This year I was finally fortunate enough to attend WWDC, and following the advice of many others, I am including my own thoughts, tips and tricks about attending WWDC for the first time.
Finding a Hotel
Lodging in a large city is not cheap, and San Francisco (already renown for being one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S.) was no different. Trying to find anything even semi-affordable in downtown S.F. is a difficult task, and even more so to find something in a nicer area. Read up on reviews of the various hotels first, and stay out of the Tenderloin district. I will repeat that: Stay out of the Tenderloin district.
Historically, one wanted to line up for the Keynote as early as possible so one could get a seat in the main conference room where the Keynote was being held, otherwise you would be relegated to an overflow room. This year the Keynote was moved to the Bill Graham Civic Center, which was able to seat all 5000 attendees, journalists and special guests. It was packed, but this probably worked a lot better than trying to herd everyone into Moscone West for the Keynote.
I arrived at the Bill Graham Civic Center around 5:55. Just 10 minutes later, a decent sized line showed up behind me. Two lines were formed, one for the ground level and one for the upper level. I ended up on the upper level, but the giant screens helped show what was going on and the acoustics weren’t too bad.
Others have reported that in the past meals were a catered affair. With 5000 people to feed, though, it works best to have the pre-packaged meals so people can just quickly pick up a meal from a table and then find a place to sit and eat. Breakfast generally consisted of pastries, muffins, donuts and bagels with juice and coffee. Lunch often came in three varieties such as chicken, beef or vegetarian (sandwiches, salads, and some form of desert). Snacks and beverages were also available between meals. There was enough food, and sometimes there was enough left over from my lunch that it made for a good dinner. If you want a coffee, there are plenty of Starbucks around, including two just a block away from Moscone West. Interestingly enough, I never came across a single McDonalds during my stay in San Francisco, so no iced coffees from there.
San Francisco's weather is reminiscent of being in the mountains. It tends to be cool in the mornings and evenings, but will warm up during the middle of the day. During the week of the conference, temperatures ranged from 13°C to 18°C (I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to convert those temperatures to Fahrenheit). I was glad I was given an extra jacket when I checked in, since I needed it on Monday morning while waiting in line for the Keynote.
Most of my time was spent attending the conference, but I did manage to reserve a couple of hours to check out some of the more interesting and pleasant parts of downtown San Francisco.
- Apple Store: I visited the new Apple Store off of Union Square, which is certainly quite different from all of the other Apple Stores I've visited.
- Trolley + Fisherman's Wharf : San Francisco is famous for its trolleys, which are now more for nostalgia and entertainment than an expansive form of public transportation. When I wasn't walking, I tended to either take a taxi or the BART (from SFO to downtown) to get around. Fisherman's Wharf reminded me of Chicago's Navy Pier — pretty much a large tourist trap, but with crab sandwiches.
- City Bus Tour : This was an excellent way to see most of the highlights of the city, including going across the Golden Gate Bridge. Recommended method of getting around to see the sights.
Attending WWDC was a magnificent experience. I’m not certain if I’ll be able to ever attend again, so it was wonderful to have the chance to attend this conference. Having all of the WWDC sessions available on-line is a great resource, but it just isn’t quite the same as being there in person where you have an entire week dedicated to watching these sessions and (trying to) absorb as much new knowledge as possible. In the past, I might watch a handful of sessions on the internet, but by being at the conference it allowed me to see a lot more of the sessions, including some I may not have bothered watching. Some of the sessions were great, some were surprisingly more interesting than expected, and a few were incredibly deep and complex. The information is invaluable, but the networking is what truly makes WWDC a fun experience. Meet other developers from all over the world (and there is plenty of chance to meet new people when you stand in various lines throughout the day) or perhaps even bump into a semi-famous face or two.