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Going to a conference this year? Which one to pick from?

Apr 20

Written by:
Monday, April 20, 2009 10:38 PM  RssIcon

Are you planning on going to a technical conference this year?  Chances are your company's on a tight budget, so how are you going to decide on what's the "right' conference for you?  Read on for some of my thoughts!

 Great to find out bleeding edge development technical information from Microsoft.

Great to find out bleeding edge development technical information from Microsoft.  Great for Managers to see MS' long term direction.Great to find out bleeding edge development technical information from Microsoft.  Great for Managers to see MS' long term direction.Within the past two years, I've been VERY lucky to goto three very cool conferences, Microsoft TechEd, Ottawa Code Camp and DevTeach.  As well, I participate in a local .NET community group and three study groups.  There are so many other conferences out there, how do you pick which to goto and invest your valuable time?  Here's a chart to help identify somethings you may not have realized.

Criteria PDC TechEd MIX DevTeach Code Camps Training Courses Study Groups
Cost Thousands + T&E Thousands + T&E Thousands + T&E Thousands + T&E (but could be local too) FREE Thousands (and might require T&E) Free, or exam deposit or admin fee + exam deposit
Frequency Yearly Yearly Yearly Every six months  Yearly When ever scheduled Usually every four/six/eight/12 months
Run By Microsoft   Microsoft Microsoft JR, local DBA/Code geek who wants to make great training available to other like minded people. Local technical community groups Training center Local technical community groups
Location Rotates Rotates Rotates Rotates between Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver In your city. In your city or elsewhere, where T&E is required.  In your city.  You might be able to participate remotely if they allow that.
Quality of Presentations Top notch Top notch Top notch Top notch Can be top notch, but could also be, well, "buggie" Usually professionally done but could be a dud as well. Can be top notch, but could also be, well, "buggie"
Access to MS people Yup Yup Yup Some, MVPs, most likely people who are using the technologies No No No
Target Audience Game Developers Managers, IT and Developers Designer and Developers IT and Developers Developers and IT Everyone Developers and IT
Networking (the social kind) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Limited Limited
Information Usability Later that year or furhter out Later that year or furhter out Later that year or furhter out Immediately Immediately Immediately Immediately
Travel Required Most likely Most likely Most likely Most likely No Sometimes No
Effort Involved Very little Very little Very little Very little Very little Lots (if you want to get something out of it) LOTS (if you plan on writting the certification exam)
 
Conclusion Great to find out bleeding edge development technical information from Microsoft. High percentage of things are not usable today, very forward looking, strategic planning kind of information. Great to find out bleeding edge development technical information from Microsoft. High percentage of things are not usable today, very forward looking, strategic planning kind of information. Great to find out bleeding edge development technical information from Microsoft. High percentage of things are not usable today, very forward looking, strategic planning kind of information. Great for the everyday developer on the front lines doing the real grunt work and who wants to use the stuff immediately when they return back to the office the next day. Great local networking event and get to see pin-pointed presentations about specific topics. Focus is on code/development and seeing things in action/demos. Sales and marketing are frowned upon. Usually the course is general information and you have to personalize it, or your company pays for the customization for you. Usually a means to help people attain certification, not an easy option, lots of work involved and you still have to write the exam.

Legend: T&E = Travel & Entertainment expenses

As you can probably tell, I'm a big fan of these events but each has it's place for the the type of information you can get from them.  Pick wisely and you'll reap the rewards.  Pick poorly and you'll either be wasing your time or money. 

Now, go grab a coffee and get coding! :>

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