DevSummit 2014: Getting Ready

February 28, 2014 Amr Eldib

The DevSummit is around the corner and, with so much happening at this year’s annual gathering of GIS developers, I’m going to guide you through all you need to know with my blog series: DevSummit 2014. In this first post, I’ll give you a brief overview of the DevSummit experience.

Beautiful Palm Springs

The DevSummit is around the corner. It starts on March 10th. Time sure flies, I can still remember last year’s DevSummit. Maybe it’s because it’s easy to remember those sunny days in Palm Springs. If this is your first time at the DevSummit, get ready for some sun. It should be 30° on the first day. Get an idea of what’s it like from these pictures from last year.

Palm Springs is a small resort city in California. Out in the desert, you can enjoy a lot of hiking, biking, swimming pools and golf courses. Make sure to make time for that, between getting up to speed on JavaScript and learning about the new ArcGIS Pro. Last year, we scheduled a great hike before dawn on one day and got to capture the sunrise from (near) the top of the hill surronding the city.

Panoramic Photo I took last year of Palm Springs at Dawn

The DevSummit this year has an absolutely packed schedule. So, in this and the next few posts leading up to the conference, I’ll try to break it down for different interests.

Before the conference, you can attend some of the hands-on training, which includes sessions covering iOS, Android, JavaScript, Dojo, HTML5, Python and WPF. Only HTML5 and Dojo are sold out, so you still have a chance to register if you haven’t already. The best thing about these workshops, aside from the fact that they’re given by experts in their field, is that the entire audience is GIS developers with different backgrounds. So, you’ll get really focused questions about how the technology at hand is being used with ArcGIS.

This year, two activities establish themselves as new traditions: the ArcGIS JavaScript Code Challenge and the Hackathon.

At the ArcGIS JavaScript Code Challenge you will get a prize of up to $2500 in prizes including a pass to 2015 DevSummit for writing a JSAPI responsive-UI application in less than 100 lines. You still have to March 9th to enter. Even if you don’t submit an entry, reading through the winning applications is a great tutorial for the JSAPI.

The Hackathon is free and still open for registration. You’ll get together with other developers attending the conference to work on building an application in less than two days using Esri’s APIs, along with SendGrid and Twilio and data from County of Riverside, CA. It’s a great chance to learn by doing and watching other developers work.

If you want to learn about 15 new topics in less than an hour, go to SpeedGeeking on Monday at 3:30 p.m. You’ll enter a room with 15 people standing at their computers. A bell will ring and a demo will ensue that lasts only a few minutes, but you'll still get a pretty good idea about the topic and who is involved with it if you want more information later. Once the bell rings again, you move onto the next person, and a new demo begins. My advice: get the presenter's contact info and keep your questions short.

The big expo hall hosts the Esri DevSummit Showcase. You’ll get a chance to talk to Esri staff about your technical support or customer service questions (but you don’t have to wait, you can contact Esri Canada Technical Support and Customer Care right now). If you got certified this year, stop by the training booth and pick up your certificate pin. If you have an idea for any software or API, stop by their corner and talk to a team member. Also at the Showcase, you can see the latest innovations from Esri partners.

On Tuesday at 7 p.m., Esri customers get to demo their work at the Lightning Talks. The DevSummit is not just about technology, but also gaining experience and insight from peers – a big benefit to attending the summit.

All this leads to the main event. This year, Chris Wanstrath – the CEO and cofounder of GitHub – gives the keynote for the DevSummit. GitHub is the largest hosting site in the world, with more than 5 million members sharing more than 10 million repositories. Wanstrath was named by both Inc. and BusinessWeek as one of the “30 under 30” to watch, Wanstrath is an outspoken open-source advocate with hundreds of contributions to open-source projects. At the Esri DevSummit, he will discuss in the keynote (on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.) the value of social coding and his vision of the future.  Not to be confused with the planery session on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.

Get Ready for Some Dodgeball

Of course, it’s not all coding and nerdy fun at the DevSummit, there’s also fun for the average person. Check out the DevSummit party on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. There is indoor golf, table tennis, air hockey and a bouncy castle for the athletic among us. You’ll also find video games and pinball machines. Or, with your team you can try to conquer the dodgeball championship. Last year’s party was super fun.

The closing session is on Thursday at 11 a.m. It’s a wrap up for the conference and chance for an open discussion with the audience. Just make sure to catch the last few sessions after the official closing session.

Even though the conference doesn’t start until next month, you can get a little taste of it right now by following @EsriDevSummit or #DevSummit. Also, I’ll be posting a breakdown of the conference schedule over the next few days highlighting what’s upcoming and cool to watch.

See you in Palm Springs.

Read the next post in this series: DevSummit 2014: Exploring Crash Courses.

About the Author

Amr Eldib

Amr Eldib is a Developer Support Consultant for Esri Canada. As a Certified Web Application Developer Associate, he has 10 years of experience in both geographic information system (GIS) and software development. Amr has worked with a number of organizations in both Egypt and Canada on building and supporting GIS systems using Esri products. He’s been a blogger and active member in many developer communities throughout much of his career.

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