Smart Tech for a better Web
ApacheCon EU 2012 is history - and a great one. I was there on Wednesday and Thursday and it was a great experience for me. Here is what I have learned from the past few days.
While we urgently need e-mail in our daily work at Apache (speak: mailing lists) and it does a fantastic job (if you do it right) it has a huge drawback. When you read an e-mail you get some kind of impression from the guy who wrote it. And this impression is almost certain wrong. I have read a billion of e-mails from Apache people and found out: the people who are nice in e-mails are even nicer in person. The people you think who have no humor and are dry like a bread are unbelievable nice and humouros. People who are talking strongly on the mailing lists appear to be the nice and shy guys from the neighbourhood. Well, I will read e-mails differently now.
I organized a little dinner on Wednesday. I was a bit afraid because I reserved for 50 people who I never saw before. It would mean the venue would eat me alive if nobody appeared. I mean, 50 people! How can I trust them? I did make up a Google document for that and suddenly a name after another appeared there. And what to say? When I was arriving at the time we agreed, a lot of people were already there. And a little bit later the venue was full with Apache people. Finally it was a great evening with many talks, much beer and zero problems. I can totally recommend Schmidts Sinsheim for hosting a big audience and hope that we'll have a similar dinner soon.
The talks were great. But I found out that I was not able to attend so many of them as I expected. Reason: I was stuck in so many in-depth chats about technology while they happened. People told me what they want from Apache projects; they told me what the would like to see removed. They had great ideas. I learned from other committers about their work and what directions they are heading. Sitting on a table with long-term Struts gurus and Guice experts I was so motivated that I just wanted start hacking (but we all stayed and kept the beer flowing). I learned: speaking with your users face to face is extremely important. Speaking with the developers of frameworks you use is important as well.
ApacheCon is a very including conference. While I sometimes have the feeling other conferences are trying to recruit people in their own eco-system and ignoring the outer world, ApacheCon is very open and a pretty friendly place with a constant stream of new faces. While we all code for business, business is not so most important factor. It is the passion we share on great software. There were so many people from the whole world - and it felt as we all would know us for years. ApacheCon includes everybody because the passionate people do. There is no big Über-Company hosting you. You are hosted by committers, and thats a big difference.
Now that I have learned all of that and the adrenaline is mostly out of my body I feel safe to say: we need it regulary. ApacheCon EU was not happening so often as the north america conference and we really need to change that. It was not only fun, it was an important experience for me and would like to repeat it (not only to joke with the "Legacy Man"). As ApacheCon EU was community driven (first time I think) I can only say: the experiment worked out. Let's repeat it. Just let us think about one thing: Europe is big and not only consisting of Germany. With SAPs help it was pretty easy to organize everything, but we should also look to other countries where such a great conference can happen. Let us not forget that Germany appears pretty expensive to some people.