The team at work had been discussing conferences and XP2011 came up, when I investigated the conference program it sounded promising; just what I'd been looking for infact. Add to the mix that it was in beautiful Madrid and I was sold.
Conference formatThe conference is designed to bring agile researchers and practitioners together. The first and last days are dedicated workshops and tutorials for discussing hot topics in the world of agile. The 2 days between are the core conference days and the programme offers 5 parallel sessions; 3 focused sessions plus invited talks and reports from industry. They also offer time for OpenSpace on the Thursday, for attendees to create their own sessions/discussions.
What was it like?Good, very good. I wasn't sure what to expect to be honest, but the venue and food was great, people were friendly and everything seemed well organised. The session and workshop speakers were generally very good and knew their subject material well. You'd see the speakers attending lots of other sessions and discussions as attendees, they were approachable too, giving the conference that bit more of a community feel to it. Everyone seemed friendly, approachable and open to discussing their own agile perspectives and challenges they've faced; which I particularly found value in. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the conference were the sessions with lightning talks (10-20 min condensed talks). The speakers that I found particularly interesting were Ken Power, Esther Derby, Emily Bache, David Anderson, Mike Hill and Liz Keogh. Expect to see some posts related to the more interesting topics I attended at the conference over the coming weeks.
The social events were also well organised and there were plenty of complimentary drinks and food for everyone. The Wednesday night geek disco was a particular highlight :)
Any complaints? Well, a few of the sessions based on research papers were presented by the researchers themselves, who seemed a little inexperienced at presenting and as a result the session wasn't enjoyable. You can have the most interesting material in the world but if you don't deliver it well, you don't engage me or the rest of the attendees and it's a bit of a waste of time.