It’s only two months to Microsoft Build 2018. Even if you’re the type to procrastinate your travel plans, it’s never too early to start thinking about how to get a positive return on your $2,500 ticket.
This year will be User Camp’s second time at Microsoft Build, so I guess you could say that things are getting pretty serious. We got more than enough value in 2017 to justify returning this year.
If you’re a UWP developer and you can swing the ticket price, you should definitely attend. It’s not too late; tickets are still available.
We thought we should jot down some notes on what worked for us last year and what didn’t. This is the kind of stuff we would have appreciated knowing in advance of our first time.
Sort out your logistics
You should plan to arrive the day before the first keynote, as early as possible. In 2017, there were some great events during the afternoon and evening before the first keynote. Some of our best networking happened here, while everyone was fresh.
Build’s scale is massive. If you pay attention to the teams that are relevant to you, you can end up at their opening event with 20 engineers from that team. Don’t just follow the standard Build hashtags on Twitter — keep an eye on the teams you care about (think Xamarin, Windows Ink, or Mixed Reality).
Registration also opens this day, so that you can get signed in early and be ready to attend the morning keynote the next day. You won’t be the only one: in 2017, we got there 15 minutes after the registration opened, and there were already a thousand people there getting badges.
You might be tempted to skimp on accommodation and stay further away from the conference center. Don’t do it. You deprive yourself of the possibility of serendipitous encounters with other Build attendees.
Once Build is over, don’t linger. Nothing much happened last year once the main floor closed. By the end, everyone is tired and eager to get back home.
Spend your time wisely
As far as developer conferences go, Build is expensive: $2,195 for Build 2017, and $2,495 for 2018. (For reference, WWDC was $1,599 in 2017, and Google I/O costs $1,150.)
Make the most of the time you have. Study the schedule in advance of the conference; don’t wing it. The Microsoft Build app will let you build a complete itinerary, follow speakers, and evaluate the sessions you attend. You can even follow topics, which helps you explore every talk covering your area of interest. Talks will be given more than once, so you can dodge scheduling conflicts. This app is the ambitious attendee’s best friend.
When you’re not in sessions, hit up the Labs area. As app developers, this part of the conference was where we got the majority of our value last year. We were able to talk to the very same engineers who built the features we were using as the foundation of our newest apps. Microsoft staffs this part of the conference with heavy hitters, and it’s the perfect place to get an otherwise-unanswerable problem resolved. Bring your laptop.
Keep your eyes peeled for off-agenda evening events. Follow the #MSBuild hashtag in advance of the conference, and ask around when you’re there. (You should follow the individual Windows teams and their events as well.) The best events at Build are the tightly-focused ones with little advertising ahead of time and ten or twenty attendees.
Keep good company
Unlike other conferences like WWDC or Google I/O, Build attendees have very diverse reasons for attending. You’ll meet a lot of people in Microsoft’s orbit who aren’t app developers. (We were actually surprised how small the UWP developer contingent was.) Select your events carefully, or you’ll find yourself stuck in a bar listening to Sharepoint deployment war stories.
Meet us there
We’re always grateful for the company of other UWP developers. Find us for a beer or coffee — conferences are better with a posse.