Update (Dec. 13, 2013): I just learned that the 2014 Microsoft Build conference will be held April 2-4, in San Francisco.
It’s surprisingly difficult to find a list of software developer conferences. In my case, I am most interested in conferences that target Microsoft technologies and are in the United States, especially the West Coast.
Currently, the five conferences that are most relevant to me are two conferences put on by Microsoft (Build and TechEd), and three conferences put on by non-Microsoft companies with Microsoft sponsorship (DevConnections, DevIntersection, Visual Studio Live). I’ve attended and spoken at all five of these events in the past, and in general, can recommend all of them.
As far as I can tell, here is what 2014 is shaping up like. Often, a particular conference is offered twice per year, once on the West Coast and once on the East Coast. Because I live on the West Coast, here are the potential events for me:
1. Visual Studio Live, March 10-14, Las Vegas
2. Microsoft Build,
unknown date, unknown city April 2-4, San Francisco
3. Microsoft TechEd, May 12-15, Houston
4. DevConnections, September 15-19, Las Vegas
5. DevIntersection, November 9-12(?), Las Vegas
Visual Studio Live – This conference has been around for many years. VS Live tends to have a broad range of topics and targets a wide range of skill sets, but mostly intermediate-level developers I’d say. In 2014, VS Live will be in Las Vegas in March, Chicago in May, Redmond in August, and Orlando in November. Speakers come from both Microsoft and other companies. Visual Studio Live is put on by 1105 Media which does a lot of other kinds of conferences, and also publishes Visual Studio Magazine. Highly recommended for intermediate-level developers but beginners and advanced developers can find some interesting talks too.
Microsoft TechEd – In 2014 TechEd swallows the Microsoft Management Summit. In the past TechEd emphasized training for developers and IT people, and MMS emphasized training and products for IT people. Each year there was more overlap so combining the events makes sense. In 2014 TechEd will be in Houston – an unusual choice of venue. Highly recommended for IT pros and enterprise developers.
Microsoft Build – Build targets Web, system, desktop, mobile, and embedded software developers. Build is a combination of the old PDC (Professional Developer Conference) for traditional software developers and MIX (originally stood for “Meet, Interact, eXplore”) for Web developers. The dates and location of Build have not been announced but my wild guess is that Build will be in October in Las Vegas. Highly recommended for developers of all skill levels. Update: My wild guess was way off. Build will be April 2-4, in San Francisco.
DevConnections – Another long-running conference that’s been around for at least 10 years. DevConnections has gone through some management changes recently, and 2013 was the first event put on by the new team. I wasn’t there but some of my friends say the event was similar to previous years, focusing on intermediate-level developers. DevConnections is a bit broader in scope than Visual Studio Live and targets developers and SQL people and IT people. The conference is run by Penton Media, a big company that does many events and publishes magazines including Windows IT Pro and SQL Server Pro. The 2014 event is scheduled for September 15-19 in Las Vegas. Recommended for developers with intermediate and beginning level skills.
DevIntersection – DevIntersection held its first event in 2012. DevIntersection is a spin-off from DevConnections; in spite of the similar names, the two events are not related, however the conferences are similar in the sense that they target a broad audience. The people who now run DevIntersection used to run DevConnections, and I always thought those events were very nice. The Spring 2014 event will be from April 13-15 in Orlando Florida (too far away for me). The Fall 2014 event dates and location have not been announced but my guess is early November in Las Vegas. Highly recommended for developers with intermediate and beginning level skills.
There are many other conferences for software developers who use the MS technology stack, but I can recommend the five here on the basis of personal experience. All these conferences are a bit pricey (well to me anyway). For example, the TechEd Conference, not including hotel and travel, is about $2000. The Visual Studio Live conference is about $1600. It’s a tough sell to get your company to foot the bill for one of these conferences but maybe you can convince your management that the knowledge you’ll gain, your improved morale, and increased energy and productivity you’ll have after returning, are worth the price of one of these conferences.