This week I spoke at the NDC Oslo conference for the first time. This post is about this conference.
The Norwegian Developers Conference, now in its fifth year, is run by Jakob Bradford, Henriette Holmen and Kjersti Sandberg of ProgramUtvikling, a Norwegian training company with a UK arm (called Developer Focus) in London.
NDC has ~1500 attendees, 9 simultaneous tracks, 106 speakers, 40+ sponsors (with ~20 stands) and lasts 3 days. Logistically this is a very significant event. The speakers are chosen from ProgramUtvikling trainers, major industry players and anyone else who chooses to submit papers that are interesting enough. The selection committee is made up of 3 or 4 developers and as such you get an agenda full of really interesting subjects.
The opening keynote was by Aral Balkan who started NDC with a song. But that doesn't really do it justice. It was a full blooded rock opera performance of Pity The Child from Chess The Musical complete with laser lighting. Clearly Aral is hoping to start/revive a significant singing career.
There were a number of interesting features about NDC that I thought worth noting:-
- The conference staff all wear conference shirts with their given names printed in large letters on their backs. This is really helpful when you don't know the organisers.
- The attendee badges have QR codes to allow vendors (and attendees) to scan you and get your contact details immediately.
- Food is available throughout the conference. There are no set meal times. The queues for food at lunchtime were quite long but once you understood you could eat at anytime it meant you could plan around it.
- Food is only available in the sponsor area. There are many separate food stations serving drinks, curry, hot dogs, noodles, ribs and a salad bar. Unlike US and UK conferences where sugar is unfortunately very evident there are no snacks like ice creams, chocolate bars and granola bars.
- Attendees evaluate speakers by walking past a table just outside the presentation room and dropping either a green, yellow or red card into a box. The speaker's rating is therefore the ratio of green to yellow to red cards. There are pieces of paper next to the cards where attendees could write comments if they wanted to but I didn't see any attendees ever writing comments. I confess I'm really not a fan of the green/yellow/red card system. Nearly all attendees simply drop a green card in the box. The distinction between a good presentation with no complaints and nothing wrong with it and a great presentation brilliantly delivered with profound content is completely lost.
- The speaker hotels are between 1 and 5 minutes walk from the venue. This is exactly how it should be. Unlike the 30 (minimum) minutes travel from hotel to venue at TechEd Berlin.
- All sessions at NDC are recorded and then made available to everyone (regardless of whether you attended NDC) for free.
- One of the great innovations at NDC is the Overflow Room. This is a large area with 8 screens showing all of the sessions except for the workshop session. Prior to arriving in the Overflow Room you get a set of headphones attached to a radio device (your badge is scanned so they know who to come to if you don't give it back). You then switch between any one of the 8 channels to listen to the audio of the screen you are looking at. This is of course only possible because all sessions at NDC are already being recorded (and then live streamed to the Overflow Room). The benefit of this feature for the attendee is that you are not committed to any one session and can switch between sessions as easily as flicking a switch.
- I saw two presentations where the speakers used Visual Basic.NET. I can't remember the last year I saw someone present using Visual Basic.NET.
- Sponsorship costs between 59000 and 70000 Norwegian krone depending on when you purchase sponsorship (that's between 6300 UKP and 7500 UKP). The early bird All Access Pass for attendees for all 3 days plus workshops is 14900 Norwegian krone (1600 GBP). The early bird price for 1 day is 6900 Norwegian krone (740 UKP). So at a guess the minimum revenue for NDC 2012 is 1,362,000 UKP (40 sponsors * 6300 UKP plus 1500 attendees * 740 UKP).
The speaker event on the first evening was a boat trip with beers and prawns. I had some good conversations (and an especially dodgy one involving cats and bats). Carl Franklin provided the musical entertainment. As he confirmed at the Attendee Party the next evening Carl has a great voice, smooth and gritty in all the right places.
The attendee party was on the second night and was held in the exhibition area. Entertainment was provided by Carl Franklin, Donkeyboy and LoveShack. It was notable for Microsoft's dancing girls and developer song.
My one and only session at NDC was "Mind Control Your Computer In C#". It went well and I was very happy with it. You can download the slides and source code. Thanks to everyone who attended.
Scattered around the exhibition area were various forms of entertainment including an AC/DC pinball machine which always pulls me in. I had to play. I was very pleased to get the high score and win a pair of Beat Solo HD Monster headphones from Experis Manpower Group - thanks, guys.
So I have to say I was really impressed with NDC. A very professional, large scale event. Well done, Jakob and Henriette, you've done a grand job.
NDC 2013 will be from 12th to 14th June 2013. You also might like to know that an NDC UK event is a possibility for the future.