What can I say about WWDC 2008? Well, not that much actually — all the sessions other than the keynote were covered by NDA, so beyond the publicly-available session schedules and descriptions, the content of the show remains off-limits. So, yeah, I learned about stuff in Snow Leopard, QuickTime X, and iPhone 2.0, but I’ll have to wait until Apple releases the stuff before I can comment on it.
Granted, the keynote isn’t NDA, since it was made available in its entirety. The blur below is Steve Jobs taking the stage in the beginning:
Two things you wouldn’t know from watching the fixed-in-post stream or video podcast of the Stevenote:
- The parade of nations in which iPhone 3G will be sold was accompanied by the Disney theme park song “It’s A Small World”. Guess they didn’t want to deal with rights fees?
- The second time they played the ad, the sound guys forgot to bring up the ad audio. Fixed in post.
So, yeah, whatever, check out the Stevenote yourself if you must. Now onto my own impressions, starting with sessions:
That’s the “Presidio” room, the largest of the session rooms I attended. Actually, it’s about the front 1/3 to 1/2 of the keynote room, which was then subdivided into smaller sections for regular sessions the rest of the week. Presidio played host to what you’d call the “mainstream” iPhone sessions, stuff like intros and debugging and the various core libraries and such. The room probably holds about 2,000 people, so you can draw the conclusion from the foot traffic that WWDC was at least half iPhone developers, maybe more.
But I think that’s a little deceptive. I don’t think the Mac/iPhone distinction was particularly binary. It’s much more of a continuum of people with varying levels of interest in both platforms. Frankly, from what I could tell, there weren’t very many developers there who were completely new to Apple platforms. A lot of the iPhone developers were people who’d already been working on the Mac. Some of these are long-time Mac developers — notice how some of the Apple Design Awards for iPhone went to Mac stalwarts like Iconfactory, and how Pangea got in the keynote — others are people are those who’d been messing with Mac by night, and are interested in joining the Gold Rush (or Black Parade, if you will) on the iPhone. Actually, one thing that was uncanny was the number of people who I spoke with in line who were Java programmers or IT people by day, iPhone apprentices by night. I don’t know if this augurs a mass migration of developers away from Java, or if the kind of people who would go to WWDC would have such a typical “Mr. Anderson” day job. But having gone to JavaOne a month ago, the technical merits and appeal of the platforms are like night and day. And the Sun isn’t what’s shining.
Subjective comments about session content that avoids NDA violations:
- Snow Leopard’s performance technologies have fascinating potential.
- QuickTime X is a major project that was probably inevitable given the age of the QuickTime codebase (nearly 20 years old at this point). Great potential, but surely someone’s favorite features will get left behind.
- As I blogged on O’Reilly’s iPhone site, iPhone webapps really surprised me with their capabilities. In our demands for a real SDK, we might have overlooked some coolness here.
- Probably the biggest contrast with Android, which I investigated for a client, is that Android’s SDK is completely decoupled from any eventual implementation, while the iPhone SDK is generally well-aware of the devices on which it runs. The purists probably balk at tight coupling, but I wonder if the Android approach isn’t making a Big Design Up Front or Waterfall-style mistake: it’s promising functionality (and a quality of service) that yet-to-be-developed hardware has to back up, or at least gracefully degrade out of. The iPhone’s approach is more, well, agile: build a device, put an SDK around its features, rev the device, rev the SDK. Android will have to prove to me that it’s not going to end up as “write once, debug everywhere.”
While I’m making contrasts with Java, here’s another point on which WWDC stomps JavaOne:
These power strips weren’t everywhere, but they were in enough sessions that if you got in early enough and sought them out, you could avoid needing a second battery. They had some serious power distribution bricks under the power-stripped rows, so this wasn’t some cheesy daisy-chain thing that could trip the breaker. It was done right.
I didn’t use the hang spaces much, but got a few funny shots:
Notice the note on the right: “and we have Rock Band and Wii”. At the Java Posse Roundup, I mentioned that having a communal video game system was the most effective team-building tool for a high-tech company that I knew of, particularly good at getting QA and engineering talking. As social as Soul Calibur and EA’s sports games are, I imagine the super-social Rock Band could bring this to a whole new level.
Nothing super remarkable here (the Blizzard listing is interesting), except to note how packed it is with contacts and job listings. Now on the other side, let’s take a step away from WWDC for a minute and look across 4th Street to that temple of failure and delusion, the Metreon:
At this point, the Metreon is more than half empty. The fifth floor’s “Where the Wild Things” attraction is long gone, as is the fourth’s “The Way Things Work” movie and exhibits. The high-end steak place on the second floor closed sometime between JavaOne and WWDC, joining the Games Workshop and the stores above, previously a Gundam store (left) and a comic shop (right). Across the hall from them we find:
…a store space with nothing but crane games. To make it more amusing, this space was originally occupied by a Microsoft retail store. Given the collapse of everything around it in Metreon, it’s hard to hang that one on Microsoft.
Back to WWDC, here’s The Company Store:
It’s not the selection offered by the Company Store at Apple HQ, but they had a perfectly adequate set of Apple t-shirts and a few other items. Would have been nice if they hadn’t charged me three times for my purchase, but that’s for me, their vendor, and Mastercard to sort out tomorrow.
One of the evening receptions… pretty typical for a Moscone event, actually… the food lines move way too slow for the number of attendees. On Tuesday, they had free drinks (fast) to go with the free food (slow). You can guess how that worked out.
OK, a few people pictures before I call it a night:
This is James Duncan Davidson, who was photographing the Thursday night bash in Yerba Buena Gardens, along with partner Pinar, on an official basis. They got some shots from the fifth floor of Metreon, probably marking about the only time recently that floor’s been occupied.
And this is podcaster, Pragmatic Programmers editor, and original java.net editor Daniel Steinberg at the party, with the Barenaked Ladies performing behind him. The band was ideal for the event, Mac geeks who could crack wise about arcana from System 7.6 (or, for that matter, an inclusion of one of their videos on a System 8 CD, without their approval). Compare (again) to JavaOne, where Smashmouth’s contempt for corporate gigs was perfectly captured by the disinterested singer’s banter in which he literally said “we’d like to thank YOUR COMPANY for having us here tonight.” Still, kind of a bummer to think that I never got to WWDC in the era of the Campus Bash. My bad for not jumping into the Mac platform sooner.