Category: Alfresco DevCon

Alfresco cancels Summit, asks community to organize its own conference

summit-community-editionEarlier this week, in a post to a public mailing list, Ole Hejlskov, Developer Evangelist at Alfresco, announced that the company will not be putting on its annual conference, Alfresco Summit, this year as originally planned. Instead, the company is focusing on smaller, shorter, sales-oriented events which have been very successful in several cities around the globe.

Ole said that Alfresco will be adding developer content to its Alfresco Day events, which have historically been mostly end-user and decision-maker focused. In contrast, Alfresco’s yearly events started out as developer-focused conferences, but in recent years had a more balanced agenda with both technical and non-technical tracks.

Alfresco had announced earlier in the year that their annual conference would be in New Orleans in November. In each of the last five years the company put on two conferences–one in Europe and the other in United States. For 2015 the plan was to have a single conference only in the U.S. which drew criticism from the community that skews heavily toward a non-U.S. demographic.

When the community realized Alfresco Summit 2015 would be held only in the U.S., an independent community organization called The Order of the Bee began making plans to hold their own conference in Europe. Alfresco says it will support the community’s efforts to hold its own event and wants to explore “…ways in which participation from Alfresco corporate makes sense”.

I understand where Alfresco is coming from. Annual conferences are expensive in both real dollars and the time and attention it takes to plan and execute. When you multiply that times two it obviously represents an even bigger investment.

You also have to look at what Alfresco gets out of the conference. Alfresco is increasingly sales-focused. The conference has historically been focused on knowledge-sharing and camaraderie. Yes, there were deals closed at Alfresco Summit but it was not geared towards selling. It was more about coming together to share stories, good and bad.

The Alfresco Day events are unabashedly sales and marketing. The attendees (and they get very large turnouts) know this which means Alfresco does not have to apologize for coming off too sales-y. Multiple cities with hundreds of prospects is a better investment for them than two cities with 1400 attendees who are existing customers and community members.

As the guy who led DevCon and Alfresco Summit and together with my team grew it year after year, it is weird to see Alfresco cancel the conference for 2015. I was looking forward to attending.

As a member of The Order of the Bee, I’m intrigued by the challenge of using an all-volunteer organization to potentially put together a replacement conference of some sort. If you have any interest in helping and you did not see my email to the mailing list, we’ll probably be meeting next week to get organized. Reach out to me and I’ll add you to the invitation.

Alfresco DevCon evolves to incorporate business tracks; will be known as Alfresco Summit in 2013

We have done six Alfresco DevCon events so far–one in EMEA and one in the Americas for each of the last three years. The general feeling from people who have attended is that it has improved year after year. Attendees come from all over the globe and are usually a good mix of Enterprise Edition users, Community Edition users, partners, Alfresco employees, and other community members.

Each year we try to do something new to make the event better. Last year we added things like the DevCon web site, Lightning Talks, the Hack-a-Thon, and recordings of each session. These were all hugely popular, but they were all relatively minor in the grand scheme of things. This year, we’re going to shake things up a bit and I wanted to share our plans with you first.

There’s something that’s been bothering us about DevCon: The event isn’t inclusive of our entire community. We want an annual conference to be the go-to event for everyone in the ecosystem, not just developers. Shouldn’t it be possible to have one event with content that is laser focused on each audience?

We think so.

So this year, we are expanding DevCon into what we hope will be a must-attend event for anyone working on an Alfresco project, regardless of their job title. The first change you’ll notice is the name. We’re going to call it Alfresco Summit.

New name, same great technical content, and then some

So the name changes. What else? First, content. Alfresco Summit will include the same great DevCon tracks that you are used to plus a whole new set of non-technical content aimed at the business end of Enterprise Content Management. What might you find in such a business track? Things like non-technical customer case studies, panel discussions with industry analysts, best practices around compliance, going paperless, or case management. Basically, talks that help you be successful in your implementation that focus on everything but code and configuration.

The next change you’ll notice is that we’re adding a half-day to the event. We’ll still have the optional training day, but we want to have some room in the agenda for some high profile speakers, product demos, and other types of general sessions. In addition, the extra time gives us more opportunity to have repeats of popular sessions to help alleviate inevitable schedule conflicts.

Finally, you may notice a bit more production value or “sizzle” to the event. It’s hard to quantify what that really means. Really this is about putting on an event that appears to you, the attendee, as if it were that of a company 100 times our size in terms of organization, branding, quality, and execution.

Help me spread the DevCon magic to our non-technical brothers and sisters

I continue to chair the event. If you’ve enjoyed DevCon the last two years, this should be good news to you. (If you haven’t enjoyed it, make sure I’ve heard your feedback so I can try to make it better). I will also own the DevCon tracks so we’ll have the same high bar for technical content we’ve had in the past. I will work to keep the things that you love about DevCon (the content, the access to engineers, the fun) in place as we expand to an event the entire community can enjoy.

The general format of the conference stays the same:

  • Day 0: An optional day for training, hack-a-thon, and partner meetings.
  • Day 1: The first day of the main conference starts out with some general sessions and then moves to breakouts with a fun party that night.
  • Day 2: Another full day, again starting with some general sessions and product demos before moving to breakouts. Another party that night (this is new).
  • Day 3: New for 2013, this is a half-day of breakouts with a closing panel of Engineering leads and senior management.

Of course, we’ll have the exhibition hall, engineering office hours, lightning talks, purposeful lunches, etc.

Where and When?

The save-the-date will be coming soon. The timing will be similar to last year (November) for both EMEA and Americas. EMEA should be thinking southern Europe and we’ll be on the East Coast of the US for the Americas.

Here’s what I need from you:

  • In last year’s DevCon survey, we asked if there were people who would attend if we had a business track. Roughly half of you said yes. I need you to show up this year with those people at your side.
  • Consider speaking. Especially if you are a current customer. Business or technical track, it doesn’t matter. The key is that the community wants to hear what you’re doing with Alfresco. This is the best place to share your story. The call for papers will be open by the end of April. Watch this blog, twitter, etc. for more info on that.
  • Tell me what kind of content you’d like to see at Alfresco Summit. A good way to do that is to propose session titles. You can do that here in the comments for now. If enough people have enough feedback we can look at doing something fancier.
  • If you haven’t attended in the past, make this the year you find a way to get to the conference. This is the quintessential gathering of the Alfresco community. You won’t want to miss it.

You can trust me to not screw up a good thing, but I need your help to make it awesome. If you have thoughts or comments as we continue to evolve our annual conference, share those here or by emailing me directly at jeff dot potts at alfresco dot com.

DevCon Hack-a-Thon & Activiti Day

Just a quick note about recent DevCon goings-on in case you’ve missed this via other channels…

Early-Bird Registration Ends 10 September!

Just a friendly reminder: You can save some money if you sign up before 10 September, so do not wait to sign-up.

DevCon 2012 Promo Video

Includes a few quotes from the Alfresco community’s colorful cast of characters.

DevCon 2012 Hack-a-Thon

We’re going to be doing a Hack-a-Thon the day before the main conference starts in both Berlin and San Jose. This will run concurrently with the optional Fundamentals and Advanced Training classes. So if you are an Alfresco old-timer who doesn’t need Fundamentals or Advanced training, show up a day early and join us in the hack-a-thon. We’re still deciding which projects we’re going to work on that day. More info will be posted on the DevCon Hack-a-Thon page as it develops.

Activiti Day Berlin

If you are attending DevCon Berlin and you have any interest in Activiti, you should plan on staying an extra day and joining us for an Activiti Community reception the night of 7 November and then an all day Activiti Community event on 8 November. See the DevCon blog for more details.

DevCon Lightning Talks Debut

We’re planning on having two lightning talk sessions, one on each day of the main conference, at both DevCon events this year. We are planning on using the Ignite format, but if that is holding a significant number of people back, we may decide to relax that requirement. If you want to give a 5-minute talk at DevCon, sign up now.

How to suggest or propose a DevCon 2012 talk

If you want to give a talk at DevCon, here are your options:

  • Read the call for papers, then submit a proposal for a traditional session no later than May 19
  • Come to the conference and sign up for a Lightning Talk
  • Come to the conference and participate in a Birds-of-a-Feather session

If you have an idea for a session but you don’t want to speak, reply to this thread in the forums with your idea and maybe it will inspire someone else to give the talk.

Alfresco DevCon 2012: San Jose & Berlin

Last week I announced that Alfresco DevCon 2012 will be in Berlin and San Jose. We’ll be at the Berlin Hilton November 5, 6, & 7 and at the San Jose Marriott & Convention Center November 13, 14, & 15. Eagle-eyed readers who saw the announcement last week will note that the Berlin date has changed. The DMS Expo conference in Stuttgart conflicted with our dates so we’re moving to give everyone the maximum opportunity to Experience DevCon Awesomeness.

In both cities, the first day of the conference is an optional training day. We’re still working out exactly which classes will be offered on the training day, but we are increasing capacity this year due to popular demand.

Like last year, the main conference days will feature keynotes from Alfresco leadership, some great sessions from Alfresco Engineers, partners, and other members of the community, and plenty of opportunities for networking.

I’m finalizing tracks right now. As soon as I’m done, I’ll post the call for papers. I expect you to unleash a flood of outstanding conference submissions.

If you need some inspiration, take a look at the DevCon 2011 presentations on slideshare.

I typically post DevCon related news here but you might also want to follow the DevCon blog as well.

Alfresco Community Pledges & other things that worked well at DevCon

I had so much fun putting on Alfresco DevCon last week in San Diego. You can read my short wrap-up on the Alfresco DevCon Blog. Claudia Saleh also provides Day 1 Re-Cap and Day 2 Re-Cap posts as well. And Claudia took a lot of great pics at the event and put them on Flickr. After London we’ll get all of the presentations from both events on SlideShare for everyone to enjoy.

We tried a lot of new things at DevCon last week. I thought I’d re-cap what worked well here:

Purposeful lunches. DevCon was two days. On Day 1, we assigned a technical topic to each lunch table and then made sure an Engineer was at each table to cover that topic. Attendees sorted themselves to the table they were interested in discussing over lunch. Some tables really worked their topic over thoroughly during lunch. Others used it as an icebreaker and then moved on to other stuff. On Day 2 we divided the tables up by geography and industry vertical. Most people I talked to liked the concept.

Engineering Office Hours. The concept is a repeat from our first DevCon, but this year we had a bulletin board with each Engineer, their bio, their picture, and a sign-up sheet. Attendees grabbed a slot, then met with their Engineer. This worked out really well. For London we’ll pre-print the time slots rather than have them be freeform.

Panel Discussion. Last year at DevCon in New York, the panel discussion was a little ad hoc. This year we put the panel discussion on the morning of the second day as a general session and that seemed to work. For London, we’re moving the panel discussion to the end of the second day so any questions that the day 2 sessions raise can be asked at that time. It should also give us a nice opportunity to recap the conference.

Alfresco Community Pledges. DevCon serves a lot of purposes. One is to energize and motivate people to get involved with the Alfresco community. I had some extra Alfresco “attitude” t-shirts so I decided to give them to people who would pledge to make some contribution to the community in the coming weeks and months. Here are some that we got via twitter.

@dev_kraig Kraig Van Houten
@Alfresco I #pledge to write one #alfresco related blog post per month

@SunilRehman Sunil Rehman
@Alfresco I #pledge to report 5 new #Alfresco 4.0 b bugs before thanksgiving

@WillWhite18 Will White
I #pledge to report at least 5 bugs in #Alfresco 4.0b before thanksgiving.

@Michaelcford Michael C Ford
@Alfresco I #pledge to answer 6 unanswered #Alfresco forum post in the next 3 weeks

@emmichie Eric Michie
I #pledge to host an #Alfresco meetup in my area twice this quarter. Salt Lake City Utah

@tenthline_ecm Tenthline
@tenthline_ecm will #pledge to host #Alfresco meetup in #Toronto twice this quarter.

@aaronaheath Aaron Heath
I #pledge to write one #Alfresco related blog post per month for the next 12 months. I will also become more active on the #Alfresco forum.

@perejnar Per Ejnar Thomsen
I #pledge to report 5 new (legitimate) #Alfresco 4.0b bugs before Thanksgiving

@dstaflund Darryl Stafflund
I #pledge to answer 6 unanswered #Alfresco forum posts in the next three Weeks.

