Is the economy affecting our developer community?

It may come as no surprise to you that DevExpress are at TechEd US this week. Despite the event housing a mixture of developers and IT pros this year, we’re seeing a good amount of action on the booth from developers and architects unfamiliar with our controls and application frameworks, and DevExpress old timers like Scott Hanselman. If you haven’t already, stop by, pick up your swag, and let us know how DevExpress is helping you to live the Developer Dream :-)


The conference has felt pretty busy this year, despite the fact that attendee numbers have fallen. But I have been wondering (as I have been wandering!) what effect the current economic climate is having not just on our paid events like TechEd, PDC and MIX, but also our regional community events …


I chatted to Julie Yack, from the South Colorado .NET User Group, who is also an INETA mentor, and I was told about the plans that INETA is working on to promote new and novice speakers for developer events at the regional level – helping to find the next wave of Scott Guthries, Glenn Blocks and Julie Lermans. “It’s about time someone started doing that” I thought to myself and started considering ways that DevExpress could help to support those efforts. But my ponderings were short-lived because a conversation with Joe Kunk, President of the Greater Lansing and Flint .NET User Groups, and Adam Machanic, President of the New England SQL Server User Group, threw up comments on the growing numbers of attendees at regional community events, and the increase in new speakers, but the decline in reliable support from vendors to help fund their activities.


Code Camps, Day of .NETs, TechFests, and all the other completely free regional community events are a great resource for developers who are looking to stay ahead of the game and learn from their peers. The concept is a winning one, with events like the Tulsa TechFest (organised by David Walker) pulling in over 1000 attendees over 2 days, and the Ohio Day of .NET receiving a ‘thank you’ from their mayor for supporting their business community, as well as news coverage on not one, but two local TV stations!


But you’d have to have your head stuck in the virtual cloud to not realise that these events cost money, and a substantial amount of it. Venue hire, food and drinks are staple items, and much as we’d love it to, moolah does not grow on trees. Joe roughly guesstimated a per attendee amount of $20-$25. Not a huge amount, but when you consider that on average, each regional event draws around 150 – 200 attendees … that’s $5000!


Times are tight for everyone at the moment, so I can’t blame vendors for cutting back on their support for community events, but it still begs the question …


Is there anything that we can do about it?


Would you like to see your regional community events stay free of charge, or would you be willing to pay a small cover charge to offset the costs associated with these events, just to ensure that they can still happen?


I’m open to suggestions on how DevExpress can help your community efforts. Please post your thoughts below and let us know how we can help support your event.

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