Why hold competing conferences?

On Friday, I noted Andy Kramek’s post about the timing of the next Advisor FoxPro Devcon which is scheduled for August 27-31 in Phoenix, Arizona which would appear to conflict with the Southwest conference in Tempe, Arizona a few weeks later.

Not only did I post about it, I also emailed my editor at Advisor asking if they were aware of the scheduling and why this might possibly be considered a bad move on part of the community.

Not only did I hear from them, I also heard from Ken Levy who wanted to assure me that “Microsoft has nothing at all to do with the dates, locations, or speaker selection at any VFP conference world wide, and that the VFP team is not involved in any decision making there”. That’s good news – in fact, he heard the news when he first arrived in Frankfurt.

So why would Advisor decide to do this? Well, for one, the FoxPro devcon isn’t their only conference. As it turns out, they are offering several conferences: GroupWise, Access, .Net, Lotus, WebSphere , Sharepoint, ZenWorks at the same time, and the same location.

Some may say “hold it – I only want to attend a Fox-only conference” – for which there is the Southwest Conference and others. But as the last Foxpro survey suggested, Fox-only developers are rare – most developers, including myself, work with a variety of tools and just as the Visual Studio developers find cool features in FoxPro, it wouldn’t be unheard of for FoxPro developers to find other cool features in other technologies. Ken went so far as to suggest that this is a good thing for FoxPro and Ken, I would agree with you – more people in the area may mean more people exposed to FoxPro and no, you likely can’t plan your conference always around every single developer’s plan.

So would you rather have a Foxpro Devcon in April of 2006 or August in Orlando? (they have other shows around there)

As I noted to Advisor, there are many FoxPro developers who like to play the conspiracy theory game (at the end of one FoxPro devcon, it was suggested that because they had not announced the next one, that maybe there wouldn’t be one). And my original post may have suggested I was. I was not – and it was definitely not my intention to do so (hence my updates).

Fact is – there are a lot of developers in the world and there are a lot of great conferences, both for VFP and other technologies. Advisor puts on conferences for a lot of them. It’s hard to get the facilities to put on conferences year after year – in fact, the cities that can hold them are only a handful if you want to hold them in great resorts as the Advisor folks usually do.

In this case, if you attend this one in Phoenix, you also get the chance to attend others as well.

And if you’re looking for a Fox-only conference, then there’s one right around the corner.

So why talk about it? Some might say you’re just starting stuff up – but I say no. Maybe Advisor WASN’T aware of the conflicting schedules and maybe they should have been – but then by the same token, no one should jump to those conclusions. If, one believes (I do) in the concept of transparency and how it’s changing the way business is run, then having these types of discussions can be valuable.

Let’s be realistic – the conference season is notoriously (some may say thankfully) short, there are only so many days, so many weekends, so many hotels. If only I could spend my life visiting each one.

My original post