A while ago I visited the Caribbean Developer Conference in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, with my colleagues. It's kind of a funny story how we ended up in that conference. We annually go to a developer conference somewhere in the world, and we were about to decide where to go this year. There were some different suggestions, and then one of my colleagues, a bit jokingly, told us that he found a conference in the Caribbean and that we should go there. A lot of us were positive, who wouldn't want to leave the cold and dark weather of Sweden and go to the Dominican Republic in October. But there were a couple of people that were a bit sceptical about the seriousness of us developers going to such a nice place for a conference. As a nice place can’t be a good place for a conference? Well, one of my colleagues found this blogpost by Phil Haack addressing this “issue”. It seems we were not the only ones that was doubted when wanting to go to the Caribbean for a conference.
Long story short, some of us went to the Caribbean, others went to Malmö, Sweden. Guess who went to a nice beach after each conference day? 😉
So how was it then? Well, the TLDR; is “too good” 😉
The longer version goes something like this:
When I landed in Punta Cana I was met by an enormous line of people waiting to get through security. Apparently the computer system at the airport had a crash and therefore it was chaos. But this isn’t how it usually work, and I eventually got through. And sometime here the the weather started to really warm my body, but the hospitality of the organizers started to warm my heart even more. It started already at the airport where I was picked up by one of the organizers.
The next thing to mention was the arrival at the resort. I've never been to something like this before. I actually started laughing when I finally got to my room (after walking through long corridors of restaurants and shops), because I have never seen something like this there was a big Jacuzzi in the middle of my room and the bathroom was bigger than some of the apartments I've lived in. Later I discovered all of the bars and restaurants, and they were really great, and all of this is included in the price.
But back to the conference, I didn't have any doubts about the seriousness of the conference before I did go to it, but if I had had that, those doubts would be totally erased five minutes into the keynote (Phil Haack btw). I mean, if you have names like Scott Hanselman, Phil Haack, Jessica Deen and David Neal you're a pretty serious thing. So if you ever hear that argument again, send them to me and I'll set them straight.
But it doesn't end here. The thing that warmed my heart the most was the focus on inclusion and diversity of the conference. It really shows that they want everyone to be able to go to the conference, especially local developer that doesn't have the same funding as us from more privileged countries. And instead of companies having a lot of swag, the organizers ask them to donate money to charity, which in my book is the right thing to do. There was also an interesting panel discussion about how to get more diversity into our industry. And all these things together really shows the passion of the organizers.
So, if you have the possibility to go to the Caribbean Developer Conference I really, really recommend you to go. It is a great conference with great content, and as a bonus you get to go to the Caribbean, instead of some cold dark city in Europe.