Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
How Apple's Developer Conference Grew Too Big for Its Own Developers (wired.com)
50 points by Libertatea 1494 days ago | hide | past | web | 38 comments | favorite

TBH, the same thing happened with Google I/O. It became a rush for tickets for free devices instead of a true developer-focused event.

The WWDC purchase process was _much_ less painful than the Google I/O process. I didn't get tickets for either, but at least the Apple process was done within minutes. Google took me nearly an hour of watching a progress spinner and retrying before it finally denied me. Kudos to Apple for how well their servers responded and not wasting my time.

I agree. I furiously kept trying for 45 minutes for IO and finally failed to acquire one. It was frustrating. Apple on the other hand closed it in 2 mins but reaching out after the failed attempt was nice serendipity.

But Apple doesn't give away free stuff at WWDC. It's also much more expensive than Google I/O. It seems most likely that there are just a lot of developers who want to go and a limited number of tickets. I haven't been but it seems like it's still a developer focused event to me.

I thought most of the content at WWDC and Google I/O is recorded and made available for free. I understand the frenzy for free devices at Google I/O. But why does this happen for WWDC?

I should note .. I managed to get Google I/O tickets once and the party was so much fun (good vibes, robots, gadgets, etc.), I felt that was almost worth the price of admission!

At WWDC, the souvenir jacket is really cool. :) Most of the worth is not in the sessions, IMO, especially since post-session Q&A was done away with. Now you might as well just watch the video. But there's hallway networking, and access to Apple engineers in the labs (I'll bet the iCloud/Core Data folk will be particularly "popular" this year). Is it worth the nearly $3000 I'll have to pull out of my own pocket? This year I decided it wasn't. YMMV, and for over 5000 people it obviously does.

Sorry to hear the Q&A is gone. Have the feedback sessions gone too?

Sold out before I got a chance. I tried getting tickets three minutes past the hour.

I don't know how the hell Apple's servers handle the demand.

One on one access to Apple engineers is the real benefit of going. All the videos are free online for Apple Developer Program members.

Is it really though?

Registered developers can already submit code level problems[1], there are official developer forums and bugs can be filed with Radar.

Meanwhile at WWDC, it's a developer scrum to get a 15 minute slot with an engineer and walk him/her through code they've never seen before.

From my experience, engineers do their best but they have always looked somewhat tired, hungry and distracted. All things given, I'm not sure it's the best environment to solve non-trivial problems, although it is nice to put a face to a name.

[1] https://developer.apple.com/support/technical/submit/

DTS is really bad. If you have a seriously difficult problem (and not just a preference for spending $50 instead of searching with Google) then it's extremely difficult to get a useful response. You never get to talk directly to an engineer, but rather go through a DTS intermediary. The whole process is slow and painful and almost always results in something along the lines of, "You shouldn't do that," or, "That's not possible, file a bug."

I've always had an easy time getting access to engineers. I hear a lot of people don't, so it must vary a lot depending on what topics you're after.

> DTS is really bad.

Maybe I was lucky. ~One year ago I had a problem with one of the Apple frameworks in conjunction with sandboxing and filled a DTS request. It took some time but the guy that I had contact with was very competent - so I guess it was an actual engineer. That or your average DTS intermediary will talk about disassembly listings with you.

Yes, the process was pretty slow but it was not painful IMHO.

Coincidentally I had asked in #macdev on freenode first and was greeted with some snarky remarks how I must be wrong as the reviewers know what they do ...

It does occasionally go well, but I would say that, yes, you were lucky. I've tried DTS many times and never had it be very useful, not even when it was clearly a bug on Apple's side that they would want to fix soon.

WWDC has never been about freebies that I can remember. I was just explaining to a colleague that WWDC was never really a marketing exercise (beyond the keynote). (Obviously it IS a marketing exercise, but it's classy enough not to seem like one.) It was devs talking to devs honestly and -- post Steve security aside -- openly.

(I attended for years and the only freebie I ever got was an iSight camera. I'm told I won a raffle for a (transparent) Newton but I wasn't there and so they drew a different winner. No, I haven't gotten over that.)

This is an interesting problem - I have a YouTube focused event called Playlist Live and we have a similar problem.

