standing up in front of up of their peers didn’t phase anyone which is a remarkable achievement. Everyone was well prepared and presented brilliantly, something they should all be very proud of and is certainly much appreciated and admired.

This year the technical presentations ran for around 30 minutes which is shorter than they have been in the past. However this not only allowed more presentations to be fitted in but it also, and perhaps more importantly, seemed to focus the speakers more and made it easier to concentrate and absorb the information. The blitz talks were about usually around 15 or 20 minutes long and were fantastic snippets of knowledge and information covering a wide range of topics and which added to the depth of the conference as a whole.

That’s not to say that the keynote or technical presentations were all code-orientated and in fact this year the spread of topics was much wider than it has been in the past. In addition to some great indie business-related presentations where were a lot more design orientated ones which were great, and in many ways more valuable since we were imparted with the sort of thought-provoking ideas which are very difficult to pick up from reading an article or a book.

NSConference started out as a conference with a European focus although the second year saw NSConference USA being launched for the trans-Atlantic audience. However, despite NSConference USA taking place again this year the European conference was well attended by American developers which gave it a much more global feel and it was fantastic to finally meet some of the more far flung Twitter avatars in person.

The venue was the same as last year, Wokefield Park near Reading. The conference facilities are generally very good with the only real complaint from attendees tending to be the slow and over-saturated WiFi network. The staff at Wokefield Park are great and very attentive and helpful and even manage to cope with late-night, generally the worse-for-wear, revellers admirably.

I’m sure that the people who attended this year’s conference will be keen to go again next year but, if you weren’t there then I’d strongly encourage you to go and meet some of your fellow developers in a great environment. In fact a tweet by Dave Verwer summed up one of the things that makes it such an amazing and welcoming event: “#nsconf is also amazing for a complete lack of ego. No sign of it anywhere. Truly an asset to the Apple developer community.” Indeed. Regardless of your experience or notoriety you’ll find NSConference very welcoming and friendly.

I’m sure that there will be many, many more available but whilst I was writing this Alex Rozanski (aka Perspx on Twitter) has posted some photos of the even to his Flickr account which are available here.

A huge thank you to everyone involved in organising and running the event, to everyone who presented and to all the delegates for making it a fantastic three days. I’ll see you all at NSConference 2012 I hope.