Mobile Smackdown & recap on DevLink 2011

So, DevLink 2011 just wrapped up this Friday. For me, this was the first DevLink & hopefully many more to come. I found the conference to be rather well-organized, which regulars tell me should come as no surprise. I thought the Chattanooga Convention Center worked perfectly as venue with nice break-out rooms & plenty of space to stretch your legs. Almost every conference struggles to keep up with bandwidth-hungry geeks; so that little hiccup may well be overlooked. As for me, I drove down from Columbus & then back up. Yeah, it was long; but thankfully did not get stuck anywhere. A few friends came back with flight horror stories of connecting from ATL or DC; so in retrospect, wasn’t that bad a choice to drive.

I was going to attend this year, even if I didn’t have a speaking opportunity. However, the bonus was when Jeff Blankenburg (@jeffblankenburg) asked me to do the Windows Phone part of the now-famous Mobile Smackdowns that we are starting to see in many conferences. Essentially, the idea is to build a simple but fully-functional Twitter Stalker client in iOS, Android & Windows Phone back to back, and in 15 minutes each without using any toolkit or code snippets!! This sharp time limit is what makes it a nerve-wracking live coding experience. However, the idea is not a competition; but rather to give the audience a feel for what it is like to develop a simple application in various platforms.

So, how was the experience? The other two “victims” [as Ben calls us] were Ben Von Handorf (@benvonhandorf) for Android & John Baker (@iamthegeek) for iOS. I’m sure each of us had practiced a lot; but nothing compares to doing it live in front of a large audience watching every move, correcting mistakes & egging you on. And the best part is we are expected to talk the audience through what we are doing so that everybody has a sense of what’s going on. It’s a total adrenaline rush; but a lot of fun! I think we all did fairly well and our respective apps were functional by the end of 15 minutes. I had the additional onus of doing the WP7 part well, since I personally believe our development tools are just fantastic. Think I finished the last line of code in the dying seconds .. phew! My personal recommendation if you are doing a smackdown like this — in practice, you need to get your time down to about 10 minutes to have a decent chance of finishing the app when infront of an audience. If interested to see the Windows Phone Twitter app I tried to build, the source code may be found (here). I would always appreciate any feedback on how the process could be streamlined or how we can make the Mobile Smackdowns even more fun! Thank you for all the support & encouragement.

DevLink was also wonderful in connecting with lot of folks I talk to a lot, but don’t see very often. It was great to see people like Michael Crump, Jeff Fansler, Sarah Dutkiewicz, Michael Wood, Jeremy Likness, David Giard & Richard Dudley — all of whom are technical honchos in their respective areas. So, I always learn a lot from them and have great conversations. So, in all, great conference, awesome people, superb presentations & priceless discussions. Cheers for DevLink & looking forward to next year!


Ben’s write-up on the smackdown is here.
John’s iOS code is here.


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