.ryanAckermann()

RWDevCon 2017

Apr 03, 2017

My first time speaking & attending RWDevCon.

Talks 4 minutes

What makes the Ray Wenderlich conference unique is instead of just listening to talks and taking notes you are able to code along with the speaker. This is more engaging and helps you get more out of the content than other presentation styles.

Another great advantage of this conference is that most of the developers attending are more advanced in their craft. This is different from other conferences such as WWDC which has developers of all skill levels. This made for more interesting, deeper conversations about specific topics.

This year the conference took place in D.C. I was able to bring my wife so she could explore and do some sight seeing. We arrived a day early and got a chance to explore some of the museums and monuments around the mall.

Capitol Building

Being a speaker and being a part of the tutorial team allowed us to attend a pre-conference team event. We had lunch and toured the cherry blossoms which only are in bloom for that week!

My First Experience

I was very excited have had the opportunity to speak at the conference this year. This was my first talk and first developer conference, so being an introvert I was nervous at first. I'm not a huge fan of public speaking, nor am I comfortable with confronting strangers. My only real experience with speaking is from a few presentations I have put together at work which did help me to be more confident for the conference.

Thankfully the preparation process for the conference was really in depth. Multiple rounds of practice and changes based on editor feedback really helped improve my material. As I completed each step in Trello I became more and more confident. By the end of it all I really felt like I knew my stuff and was fully prepared to teach my topic to others.

The Topic

The topic I chose to give my talk on was iMessages apps. This is a new feature of iOS 10 that gives developers a way to extend their apps to Apple's Messages App. This new medium is exciting and provides a new frontier for developers.

The sample app I built was a collaborative Messages app extension of an existing app. The main app was a party planner that you can use to plan parties and display them in a table. My idea for the extension was to access the parties created in the main app, and allow the user to create a poll for what to bring or activities to do at their party.

This app was a good showcase on how to extend an existing app. It shows how to send & interact with custom messages and how to persist local data between an app & extension.

Giving the Talk

I was scheduled for the 8AM slot the 2nd day of the conference. I thought it was a good time since it allowed me to spend the day prior attending other talks. There was a downside to being right away in the morning; I had to cut my evening short.

It started to feel real as the video guys set up my head mic and got my mac situated. My confidence grew with each attendee that entered my room. I was actually surprised I got as much of a crowd as I did since Ray himself was giving a talk the same time as me.

Giving my first talk

Attending some of the other talks the day before gave me some insight on how to deliver my demos best. I planned on taking the coding sections slower and pausing for questions throughout.

I forgot to pause for questions in my first demo. However, I did manage to recover in my second demo by pausing more and going back over what was completed in the first demo.

Over all I felt confident in my material as well as my delivery. I got a chance to share about myself and help out a few of the attendees during the hands-on lab.

Now That I'm Done

It feels good that I accomplished speaking publicly. I feel that I'm more confident in myself as a developer, and as someone who has contributed to the community. My plan is to continue speaking and helping out fellow developers in more ways.

Attending the conference was a wonderful experience as well. Even though it was difficult to make the first step in introducing myself to other developers I enjoyed getting a chance to meet a lot of people. Realizing that it was awkward and uncomfortable at first for everyone made it easier each time I approached new people.

Rebuilding popular iOS animations

Caroline Begbie's talk on Rebuilding popular iOS animations.

From casual conversations at breakfast to discussions after talks, being in the conference atmosphere was really rewarding. I'm looking forward to the next RWDevCon as well as looking into more conferences to attend or speak at.

Join me next year at RWDevCon!

Final Thoughts

I highly recommend attending a conference. They are a great place to meet people in your field and build community. Getting a chance to improve or learn new material is a great way to further your career.

At first I thought I wouldn't ever be interested in speaking since it's out of my comfort zone. Now that I have gone through this experience I look forward to future opportunities to speak. It's been a great personal development that has built more confidence in myself.

As developers we can often feel like we know nothing at all when trivial bugs can stump us for long durations. There was a great inspirational talk this year that explained how we are all, at times, idiots. Being able to teach a subject to others helps irradiate negative thoughts that can sometimes get in the way.

I'm an Idiot

Richard Turton's talk "I'm an Idiot"