SourceDevCon 2012

May 7, 2012 5 min read
(Updated on: May 8, 2012 )

Being back from London, UK, where I attended SourceDevCon 2012, a conference dealing with mobile and desktop web applications, I thought, I share some insights about the conference with you.

Looking at the list of sponsors, it was pretty clear that a lot of talks were going to be about Sencha and their products, e.g. Ext JS, Sencha Touch and so on. Actually, that was one of the reasons for me to go to the conference. It gave me the opportunity to talk to the folks from Sencha directly. I heard people mildly complaining that the conference was too Sencha centric. Well, maybe they should have informed themselves better before going. The preliminary schedule clearly stated a lot of sessions would deal with Sencha related stuff.

Which brings me to …

The talks

The quality of the talks ranged from pretty awesome to … well, lousy. It seemed that some of the speakers did not practice their talk at all. Maybe some of them thought they could just take the stage and loosely speak about their topic, but that was obviously a mistake. One talk was so bad I had to leave after about 15 minutes because I could not stand the stuttering anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I know how intense the feeling is standing in front of many people and talk about a topic for an hour or so. I’ve done my fair share of presentations/talks. I don’t expect perfection, but what I expect is at least some preparation and it seemed some speakers did not prepare themselves at all.

Another thing that really pi***d my off was that some talks were over pretty fast. Sessions were supposed to be about 60 minutes long, but some of the speakers finished after 20 to 30 minutes. Well, that is not what I paid for. If all talks were that short, the whole conference would have perfectly fit into one day and would probably be a lot cheaper.


I don’t want to sound too negative, but to be honest, I thought the organizers did a pretty poor job. When you entered the hotel, there was not a single sign to guide you to the registration desk. And if you managed to find the desk and registered, you were lost again since it was not clear which talk was held in which room and where the rooms were anyway. I even heard speakers complaining that they did not know in which room there were supposed to hold their talk. Some of them were even placed in rooms that did not have a projector, which meant they had no way of showing their slides (I did not see that in person, so I can’t confirm or deny that).

There was no guidance whatsoever. No one was there to announce talks or breaks which made people wandering around more or less on their own.

On Thursday evening, there was a social night in a pub. The pub was very nice and I think people had a good time. At least until a rock/punk band started playing. Don’t get me wrong, I love rock music, but it was a pretty small pub and as soon as the band started playing, the music was so loud that it was impossible to talk to each other. It did not take long and people started to head some place else. A couple of people, me included, went back to the hotel and we sat down in the bar/lounge talking and drinking some beers.

So, if you organize a conference and think about booking a band: Just don’t. Or at least make sure they don’t make it impossible for people to talk to each other. If I want to hear music, I go to a rock concert.


The conference took place at the Park Plaza: River Thames Hotel, which is located within short walking distance from Parliament, Big Ben and London Eye. Pretty cool location for a conference. In general, over the past few years, London has become one of my favorite cities and every time I go there I really enjoy it. Anyway, the hotel was very nice, but too bad that the conference took place two floors below ground, so there was no way to enjoy the view.

Final words

Tickets for the conference were around £800, which, in my opinion, was not a fair price. Of course, London is a very expensive city and I can imagine that hotel, food and so on cost a lot of money. But instead of hiring a band and organizing a boot trip (which took place a day after the conference and which I did not attend), the organizers should have, for example, put money in printing proper schedules to hand out to people during registration (or maybe creating some sort of mobile friendly website with the schedule; this was a mobile web related conference, right?).

On the plus side, I really enjoyed talking to some other fellow developers. It’s always good to meet new people and hear how they tackle programming problems.

I liked the talks by the Sencha people, even tough there were sometimes not as technical as I wanted them to be. I enjoyed the presentations held by Douglas Crockford, Remy Sharp, Amber Weinberg (even though her talk was one of the talks that were pretty short), Brian Moeskau, Mats Bryntse and Nick Cooley. So many new ideas that I need to dig into.

Update 1: Amber Weinberg has written about the conference ticket price herself.

What about you? Have you been to a conference lately, maybe to SourceDevCon? What are your thoughts on conference ticket prices and quality of speakers and organization? Of course, any other feedback is welcome as well.