We have three primary tiers of attendees:

  - Popular creators who perform, speak and collaborate
  - Fans of the top tier who want to take it in and get autographs
  - Up-and-coming creators who want to grow
The event isn't selling out in a day and our sell-out this year was only 4200 tickets, but it's increasingly difficult to offer a meaningful experience to all three groups, especially with fans outnumbering the other groups.

This year we expanded our "Insight" track which gives up-and-comers a chance to work with the most popular creators one-on-one and it was great! The problem is that fans are willing to pay more than up-and-comers just to get access to creators, so charging more for Insight doesn't seem to separate things.

Break the fan/performance thing out into a separate event entirely? Playlist Live/Playlist Creator?

Some fans would undoubtedly still buy tickets for the 'creator' event, but I've got to imagine their willingness to pay is mostly a function of "no other good way" to ever get access to the creators they enjoy. If there was another way, a way that was geared to their interests (performances vs powerpoint) I'd imagine the numbers of fans willing to sit through a talk on SEO for an autograph would dwindle.

I mean, how many fans are trying to scam press passes to E3 anymore, now that there are things like PAX?

At this point, I wish they would break-up the conference into iOS and OS X or have some paid engineering support where we can facetime / screen share with an engineer.

It seems kind of weird that they (I mean Apple specifically) have not started doing online conferences yet. We are talking bleeding-edge development, are we not?

Apple makes videos of the sessions available through iTunes to registered developers after the conference.

The main reasons to go to the conference are to network and be a part of the spectacle.

> The main reasons to go to the conference are to network and be a part of the spectacle.

No, the main reason is the Apple engineers in the labs

Yeah that's true, too.

Yes, but that is not an online conference, that is a video recording. There is a huge difference. I mean like really huge.

You might even get time to make questions.

Honestly, if you have a limited number of something, and people know that it sold out last time in an hour or two, and then you announce the selling time in advance, all it takes is slightly more demand than capacity, and you will have a huge rush at the selling time.

Apple developers, Apple developers, Apple developers, Apple developers!

Steve Ballmer must be jumping for joy right now /s

I absolutely despise the term "developer". It insinuates that we, hackers, write code because we want to "develop," not because it's a fun hobby or because we want to find practical solutions to everyday problems.

As pg put it, "'Engineer' is a kind of bureaucratic term that companies use to refer to a programmer. 'Developer' is a slightly less bureaucratic term that companies use to refer to a programmer."

If it were called the Apple Hackers' Conference you'd be complaining that Apple was trying to be hip.

It's been called "Developers'" conference for as long as I can remember (which is at least as long as there's been a Mac), Apple's in-house magazine for people developing/hacking/programming/whatever was called "develop" until the idea of a magazine was moot. Apple called "programs" "applications" starting with the Mac and stuck to it. It's just a word -- get over it.

> If it were called the Apple Hackers' Conference you'd be complaining that Apple was trying to be hip.

Maybe there should be an Apple hackers conference for those of us who couldn't get tickets.

There used to be -- Mac Hack.

"Engineer" is definitely not a "bureaucratic term". It's an honorable title. The only reason I'm mildly uncomfortable with it is because I don't think I really deserve it, as programming, at least of the sort I do, doesn't match the level of rigor I associate with "engineering".

I never know whether to call myself a programmer, engineer, or developer. I think the reason for this is that it doesn't matter one bit and who gives a shit?

If pg has a problem with the term 'Engineer' then he's got a problem with its meaning (which stems from 'problem solving' essentially). I'd rather be called an engineer (an ingenious person) than a 'hacker' (whatever this means).

Could part of the problem be that adding an "engineer" to a title is also used as a pseudo-euphemism for low ranked workers? e.g. maintenance engineer = janitor

Well, yes, if "maintenance enginner" means janitor then obviously there is a bureaucratic problem.


Actually an Engineer should be reserved for those who actually have an Engineering degree.

It is a professional designation akin to a Doctor, Lawyer etc.

In many states, it is reserved for someone with a certificate and there are very strict rules on the words use.

We're hackers when we aren't developers. Developer means developing a system, hacker implies grinding a result. Sometimes.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact