Last year Victoria and I tried something different: visiting San Francisco during WWDC, but not actually attending WWDC. Here’s a quick rundown of our experience.
Ticket Price. Buy yourself another MacBook Air.
Recordings: Since I didn’t spring for a ticket, there’s no guilt about missing a live session. Ever since Apple phased out after-session Q & A, the online videos tend to be better than the live sessions.
Additionally, Apple has come a long way from the days where you’d get a box of DVDs in the mail many many months after the conference. The last couple of years Apple aggressively edited the recordings during WWDC itself and generally made them available 2-3 weeks after the conference.
Sleep Schedule: Wake up late sans guilt that you’re missing an Important Session. Dovetails nicely with late nights typical of WWDC.
Out of SOMA: There’s much less of a need to stay in SOMA since you won’t need to make those early-morning sessions. We stayed in a bed and breakfast in Pacific Heights and enjoyed many new establishments.
Lessened Hallway: The best part of WWDC is the hallway. Since you can’t get past the Moscone lobby, such interaction opportunities are lessened. That said, we found great success in just hanging out outside the Moscone. We didn’t do it enough, but we immediately bumped into folks we knew and had several nice chats.
No Badge: A lot of parties require a WWDC badge to get in. Fortunately there are parties with specific invitation lists and undiscriminating bars.
Lab Time: I’m listing this one for completeness since friends tell me they’ve received valuable debugging and feedback in the labs. Unfortunately in all my years of WWDC, I’ve only managed to stump engineers assigned to the Lab, so I don’t use it any more with the exception of…
UI Design Lab: Finally, a serious con. I’ve gotten benefit out of this lab (when I remember to reserve a slot before they’re all booked up).
Stump the Experts: another serious con. This one’s always a blast.
Apple Design Awards: I prefer to review the list of winners and runners-up instead of attending this event.
Lunchtime presentations: Worth going to when you’re there, but I wasn’t broken up about missing them.
Bash: The Bash is fun and good for mingling but there’s plenty of that already during WWDC.
Bottom line: we consider our WWDC-less WWDC a rousing success and plan to do it again.