WebDU 2010 was the first time I've managed to attend a WebDU, its always been a hard decision you need to consider the time, the cost and value of talks on offer. But this year it was easy, this is due to two things, there were a lot of topics I was interested in and there was also a Mini User Group summit the day after.
Cost and time wise its still a decent investment, is that investment worthwhile? Well for me yes. I actually enjoyed every session I attended, this was a 50/50 mix of technical / management type topics. Meeting the people you talk to on Twitter also has some value, I managed to end up sitting next to people that I follow and after talking to them realise who they were.
The event has a very different feel to MAX. Its much smaller, much more personal and has a more casual feel to the whole event. You don't book your topics, you just turn up on the day, which I was initially wondering how that would work if too many people wanted one topic, but it seemed to work, never struggled to find a seat. You got to walk away from the conference feeling like you knew a decent % of the people there.
The venue it's self was a bit dated, but it was clean and in a great location right on Bondi Beach. I really liked the close proximity of the rooms to the conference rooms, it meant you could sneak back to your room and do some work if you wanted to during lunch or other breaks. This suited me very well. The actual conference rooms were well equipped, with the mandatory water, mints and really good sound & video. I wasn't in a single session where the audio visual wasn't working.
The hidden treasure of WebDU that didn't really hit me before, is that it's not really an Adobe conference. While there is a large % of people doing Adobe stuff, other players were well represented. The final day speaker question panel consisted of Adobe, Microsoft, Yahoo & Atlassian. I really loved that they did that, and these guys like to jibe each other and have fun. Interestingly enough, 3 of the 4 people had actually worked for Adobe at one point.
The speakers were very good, and aside from the good quality topics the speakers were generally entertaining, I found Terrence Ryan's talks very good and Tim Buntell's Muppet was classic.
And finally the organisation of the event was top notch, Geoff Bowers and his team, seemed to be able to sit down calmly and let it all happen without raising an eye brow. Sessions started and finished on time and everything ran like clock work. There is nothing worse than missing the first 10 minutes of a talk.
I would like to see Twitter handle & perhaps avatar on the ID, some people wrote it on. The ID should also be printed on both sides, these things keep flipping to the blank side. For someone that doesn't attend many conferences it would make it easier for me to identify and connect with people.
The Mini User Group manager summit was also good, turned out to be different than I expected, we did probably 50/50 strategy / socialising. But there was defiantly a lot of passionate people there that are working hard to help the community.
Overall I was very impressed with the entire event, I actually preferred WebDU over MAX, the main 2 factors being the size and the mix of vendors. I will definitely be back or send others in following years, we will also be attending Remix2010 and cfobjective ANZ this year and perhaps others.