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I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

My WWDC tips, after only having gone once, especially for iPhone developers

These are pretty limited in scope and wisdom compared to tips from the veterans. But here’s what I learned from going to WWDC last year, and going to the Tech Talk in New York last winter (which was like a condensed WWDC, and which I’d strongly recommend if you get the chance).

Bring a workable laptop. By that, I mean a laptop on which you can do development work, because WWDC sessions will inspire you to try new things immediately. If you’re choosing between the thin-and-light or the workhorse, pick the workhorse. If you’re considering going iPad- or iPhone-only, I strongly advise against it.

Sync your iPhone to that laptop. If you can only sync to your Mac Pro back home in New York, you’ll be pretty disappointed that you can’t install the brand new OS seed announced in the keynote until a week later. And on the off chance that the new iPhone is available immediately there, you’ll want to be able to buy one and set it up.

Bring an extra iPhone battery. You’ll use your iPhone a lot. You can plug your laptop into power strips strapped to the chair legs during most of the sessions (although a unibattery MBP’s long life is very handy), but you won’t have many chances to recharge your iPhone during the day. (Another tip: Sit near the chair legs with the power strips strapped to them.)

Go alone. Non-developer spouses will be bored senseless. Bring them to SXSW instead, where the sessions are an afterthought and most people skip most of them. But at WWDC, attendees actually attend. (See next tip.) Unless your spouse is another developer with a WWDC ticket, take this trip alone, for his/her sake. (The same applies to non-developer friends and coworkers.)

See as many sessions as possible. This isn’t SXSW. Most sessions are extremely valuable, especially because a lot of information is revealed, often in casual remarks by the engineers, that isn’t available anywhere else. Videos of each session are available after the conference, but they usually only include the slideshow and audio, and critically, not the often-invaluable Q&A at the end of each session. If it’s important to you, go to the session in person.

Don’t skip any timeslots. I don’t care how tired or hung over you are — this is why you’re there. You can sleep later.

Take notes. I never took notes on anything in school. I was that smartass who would just stare at the board with nothing on my desk and remember the important stuff. But trust me: take notes here. Make a “WWDC” folder full of text files. Start a new file for each session, and keep that text-editor window (TextMate for me) as the only app running during the sessions. Take notes liberally. You don’t need to copy down the code samples — they’ll be posted somewhere later — but you may want to note the key method names. The importance and volume of note-taking is why you shouldn’t go iPhone- or iPad-only.

When you don’t have any must-see sessions in a timeslot, go to one that you’re only vaguely interested in. You’ll learn a lot, and they’re often a gateway to new things that you didn’t know you were interested in. App developer? Go to a game session. Or vice versa. Know nothing about Core Data, internationalization, accessibility, or Instruments? Now’s your chance.

Go to sessions about topics that you think you’ve already mastered. You haven’t. I still go to sessions on UITableView, UIViewController, UIWebView, etc., despite thinking I know these inside and out, because I learn something new each time — about how to use something, or how something behaves behind the scenes, or why to use something — that greatly benefits my app and can make the price of admission worthwhile alone.

Go to the UI-design sessions. These, by far, are always the ones whose notes I consult the most afterward, and that I come out of thinking, “WWDC is worth every penny.”

Find good coffee. (Intended for black-coffee drinkers. If you put crap in your coffee, you’ll probably like it from anywhere.) The Blue Bottle Cafe, 66 Mint St., is best. But because it’s a gourmet, slow-process boutique, it takes more time than you probably have before the morning session. The best fast option is the Peet’s at 370 4th St., which is a small step above Starbucks in black-coffee quality. The brownish liquid substance in those giant metal urns in Moscone is not coffee. Do not attempt to drink it.

Bring some questions for the Labs. Last year, I had just finished a major release before WWDC, so I couldn’t think of anything to ask the Labs people except one question that they couldn’t answer. (I later found that the answer was to use “Delays content touches” on my UITableView.)

Promote your stuff with your wardrobe. It’s OK to wear your own T-shirt. (I wished I had one, but I forgot to get one made in time. And I forgot again this year.) But it’s not usually a business-card-passing setting, like those awful meetings with Business People™ where everyone stands up first and passes their cards around the table. It’s not like that at all. (I consider this a feature, not a bug.)

Most importantly, absorb as much as you can, meet as many fellow developers as you can, and have fun.

Need an iCal export of your Favorite sessions from Apple’s scheduling site? I made this.

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