Thoughts on the MAX Europe experience
October 18, 2007 ·
Summary: MAX Europe was great, except for the food. I've already posted the raw notes I took in the sessions which were pretty much just a brain dump of what the presenters were saying without much of my own commentary. In general, the sessions were extremely good. My goal was to learn a lot about AIR and some useful stuff about Flex and the conference met that goal perfectly. The AIR sessions were great and covered a lot of ground, with plenty of information about the file APIs and using SQLite, the embedded database. There was also a fairly good balance between Flex and AJAX in the AIR sessions (some presenters actually showed the same functionality in both Flex and AJAX side-by-side). The two Flex sessions that I attended - both led by Joe Berkovitz - were really good with a lot of practical information about designing and building large Flex applications. What about the other aspects of the conference? The size of the conference (around 1,000 people I think) meant that all the sessions were together on one floor and all the food / community / vendors were together on another floor. That meant you didn't have to rush between sessions and you had a chance to network in the hallways between sessions. The session rooms were rarely completely packed so you always got a seat. It was nice and relaxed. It was much better than Chicago in that respect. The food, however, was a serious disappointment. Tapas-style food was fun and interesting on Monday lunchtime but it was the same sort of thing at the reception on Monday night, at lunchtime on Tuesday, at the special event Tuesday evening and at lunch on Wednesday. Nothing was labeled so if you had allergies or just plain ol' don't like certain things, well, you were pretty screwed. And if you didn't like / don't eat fish, you went pretty hungry. I eat pretty much anything but I lost a few pounds this week because not much appealed to me on Tuesday (either at lunch or at the special event) and on Wednesday I completely skipped lunch. The most charitable thing I can say about the special event was that the jazz band was pretty good. Like Chicago, the event was in the conference center and was just food and drink (and they ran out of beer apparently - I stuck to wine). The Chicago event was $100 for guests and since I couldn't imagine what would be so special it could be worth that much money, my wife & I skipped the guest pass. From what I heard, we made the right choice. The Barcelona event was $75 for the guest pass and, with hindsight, we probably wouldn't bothered with that either. Come on Adobe, do something special next year in San Francisco - or at least don't charge guests such outrageous amounts. Apart from the food - and Tuesday evening's event - everything else about the conference was really enjoyable. It was great to finally meet so many European community members - there was a large British contingent, as well as folks from every part of mainland Europe. Barcelona itself is a beautiful city with great public transport and is also an interesting city to walk around. The beach was really nice (so I'm told) and the hotel restaurant was really good (at the Vincci Maritimo), although the relaxed European approach to schedule meant that they opened when they were ready, not when the posted hours said they would open. Of the two MAX events, Barcelona was by far the better experience in many ways. It'll be interesting to see what Adobe do next year since both events will likely be even bigger... One other thought (added later): whilst it was great for speakers that they were in one of the nearest hotels to the event (as was the case in Chicago), there seemed to be no networking in the speaker hotel: folks did not congregate in the bar in the evening. The hotel was amazing quiet in the evenings. That was also true to some extent in Chicago. The bar was more of a networking location in Chicago but still you only got to network with other speakers instead of a broader range of attendees. I suspect this will be less of an issue in San Francisco since everyone should be staying within walking distance of the Moscone Center but it's something to think about.