DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper Dublin - October 9th 2010
The magic of the Emerald Isle was made a little more magical on Saturday 9th October 2010 with the wonder of a very special event, the third DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper that we've held on the island. Previously they've been held in Galway on the west coast and Belfast in Northern Ireland. This one was a little different in that the whole team at Microsoft in Ireland has changed so we were working with entirely new people, this led to some great new dynamics and different ideas which resulted in a totally unique DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper event.
Getting a venue is always the first task whenever we run an event, this time was no different. Enda Flynn and Craig O'Connor managed to source the slickest venue DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper has been held in, the National Digital Research Centre, this converted warehouse is opposite the Guinness factory slap bang in the National Digital Enterprise Area in Dublin. Brilliant location, amazing building and gorgeous rooms for us to use. I know now why the Irish Economy is up the swanny, they've spent all the money on making this venue fantastic! Irish tax payers, we salute you!
We opened the site to speaker submissions back in late August and pretty rapidly got a good selection of sessions submitted both from known speakers in the UK (The usual culprits - you know who you are!) through to a really exciting bunch of local speakers many of whom had not spoken at a DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper event before. One of the main goals of DDD is that we encourage new speakers and foster communities wherever they're found and the fact that we had a bunch of new Irish speakers submit sessions really pleased us.
As is the tradition of DDD we opened up the sessions to a community vote to help us determine which sessions the community wanted to see, I'll be the first to admit we had a very low take-up on the opportunity to vote but the trend of sessions that the community wanted to see came out of that voting very clearly and we took the votes and constructed the schedule accordingly. It was great that we were able to give almost all of the Irish speakers that submitted a session the opportunity to speak at the event.
With the venue sorted and the sessions selected, a couple of cups of tea later and we had the schedule drawn up it was time to open the registration. Wow, that was slow, we're used to selling out DDD events in minutes but the Irish seems to be so laid back they're horizontal. Perhaps they were finishing their pints of Guinness, maybe they were just waiting until the last moment to give me a heart attack - either way we eventually got well over a hundred people registered and that staved off our heart stopping moments...
Okay, we have a venue, delegates and sessions, all we needed now was speakers, turns out that hardly any of them were actually in Dublin so thus started the logistical nightmare of getting them all into one place ready for the conference, thankfully Craig Murphy stepped in here and coordinated the flights, hotels and ferry crossings with our wonderful sponsors enabling us to get the speakers there for the event.
There was one last thing to get there. Us. Craig and I decided to take ferries across from our island to the other one, Craig from Scotland into Northern Ireland and myself with Dave Sussman from Wales straight into Dublin. We had a lovely drive down through North Wales on the Friday afternoon to board the ferry, the Welsh cost is very pretty. As we travelled we were treated to a display by Red Arrows jets which was absolutely brilliant, I assume they were out in honour of DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper. That arial display was not the only thing we had though, we were escorted across the Irish Sea by a Royal Air Force Seaking helicopter which shadowed the ferry for a good half hour performing flyby's and rescue manoeuvres with the ferry, again, I can only imagine they were there in respect of DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper.
Eventually we arrived at the hotel after a lovely tour around Dublin's labyrinth of a one way system (cheers Dublin traffic department, I hope you all die a slow painful death), checked in, switched rooms as they'd ballsed up and then met a bunch of the speakers in the bar of the hotel before heading down to get a tour of the venue. I cannot lie, I was absolutely blown away, the venue is stunning. Have a look at some of the photos that have been uploaded:
So venue toured, speakers accounted for, time for some grub. You're in Dublin, you want to sample the local delicacies, you let Craig Murphy choose where we're eating, you end up in a Moroccan restaurant. Well done there Craig. As it happens the food was stunning and I had a lovely meal with Colin Gemmell, Dave Sussman, Jackie Pollock, Daniel May, Ben Hall, Liam Westley, Colin Mackay, Craig Murphy, Andy Gibson, and Mark Rendle. The wine, oh the wine. I was a happy Phil.
The morning after the night before ... We crawled out of bed and headed down to the breakfast room in the hotel ... The place was pretty much deserted, more importantly my partner in crime (and this fallguy) Craig Murphy was no where to be seen. Just as I was starting to panic my fears were allayed, I've never been so happy to see a bald Scotsman with a clipboard as I was that Saturday morning. Off to the venue!
We rocked up and started to get the swag and other bits and pieces sorted out, we had speakers to brief (basically "do it right or we'll kill you") then we needed to get the Microsoft Student Partners sorted who very graciously helped us with the event by manning the registration desk - massive thanks to those guys - you rock. People started to turn up slowly in drips and drabs but as expected the turn out was much lower than we'd hoped for. At previous events in Ireland we've always faced a much higher drop out than we experience in the UK but this event is probably the worst we've ever had with just under a 50% no show of delegates, as it was, we had enough numbers that the event felt good and had the right atmosphere. When we hit the start time Craig and I headed to our respective rooms and gave the opening slides before handing over to the first speakers of the day.
I didn't go to any of the sessions and I've not had a chance to read the feedback forms yet, however, from everything I was told on the day the sessions (bar one exception) were all brilliant and spot on the mark. Here's a list of those brilliant sessions and speakers: -
Thanks to some money Microsoft managed to find down the back of an Irish sofa we were able to get the whole event recorded professionally, as soon as these are processed and ready we'll share out the links. Can't wait to see some of the sessions, as is always the case when running these events I miss out on the sessions because I'm busy wheeling boxes of t-shirts sound or helping net a speaker that's managed to get up into the rafters (you have to keep a close eye on them).
Catering is the thing that gives us the most problems at any event we run, all I can say is we had no problems this time, the catering was magnificent, throughout the day tea and coffee was available and the lunch was absolutely brilliant! Soups, fresh sandwiches (proper ones, with actual filling), fruit, cookies, mmmm all we missed was chocolate but hey, I can't have everything.
Note to self: Get everything.
As well as Microsoft sponsoring the venue we also had some brilliant sponsorship in terms of swag from people like Telerik and DevExpress who provided t-shirts, pens, little ninjas, the lot! Thanks so much guys!
After the event it was time to wind down, Burgers & Beers was the order of the day and we all had a cracking meal in GBK in Temple Bar followed by more beer and for me at least clubbing until the wee hours of the morning. I think I stumbled home about 5am.
The next day (or same day) Dave Sussman and I went in search of breakfast and managed to find a FEAST of a Full Irish Breakfast for only €10 ! I was a happy Phil at this point of the day and with that we headed to the ferry port and onwards to Sunny Wales, where the men are men and the sheep are fearful.
That's not all though, at the event we got chatting and saw significant interest in running an event in Belfast, provisionally penned for March, we'll keep you updated.
Thanks to all those who helped make DDD Dublin happen and a massive thanks to the delegates whom attended.