Reflections on Jordev Web Camp

By | May 17, 2011

webcampsLast Saturday 14th of May 2011 we had the first web camp in Jordan among Jordev’s activities, and it was great!
check my presentation slides at the end of this post.

The event was like the following:

  1. 8:30 AM – 9:00 AM: Registration
  2. 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM: Four 50 minutes sessions with 10 minutes between each for breaks, there was a few attendees at the beginning so we delayed the first session for couple of minutes (yes we have a morning problem here). Sessions were “Entity Framework 4.1”, “ASP.NET MVC One Step Deeper”, “Dynamic Data”, and “jQuery
  3. 1:00 PM – 2:15 PM: lunch break, where people went to the near market and had their lunch there.
  4. 2:15 PM – 4:30 PM: free coding session.

Things went great:

  1. Enough people attended. The attendees were about 25 people spread all over a hall that takes at least 100, this gave us a great freedom in moving around and hocking cables freely on available slots.
  2. The attendees were great. It’s awesome that the attendees were really serious about the event; everyone brought his/her laptop charged and ready, every one was kind enough to pay the right attention, and everyone stayed to the last minute; it’s this passion and dedication that makes a successful event a successful event.
  3. Very good speakers. We were lucky enough to host one of the smartest and most active community members in Jordan: Omar Qadan, Mahmoud Manasrah, and Omar Muwahed did a great job and delivered such a rich value, I was humbled to be among such intelligent speakers and share the stage with them.
  4. Topics were diverse. It’s true all web, but we covered four important parts that summed the basics of a web app: Entity Framework, ASP.NET MVC, Dynamic Data, and jQuery.
  5. There was no lunch arrangement hassle. Interestingly enough, we decided to skip the arrangement for lunch; we still had a lunch break and we provided fast coffee, but we revolted on the pattern of supplying sponsored food and snacks on the lunch break, this gave us the opportunity to concentrate more on delivering technical value, and less managerial things. Of course the near market made our decision a lot easier, in addition to our good luck of having such sufficient number of attendees.
  6. Two and half hours of Free coding. Actually this was pretty good; the free nature of the session allowed the attendees to contribute, and to ask their questions freely.
    We first gave the attendees the opportunity to try things on their own, then we suggested to have walkthroughs; started playing with some of the latest technologies NuGet and Glimpse, then a walkthrough on ASP.NET MVC, then finally a brief general talk about OData.

    Though I see a big space for improvement here; the down side is that there was a dominant stream because the presenter used the main desk and the presentation screen to talk to the majority in the walkthroughs, which was a distraction to the individuals who wanted to try things on their own, anyway I didn’t hear any complaints.
    We had an option to distribute people among groups depending on the technology they want to learn, but it appeared that it was little bit hard to organize, and the attendees in majority agreed to the way we concluded.

  7. The DVD accumulated for the event. We accumulated a DVD that contains Visual Studio 2010 Express, SQL 2008 Express, VS2010 SP1, NerdDinner sample, and MVCMusicStore sample. This helped others to boot up fast with the event, and a nice thing for the attendees to go home with.

Things went wrong:

  1. Marketing the event. We thought that we should limit the number of the attendees to 80 so we don’t end up in crowded auditorium, so we did, and 80 people registered on EventBrite in less than 48 hours of declaring the event on Facebook and Twitter. To our sad happy surprise only 25 people showed up! I know that not all event registrars attend the events they register for online, but the percent is strikingly high! 75% not attending?! what was wrong?
    I think we didn’t do enough reminders, apparently people are lazy about keeping their calendars
  2. SQL Express installation file was 64 bit. 32 bit OS is still the most common OS here, so we missed that up.

Things we did for preparations:

  1. Distributed tasks among us (four people) so everyone had a clear task, this way we made sure we don’t miss anything due to ambiguity in responsibilities
  2. One of us made sure the hall was booked (more tedious than you think!)
  3. Created an event on EventBrite and shared the link over a mailing list, Facebook, and Twitter
  4. Brought enough 3-in-1 packs of Nescafe, one electronic kettle for hot water, and many small bottles of water
  5. Burned out DVD’s with free content (check above)
  6. Brought 3 multi-slot plugs to support the many laptops with electricity
  7. Rehearsed enough for the presentations Smile

That was about it, I hope this reading benefits you and good luck with YOUR web camps.


My presentation slides embedded:

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