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The DDD logo next to an illustration of Bit the Raccoon.

In 2005, on the back of Steve Ballmer’s famous “Developer! Developer! Developer!” speech, a group of community-focused people got together to organise a conference – by software developers, for software developers. Fifteen years later, DDD 2020 is set to break tradition – just a little bit – by going completely virtual.

While the conference has generated many spin-offs over the years, even reaching as far as Australia, a fully-digital event to work around the current global situation is terrific news for developers.

 

Developer! Developer! Developer!

As DDD grew, a number of off-shoots appeared, mainly in the UK regions (East Anglia, South West, East Midlands, Belfast, Scotland), but also further afield (Perth, Sydney, Melbourne). The largest of all the regionals, and in fact, larger than the original DDD, was DDD North – established in 2011 by then MVP Andy Westgarth (who now works for Microsoft), and Robert Hogg (MVP, RD & CEO of Black Marble).

Despite these expansions, there are several key values that the original DDD conference (and DDD North) has maintained over the years:

  1. Free.
  2. Runs on a Saturday.
  3. Open submissions process.
  4. Open voting.
  5. Managed by the community not by a corporation.
  6. Financed by sponsorship.

The top, positive feedback every year for DDD and DDD North is that the events are free, which always makes it worth it even with some dropout. Running the events on a Saturday is also important to us, because not all developers can get time off work to attend conferences, or can arrange childcare during the week.

The main costs of the conference, such as venue fees and catering, are covered by sponsorships – there are many organisations that strongly support community events, and DDD in particular.

Supporting the community has always been important to me at Black Marble, and the company is very supportive of the community activities of its people. Four members of the senior management team there are Microsoft MVPs, all of which are enthusiastic speakers and volunteers.

A photo of Robert Hogg, Rik Hepworth and Andrew Westgarth, organisers of DDD.
Robert Hogg, Rik Hepworth and Andrew Westgarth, organisers of DDD.

 

DDD 2020

The final touches to the agenda and speaker list are being made, and DDD 2020, which takes place on December 12th, looks set to be an event to remember.

We have seen some excellent content submitted, from high profile ‘professional’ speakers as well as newcomers. The exciting (perhaps crazy!) decision we have made in light of this is to run a 7-track event, with around 8 sessions per track. The tracks in the draft so far include DevOps, AI/ML, .NET, and the cloud.

As mentioned earlier, the operational costs for DDD are typically handled by sponsorships. We have no real costs to pay this year, but despite that some of our regular sponsors said they still wanted to support the event. In place of us taking any money, sponsors of DDD 2020 are instead donating to The National Museum of Computing. We have 3 sponsors on board already, and I am delighted at the positive response.

A photo of a large crowd outdoors eating lunch, taken at a previous DDD event.

The key thing about DDD that we’re certainly not changing for an online event, is that it is important to be inclusive. We also want to do something a bit different, something positive for the community, and after a long hard year for so many of us, we want to end the year on a high.

This truly will be something for the community too, as with this being a digital DDD, location is no longer a barrier to attending. The team will miss catching up with Matt the security guard, though!

 

The Future of DDD

Looking towards the future, we will certainly consider more digital events. DDD North is due at the end of February, and we are planning to take all of our learnings from this event to make North even better. Plus, there’s huge potential in doing an even bigger, global, event in the summertime.

Until then, be sure to register for DDD 2020, and we’ll see you there!

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