The first DDD event to be held in the South West of England was held on Saturday 23rd May 2009 just a couple of weeks ago. The dust has settled now and I thought I'd write a bit about how it went. DDD South West was held at Queens College in Taunton and was attended by 158 people. There are a bunch of statistics on the DDD South West Statistics page including a map of where everyone came from (predominantly the South West of England!) and a pie chart showing that for 66% of attendees DDD South West was their first experience of a DDD event. The stats page also shows comments from the attendees on the day and it tells us that it went really well and everyone had a good day and learnt lots. In particular this was a recurring theme amongst the comments ? the quality of the speakers and their depth of knowledge. And on this subject, congratulations to Steve Sanderson and Gary Short who came 1st and 2nd respectively in the speakers ranked By Knowledge Of Subject and congratulations equally to Gary Short (again!) and Richard Fennell who came 1st and 2nd respectively in the speakers ranked by Presentation Skills.
DDD South West experimented with a few new ideas with the Alternative Track being the most prominent. Loads of background work went into these 5 sessions hosted mostly by Adam Towler and the Bluewire Technologies team and with a guest appearance of Ross Scott for the Poker Planning and 4 more guys championing their cause in the Balloon Debate. The Balloon Debate was especially fun. The room was packed to the brim to watch Eric Nelson, Gary Short, Gareth Cokell and Marc Gravell slug out a fairly well reasoned debate on whether C#, IronRuby, Visual Basic.NET or F# is the one true development language of choice. There was some serious tactical voting going on at each round and to many people's amazement Gareth Cokell and Marc Gravell were voted off the balloon first (very unjust this). Eric Nelson desperately tried to sabotage his own arguments but it only seemed to draw people into his cause more. Perhaps just to see the look on his face the audience voted him the winner.
At lunch time we had a fantastic round of grok talks that all of our presenters should be really proud of especially when they had to compete with the beautiful day outside. One of my favourite moments of the day was when Ross Scott came to give his grok talk and I mentioned that he was in charge of catering for the day and I didn't get to finish the rest of my sentence thanks to the spontaneous applause - the food (Cornish pasties, cream teas et al) was really was received (we'll work on the coffee for next year).
We also used the event to allow 'new' speakers to speak at a larger event. Our 4 new speakers did a great job. There were some really excellent comments in their session evaluation forms and they faired well in the rankings against speakers who have had a lot more experience at this kind of thing.
And at the end of the day Richard Costall, John Price and Chris Hay of The Next Generation User Group gave another outing of their .NET game shows and
chucked out carefully, gently and safely handed out buckets of swag to everyone who took part.
On behalf of the DDD South West Team (Martyn Fewtrell, Chris Myhill, Steve Sanderson, Ross Scott, Jose Simas, Adam Towler and myself) thanks to everyone who came, a big and huge thanks to the DDD South West sponsors, thanks to all of our speakers and lastly thanks to the many people who helped us make this happen on (and before) the day (registration, room monitoring, ferrying people around etc.). See you all again at DDD South West 2.
Photos are available on Flickr.