Conference Recap: MAX and CF DevCamp Phoenix

Since my last entry had a hint of an, “Oh, God, oh, God, we’re all gonna die” overtone to it, I thought perhaps something more upbeat might be in order.


Last month (and I still can’t believe it’s been that long), I was in Los Angeles at Adobe MAX. For the second year in a row, I’ve had the honor of helping Ray Camden and Ezra Parker organize the ColdFusion Unconference. As I spent all of my time at the Unconference, this will be more of a recap of the Unconference rather than MAX itself.

First off, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Adobe for their support in helping make sure that all of the Unconferences ran as smoothly as possible. I’m sure that what with organizing MAX proper, their resources were stretched pretty thin to begin with. But we still got whatever we needed and that’s very much appreciated.

I realize that I may come across as not completely objective, but I think the CF Unconference was an unparalleled success. The area was filled to capacity for most of our speakers (Joe Rinehart started us off on Monday and we had people around 5 deep out the door). From that first session to our final session on Wednesday, attendance was consistently higher than I had expected. That’s a testament to both our speakers and to the community itself.

Who says developers are geeks? (That's me on the right)

To all of the speakers who took the time to prepare presentations to all of the attendees that demonstrated why the ColdFusion community rocks by showing the desire to continuously strive to learn and improve, I sincerely thank you.

To the best of my knowledge, there will be a ColdFusion Unconference at MAX 2011. Unless something changes between now and then, please bear in mind that the “Exhibit Only” pass, which was $200 the previous 2 years, gets you access to all of the Unconferences. That’s 3 solid days of sessions for $200. Plus exhibit hall swag. I know that MAX itself doesn’t come cheap, and one of the biggest reasons that I hear why people can’t make it is the cost. The exhibit only pass effectively removes that particular obstacle, and I’d really urge people to look into it as an option.

ColdFusion DevCamp Phoenix

Two weeks ago (and I still can’t believe it’s been that long), Alan Rother, Nathan Strutz, Rob Brooks-Bilson, and I put together a ColdFusion DevCamp here in Phoenix, AZ. Technically, it was in Chandler, but since ColdFusion DevCamp Chandler just doesn’t have the same ring to it, we went with Phoenix.

Me leading the troops at CF DevCamp Phoenix. I obviously have their undivided attention. Except the one guy reading Ben Nadel's blog.

Overall, I’m happy with the outcome of the event. For the most part, it went well and I think that the attendees all got something out of being there. There were a few hiccups, mostly surrounding getting ColdFusion and ColdFusion Builder installed. When you’re dealing with 20-something different configurations, there are bound to be issues. If I could change one thing, I would have tried to get more “mentors” involved. There were 3 of us acting as mentors, which I thought would be enough to answer questions as they arose throughout the day. But there should have been more. I think we could have gotten the installation issues resolved more quickly, and gotten people on their way towards building something more quickly, if we had more bodies on hand to help.

Aside from that, at the end of the day, I think it was a success. The attendees, even those who wrestled the longest with the installation problems, seemed to have felt that it was a day well spent.

Thanks go out to the following:

  • Adobe – As with the Unconference, phenomenal support. They helped cover the costs of food and swag (Alan had t-shirts and USB drives made up), and sent Terry Ryan out to deliver the opening keynote. Adam Lehman, Alison Huselid, and John Koch were all very instrumental in making sure we had what we needed to do our jobs.
  • Terry Ryan – Yes, it’s his job… but after being in L.A. for MAX, Boston for RIAUnleashed, and I think somewhere else in between those two, he got on a plane to Phoenix to deliver the aforementioned opening keynote for us (and was leaving Phoenix to go directly to Australia for cf.O anz!). In spite of being drained from the traveling (and I can’t even begin to imagine, because I was drained just from going to MAX a few weeks prior), he completely nailed the keynote. He was upbeat and engaging and got everybody fired up for the day to come.
  • Gangplank – Gangplank deserves a blog entry of its own (I’ll get around to that one day, hopefully soon). Gangplank is… well, not really sure how to sum it up and do it justice. It’s a place that provides free coworking. Show up with your laptop, and they provide wifi, meeting rooms (with phones), podcasting studio… all free. They allowed us to use their facility free of charge for the entire day. Katie Charland (affectionately known as the “Gangplank Mom”) was there before any of us early Saturday morning getting the place ready. If you’re in the Phoenix area and telecommute, I’d urge you to take a day to check out Gangplank. They do much, much more than just provide free workspace. Check out their website to find out more.
  • Peachpit Press and Packt Publications – Both publishers provided books that we raffled off at the end of the day. Peachpit provided copies of the CF WACK, and Packt provided copies of the ColdFusion 9 Developer Tutorial as well as Object Oriented Programming in ColdFusion. We appreciate their efforts and their support.
  • Can’t forget Luke Kilpatrick and Sid Maestre, who held the first CF DevCamp in San Francisco, pioneering the way for others to do the same. It was as a direct result of their success that Adobe was willing to sponsor other DevCamps such as ours. Thanks, guys!
  • Last, but definitely not least, everybody who showed up to learn about ColdFusion. We had some choppy waters along the way, but your enthusiasm throughout a very long day was much appreciated by all of us that put the time and effort towards organizing the event. You made it all worthwhile, and I thank you!