It's that time of year again! We're in June, will it be hot, will we see the sun? It's always a coin-toss, but one things for sure, the 2016 Esri UC is right at the end of this month and if you aren't attending, someone in your organization probably is, maybe even you boss.
So you're a developer or maybe you work with developers or manage developers in your organization. As developers, we get hung up on learning the latest tech, just to learn it, but sometimes we need to step back and look at what we are doing with that tech, or what we could do.
A quick look at the agenda and you can already tell it's going to be a jam-packed week. You probably haven't even begun to think about what sessions you're planning to see, much less think about what you could see.
Before joining Esri, I think I've been to about half a dozen UCs, I even had a booth and each year it was always a mad rush to try and figure out what I should spend my time learning.
Relax. Don't be like me.
Personally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that you should check out the sessions I'm involved in. I'm lucky, I get to co-present with some great people during these sessions.
I'll admit, I'm more a Dev Summit kind of guy, but the UC is a great opportunity to see how all the cool technology that we like to build on actually gets used. Yes, all the cool SDKs and APIs we developers get so excited about actually have to be proven useful or we're just wagging our keyboards around.
If you happen to be around on Monday night, the Lightning Talks are a great way to hear from other users on some cool stuff they've done or tips and tricks. These aren't typically done by Esri employees, these are users sharing real world experiences.
The next thing I would recommend are the moderated paper sessions. The moderated paper sessions are where you can find some real gems. Plus, you get to support your peers working in your field or a particular industry. Remember, plenty of these presenters don't present often, some for the first time, so there may be some nerves, but I've learned so much over the years from users in these sessions, it's invaluable. Struggled with integrating that asset management system and massive infrastructure data into your GIS? Someone may have done just that, so go learn how they overcame similar challenges.
Here are just a few sessions that stood out to me.
Again, if you are a developer I highly recommend popping in to a couple of the moderated paper sessions and see how users are actually using the technology and learn from their work. You may even find inspiration for your next project!
The Esri UC is where you'll learn about all the latest on the ArcGIS platform, ranging from topics for the developer to the techs, to cartographers and analysts. It's a great time, if you are a developer, to brush up on some analysts skills. You may have been nose-deep in code so long you forgot how to do population projections or maybe you never touched the analysis part of GIS, go learn a little!
I haven't done nose-to-the-stones geo analysis in a long time. I've done my fair share of hydro analysis and creating watersheds and all kinds of other tasks from my analysis days, but I like to at least brush up on these things once or twice a year so I don't lose touch.
Here are some cool tech sessions from Esri you may want to check out.
Remember, these tech sessions are done by Esri employees, working directly with the tech on a first-hand basis. Take notes, ask questions, that's what we're there for!
Although I have at least one session where I'll have to book it from one side of the convention center to the hotel at the other end in like 10 minutes, so if I'm in a rush at that time, sorry in advance.
Protip - If you manage developers, don't go back to the office and make them learn all the cool stuff you saw. Give them a summary, ask them to investigate some subjects further, put them in contact with presenters you may have talked to. If they see a solution to a problem, trust me, they'll learn it! And if you really want to them to learn the details of the tech, approve their Dev Summit requests.
Don't be a hermit. People attending the Esri UC are your peers, these are our peeps. Get to know some new people, attend a Special Interest Group, look up any social activities. Hang out in lounge areas and get to know some folks.
Make sure to check out the Map Gallery to check out some cool cartographic maps. There's a reception on Monday afternoon where you can mingle.
Wander the Expo and check out all the vendors. There's usually some cool schwag you can pick up and you'll probably see some vendors you can partner with to help you accomplish some tasks in your organization.
There's also a GeoDev Meetup on Weds night that I highly recommend!
I'm sure plenty of people will stay connected throughout the week on Twitter, so keep an eye out for what's going on. Watch the #EsriUC hashtag to see where people are drinking or just hanging out for the night.
I would also use Twitter all the time at the UC to check if people were talking about one particularly cool presentation that I might want to jump in if the current one I was in wasn't doing it for me.
Most of all, enjoy the UC. Learn a thing or two and have fun!
For more geodev tips and tricks, check out my blog.
Title photo via Gary J Wood San Diego Convention Center | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
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