PDC pre-conference: 1 day, or 2?

I’m trying to figure out how we should handle the PDC pre-conference this year, and wanted to see if anyone has input for us.


At last year’s PDC, we provided a day of pre-conference content.  For an extra fee, PDC attendees could register to attend one of the following day-long courses:

  • .NET – The Smart Client Perspective
  • .NET – The Web Perspective
  • .NET – The XML and Web Services Perspective
  • CLR Internals: Writing Great Components & Apps
  • Data A-Z
  • Microsoft Office 2003 – a solutions platform
  • Windows Internals

As Brian Swanson noted in previous comments, you won’t find PDC breakout sessions on shipping technology.  Since PDC content is focused on our forward looking platform roadmap, the pre-con courses all concentrated on training and background on products available today.


The turn out at last PDC’s pre-cons was really great, it looks like PDC attendees are willing to lengthen their stay in LA by a day in order to sneak in some focused content on today’s technologies.  In fact, the turn out was so high, that we’re debating extending the pre-con to two days this year.  That’s what I’m looking for feedback on – would people be interested in arriving two days early to get even more pre-con content?


Arguments in favor:

  • We could provide a lot more content.  The Internals sessions in ’03 were very popular, so we could add additional content on things like the inner workings of EntLib, or understanding the full suite of WS-* specs, or we could do a course on designing great .NET class libraries
  • Not everyone would need to attend both days.  We could put the more basic stuff on day -2, and then save the more advanced, meaty topics for day -1.  The folks who really need the extra background on writing production code on shipping products could attend both days (or only day -2), the folks more interested in the internals stuff would still only need to arrive 1 day early.
  • Conversely, we could split both kinds of topics over both days, so that unlike 2003, you wouldn’t have to choose between CLR Internals and Windows Internals, you could do one on each day.
  • If you attend both days, you’d have to arrive on Saturday – which means flights might get cheaper because of a Sat. night stay over, and plus you can spend a Saturday night enjoying LA.

Arguments against:

  • 4 days of conference plus 2 days of pre-conference makes for a long trip.  People won’t want to stay away from home that long, or their brains won’t be able to absorb 6 days worth of content
  • Day -2 is the 4 year anniversary of September 11th.  As someone who had a family member narrowly escape when the towers collapsed, I am very sensitive to allowing room for people to attend a local memorial service, or even hosting one ourselves at the conference.  We could start the day late enough to accommodate that, but I still wonder if people would just rather not be at a pre-conference on that day.


So…thoughts?  Would you attend 2 days of pre-con?

Comments (7)

  1. Steve Hall says:

    I would definitely attend 2 days, provided that there were sessions worth attending on both days. The strategy that would prevent this is your idea of segregating basic stuff to day -2 and advanced stuff to -1.

    I propose spreading the basic sessions between both days and advanced sessions to both days. I think there’s going to be more people who would want 2 days of basic sessions or 2 days of advanced sessions, rather than 1 day of each. The only exception to that would be a two-part (series) of related sessions, e.g., a day 1 Intro to .NET Base Class Library and a day 2 Advanced .NET BCL Classes.

    Of the above suggested list of sessions, I would want to attend both the CLR Internals and Windows Internals sessions, but could not if you relegate them both to day 2 (and they’re full-day sessions).

    On the other hand, the above "spread it out" proposal wouldn’t have to be implemented if you had half-day sessions instead. (Borland has used half-day pre-con sessions for 15 years. They would have a lot of basic topics in the morning and advanced topics in the afternoon, with a good many of them being 2 part series. (E.g., "Intro to InterBase" in morning, "Advanced Tips & Tricks for InterBase App. Development" in the afternoon.) Maybe half-day sessions are a solution. (This would help on the 9/11 problem also: you could have only afternoon sessions on 9/11…and this would still allow for people to attend up to 3 different sessions between the 2 days.)

  2. Greg says:

    While I wouldn’t mind two day’s of pre-conference sessions (being LA local sure helps :), but the 9/11 issue is a big one.

    Also considering it’s a Sunday…

    So from my seat, I think if there was a session on 9/11/2005 I’d probably skip it.

    5 days will just have to be enough to fill my brain …

  3. Jamie Curtis says:

    I would definitely attend 2 days of preconference technical discussions. I’m excited about this PDC and the more technical content the better.

  4. Marco Russo says:

    Coming from Italy, it may seems I’m less sensitive to 9/11 problem, but in reality I think a better attitude is to think that life continues and has not to be changed by terrorism. Of course an apposite schedule could help to leave time to remember (like an afternoon tutorial or a break between 11.30 and 12.30, or a split in two half-day sessions, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon).

  5. Keith Hill says:

    +1 for the two day pre-conference. It is hard enough to justify training/conferences these days that when I do get to go to one I want to get the max out of it. OTOH would you please consider not scheduling sessions over lunch? At the 2003 PDC, I was running around all day long and up into the wee hours (BOFs). I could have really used a sit-down lunch break, especially to network with other attendees. Also, please bring back the conference email system where you could locate other attendees by name and/or company. I’ve used this in the past to hook up with folks, heck even some from my own company that I didn’t know before the PDC.