Whatever anyone does, the PVS-Studio team is back at conferences. In this article, we would like to share our experience with you, tell you how we went through the second half of the 2019 year: how we prepared, made mistakes, put right the wrongs. As always, we are waiting for feedback.
Well, this is the report for the second half of the year 2019 about our being at conferences. You can read the previous article of my colleague Vasilisa about the first half of the year here.
But first, let me tell you briefly about myself. I am the event manager in PVS-Studio. So I am the one who is preparing our team for conferences, but first things first. If you read our articles, you probably know about our working process regarding conferences (if not, then check here). It so happens that in summer and in the middle of winter we have preparatory time for IT events, but in spring and autumn we manage to get a little tired, because on average we take part in more than 10-15 conferences. That's what we did in this fall season. In total, we attended 16 conferences, of which there were 9 ones with a booth and 7 - only with talks from our team. At one of the conferences we were both with a booth and a talk, so the numbers are not very accurate :)).
How are we going through the time when most of the office is absent and someone still needs to work locally?
The first and perhaps most important is competent planning. Long before the conference season, the whole office falls on preparing in different directions.
As for me, I'm responsible for:
Tasks are not difficult, right? The key point here is that no matter how well one plans and how much one prepares in advance, something will definitely go wrong. So, for example, preparing for the season, I initially did not know the final number of conferences in which we participate. Some of them appeared already in the height of the season. Why does it happen so? Everything is very simple. As noted above, not only do we go at the conferences with a booth, but also submit talks that might be approved only a couple of weeks before the IT event. Do such circumstances complicate the workflow? No, but you need to be prepared for them and, at least, note potential conferences. For example, I use Trello (an online project management system using the kanban methodology) and a wall calendar.
The first tool helps me to control the preparation for each conference. There I record the main information for the upcoming event: website, address of the event, number of participants, dates of the event, a list of booth assistants and/or speakers. In addition, I upload tickets and vouchers there. A huge plus of this platform is that each member of our team has access to the boards in Trello, and this frees me from repeated questions from colleagues about the event details.
I think that the idea of working with a calendar is more than understandable - visibility and control of deadlines.
The second point, which is also very important along with the first one, is multitasking. First of all, it concerns switching between the above tasks in terms of a single conference and secondly - switching between tasks related to several conferences simultaneously. Preparing for one conference is not so difficult, but if you are busy with 5-6 preps at the same time, it's getting rather tough.
When preparing, you need to consider the partners and services with which you will work. It would be nice to find contacts and conclude cooperation agreements in advance so that all kinds of problems would not overlap with the preparatory process.
In the work of the event manager, sociability plays a special part. Decent preparation without constant contact with conference hosts and your team is impossible. My main task regarding this issue is that I am a kind of intermediary between the team and the organizers. Our booth assistants and speakers should receive from me all the necessary instructions for their getting around, accommodation, participation, etc. Hosts should also have an idea about our locations, equipment, layouts, booth, and more. If any of the points fails, then our work during the conference will get more complicated for everyone.
The fifth point on this list is mobility and a continuous online mode. Of course, these aspects are obvious from previous processes, since the event manager does not always accompany the participants or speakers and, if something goes wrong, the solution to a particular problem is in his/her area of responsibility. It doesn't matter if it's a day off, whether the you are at the dentist or at granny's birthday, you can't leave the team!
Thus, knowing the wisdom of managerial life, we got prepared and eventually participated in the following conferences.
Although we call this term the fall season, we've already opened it in August. Our Java programmer Maxim Stefanov made a presentation "Static code analysis: What? How? Why?" at Krasnodar DevConf 2019. The conference was held for 2 days. The first day was dedicated to server development, monitoring and administration, the second - the development of interfaces and browser technologies. At the conference, 7 talks and 350 participants were announced on each day.
According to our speaker, this was one of his difficult speeches, as the number of conference participants was not very high, but despite this about 120-150 people attended his talk. And he was the last to speak! We were pleased that participants were interested in our product and asked many questions on the topic after the talk.
The next conference was held in Moscow. It lasted 1 day and included 18 talks that went in parallel in two tracks. In addition, there were also master classes. The number of announced participants was 300 people. For us, the conference was new. According to our colleagues who were present at the booth, the target audience was not ours, but it was a good opportunity to talk about our product.
After Enterprise Agile Russia 2019, we went to St. Petersburg to the already familiar conference - Saint TeamLead Conf 2019. On two days of the conference, more than 500 people registered. The conference itself included 42 talks, 3 tracks and meetups.
At Saint TeamLead Conf 2019, we arrived not only with a booth, but also with a talk from our speaker and a meetup.
