WWDC week in San Jose

Last week I was in San Jose for Apple’s big annual developer conference, WWDC. I wasn’t attending the conference itself, but attended AltConf, an alternative conference held next door, plus several other events during the week, mainly in the evenings.

This was the first time I’ve been to San Jose, and the first WWDC-adjacent week since I last attended WWDC in 2007. A lot has changed in the intervening decade: back in 2007, the iPhone had been announced (at the Macworld Expo in January, which I also attended), but wasn’t yet available, and didn’t have any SDK; at WWDC, they talked about the “sweet solution” of web apps. Back then, WWDC was a Mac developer conference. Nowadays, it is dominated by iOS developers, but it was nice to see the Mac get a bit more love this year.

I prepared by ordering a bunch of Dejal-themed shirts and caps. Though as it turned out, while the first couple of days were quite warm, the rest of the week was relatively cool… and the conference rooms were even chillier, so I ended up wearing a long-sleeve Dejal shirt most of the time, and wished I’d brought my Dejal hoodie. Lessons for next time!

I also produced some Dejal and Time Out stickers, and business cards. I gave out a bunch of stickers, though not as many as I had expected (but I’ll have other opportunities in the future, including Swift By Northwest in October). But the business cards were very useful to help explain my apps when chatting with other developers:

Then off I go; an easy 1.5 hour direct flight from Portland to San Jose on Alaska. I don’t usually fly on this airline, but I was impressed with their efficiency on getting people on board and taking off on time or early:

On arrival, I grabbed some lunch at the airport, then hopped on a Lyft to my Airbnb. Hotel rooms downtown are very expensive, so I saved money by staying in a nice apartment above the owner’s house. It was conveniently close to Whole Foods and restaurants, and a short 9-minute walk to a light rail station. The train took only about 5 minutes to reach downtown. Certainly not as convenient as being right there, but worth the tradeoffs.

On Sunday night I attended the sjMacIndie meetup (but didn’t take any pictures), where I met and chatted with many other macOS and iOS developers.

Then Monday morning I headed downtown again to witness the queue of WWDC attendees waiting to get in to see the keynote:

Since I didn’t have the golden ticket for WWDC, I headed into AltConf, where they provided breakfast burritos:

Various sponsor booths:

And a big room to watch the keynote broadcast. Sure, I could have watched it back in my Airbnb apartment, but watching amongst other developers adds to the experience:

Tim Cook appearing on stage, via the projection screen:

Later, after the State of the Union viewing, there was a happy hour with free drinks… but I chose poorly; this red wine was undrinkable. Alas!

Monday evening, I attended a sold-out live recording of the Accidental Tech Podcast:

Afterwards, John gave me and others a couple of stickers:

On the way back to the apartment that evening, I had my first ride on the ubiquitous scooters that were all over San Jose. I only rode this Bird scooter for two minutes down one street, but I was hooked; I ended up riding them six times that week, for a total of about 39 minutes or 4.2 miles.

While they certainly have issues, the scooters are very useful to solve a city transport problem: too long a distance to comfortably walk, but too short to catch a Lyft etc. I hope they are still there next year, but wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t.

On Tuesday, I headed back to AltConf to attend some talks:

Then at lunchtime attended a meetup of Micro.blog users, where I chatted with a bunch of other developers. This is just some of them after a group photo, that I’ll hopefully be able to share later:

That evening I attended another live podcast recording, this time The Talk Show with John Gruber, with special guests from Apple. This sold out in minutes, but I was notified of ticket availability thanks to my Dejal Simon site monitoring app (shameless plug).

Open bar before the show, where I got a tasty martini:

A very nice theater:

John Gruber:

Guests Greg Joswiak and Mike Rockwell of Apple:

Wednesday morning, back to AltConf for more sessions:

Then I took a walking and scootering tour of downtown between sessions.

One “fun” thing is the airport is just north of downtown, so planes fly directly overhead, quite low. This picture doesn’t really do it justice:

San Jose State University:

Paseo de San Antonio:

I spotted some free-range podcasters in passing, Jason Snell and Dan Moren recording their secret members podcast:

The Hammer Theatre, where the Relay show was recorded that evening:

Pleasant downtown streets:

Social Policy, where some of the cool kids were hanging out:

A nice sandy beach-like area:


Interesting buildings etc:

Fun dragonfly sculptures:

The famed San Jose Drainage Ditch (aka Guadalupe River park); an inside joke on the Core Intuition podcast:

Again, the Bird scooters were helpful, this time letting me explore more further afield downtown:

Then back to more talks:

That evening, I attended the Relay FM live show at the Hammer theatre:

Thursday morning, I went to Scramblz for breakfast, which had some fun decor:

Then caught a Lyft to the Apple Park Visitor Center, the closest mere mortals can get to the new Apple Park HQ:

They have a fun model of the park:

That uses AR on an iPad to see the buildings and grounds, including the ability to “lift” the roof off to see inside:

The middle of the visitor center is an Apple store, where they sell Apple products and swag (I got some postcards and a new Watch band):

Like Apple Park itself, the architecture is quite impressive, if you’re into that sort of thing:

There is a deck on the roof, which gives a good view of the spaceship main building.

It’s so big, it’s hard to grasp the scale of it:

Back downstairs, the final third of the visitor center is a cafe:

Back to AltConf for the final session of the week:

And one last happy hour (with better wine, this time):

On Friday, I packed up, tidied the apartment, and caught a Lyft to the airport to head home:

Overall, it was an interesting week. Apple announced new technologies that will probably have a significant impact on me going forward, plus fun things like the Memojis and such. I spoke with lots of developers, from CEOs of major indie companies to individual contributors. I didn’t do so well on meeting journalists and influencers; I need to work on that next time. I enjoyed attending the live podcast recordings and other events. I was impressed by my Apple Park visit.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to a WWDC week, but I’d like to make it a new tradition. If feasible, I’d like to attend again next year, and every year going forward, even if only for a few days. And one day I’d like to attend WWDC itself again, if only to network with Apple’s own developers.

San Jose was definitely a better location for the conference than San Francisco. It’s more convenient for Apple, too, so I expect it’ll remain there for the foreseeable. I look forward to my next visit.

In the meantime, I’ll see some people again, and some new people, at Swift By Northwest in October.