What I learned at Develop Denver

What I learned at Develop Denver

Develop Denver BadgeKnowing that I’m not a coder, my boss suggested I attend Develop Denver. This isn’t a typical conference sponsored by high-brow vendors, sporting an exhibit floor of dozens of wannabe high-brow vendors, attended by suit-wearing professionals interested in networking and getting free conference swag.

Develop Denver attendees are wearing shorts and t-shirts, arriving by bike and skateboard. Almost everyone has a laptop in a sling, most laptops are MacBook Pros. Many have tattoos and piercings. The speakers drink beer during their presentations. Many of the bald guys have sideburns or beards. A couple of the girls look suspiciously like Lisbeth Salander.

The conference is being held at Galvanize, a very hip business service facility designed specifically to grow tech start-ups. In addition to its many office suites and individual work spaces, there is a conference room and classroom where the conference sessions are being held. Both are very nice, but ill-suited for the conference. The former is too noisy because it’s next to the lobby/bar area. The latter is too small and left many sitting on the floor or leaning against a wall.

On day one, I learned about test-driven development with Kiwi, the advantages of AngularJS, and how to build a game in HTML5. JavaScript is the trendy language of the day. The presenters shared a lot of code and presumed that I knew a lot more of what I was seeing than I did. It’s good for me. Helps me know what I don’t know.

On day two, I’m surprised to learn that Klout scores are being used to prioritize support tickets. Wow, audacious but clever way for an under-staffed start-up to handle support! I learned that most of the attendees aspire to start their own businesses, and that many are connected to GitHub and Coderbits the way most of the world is connected to Facebook.

In the end, I decided there wasn’t enough value to go back. I need to increase my geek factor, no doubt, but there are better ways to do it than sitting through two days of a poorly run conference.

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