This year's Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) sold out in a matter of minutes, leading Apple to announce the convention would be streamed online for developers who couldn't get tickets. The demand has grown exponentially, while the size of the conference has not. With such intense demand, and tickets in short supply, some developers are taking to their blogs to suggest ways the conference can improve in the future.
Dan Wood of Karelia Software thinks that since video of the talks will be available online, the only real pain is the loss of labs and social opportunities to meet with other developers. As time has passed the event as outgrown the format.
Maybe the problem is that when Apple started WWDC, it made sense to have the entire world invited. These days, there are too many Mac and iOS developers in the world. Seeing that the talks are going to be made available online, it's really the labs and the socializing that we will all be missing.
But do all those need to be concentrated in a single week, in a single place? What if Apple made the sessions be online only, as Daniel suggestions, and come up with a series of regional conferences/labs around the world, based on developer population?
TUAW's own Erica Sadun suggested the conference switch to a lottery system for ticketing to make ticket distribution more fair and efficient.
Sure, the results are still random, but distributing purchase requests over a week or month surely would avoid the technology-based limits created by so much demand at a single moment (not to mention sleepless nights caused by time zone differentials).
Red Sweater Software founder and co-host of the Core Intuition podcast Daniel Jalkut wrote a similar piece, only his called for the outright end of WWDC due to its growth. At this point, the number of developers has grown to the point that entry itself is a barrier.
The conference has room for at most 5,000 developers. According to Apple's job stimulus statistics, there are 275,000 or more registered iOS developers alone. Let's assume for the sake of argument that Mac developers add only 25,000, bringing the total to 300,000. Every year, 5,000 attendees are selected from the qualified pool, meaning just 1 out of 60, or 1.5 percent of potential attendees will have the chance to attend.
Jalkut goes on to say that neither the goals of developers or Apple itself are met with the current standard. A majority of developers are left out of labs and training and Apple misses out on educating potentially profitable developers. Showing the talks online is a good start he says, but focusing on improving existing Developer Technical Support could improve developer product and provide information year round.
Finally, Oliver Drobnik of Cocoanetics sees an opportunity for Apple to encourage the growth of students, particularly women, in the field by activating a scholarship for young developers, including help with living expenses during the conference without the barriers of the current scholarship. Under the current rules, only someone who is in a program seeking a Bachelor's of Science is eligible for the scholarship. As more and more young developers start learning programming in their childhood, such restrictions create arbitrary walls that keep out students who are wonderful programmers, but lack the resources to afford college.
While the controversy surrounding this year's WWDC ticketing, and future events as well, won't be solved with blog posts, it is interesting to see the development community reach out and search for answers to their common problems. It remains to be seen how, or if, Apple will respond to these concerns.