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.


Developer Day Scotland – The scores on the doors

Developer Day Scotland was last weekend and went very well. I’ve just finished collating all the speaker feedback and I’ve sent each speaker their feedback information (all anonymised). We had excellent speakers and I want to recognise the best speakers that we had on the day.

Was the session as expected?

  • Third place: Ben Hall
  • Second place: Barry Carr
  • First Place: Daniel Moth

Rate the presenter: Overall

  • Third place: Allan Mitchell
  • Second place: Guy Smith-Ferrier
  • First place: Daniel Moth

Rate the presenter: Slides

  • Third place: Richard Fennell
  • Second place: Oliver Sturm
  • First place: Daniel Moth

Rate the presenter: Demos

  • Third place: Guy Smith-Ferrier
  • Second place: Barry Carr
  • First place: Daniel Moth

Rate the presenter: Information

  • Third place: Oliver Sturm
  • Second Place: Guy Smith-Ferrier
  • First Place: Daniel Moth

How does the voting work for Developer Day Scotland

Developer Day Scotland is a BY the community FOR the community conference based on the Developer Developer Developer! community conference. We accept sessions from the community on any aspect of software development. When the call for speakers closes we go in to a voting phase. At the end of the voting phase we tally the votes and work out which speakers we need to contact to ask to speak, and which we need to contact to say sorry.

I’ve been asked by a few questions how we will be going about our voting process.

When the voting closes all the sessions will be ranked from most popular to least popular. The simplest thing to do at this point would be just to pick the top sessions. However, we want to ensure that a broad range of subjects are covered and that we get a diverse set of speakers.

If an individual speaker gets more than one session into the top set of sessions we will ask the speaker to hold the second session in reserve in order to give another speaker a shot at speaking. This may sounds like a strange thing to do, but we want to avoid “The Joe Bloggs Show” from emerging because a particular speaker has submitted a large number of sessions that are all quite popular. Also, if we have one speaker taking too many session slots we run the risk of having a big hole in our schedule if they were to be ill or have some other emergency on the day which prevented them from speaking. By the time the process is complete we would be looking at getting as close to as many separate speakers as there are session slots – one for each available session slot.

However, if two sessions that are broadly similar make it into the top list then the duplicates will be removed. We will try to be as fair as possible with this. If one of the speakers has another session that made it into the top list then their duplicate will be removed to give a chance to a speaker that may not have the opportunity to otherwise present.

Naturally, some speakers will have just missed the cut and others will have sessions dropped because of some kind of duplication. These speakers will be asked to come along anyway with their session up their sleeve just in case one of the other speakers has to drop out at the last moment.

At the end of the day we are aiming to get as much community involvement as possible. The process is part science in that the voting shows what people want to see and part jiggery-pokery in that we have to schedule all this into a day that works.

We have almost 30 speakers who have submitted sessions with over 50 session proposals in total. Inevitably there will be some disappointment for the speakers who didn’t get picked and we are very sorry that we have to reject any of the speakers as we have so many excellent sessions.

In the meantime the session voting is open, so vote for what you want to see.




JetBrains Sponsors Developer Day Scotland

JetBrains, the makers of ReSharper and dotTrace, have sponsored Developer Day Scotland with 6 bundles of ReSharper and dotTrace to give away as prizes. That’s $550 worth of software to each lucky winner.

Developer Day Scotland, based on the highly successful Developer! Developer! Developer! events, is being held on 10th May 2008 in Glasgow.

The call for speakers is still open, but hurry, it will be closing soon!





Developer Day Scotland – Call for Speakers

It was announced yesterday at Developer! Developer! Developer! 6 in Reading that the call for speakers had opened for Developer Day Scotland.

If you are interested in delivering a one hour session on a software development topic then please send in your session abstract and a bio. The session abstracts and speaker bio’s will be put up on the website as they are received.