During our meetup session, where we talked about our company, even though not a lot of people were present, further conversations were nice and people were interested in what we are doing.
It is worth noting that our target audience was there and we had some useful chats for these 2 days, even though fewer participants showed up on the second day. For instance, we've been fiercely asked about various programming languages that our tool does not support yet. Some of our potential clients would really like us to support them.
While we were in St. Petersburg, one of our recently employed colleagues - Maxim Zvyagintsev - was preparing for his first participation in the conference with a talk on "Improving the quality of open source software using code analysis tools."
The conference itself was held in Kaluga on September 27-29 and was intended for free software developers. According to our speaker, the conference was heartwarming and well suited for beginning speakers, because, despite the small number (about 50-60 people), they knew about our company and asked questions on the merits. Most of the talk was about static analyzers in general, and not just about our product, but it was nice that we were noted.
The next conference was held in Innopolis near Kazan, to which our developer Alexander Senichkin went with a talk "In aid of a developer: a mini code analyzer based on the .NET Compiler Platform ("Roslyn")". The main target audience was students, which is not entirely suitable for us. Nonetheless, the audience was active, which always pleases us.
After having some rest, our team went on a short vacation to St. Petersburg. In fact, in this city there were 2 conferences of interest to us (Joker 2019 and C ++ Russia) with a 4-day gap. So it was easier for us to stay in St. Petersburg than to return to Tula and then go back to St. Petersburg.
The host of these conferences is the company JUG.RU Group, with which we have been actively cooperating for several years. The conference was very large-scale and active. In addition to standard activities (talks, DemoStage), participants were invited to participate in Lightning talks and BOF sessions. You could come to Lightning talks with any topic of interest and talk about it for about 10 minutes. In addition, Lightning Talks were held during the party after the main conference program, which affected the number of listeners. BOF sessions, in my opinion, are much more amuzing. The format was similar to a speaking club on IT topics, where not only participants but also speakers were actively speaking to each other. In such a relaxed atmosphere, it was possible to discuss all pressing issues, chat with the cool guys in the IT field without time limits and restrictions on certain topics.
At Joker 2019, 2,000 participants and more than 40 talks were announced. The conference was worthwhile. There were many English speakers, our colleagues enjoyed listening to their talks. In addition, the stream of participants was approximately the same during two conference days and there was never a dull moment. The only thing we noted for ourselves was that although the intended audience was ours, almost half of the participants did not know about our analyzer (which we, of course, will try to fix).
PVS-Studio team comes up with a plan to capture the Java community
After taking a little time off for 4 days without falling out of the steam we were ready to take on the next conference, namely, "C++ Russia". We are very well acquainted with this conference. The core audience was suitable for us. Moreover, many of the participants were our clients, which created effective communication at the booth.
In addition to the booth, our CTO Andrey Karpov made a presentation "Premature optimization is evil! Long live premature optimization!" and had a small talk at the Demo Stage "Benefits of using the PVS-Studio static analyzer". Our CEO Evgeniy Ryzhkov covered the topic "The correct methodology for static code analysis" at the Demo Stage.
At the C++ Russia conference, we decided to demonstrate how our analyzer works. Many have asked us about this during some talks, because talk is cheap, whereas showing features that are interesting for our clients (potential clients) is a whole other story. This simplified the process of discussion tremendously and some issues dropped out by themselves.
The number of conference participants was 600 people and the decline in activity markedly affected the second day, when during the presentations the booths remained completely empty :(
This was not the first time we visited DotNext. As always, the organization was on top. The number of registered participants was more than 1000 people, talks - more than 30, including talks by foreign speakers.
Honestly, we did not expect that the two days of the conference would be so active. Despite the fact that normally on the second day of conferences participants are less active, this was not really noticeable at that DotNext. All the time there was live communication, which made us very inspired.
HighLoad ++ was perhaps one of the largest conferences that season. The number of participants exceeded 3,000, and the number of talks was 150. Despite the wide swath of the event, we still had mixed feelings after the conference. On the one hand, the core audience was diverse and the number of participants who are close to our subjects was not so large. On the other hand, talks at the booth with intended users were the most related to our topic and productive.
In addition to the booth, at the conference we held one meetup and for the first time arranged a quest together with Miran and Nixys.
Miran offers profitable solutions for the rental and placement of IT structures.
The guys from Nyxys are engaged in round-the-clock support of servers and Internet projects from small corporate sites to federal online stores, media sites and complex microservice projects.
At the Dump conference in Kazan, our developer George Gribkov gave a talk "We facilitate the development process using static code analysis: our experience". According to him, the talk went well. The audience asked questions related to ideas for new diagnostics, as well as interactions with competing companies.
