Prompted by Ray Camden's post on this week's CF Summit in Las Vegas, I want to CFdump a few thoughts while the mental ink is still wet. There will no doubt be recaps of sessions, slide decks posted, and other technical follow-up (search twitter for #CFsummit2013 to find all sorts of useful links and posts). What I'm left with on the day after, more than anything, is the experience.
First, I get that not everybody digs Vegas. I miss the days of taking over a hotel (aka CFUnited) and knowing most of the people you passed in the halls during your stay were there for the same conference. In Vegas, once the day's schedule ended, our lttle group of 500+ got swallowed up by the Mandalay, so in that way I think the after-hours hanging out was pretty minimal for a lot of folks who didn't already have friends to meet up with. (Of those I talked to, just about everybody was having a pretty obviously good time after hours one way or another, as was I.) But there were probably just as many that wished they didn't have to navigate the casino-industrial complex to get a bite to eat or find a pint and a stool somewhere.
So in that spirit, I want to personally thank everybody who made the trip, whether you love or loathe the atmosphere. Las Vegas is local for me (the closest city of any size for Southwestern Utah), and it was really nice to drive to the hotel, no airport required.
I talked to a lot of people who were there because it was on the left half of the country, and I think there's a lot bigger CF constituency out west than has been acknowledged previously. I know this made the nights feel that much later from anybody not used to Pacific Time, but - heh - now you know how I feel when I have to be up and speaking to other humans at what feels like 5am at an east coast event. Thanks for putting up with it.
As a CF developer, ColdFusion hosting provider and general fan of the CFML community, more than anything I went into this conference interested in what Adobe has to say about the future of ColdFusion as they see it. Noteworthy points include an official Adobe Web Application Development Curriculum for colleges and universities, the promise of more CF-only conferences, and a roadmap for the CF product into 2022. I like what I see in the upcoming features, whether I'll personally use them or not, and can see the attempt to reach both new and advanced CF users, which is just what needs to happen if CF is to survive and thrive going forward. On all fronts, I was satisfied by the official statements presented (the proof as always will be in the follow-through), and even more so by the call for action back to those of us in the audience, to help extend the initiatives and spread the word. We asked for this, we got it , now... what are we coing to do with it?
My point of view has always been that a bigger CFML community is job security, so all politics, opinions, or other CF-campy attitudes aside, I got some genuine encouragement out of what I saw at this conference.
I talked to at least 5 different people or corporate teams that are moving to CF from other languages or platforms, including one group of 10 from Ohio who were super jazzed about what they were going to be able to go home and build, but even more so about feeling connected to the community after the short time they had here. There was a theme of inclusion, introduction, and feeling welcomed into something really cool from the first time conference-goers i hung out with, so on that note I say well done to all you old crusty CF 'regulars'. You managed to send a few hundred people home feeling like they have real living, breathing allies and human resources to call on during their travels in ColdFusion-land. (Now, listen to the Jedi Master and go write your own blog posts, post your pictures and videos, and keep writing and sharing cool CF stuff whenever possible.)
From an attendee point of view I actually appreciated the absence of vendor booths and tables. I think this was an important difference from other conferences, not sure if it was intentional or just an extra layer to be added in the future, but that definitely led to more person to person hand-shaking, meet-and-greeting and hey-let's-meet-up-latering between sessions. Any little gripes like air temperature or bad (ok, really bad) audio in the keynote and other first-day presentations were dealt with as promptly as can be expected. However I do feel for the guys with special dietary needs - if the initial survey or conference sign up did actually ask people about their requirements (vegan, allergies, etc), not following through was an oversight that can be easily corrected next time around.
The price point for a ticket was really fair, considering the food and open reception, the sessions were diverse and high-quality (average 4.6 out of 5 session survey rating was posted in the closing talk) and I talked to a lot of people excited to have 'found' the community. I think above all else that's what happened here. The intial expectation of 200ish tickets was quickly raised, twice from what I understand, to an eventual cap at 500 attendees, and even so there were another estimated 150 that would have come, if space was available. Getting to see all my cf buddies is great (ok, really great) but I get an equal satisfaction seeing so many fresh faces.
Say what you will, CF is alive.