Back from eBay DevCon
I’m back from the eBay DevCon for a week now and the jetlag has finally gone away. There’s so much to say about the conference – but first a couple of docs announcements. When we were in Las Vegas, Skype 2.5 was released, so the dev notes needed urgent attention on my return. You can download the beta version of Skype API 2.5 developer notes now, including SMS messaging and sharing contact groups. Over at Skype4COM, you can download a beta version which includes SMS messaging and support for Internet Explorer. The Skype4COM docs are updated and also include some cool examples.
It was touch and go if we would get the DevNotes published this week.
]]>One of the API engineers lost his bag in transit on his return to Tallinn from the US. The bag followed him and arrived in Tallinn late at night . . . where it was stolen and dumped in the docks area . . . where it caused a major security alert involving police, bomb squad and robots. When Indrek headed off to the police station to claim his bags I wondered if he’d ever make it back. He did, and the notes are done so there’s time to describe the eBay DevCon experience.
It began in fitting style with a ride in a gold limo to our gold hotel – everything was as bizarre and super-sized as anticipated, and then some. The air conditioning was too cold so we went from fridge to oven everytime we went outdoors. But out was the only escape from the infernal jangle of the slot machines and the mall which i found and hid in for some hours on my last day. We stayed at the conference venue – i was on the 33rd floor with a view along the strip, starting with Luxor next door (black shiny pyramid), Excalibur (like a bad Disney castle), New York, New York, MGM, Caesar’s Palace, Paris, Venice . . . It was a 15 minute walk from my room to the conference – through acres of casino, largely populated by people poring their pensions into the machines, past restaurants and shops, overlooking the “beach”. complete with waves and sand.
Jet lag was kicking in on the second day when we had our first formal duty – a warm-up meeting with all the conference staff – 12 of us from Skype and and maybe 70 or so people from eBay and PayPal. We toured our space – everything was vast and freezing and our t-shirts were in Kentucky courtesy of UPS. Intel threw a party that night where we drifted around meeting people. Afterwards some of us hooked up with guys that work in research in eBay and we dreamed up fantastic technologies into the small hours.
Saturday morning, the show began – we cheered the developers into the room before the Keynotes which started in real Vegas style – with 3 entertainers suspended by flimsy fabric hangings, dancing through the air – the power of 3 – the theme of the conference. The presentations were thorough, mapping the story from the start of eBay to now and hinting at the future possibilities. I was struck by the welcome Skype was given – it was clear that eBay and PayPal are delighted to have us on board and are very excited by us.
And the story was the same for the rest of the conference. After the Keynotes we were running our first training session, an intro to working with the Skype API. The lab had 24 screens and was completely oversubscribed. People stood around the edges of the classroom – it was amazing. We had a booth in the small exhibition area – directly opposite Intel and Microsoft. Between sessions our booth was mobbed. Aside from the Skype developers who made the journey, a number of eBay developers came specifically to meet Skype – and just about all the eBay and PayPal staff wanted to meet us too.
Final proof of our popularity came on the last day – an open day where the developers booked time with people and nominated the topics for the sessions. Skype was booked back to back – we were spread very thin – one guy even booked time with me, a technical writer. Keen.
The days developed a routine if you can imagine something so mundane in Las Vegas. We’d meet in the lounge of the hotel at the end of a long day and go out to another casino for dinner. We went to a PayPal party one night, and ate in great restaurants every night. We lived in each other’s pockets – Skype staff, eBay and PayPal guys, developers – and got to know some great people. It brought the integration of our three great communities and our developers into focus – it was happening for real.
Even better, out of our regular routine, we had time to get to know each other much better. Working together, eating together, socialising together – it was great fun and inspiring. A lot of us feel a sense of isolation from the offices in the other countries – and doing something positive together brought us closer. This included people from Tallinn, London, the US team, and the Spark girls.
Most of us stayed on to have a look at eBay Live which started the day after we finished. It was enormous – 15,000 visitors, sold out, turning people away. Overwhelming – and queues everywhere. It was too much for a few of us and we went off exploring Vegas. Which is when I discovered the joy of the slot -free shopping mall. Afterwards we had margheritas in the Venetian, sitting by the sweet smelling canal, serenaded every few minutes from a passing gondola, fluffy clouds in fresh blue sky – all night. Back into the baking desert heat and we went to find Paris but got lost and ended up in another Venice – very nice it was – especially the water features which were outstanding in a city of water features. Back in the baking heat again we find Paris and a piano bar where we chat to a guy in Vegas for a water conference – told us the Colorado River no longer reaches the sea in the Gulf of Mexico. So much for water features.
I think the Skype Developer Program came of age in Las Vegas. We met our community and they like what we have to offer. They are a vibrant community who bounced ideas off us and each other. We met and spent time with our counterparts in eBay and PayPal. We tried to make time for everybody and I think we did. If we missed you, please accept my apologies – there’ll be another time and the sooner the better.