WWDC Guide for Indies, 2015 Edition
The first year I went to WWDC they had early bird pricing. Apple offered tickets at a discounted rate to try and encourage developers to attend. That was pre-iPhone, way back in June 2007. A lot has changed since then. WWDC has become so popular that you now enter into a lottery system just for the chance to buy a ticket.
This year will be my 5th WWDC. Even if I hadn't been lucky enough to get a ticket, I still think I'd have headed to San Fransisco for the week.
There's two alternative conferences going on at the same time that both look great, AltConf, and Layers. There's also parties going on every night, so there's plenty of opportunities to socialise. Meeting up with fellow developers, designers, and members of the press is arguably just as valuable if not more so than WWDC itself. This is especially true if you're an indie developer.
If this is your first time in San Francisco for WWDC, here's a few pointers to get you going.
I'd suggest arriving in town on Saturday if possible, this gives you a little time to acclimatise and pick up your badge from Moscone West on Sunday. Don't try to pick up your badge on Monday morning as you'll probably want to be in line for the Keynote…
The excitement and anticipation of the Keynote does funny things to people. I’ve seen people start the line around 5pm on Sunday. I want to see the Keynote just as much as anyone else but this is just crazy, there's really no need for it. In 2013 I joined the queue at around 7:30am and got into the main room (Presidio). It’s easy to get swept along and feel like you need to get in-line super early, but you don't. I've known people join the queue after 9:00am and still get into the main room.
If you ignore my advice and join the line at some ungodly hour of the morning, wear plenty of layers, don’t bring your laptop, and travel light. You’ll certainly want to pick yourself up an iPhone battery pack so you can twiddle away on your iPhone to pass the time without fear of it dying.
Throughout the morning the Keynote line tends to move erratically as Apple tries to shorten it by getting people to stand closer together. It's not until around 9:30 that Apple start letting everyone into the main building.
When you do finally make it into the Keynote, switch off all your devices, sit back, relax, and feel smug about the fact that you had a good nights sleep.
If you don't fancy queuing you could try and revive the mildly popular #wwdcnoqueue.
Sessions & Labs
Watch as many sessions as you can during the week. It's easy to think "Oh, I'll just catch up on them when I get home", but you won't. It's hard to find the time when you're back and have a million other things that need to be done. However, there will probably be times when none of the sessions particularly interest you or you just need a break from it all. Don't feel bad about it, just use this time to socialise, or take a power-nap.
The Technology Labs are always popular, and as far as I remember you can just rock-up to those and join the queue. If you do manage to speak with an engineer at Apple, be prepared. Bring sample code that demonstrates the issue you need help with. If you think it's a bug in one of Apple's APIs then you better make sure you've filed a radar on it and have the number to hand.
You'll need to book an appointment to get into the UI Design Labs. These always get booked up early, so much so I've never managed to get into one. I've heard people say you need to be inside Moscone at 6am in the morning to book into one for later in the day. That's probably why I've never been able to get it one, parties and early starts do not mix. Apple also runs an App Store Lab, so if you're having trouble getting your app noticed on the App Store or by Apple, I'd say this lab would be a good place to start.
As an indie developer, socialising is one of the most important aspects of the week. This is your chance to meet a lot of great developers and designers, make contact with people at Apple, and hang out with members of the press. If you've yet to hear of any events going on in the evening, don't worry. Following @WWDCParties on Twitter and downloading the Parties for WWDC app are both great places to start.
If you're interested, here's the list of events I plan on going to during the week:
- Sunday: SFMacIndie
- Monday: NeXTEVNT Fundraiser, then AltBeardBash
- Tuesday: The Talk Show Live From WWDC
- Wednesday: App Camp for Girls Fundraising HappyHour
- Thursday: WWDC Beer Bash
There's a few places people to tend to head after the organised events have finished. Here's a list of bars that you're pretty much guaranteed to run into people attending WWDC. In no particular order: The Chieftain, House of shields Parc 55 Hotel bar, The W Hotel bar, and finally The View.
I'm very much into coffee, and thankfully San Francisco is not short on excellent coffee shops. Two of the best are Blue Bottle and Sightglass. Blue Bottle is just around the corner from Moscone West and is your best bet for bumping into other WWDC attendees. Be warned the queue for this place is always out the door, but it's worth it.
If tea is more your thing then Samovar in the Yerba Buena Gardens is a must. It's a lovely laid-back place to spend the afternoon, providing the weather's good.
See you there!
I always have a blast at WWDC, it's great meeting up with old friends and making new connections. If you'd like to meet-up, or have any questions just ping me on Twitter. Most days I'll be wearing a Realmac t-shirt, so if you see me wandering around, do come up and say hi!
Plenty of other great articles have been written on getting the most out of WWDC. If you're a keen bean and this is your first WWDC they are all well worth a read. If I come across any other articles I'll add them to the list below:
- Making the Most of WWDC 2015
- Complete Guide for WWDC Newcomers
- WWDC 2013 on a Budget
- WWDC First Timer Tips
- WWDC 2012 Tips
- WWDC First Timer's Survival Guide, 2011 Edition
And if you didn't already have enough to read and do, here are a few more resources to make sure you get the most out of WWDC: