Coimbra has been hosting several small but interesting events lately ( #1, #2 and #3 ) and one of the organizations behind most of them is the Google Developer Group, of which I am a mostly inactive member.
Google Developer Groups (GDG) are community-run independent groups, which Google sponsors in different ways (mostly event support and some gadgets). Since Google has no client support, nor developer evangelists in most countries, they outsource that job to the community for a very very cheap price. GDG organizers are people who would do something similar anyway, but use Google’s support to bring experts from other countries at a cheaper price. More later on this model.
Google has a budget for certain events, and this late in the year it was time for Devfest. In Portugal, each of the three big cities hosted one. I attended the Devfest Coimbra, and I was surprised how well the team pulled this event together in so little time.
Having a sponsor in Google (and many other local and international companies) allowed to bring people from outside Coimbra, resulting in a speaker lineup with only one local speaker. This is uncommon here, as we usually have local people presenting on technical subjects, given our rich talent pool.
There was a main track with talks, and a secondary track with hands-on workshops, which allows for a diversity that our typical events don’t provide. Almost half of the time I was in the third track: the hallway track.
Developer Stories – José Nunes talked about his two man maker company that builds custom drones. Although there was no business plan talk, he gave an overview of the drone scenario nowadays and projects they are exploring.
Filipe Barroso gave the most confusing talk about git ever. He seemed like he was targetting an audience that knew nothing about git, but expected them to know how it worked from an user point of view. He explained the blobs, commits and objects that are used internally in git, and tried to explain the merging algorithm, without going into details. He should have sticked to one level (beginner/intermediate/expert).
Progressive Webapps with Polymer – This talk had a similar issue. The speaker expected people to already know polymer, which was far from the truth. Thus, there was a big downtime installing polymer (about 45 minutes). Speakers should have access to the profile of registered atendees, in order to better prepare their talks/workshops. Additionally, pen drives with offline installers is also a must for workshops.
Celso Martinho expanded his lessons learned talk from take off with his new job at Bright Pixel.
Finally, Luís Silva gave a ballmeresque motivational speech about having a wonderful job that allows us to put our art in the hands of everyone on the planet. He also talked about his company supporting the code.org in two schools, something I’m a fond of.
Overall it was a good event (free food!). I think better speakers could have been found for some topics, but I’m also to blame, because I was asked for suggestions. Additionally, there should have been beginners/intermediate levels in the talk description.
Finally, while this was not a google tech exclusive event, there is an incentive to organize events around their technology. GDG groups should not have Google in their name, and IMHO they should organize any type of event, and Google would support the ones they have interest in. But giving themselves the GDG group associates them with Google for good and for bad.