Welcome to the first issue of event.Handler() – a newsletter about running thoughtful and impactful developer events.
We should probably start by introducing ourselves. We are Kevin and Amy; two event organisers from London, UK, and between us we have run over 200 events for software developers.
In every issue of event.Handler() we will explore a different element of running successful events, but in today’s issue we are going to take a little time to set the scene.
When thinking about events that software developers attend, we have chosen to group them into five categories: conferences, hackathons, meetups, workshops, and everything else (a bucket of unconventional and less common formats).
Throw people on stage one after another, have some people watch them. Maybe expand this to more stages, each hosting talks at the same time. Conferences can span a few hours or a few days and feature talks, panel discussions, and workshops (more on these later).
A key feature of many conferences is the networking that happens alongside the scheduled sessions, often in a separate space designed to encourage conversations between the attendees and event partners.
We often describe hackathons as invention marathons. You get a group of developers ready to flex their technical and creative muscles, set them one or more challenges and give them a set amount of time to come up with a solution; could be a day or two, or perhaps even a week (24 or 36 hours are the most common time windows). At the end of the event, the teams or individuals show off what they made.
There is a lot of variation in this format - for example, the end of the event spans a spectrum from a friendly show & tell right through to competitive pitches with a winner and prizes. Some hackathons choose to organise a stream of educational activity to support ‘hackers’ in building their projects.
Meetups are social events centered around a particular theme or technology. They mostly happen out of work hours, and often feature short talks and food. Meetups can be one-off but it’s common for them to repeat on a regular schedule such as once a month.
Workshops are hands-on sessions where attendees learn and apply a new skill. They can be freeform and simply provide a space for people to work on their own learning with support from mentors, or led by an instructor and follow a more structured format.
We believe most developer events will fall into one of the categories above, but there are many more unconventional formats that we’ll likely spend less time on in future issues. From speed-based competitions like Capture the Flags and Hacker Olympics, through to hobbyist events like Hebocon (a low-rent Robot Wars which is a lot of fun).
We as organisers design and deliver events to achieve organisational or community goals. These include raising awareness of products/services, acquiring feedback, testing hypotheses, or recruitment.
Developers attend events for a whole bunch of reasons, whether it is to learn a new skill, expand their professional networks (including meeting potential employers/collaborators), or simply to socialise with other people who have a shared interest in code.
When planning an event, it is important to consider the goals on both sides and use this as the basis for decision making. This will be a common theme that we will address in future issues.
Every issue of event.Handler() will touch on a different aspect of events. Some will be more general, and others may focus on a particular type of event. Throughout, we’ll cover both physical and online experiences, and offer advice on how to make your own events as successful as possible.
Like what you’ve read so far? Give us a share using https://handler.events or tweet us at @eventHandler_. We also want to make this as useful as possible, so if there is a topic you’d like us to cover, let us know.
See you in two weeks!
Kevin (@_phzn) & Amy (@RedRoxProjects)