The GoodThe conference was great this year and here are some of the random things I really thought made the conference different than in past years.
- The Birds of a Feather (BoFs) were organized and put into the printed schedule this year. This needs to be done at least a month in advance otherwise the BoFs are not well attended. The BoFs are some of my most favorite moments of the conference.
- Just about all of the presentations this year seemed pretty polished and informative. Maybe it was because we had a turn over in content completely or that a different speaker spoke on a needed topic than in past years.
- This year the conference used green / red cards in a punchbowl to rate the presentation. If you had comments, you could write it on the cards. One suggestion is to add a "white" card to indicate "indifferent". I understand the needs of having an imbalanced rating system (either good or bad), but most people will rate higher than needed if pushed into a corner. I suspect that very few red cards were put into the punch bowl. This system made it easy for attendees to provide at least a minimum amount of feedback.
- I dare say I am biased, but the location of the conference is great (being that I live in the city of Minneapolis myself).
- The schedule this year was great in the terms of timing. This year the conference allowed 15 minutes between presentation slots and the presentation slots were 60 minutes. This allowed for ample time for the presentation and QA.
- The Duct Tape and Astronaut skit / presentation was great. I hope to see the written technical comedy of Matt Woodward again next year.
What I'd Change / Add There are a few things I'd change for cf.Objective() 2011. I am not being negative here; merely critical as that is only way for cf.Objective() 2011 to be even better than this year!
- I would reduce the total number of members of the CAB for 2011. This year we had three "co-chairs" per track and the phrase "three's company" comes to mind. Yes, the topic select was done in mostly democratic voting manner, however there still needs to be somewhat of a benevolent "dictator" for each track. I'd suggest two CAB co-chairs per track.
- Now this might come as a surprise to some because I'm the lead developer for Mach-II, but I would eliminate all framework talks from cf.Objective() 2011 especially for the major frameworks. In retrospect, I would have not had talks for Mach-II, Model-Glue, ColdSpring and ColdBox. The smaller / younger projects I could see a talk being presented such as FW1 and CFWheels. At some point, the frameworks really self-evangelize themselves and the framework talks in general have lower attendance. Plus, you see the major frameworks if other talks that are not directly related the framework nowadays. This would free up a lot of space in the Process and Methodology track for other really neat things.
- The RIA: Flex / AJAX / AIR track was the least popular track in the terms of attendance based on my causal observations. This year it really made me wonder if RIA deserves a track in 2011. This is because if you are a Flex / AIR developer you go to Flex360 or other AJAX oriented conference. I feel that the RIA track is really not attracting RIA people to cf.Objective() and just waters down the real focus of the conference -- CFML!
- I'm starting to worry about the increasing cost to the conference. I hope the cost can be reduced for next year as $799 early bird is a bit pricey over previous years. I'd like to see the early bird back down to under $599 for a three day event. However, I'm not the money man for the conference. This is merely a suggestion.
- The Pecha Kucha BoF was very well received from what I hear (I was in the mobile BoF that night). I would definitely bring that back, but during the day -- preferably each track getting their own. Also, I hope to offer a presentation that is similar to Pecha Kucha -- "Choose Your Own Adventure" style presentation in which multiple short presentations are strung together in a choose your own adventure format.
- I would setup a "private" StatusNet (identi.ca / twitter) network for the conference. It would be great fun to have "private" channel just for the conference. Plus, StatusNet (open source) supports file uploads and photo sharing.
- I did four presentations this year: Speedy Websites, Open Source Debugging Tools, Mach-II and OpenBD on Google Application Engine. To be entirely blunt, I over extended myself this year. Yes, the Mach-II presentation was a snap to plan (thanks Kurt) and Matt basically put the whole GAE presentation together. It was a lot of stress for me this year especially after my wife and I decided to buy a house and move between time I agreed to four presentations and the actual conference. Next year I'm limiting myself to a maximum of two presentations (if they even selected).
- I am local to conference and therefore I commuted to the conference hotel. My parking was paid for, however non-local speakers get hotel room. Honestly, it would be a lot less stress for the local presenters to have been giving a hotel room (I would have happily roomed with Kurt to save money). I just don't understand why locals get way less in the terms of "compensation" than non-locals.
- This is sort of a pet peeve of mine so please excuse me for getting on my soap box for a moment. The CFO steering committee (all names read), the CFO CAB (just a mention of the committee as a whole) and CFO Sponsors (all names read) were all thanked. However, the speakers were not thanked (either by name or as a whole) for a second year in a row. In all honesty it is probably just an oversight, but without the speakers the conference cannot happen. I hope next year the conference decides to thank speakers directly during the "closing ceremonies." At the first CFO in 2006, we all got $100 gift cards to the Mall of America (actually place that accepted Visa).
- Actually, there was nothing ugly. Just thought it would be a nice joke to put up that category.