Less than a week later, George went with his colleague Sergey Khrenov to St. Petersburg at the SECR 2019 conference. There, Georgy made a presentation named "Security at maximum speed: how to write reliable C/C ++ code for embedded systems".
And Sergei talked about "DevSecOps against the rise of the machines". According to the guys, their talks went well, which confirms the active communication with the conference participants and the answers to questions.
The conference itself seemed thoughtful and informative to our speakers. There were many English-speaking participants and speakers, the entire conference numbered 400 people.
Along with the SECR in St. Petersburg, another event took place in Minsk - the SQA Days conference. Our developer Victoria Khanieva visited it. There she presented the topic "How we managed to build the development of the analyzer without Q&A engineers". A rather provocative title for a Q&A conference, isn't it?
Heading to Minsk again! We sent our developer Ilya Gainulin to the largest conference for game industry professionals in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus with a talk "Static code analysis of projects built on the Unreal Engine".
The conference lasted 2 days, during which more than 90 speakers from 30+ countries made presentations. The number of announced participants was 2,000 people, most of whom are game developers.
As it has already become noticeable, we practically did not leave Minsk in November :). So at the end of the month, the guys went to our next CoreHard, where Yuri Minaev made a talk "How not to choke on a big old project."
Despite our expectations of being familiar to the entire CoreHard audience, which hardly can be surprised by our regular merch and topics, visitors got interested and the conference turned out to be extremely active. Not only did participants take all the loot, but conversations happened to be useful.
I think, I'd rather merge the description of last two conferences in one. Despite the fact that two conferences took place in different cities, the concept and idea are the same. In truth, we did not have high hopes for these conferences, since they are rather small (about 250 people each) and the number of booths in St. Petersburg was 2, in Moscow - 1 (only our booth :)). But, surprisingly, the interest in us was overwhelming. The audience actively supported communication about static analysis in general and about our product in particular. Our entire loot was snapped up as quickly as possible, especially C# tasks.
Sure, we are not the only company offering to puzzle over some problems at the booth. Along with that we like that our tasks resonate with conference participants. We really appreciate this, and try to listen to your every comment on this subject.
For those who are interested in the errors examples themselves (or you'd like to find out the answers), I'll leave the link to the article by my colleague Sergey Khrenov "Answers to the tasks at the PVS-Studio booth at 2018-2019 conferences"
We have had this activity for a long time, but not everyone knows about it. At the DotNext conference in Moscow on November 6-7, not only did participants but also organizers get interested in it.
Let me briefly tell you about the main goal in it. First, you choose who you'll play for - our unicorn or a bug. After that, following a simple set of rules, you need to place a ball of your color on top of the pyramid. This will be a victory over the opponent (well, no ... we will give you some merch anyway :)).
It is worth noting that the board and balls were painted by us manually. That's how we apply our creativity!
Even our guys cannot resist playing our activities :)
It has already been mentioned that at HighLoad++ in Skolkovo, we, together with Miran and Nixys, prepared the quest for our booths for the conference participants. Participants had to complete the task from each company, get stickers for completing each stage and take part in the prize draw at the very end.
The audience liked the format, so we got positive feedback afterwards. Thank you for participating!
P.S. We'll definitely rectify our mistakes in future quests.
We already know for sure that our merch is loved anywhere we go. If you know us for a long time, then this season you might notice that some of our loot has been updated. So we got coasters (cup holders) and mugs. For the second season in a row, we give you perpetual calendars and our Tula branded gingerbreads with a unicorn.
The most unusual handouts this season were notebooks for foreign speakers, which we prepared for the conferences Joker 2019, C ++ Russia 2019 and DotNext. It was most unusual because, firstly, we burned out inscription on these notebooks ourselves in our office. One of these fine September days, the marketing department got the idea to purchase a laser graver from AliExpress and make an unusual handout. So said - so done!
The second reason why this loot is unusual is because we had to go though all this hassle with speakers lists, the schedule of speeches. And yet when everything was ready I constantly had thoughts about how to present a notebook to a speaker and that a talk might be canceled or also had some other organizational trifles in my head.
The process itself was laborious, even though it might seem that there is nothing special about laser burning wood. Just set up the device and get the results. Seems like yes, but in practice - it's not the case. Customization, design, a couple of damaged notebooks (and nerve cells), the constant smell of burnt wood in the office - and only then everything is ready!
Of course, there were. We are all humans and sometimes we all mess up (sometimes we all do, don't we?), but we shouldn't forget to draw conclusions and work on mistakes. So this season we had a couple of delicate moments. The first thing we faced with was the name of the meeting host at Saint TeamLead Conf 2019 on all information booklets. The application for the meetup was submitted from my account. In the process of filling out the application, you can specify the title of the meetup and the name of the person who will host it. We filled in everything, and arrived at the conference venue a day before. Wherever one could find information about our meeting, my name was written, even though another person was specified in the personal account.
