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The Soul of WWDC 2005

by Derrick Story

A few years ago, Apple moved WWDC from San Jose to the brand new Moscone West building in San Francisco. The new location improved the face of its developer conference. This year, Apple wants to enhance its very soul.

What I've always liked about WWDC are the sessions. They provide a rare opportunity to listen to Apple engineers drill down on specific technologies. Because Apple just released Tiger, there's going to be plenty to absorb in those classrooms.

Steve's keynotes have also become a cornerstone of the event. Since Apple no longer participates in the East Coast version of Macworld, WWDC has become the platform for Steve to give his mid-year update on what's happening with Apple hardware and software. Plus, when Steve takes the stage, the media pays attention.

Now, at this year's conference, you're going to see something new. The keyword is community. Not only will Apple connect you to its engineers and its leader, but a whole environment is being created to immerse you in the Mac development community. This isn't just talk. Apple has spent considerable resources to make this happen. O'Reilly Media has an important role in this effort, and I'm going to give you a few glimpses into that right now.

O'Reilly's Brown Bag Sessions

On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at the conference, O'Reilly is organizing a track of brown bag sessions that are unique to WWDC. What we've done is this: We've taken the concept of interaction, as in a birds-of-a-feather gathering, and combined that with expert facilitators who know a lot about the subjects of the sessions.

(To see the complete line up of O'Reilly sessions, go to the WWDC page and click on Special Events in the top menu bar.)

Let me give you an example. One of the Wednesday sessions is titled Python Today. The lead moderator is Guido van Rossum. You may have heard of him--he created the Python scripting language. Along with Guido, we'll also have Donovan Preston, an expert with Python on the Mac platform. We'll have an Apple engineer who specializes in these technologies there, too. So we have the creator of the language, and independent expert who understands how to use it on the Mac, and an Apple engineer hosting this gathering.

We're not finished here yet. These guys will make an opening presentation to bring you up to speed on what's happening with Python on the Mac, then they will open up the floor and moderate a discussion with you and your peers. Clearly, this is much different than the traditional Apple engineer session that's been a mainstay of WWDC.

On Wednesday we'll cover Python, PHP, MySQL, and Perl. On Thursday we tackle Smart Homes, What's Hot in Open Source, Podcasting, and Advanced Scripting. As in the Python session, we have top-notch experts hosting each conversation.

I haven't mentioned Tuesday yet, have I? Tim O'Reilly, the CEO and President of O'Reilly Media, is our featured speaker for Tuesday. We're not running any other lunchtime sessions during that timeslot. I have a feeling you'll enjoy what Tim has to say.

The Second Floor

Apple is designing a community area on the second floor of Moscone West that's going to be unlike anything you've seen at their events. When you need a break from the intense sessions, the second floor will provide you with refreshments and the company of your peers. I can't spill the beans on everything here, but I will say that the wonderful combination of soft seating, power strips, and wireless networking will be available in abundance. I also know that your favorite fruit juices and caffeinated beverages will be available, plus regularly restocked snacks.

Related Reading

Revolution in The Valley [Paperback]
The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made
By Andy Hertzfeld

Oh, and on Monday night, ADC is hosting their reception on the second floor. O'Reilly is helping with those festivities, and I can tell you now, we have a very cool freebie for everyone who attends. And I'm not talking about bookmarks.

Both ADC and O'Reilly will have newly redesigned booths. At the O'Reilly booth, you can chat with authors (who will be there throughout the entire week), peruse books (including some of our new Tiger titles), and learn more about how to use open source technologies with Mac OS X. Since we'll have different experts on hand every day, there will always be something new to discover at the booth.

Final Thoughts

There are lots of other things going on at WWDC that I haven't covered, such as the Apple Design Awards, Campus Bash, and Stump the Experts. But beyond these, and the things I have discussed, there's an attitude about this event unlike anything I've seen before from Apple. They want you to be connected to all aspects of developing for this platform. And they truly want you to have a good time while you're at it.

WWDC's Early Bird Discount ends on May 6. If you're thinking about coming to San Francisco in June, save yourself a few bucks by signing up now.

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit

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