Feedback on Developer Day Scotland

I was recently one of the organisers for Developer Day Scotland (aka DDD Scotland) in Glasgow. It was on on the 10th of May and was the first of its kind in Scotland. I’ve also just finished putting together the event feedback for the various speakers and for the event itself. It is always interesting as a speaker when you receive your own feedback, and for me it has been interesting putting together the feedback for all the speakers to see what people liked and didn’t like.

If you weren’t at Developer Day Scotland and don’t know what it is I’ll explain it briefly. We had a conference in the centre of Glasgow based on the DDD events that are normally held at the Microsoft Campus at TVP in Reading. It was aimed at Developers mainly, but we also had a SQL track for DBAs. In total we had 132 delegates arrive on the day.

On the whole the comments were very positive. There is some room for improvement and we will be looking to improve in certain areas for next year. But there were some disappointing comments that suggested people either didn’t quite know what the event was actually trying to achieve or completely had the wrong end of the stick.

First, just to blow our own trumpet, some of the positive comments:

  • Good selection of sessions
  • Lot’s of T-shirts
  • It was free
  • It was on a Saturday (no time off work)
  • Well organised
  • Based in Glasgow

A small number of people commented on the location. Most comments were extremely positive because there have been very few (if any) events like this in Scotland, however, a couple were disappointed because it was so far from London. I have to say that from the point of view of people in Scotland the fact that the vast majority of conferences we see are located in the south east of England (in or within about an hour-ish of London) was actually one of the main drivers to bring the DDD format to Scotland. We had seen an increasing number of Scots make the trek south for each DDD and their only real complaint with it was the distance they had to travel. The DDD events will continue to be held in Reading for the foreseeable future and indeed DDD7 is going to be on November 22nd, but there are now regional DDD events (such as DDD Ireland and Developer Day Scotland) that will take place from time-to-time.

Some people were disappointed by the length of the sessions. They thought more time was needed as some speakers seemed to be compressing too much information into too short at time. I have to agree that in many cases the talk did need more time. There are a number of possible solutions to this. Speakers could indicate a length of time for their topic and we have variable length sessions. Obviously the logistics in this is more complicated, but it is doable. Another possible solution is to request all speakers prepare a longer talk. For some this will be good as their talk was a compressed version of a longer talk, but for others this may leave them with a large period of time at the end with nothing to do. We will work on this problem and try to produce something that allow speakers to run for the time they need to discuss their topic.

Another common bit of feedback was that it wasn’t so easy to tell what level each of the talks were at. Next year we will introduce a system where it will be easy to see what the prerequisites for a talk are.

One person wrote simply “not enough user interactions”. I’m not entirely sure what they mean by that, however, the experimental open spaces session we did at lunch time was very successful and we packed the room out, so we will aim to do more of these next year. Perhaps that will solve that particular problem as they tend to allow a lot of interaction between all the participants.

We had some comments about the fact that “all the sessions were based on Microsoft technology”. We did have some non-Microsoft based talks submitted, however the talks that appear on the day are voted in by the community. However, two of the talks we had on the day were in fact technology independent. We try and keep the process as democratic as possible. Hopefully next year we will get more non-MS topics submitted and more non-MS delegates voting on these sessions so we can have a more diverse programme of sessions available on the day.

We did receive some excellent feedback, but there is always room for improvement and I hope next year’s event will be even better. In the mean time, Scottish Developers will still be running events in the evenings.

Finally, I really must thank all those that helped out in the preparation and on the day. We had 15 excellent speakers without whom we would not have had an event at all. We had a number of people that helped put the day together including John Thomson, Martin Bell, Frank Kerrigan, Craig Murphy and Brian Hainey. And a number of people who helped out on the day including Duncan Lundie, Ged Mead, Beverley Hatchard and Catriona Mackay. Hopefully I’ve not missed anyone out.

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