Conclusion: bugs ... bugs are all around.
The second and third situations occurred at the DotNext conference. One of them was as plain as a day - we simply were out of luck with the hotel where we stayed. I'm probably going to give up some high epithets to describe that place, but now some of our colleagues have the psychological trauma of living in hotels because of my fault ... ahah. Sorry guys.
Conclusion: life is pain!
When preparing the merch for the conference, we took too few business cards with us. We use them so that the participants could leave us their contacts, and after the conference we could send them a key by email to try our product. I had to get out with improvised means ¯ \ _ (ツ) _ / ¯.
Conclusion: when preparing for a conference, bring along more merchandise!
The following two cases also occurred at the same conference, but I will not disclose it. The first story happened due to our fault. A few weeks before the conference, I prepared tickets and hotel rooms for the team, we discussed and arranged everything. Two days before the conference, it turned out that it would be more convenient to postpone the trip for one day. Nothing special, but 2 days before the departure, Karl!!! As a result, we managed to change everything, but it was a little stressful.
Conclusion: even if you've discussed everything with the team, double-check the information and their awareness of the conference heaps of times.
Having arrived at the conference, the team discovered that the equipment that had been left with the organizers for storage was suddenly lost somewhere. It's nice that our guys are smart and resourceful. They used a TV to showcase everything they needed.
Conclusion: trust a friend, but keep your powder dry!
A funny incident happened at Joker 2019. Two guys came up to us and started chatting with us about static analysis, our product, etc. Everything would be fine, but one of our colleagues recalled that the guys have already come up to us at 2 or 3 conferences and each time met us again and asked what we were doing (hmm ... coincidence? I don't think so).
Conclusion: even if you are sure that you've told everything about yourself at the conference, this does not guarantee anything, and people can forget you.
At the Saint TeamLead Conf 2019 conference, we used the Google form to collect contacts, nothing out of the ordinary. To make the form itself and provide the Internet on the site is a feasible task, but we did not take into account one moment. Sometimes a lot of participants come up to the booth and it becomes kind of hard to use laptops to leave contact information. Since after filling out the information participants want to discuss certain issues, a queue near the laptop greatly complicates the work.
Conclusion: Devices are great, but old school business cards are more reliable.
Each conference is distinct in its vibe. During one conference we can have some rest throughout the entire 2 days, at other ones - it's exactly the opposite. For example, at Joker 2019 people were active even during the taks. As for Saint TeamLead Conf 2019, on the second day there was a very noticeable decline in both the number of participants and various events. In addition to the fact that most of the time we communicate with participants at the booth, we find time (sometimes) for the following:
1. Brainstorming. Even at conferences, we continue to think about improvement of our product. We discuss offers or wishes of potential and existing customers, map out merchandise and handouts, and just get inspiration.
2. Sleep. Well ... sometimes we get tired and fall asleep in random places.
3. Participation in other activities. Of course, we respect the colleagues on the site at the conferences and their work, so we participate in their drawings and activities with genuine interest and ...
4. Sometimes we get a little addicted to collecting merch :)
5. Many of our guys and managers go to talks where they find ideas for new features of our analyzer and simply chat with different people or ...
7. When there's some time, we take pictures. Capture the moments of everyday work for future generations.
8. Sometimes we miss participants very much and wait for them to return to our booth.
9. We contemplate this beautiful world and look into the bright future.
The second half of 2019 turned out to be very busy for our team, as you can see. We did a lot, but there were still moments that still remained to be considered. So our guys have already started working on all sorts of programming things for the benefit of you and us, and we hope that soon we will be able to surprise you. I would like to remind you when you see us at conferences, do not hesitate to come up if you do not know us. Also come up, if you already know our company, ask about the Enterprise license, if you want to get it, and contact support if you haven't received a key after the conference (yes, this sometimes happens) or if you did not manage to use the link.
Thank you for spending this season with us, thanks for coming up to us and talking, and just for hanging out! See you next year!
As always, we are waiting for feedback from you and Happy Upcoming New Year! ;)
P.S. We are often asked whether we are hunting at conferences or not - NO! We are located in Tula (155 miles from Moscow) and, frankly speaking, few of you will be tempted to move from Moscow / St. Petersburg to us (you must either love Tula very much or hate Moscow / St. Petersburg that much). Mind you, we even had a funny conversation with one of the participants in the conference in St. Petersburg. The guy wanted to work with us, but when he found out where we were from, the answer was something like this: "No, I just moved to St. Petersburg from Tula and I'm not going to return there again!" Hi to you, fellow townsman :)