@iancrew Ian Crew
I #pledge to write one #Alfresco related blog post per month.

@trisofer Chris Paul
@jeffpotts01 I #pledge to write one #Alfresco related blog post per month.

It was great to see these and to talk to people between sessions who said the conference was the kick in the pants they needed to get going again with their contributions.

Thanks to everyone who attended, sponsored, or spoke at DevCon San Diego. It exceeded my expectations and hopefully yours as well. I’ll report back here after London and we’ll see if these ideas were just as successful for that event.

List of Alfresco Dashlet Challenge 2011 Entries

The Alfresco Dashlet Challenge contest has been over for quite a while and our winner, Florian Maul, has received his iPad and has already racked up some impressive Fruit Ninja scores, but I’m just now getting around to posting the entire list of entries. I’ve put the list on the Alfresco wiki.

Please do take a look at these projects and try them in your own installations. In many cases, it’s a single JAR you drop in, then restart and you’re done. If you find problems, don’t hesitate to log issues or maybe even crack open your editor, fix it, and contribute it back to the author.

I should take this opportunity to mention a little project we’ve got brewing. If you’ve heard any of my “State of the Community” talks you may already know about Alfresco Add-Ons. It’s a site we’re building that will do a better job of helping you find and rate add-ons the community is creating for the Alfresco platform. An Add-On might be a dashlet, like the Dashlet Challenge entries, or it might be an integration, or an API, or just about anything else that works with Alfresco.

Add-Ons isn’t meant to be a project hosting site. There are already a lot of those available. Instead, think of it as a directory or index with some social features to help the cream rise to the top. This will give everyone (Community & Enterprise users) a one-stop shop for add-ons and extensions.

We’re hoping to have a minimum viable product ready by DevCon. If it gets done and enough people want to see it, we’ll have an ad hoc session so we can look at it together. We’d obviously like to get feedback from the community for the next sprint.

Alfresco DevCon 2011 session list has been posted

I’ve finally finalized the list of sessions for Alfresco DevCon Americas in San Diego and Alfresco DevCon EMEA in London. Have a gander. I’m sure I’ll be running around like a wild man those two days, but if I get to see some sessions, I think I’m going to be hard-pressed to choose which ones to go to.

My next step is to put those sessions in date-time and room slots. To fix the schedule, basically. It’s an interesting Sudoku-like exercise. You don’t want to have overlapping tracks for a given time slot, you can’t have overlapping speakers for a given time slot, there’s a bit of a logical progression between some sessions, and you want to try to avoid scheduling extremely hot sessions for the same time slot.

The last one is the really tough one. I can pick my favorites but those won’t necessarily reflect the group’s favorites. If all of my rooms were the same size it wouldn’t matter, but they aren’t. In each city we’ve got one big breakout room and two smaller ones.

To get some handle on how well attended some of these might be I’ve created a very short survey. The survey is basically, “Which city are you attending” and “Pick your favorite sessions from this long list”. If you are planning on attending and you have a few minutes, I’d really appreciate it if you’d review the list of sessions for your DevCon city, then take the survey.

Even with this survey the schedule won’t be perfect. Apologies ahead of time if you have to make a tough choice.

Alfresco DevCon 2011 Call for Papers

I’ve just posted the official call for papers for Alfresco DevCon 2011. I know a lot of readers have done some really cool things with Alfresco. This is a great opportunity for you to share those stories with the rest of us.

Also, let me know if there is anything significant missing from the proposed list of tracks, which is:

  • Alfresco as a Platform
  • Best Practices
  • Customizing Alfresco
  • Case Studies
  • BPM
  • Building WCM Solutions with Alfresco

Just like last year, we’ll have three sessions running concurrently throughout the day. We’ll start Day 1 with opening remarks from me, then move right into a keynote from John Newton, which is always a crowd favorite. Then I was thinking it would be good to have a “What’s New in 4.0?” general session, then split into breakouts after that. The only other general session I could see us doing would be an Engineering Panel Discussion, maybe on the morning of Day 2.

Any and all feedback is welcome!