How to Process WWDC
W.W.D.C. happens Monday, and if it’s your first dub dub - then you likely only feel one thing: massive amounts of excitement. And you should! For me, W.W.D.C. is one of the most exciting times of the year.
However, if you’ve been around the likes of McEnery, braved the halls of Moscone West or (throwback!) traveled through Santa Clara Convention Center then…you know.
Dub dub is amazing, fun and yes - kinda a little stressful. Here’s how I consume W.W.D.C. to come out with a clear mind and a focused direction.
At the risk of sounding like a Buzzfeed article, here are seven tips I live by to handle W.W.D.C..
Realize Everyone is About to be Overwhelmed
Just declare bankruptcy upfront. Not one person will be able to fill their domes with everything that’s about to be announced. The good thing is, you don’t need to know it all.
Just try to be aware of it.
For me, the main thing I want to know about first are the new frameworks added to iOS, so I’ll wait for the diffs here to be uploaded1. More recently, Apple has taken it upon themselves to show the new frameworks on their technologies page, so let’s hope that work continues.
We’ll know about the big hitters because those will be a part of the marketing, as well they should. But what about the quality of life improvements? For example, the Uniform Type Identifiers framework is killer, yet so many don’t know about it. It can make your code better, but it might be relegated to “word cloud” duty.
Next, Apple’s design pages also have also included a change log of sorts, so that’ll be my next stop. Any design updates will be highlighted, and typically, new technologies (think something like WidgetKit) will have freshly minted design guidelines. Those are key.
My goal here is to have a passing knowledge of what’s new, that way I can make better decisions on figuring out what to dive into later on. What is delayed is not denied, so take a breath and realize you’ll have time to come back to what you want to learn more about.
Take Messy Notes
Next, have a no-nonsense way of taking notes. For me, taking notes at W.W.D.C. is all about being in the frustrating part of forming ideas - the messy middle. I’m going to have a million scattered thoughts, too many ideas to follow up on and several APIs I’ll want to write about.
This is all fine, so long as you’ve come up with a system to take those notes. For me, I use Craft. Here’s what it looked like last year:
I separated everything into one of five buckets (which will look familiar if you follow anything I write), and most of the information I get will fall into one of them. I do this because I know what I’m trying to do at WW.W.D.C.:
- Figure out what to bring to the apps I work on.
- Learn what to write posts about and update my book series with.
- Decide what I want to learn a lot more about.
So ask yourself - what are you trying to get out of W.W.D.C.? That’ll help inform your game plan.
The next three tips are more process orientated, but it helps to know what to do with the first day of W.W.D.C..
Watch the Keynote
This one is obvious, and no doubt - you’ll be doing it. But, I list it here because this is where you likely want to begin with the above tip. Start taking lightweight notes throughout the keynote, because those are things you’re going to want to follow up on throughout the week.
When WidgetKit was announced, I might’ve put something in my notes that simply said “WidgetKit” during the keynote, but then I knew to mark down any sessions in the Developer app released later on to learn more about it.
At this point, my only goals are to become extremely excited about the new stuff and get a 10,000 foot view of what the “big new things” are - because that’s what we will get in the keynote.
Remember, the keynote isn’t entirely for developers - it’s kinda for investors too. Apple’s stock will change after W.W.D.C., it always has. This is not a criticism at all, but it also illustrates that for many, the keynote is about what everyone on the planet should look forward to with the upcoming version of iOS.
Watch the State of the Union
So, if the keynote is for everyone, than the State of the Union is for us.
This is where we get new framework drops, information on the particulars behind some new APIs and generally how the new version of iOS fits into the ecosystem. This is likely the best TL;DR of the week, so you can’t miss it.
After this one is done, your notes should really be starting to swell with a lot of headings and threads to follow up on.
Take Note of Award Winners
Here’s something that some might sleep on, but you totally shouldn’t - watch the Apple Design Awards ceremony. Sure, you can read the recap later - but that’s like being excited about a sporting event and just checking ESPN later for the score.
let concatenatedThoughts = """
Plus, this year there are several developers from our own community who are nominated! If you have any skin in the game, you should definitely watch it live in 2022.
You want the why behind everything. Try to listen for the Apple evangelist+designer presenter’s reasoning behind why something won what it did. What made it great? Why did it work? They always have gone into detail to try and justify their picks, and I appreciate that.
Winning an A.D.A. is my moonshot goal, it drives me in several ways. Beyond just intrinsically wanting to make neat things that help people, I want to reach the peak - and an A.D.A. is the peak in this business.
So, pay attention here. Even though it’s at the end of a busy day, to me it’s like a nice little reprieve from all of the business that just occurred. It’s usually short too, clocking in at 30-45 minutes if memory serves.
Remember, Apple Developers are Human
Try to have some empathy during the week and consider filing a radar if something doesn’t work as advertised. Here are some tips on how to do that from someone who literally just worked at Apple.
Once the excitement of day one is in the books, I’d encourage you to enjoy the community. Take in all the deluge of Twitter finds promulgated by the community, hang out with other developers and enjoy the moment.
For me, Monday evening is the “smell the roses” moment - I just try to be present and enjoy one of my favorite events of the year. I’ll have all week to learn stuff, but for now I just want swap dev stories with other indies, make new connections and talk shop with Apple engineers.
After Monday, though, I have three goals:
- Schedule Labs: Get information and design tips.
- Bookmark Sessions: Figure out which sessions I can’t afford to miss.
- Community++: Set up some lunches or dinners with other developers - good ol’ fashioned networking.
With that, my week is filled up. I keep taking notes, fleshing them out and then when it’s all over I immediately come up with a game plan.
There is nothing quite like W.W.D.C. for me. I so dearly hope it’s restored to its former format of being an in-person event next year, should crazy mutating viruses allow it. My best professional memories are all from W.W.D.C., and being around so many other developers fills me up.
No matter what W.W.D.C. this is for you, don’t stress over it! Realize the information dump you just received is too much to take in at once - you just need to know how to tame it, and then hone in on what’s important to you and your team.
Until next time ✌️
Though, lately that page hasn’t been updated for the latest versions of iOS 15, so I may need to find another go to. ↩