Developer Experience At Dreamforce

Jason Meketa

During a Back To The Future skit during the Dreamforce keynote Salesforce co-founder Parker Harris identified the 5 greatest needs for the future. Donning his Doc Brown wild white hair and lab coat he proclaimed the that number one need in the future is developers.
I couldn’t agree more!

The focus on developers continued throughout the conference from keynotes to sessions. But nowhere was it more evident than in the Developer Zone. The “second conference” of Dreamforce spanned an entire floor of the Moscone West building.

Welcome To Developer Zone
Welcome To Developer Zone

The Developer Zone had it’s own vibe, quite different than the rest of the conference. Low lights. Upbeat music. A dedicated wi-fi network and lots of laptop friendly tables and stations. The floor was full of developer friendly sponsor booths, technical presentation areas, expert bars, and conveniently located developer training sessions.

They also had cool stuff! Things like…

  • A hands-on lab area to build bread board circuits or powering circuits from pieces of fruit
  • T-shirt vending machines
  • A do-it-yourself t-shirt silk screening area

Fruit Power!
Fruit Power!

The developer experience at the Developer Zone was well organized and setup to guide the developers and to give them a place where they could spend the whole week. The developer’s experience most likely looked like this:

  1. Check-In
  2. Get FREE books at Developer Library
  3. Check out the mini-hacks area to build something introductory and win a prize (like a developer t-shirt from vending machine)
  4. Attend sessions and/or visit technical development stations for more training and help
  5. Participate in the hackathon
  6. Take lots of breaks to enjoy complimentary food and beverages or participate in some of the fun activities within the area

Oh… and on top of this… one small item… developers could compete for the largest prize ever for a hackathon! A whopping $1 Million first prize and heavy cash prizes for the runner-ups.

Hackathon
Hackathon

I have been to handful Dreamforce conferences spanning the last 7 years. I remember the Developer Zone of years past and how they used to seem ancillary and go unnoticed by most attendees. There is no doubt in this attendee’s mind that the Developer Zone was the highlight of Dreamforce. I even spoke to many non-technical attendees who were greatly impressed with the Developer Zone.

As software and more specifically development platforms continue to change the world we live in, we can expect that developer events will become even more critical in building a software company brand. So expect even bigger and better in the future!

Favorite Quote From The Event
“Take the lame things and make them not lame” - Adam Seligman during Developer Keynote


About The Author

Jason Meketa Jason Meketa is a product manager at GoodData focused on developer community. He has 15+ years of software experience. Jason graduated from The University of Arizona with a degree in Computer Engineering. He enjoys traveling, food and wine, poker, sports, and rock concerts.

Twitter @meketaj   Email jason.meketa@gooddata.com

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