Long before I founded Real Software, I was a software developer using other development tools. I regularly attended conferences and seminars. I was in California and most of those that I attended happened to be in California as well which made it easier. At first I wasn't sure if going would be worth it. I would look over the session descriptions and there were always many that I found interesting but were they worth the cost and the time? Couldn't I obtain this knowledge elsewhere for less? In some cases perhaps, but in others I couldn't. Session descriptions rarely adequately describe the value of the session and almost always end up being worth it.
But the most valuable part of attending a conference I found was something not described (or at least not sufficiently described) in the conference marketing materials: networking and interacting with fellow developers. Spending a few days with others that use the same tools I was using was always extremely valuable. Talking to the developers that actually created the tools was great too. I better understood why things worked the way they did and often picked up pointers that I wouldn't have discovered any other way. Discussions with other users about how they use tools, the kinds of software they create, etc., were always far more valuable than I had thought they would be.
Seminars and conferences can also be valuable if you are just considering using a particular development tool. When NeXT was gearing up to start selling their new computer, I went to a seminar to check out the tools they intended to provided, talk to the people from NeXT and see what other developers like me thought.
Now that I run a development tools company, we of course have our own conference which will take place this April in Orlando, Florida. For me, some of the reasons I attend our conference are of course different than the reasons I attended conferences in the past. But the most important reason has not changed: talking to other users. Those in-person, one-on-one and group discussions with Real Studio users are terrific. It's not just being able to put a face with a name. It's getting to know these developers and understand them better. To hear what they are doing with Real Studio and why they do it, is extraordinarily valuable and there's just no other way get it.
In this amazing world of technology in which we live, there's really nothing that can replace face-to-face. With all the time we devote to our tools, the cost of a conference continues to be well-worth the value.
|Picture courtesy of Thomas Tempelmann|