I hear what you're thinking: it's another developer conference. Because we don't have enough of those. But the inaugural edition of DevConf.us should prove to be more than just another developer event.
That's because its sibling event, DevConf.cz in Brno, Czech Republic, is nothing like your run-of-the-mill dev conference. So why should this latest offshoot conform to that mold, either?
Held on the campus of Boston University from August 17-19, 2018, DevConf.us follows in the footsteps of its original event, as well as its other companion event, DevConf.in in Bangalore, India, and brings unique flavor of conference to the shores of North America.
I've been to DevConf.cz a few times, and I have always found the show to be full of more interesting, non-vendor-y talks, as well as an intimate setting within the halls of the Brno University of Technology. But it took a conversation with Red Hat Platform Engineer Langdon White and Global Engineering Director Hugh Brock to help me understand exactly why the format of the DevConf events resonates with so many attendees.
"One of the things that's unique about DevConf.cz is that it has a few big name speakers, but really focuses on new speakers," White told me this week. This model works, White added, because you can draw a bigger crowd with the "known" speakers, and provide a big debut audience for developers who might not otherwise have had a chance to publicly speak. And, because DevConf events are typically located near major Red Hat engineering offices, the audiences tend to me more friendly towards newcomer speakers.
By hosting DevConf events at academic facilities, the conferences can also engage local university students with open source, White continued. Another benefit that he has seen as DevConf.cz is the opportunities for customers to meet and talk to some of Red hat's more technical employees.
White thinks it will take time for DevConf.us to mature enough to achieve that last benefit, but he predicts it will happen eventually.
In the meantime, Brock and White are busily overseeing the launch of DevConf.us, happy to see nearly 20 proposed presentations already from the open CFP, and working with hosts at Boston University to ensure a great inaugural event. The DevConf.us organizers are also working hard to increase diversity and inclusion at the new conference. White says they are debating the implementation of a double-blind presentation selection process that should help diversity at DevConf.us.
The trick will be ensuring that the conference's mission of highlighting new speakers is also upheld. Currently the selection committee is considering the addition of a point-system layer that will also let judges give weight to new vs. veteran speakers. The new-speaker emphasis is something organizers very much want to keep in place for DevConf.us.
"It gives the audience exposure to things they have never seen before," White said. Also to that end, Brock and White added that they would love to see more topic submissions around the areas of user experience (UX) and quality engineering (QE) in open source, as they feel these topics are bit underrepresented at this time.
Given the wide range of topics and the flavor of past DevConf events, Boston-area developers are encouraged to participate or attend the new DevConf.us this August. It promises to be something unique.