I had intended to do a full writeup after my experience speaking at NSConference Europe, but with all the travel I've been doing lately and all the work that built up as a result, I just never got around to it. Now that the US edition of NSConference has come and gone, I don't want to miss writing up my feelings.
To put it bluntly, Scotty and his small crew (Tim, Robert, Dave, Claire, Lyndia, and (of course) Simon - did I miss anyone?) did an absolutely fantastic job both times, as did all the other speakers. I think I saw all the presentations at one conference or the other (and several at both), with the exception of Andy Finnell's, which is unfortunate, because people were absolutely raving about it in the U.K. Unfortunately, Andy wasn't able to speak at the U.S. conference, but I'm looking forward to seeing it on video.
Prior to the European conference, I had only met Scotty twice, once at WWDC, and then again in SFO as I was leaving WWDC for home. Scotty was heading to Atlanta to scout out locations for a new American edition of NSConference. I had only ever heard good things about NSConference, so I jumped at the chance to speak when he asked.
The funny thing is that my trip to England went wrong in nearly every way it could. I ended up at the conference with no clothes except what I wore on the plane, no shoes (only fuzzy slippers because it was a red-eye), and with a very severe case of jet lag. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have gotten the impression that I was having a miserable time.
Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Despite the travel difficulties and inconveniences, people were bending over backwards to help me. The official conference crew are some of the nicest and most genuine people you'll ever meet. The attendees were just about as nice. I had a great time talking with so many people, and I can't recall a single moment I didn't enjoy. Heck, nobody even made any negative comments on the backchannel about the fact that I could barely keep my eyes open during my first presentation, or that I was giving my presentation in sweat pants and fuzzy slippers.
The sessions were great, and I honestly felt a little like I didn't belong on that speaker list (but, hey, I'm not complaining). Several of the speakers were introducing relatively new open source projects, including Aaron Hillegass' BNRPersistence, a lightweight persistence engine that uses a key-value store (Tokyo Cabinet by default) rather than a relational database and Marcus Zarra's ZSync an awesome looking framework for syncing data between Mac and/or iPhone applications. Drew McCormack, a core member of the Core Plot team also showed off that great framework's capabilities at the end of his presentation.
All of the sessions sparked good (and often lively) discussions and more than a few in-jokes, including many about KVO, delegates, time machines, and the mothers of all speakers with the last name of Lee. Most of the jokes would be hard to explain if you weren't actually there, but the fact that the group became so quickly comfortable enough together for these kinds of in-jokes to evolve really says a lot about the tenor of the conference. It really was the coming together of a community. In many ways, it felt like family. Hanging out was fun and you honestly felt sad when it was time to retire to your room for the evening (or morning, as it was).
I can't recommend NSConference more highly. Whether you're a professional or just a serious hobbyist, you really should plan ahead for next year's conference. The information you'll get is great, but more importantly, the connections and friendships you'll make will be invaluable. Plus, you'll have a blast.
I'll be back next year whether I'm asked to speak or not.