Flex/Flash/Actionscript

My 360|Flex Writeup

360Flex ATL360|Flex wrapped up on Wednesday and I wanted to do a quick writeup of my overall thoughts about the conference. First off, I think this was the best Flex conference ever put on. That’s a bold statement because I haven’t been to some of the other Flex conferences, but I’m fairly confident it’s true. I’ve attended the previous two 360|Flex events and each time the conference just gets better and better.

The speakers are getting damn good
The Flex speaker roster has matured a bit, this conference marked the third 360 event that some of the speakers have done (this was only my second conference as a speaker). I think you can see very visible improvement in both the content and presentation skills of the speakers. There were two sessions I’m kicking myself for missing: Jun Heider’s presentation about memory management, and Michael Labriola’s presentation on what happens during the first few milliseconds of your application startup. Both speakers have posted their slides and material. Hearing the buzz around the conference, it sounded like those two presentations were two of the absolute highlights.

Here’s my theory on why those presentations were so good:

  1. The speakers are maturing in terms of Flex expertise and speaking skills. Both Michael and Jun spoke at previous events (previous 360|Flex and also MAX). It takes a while for speakers to find their groove, and I think with a lot of the Flex speaker roster we’re seeing that people are now at the point where they are confident, badass speakers.
  2. The content is crazy technical and the audience is ready. Previous Flex conferences have been dumbed down in terms of the advanced sessions. 360|Flex Seattle was more technical than the first one in San Jose, but it still didn’t meet the needs of the advanced Flex users out there. This was a tough line to walk, though, because if you did an uber-technical preso you probably would have had about 10 people in the room and only 5 would have understood what you were saying. Jun and Michael’s sessions were way more technical than anything presented at previous 360 conferences. And the audience was able to get it. That says a lot in terms of how much better everyone is getting. I think both of those sessions would have probably bombed at the first 360|Flex back a year ago (god, was that really only a year ago?).

Reflection on my sessions

I had a really good time presenting at this conference. I apologize if I offended any of the sign language translators :) (if you weren’t there let’s just say I had fun getting them to translate certain phrases). My main presentation was on using open source community projects and I’ve posted all the slides and sample code. I thought this session was fun, although I think I crammed a lot of stuff into the 80 minutes and didn’t have as much time as I would have liked for the kind of organic discussion that I find so fun. When I originally told Tom and John the idea for my session they suggested doing an all-day hand-on session on the topic. If I wasn’t so lazy I actually think this would be a really good all-day type of thing. Maybe in the future we can get enough speakers to tag team it, so nobody has to spend the whole day presenting.

The second session that I did, which was unplanned, was a session on building your personal brand. Juan Sanchez and I teamed up for this session and talked about our different approaches on branding and marketing yourself. This session was in place of Jesse Warden’s originally planned session that was on a similar topic (although Jesse planned on covering a lot more content about the business side of things). BTW, if you attended 360, Jesse’s original presentation PDF is on the USB stick, check it out in all of its 215-slide glory. As for me, I had about 8 slides I whipped up 20 minutes before the presentation. This session was a pretty awesome discussion, most of the people in the room contributed and talked about their experiences. Jeff Houser was there and talked about brand building from the perspective of a business-owner (ie not a crazy egocentric nutjob developer like myself). I think the topic of branding is hugely important, and I’d like to see this kind of content presented much more at these kinds of conferences.

I want videos again
This year the presentations at 360 weren’t recorded, and I’m really wishing they were so I could watch Jun’s, Michael’s, and a bunch of other sessions. Last year I didn’t watch the videos of anyone else’s sessions, primarily because the technical level of the content wasn’t quite there. Now I’m pissed because I know there’s some seriously good information in these presentations that I missed (and reading through the slides isn’t nearly the same). I vote for recording this stuff again, even if next time that means we each do it ghetto style and and just stick a crappy camera in the corner of the room.

I love you guys
This is the best developer community. I heard over and over again during the conference about how nice everyone is. There are no asshole prima donna speakers, everyone is approachable and friendly. That goes for the speakers, everyone from Adobe, and all the attendees. Everyone’s just authentically nice. The Flex community is going to grow dramatically over the next few years. Let’s try to keep this awesome small-community vibe that we got going on. This community vibe is why I love presenting at 360|Flex (and the main reason I don’t present at other larger conferences).

Thanks Tom and John! You guys rock.

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(photo by Terry May)

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15 thoughts on “My 360|Flex Writeup

  1. Doug, I agree with your post of the 360 event in every way an must say that yu are correct in that EVERY speaker was approachable. I respected the fact that even YOU were friendly and accomodating in helping me with a problem. I have been to some other conferences where the speakers were total assholes, and didn’t give the attendees the time of day. (Not the right way at all to gain street cred, just ask Ben Clinkenbeard :) ) Anyway, thanks for representing and for stepping up for Jesse Warden’s session. Kudos to you! Hope to see you again at the next one…San Jose?

  2. Doug, as one of the sponsors of the event, I thought that this conference stands head and shoulders above others. At most other conferences the vendors are treated like they have ebola or something. Not so at 360. Everyone was really open to talking and sharing tips and tricks with anybody. Let’s do another one!!

  3. @Ben, ha, I guess that just depends on how you read it :) I’m gonna go start the “Ben Clinkinbeard is an asshole” rumor.

    “Yeah, he writes good code, but that dude’s a total dick…”

  4. Hey Doug I agree with your post so much that I might as well just copy and paste it for my writeup. It was great meeting you at the conference and we should definitely keep in touch.

    Also, if you need help starting the “Ben Clinkinbeard is an asshole” rumor I’m here for ya.. haha

  5. Awe shucks Doug, thanks for the good words. In all honesty it’s guys like you that inspire me to strive to be a good speaker and make sure to have cool shits. :)

    I mean, since the first presso I saw of yours at 360Flex Seattle that was so cool that they had a repeat at MAX, you’ve been rocking the house! I thoroughly enjoyed all the cool shits you showed us in ATL, it was a rock solid presentation, and look forward to the next one you do!

    -Jun

    P.S. – I guess the Sam Adams I got you at the hotel bar was a good idea, eh? :)

  6. “There were two sessions I’m kicking myself for missing: Jun Heider’s presentation about memory management, and Michael Labriola’s presentation on what happens during the first few milliseconds of your application startup.”

    As I put it to my project manager…these two sessions paid for the conference for our company.

    “If I wasn’t so lazy I actually think this would be a really good all-day type of thing.”

    You should have…okay, I am going to ask that next year you do the following. An all day hands-on plus your seminar. But instead of a whole 8 hours. This is what I am thinking:

    Using Open-Source Components 101: 4 hour seminar that covers the very basics. (ie: many people are unfamiliar with how to use other libraries, best practices to doing so, etc). So have these 4 hours cover:

    > where to find
    > installation, where to place such libraries and best practices for referencing so all your projects can use. Or your entire development group can utilize.
    > code a simple use example

    Then a second “Using Open-Source Components – Part II 201″ class. Getting into more examples, etc. Then have your seminar “Using Open-Source Components – Part III 301″ which covers modifying components, best practices for handling modifications and divergences from the original library. How to contribute to open source components. What your custom components need to be polished enough for contribution. Etc.

    :-)

  7. Thanks man. That’s cool to hear.

    I think you are right on that the audience is maturing as the speakers do. I always learn something at these conferences both through the questions I get asked and just listening to everyone else talk. That’s one of the coolest things about 360 Flex. No one shows up with their cup already full.

    This conference was awesome. I was stoked to give a presentation that technical and actually have people show up and be interested. Now I just have to learn to say event dispatcher in Italian.

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