Every year, Apple is organizing the WWDC for developers. Since 2017, the conference is held in San Jose, California. I’ve been to San Jose for three years now and during the conference last year I noticed that not everybody was aware of all the activities that are organized next to the conference.
Because of this, I would like to share my experiences of the last years during WWDC in San Jose, which makes it easier for you to prepare yourself on your visit to WWDC for the first time!
Getting your WWDC ticket
Mostly in the end of March the announcement for the conference is there, including a registration form. When you register yourself, you need a valid Credit Card. If you are selected, your Credit Card will be automatically charged the 1599 dollar. Tickets for WWDC are assigned randomly.
Check your Credit Card account if your card can be charged this amount of money. In some situations, it can be helpful to contact your bank and tell them that ‘maybe’ a large amount of money will be charged from Apple to prevent that they block the transaction.
To register for WWDC, you need a valid Apple Developer account before the announcement of the conference. Check early if you are able to register on the account of your company. If not, create your own Apple Developer account with a paid membership.
Keynotes & sessions
On Monday, the keynote happens. The keynote is at 10am, but the row is already starting in the early hours. Each year, I stand in the row around 6am to get a nice spot.
If you want a spot at one of the first rows, you may stand in the row around 2 or 3 am. While waiting in the row, Apple staff takes care of you by serving you breakfast and coffee!
After the keynote, there is a break for a few hours. During this break, you’re able to download the new betas of software, including Xcode, iOS and more. Be sure your MacBook power is full, so your able to download and try all the new stuff!
After the break, the State of the Union starts. The State of the Union is the most important keynote of the week. Where the first keynote is focused on consumer related topics, the State of the Union is focused on developers. The State of the Union will highlight the new Xcode, new frameworks, new APIs and many more!
From Tuesday till Friday there will be a lot of sessions, which explains new technologies that you can integrate to your own apps. The sessions will be recorded, so if you can’t choose between some sessions that take place at the same moment, you can mark sessions as favorites in the WWDC app, so you can watch them later.
Visit the Labs
The conference is not only about the keynote and sessions. Apple is organizing labs, which are moments where you are able to ask questions to the developers who work on the frameworks for Apple.
For example, last year Apple announced SwiftUI. If you have questions about this framework, the labs are the place to get answers on your questions!
Prepare yourself for the labs by making a demo project which contains code where you have questions about. This makes it easy for developers from Apple to get into your code and answer your questions.
This is also a great moment to meet developers from Apple and ask for advice for apps you’re working on.
Note that labs are only at the conference, but sessions can be watched back online. For this reason, always first check if there is a lab you want to go to, if not, go to a session or take a break and play with some new frameworks or APIs.
During WWDC a lot of parties take place, which are excellent for networking. While waiting in the row for the keynote on Monday, I noticed that not everyone in the row was aware of the parties that happen in San Jose that week.
Parties for WWDC are listed in the WWDC Parties app. Download the WWDC Parties app in the App Store and use this app to get informed about the parties that happen during WWDC.
Most of the parties are sponsored by companies, which means open bars and (small) food is served.
Also keep your eyes on The Talk Show from John Gruber, a live podcast in the theater where John Gruber invites two well-known Apple employees.
Tickets for The Talk Show are always sold out very quickly (like in a minute). To be able to buy a ticket for The Talk Show, I recommend you to follow John Gruber on Twitter. Last year he shared the moment when tickets came available at Twitter.
AltConf & Try! Swift
Didn’t won the WWDC ticket lottery? Next to the Convention Center, AltConf is taking place. AltConf is a free alternative conference which focuses on Apple related software. In 2018, I didn’t get a ticket for WWDC, so I flight to San Jose and joined AltConf. It’s a great alternative way to feel the experiences of WWDC.
On Monday, they stream the keynote and state of the Union. From Tuesday to Thursday there is a 2-track conference. Talks are given by the community. I gave a talk about CloudKit in 2018.
Also, when you have a WWDC ticket, it may be interesting to check out the schedule of AltConf, there may be talks you want to attend.
On Friday, Try! Swift is happening. Try! Swift is a 1-day conference, with the main goal to help you contribute your first lines of code to the core of Swift. You can attend Try! Swift in San Jose for free.
Other helpful tips
You are not the only developer from your country who is going to WWDC. Share on Twitter that you’re going to WWDC, so other developers can find you. Maybe you can fly together, share a hotel room or wait together in the row for the keynote!
The badge can be pick up starting Sunday morning. When you pick up your badge on Sunday afternoon, there is now row, so you don’t have to wait. Pick up your badge on Sunday, so you can directly join the row on Monday.
I always arrive on the Saturday before the conference starts. This gives me some time to get rid of a possible jet lag (if you come from far like me) and gives you some time to explorer the neighborhood.
Book your hotel early, because prices will increase quickly. Most of the hotels in the United States can be canceled up to 24 hours before arrival, so if you’re not able to join WWDC, you are able to cancel your hotel booking.
Be sure your hotel in San Jose is near the conference. Parties take place nearby the conference and you may want to bring your MacBook to the hotel before you join a party.
Last, enjoy the conference and make new friends during the conference or at one of the many parties. If you came alone, remember that you’re not the only one. Making friends is easy and a great way to share your exciting about the all the new WWDC announcements!
Hope to see you there in 2020! 🚀