You’ve probably heard — repeatedly, from us — that Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference is happening in San Francisco next week. But that’s not the only show in town. The Alternative Developer Conference, aka AltConf, is running at the same time, right around the corner from the Moscone Center at the AMC Metreon.
It’s a more open and accessible convention than Apple’s, and that’s not just because it’s free.
“Alt has great information, but it has a lot more community feel where it’s not getting talked down to from the lectern and Apple, you’re getting talked to by your peers,” Jeff Kelley, iOS developer for Detroit Labs and author of Developing for Apple Watch, told Cult of Mac. “And everybody there is kind of on the same foot. Especially because it’s free. You can pay to get a reserved ticket this year, but you don’t have to pay to get in. Everybody is there because they love this stuff.”
Kelley presented at last year’s AltConf in a room with decor that was about as far from Apple as you could get.
“Last year, it was held at the Children’s Creativity Museum, and concurrently with AltConf, a little bit before or after there was also a children’s play happening in the same room,” Kelley said. “So the set for the play was all set up right there. It seemed like maybe a prehistoric jungle kind of atmosphere with big rocks everywhere and palm trees and stuff, and they told us, ‘Do not step on stage at all. It’s not meant for that, it’s meant for this children’s play.'”
With this year’s event occurring at an urban mall, the odds of kid rocks showing up are basically zero, so attendees will be able to focus on presentations on design, development, accessibility and some things you definitely won’t see at the Moscone Center.
“One of the coolest things last year was a live jailbreak demonstration,” Kelley said. “I think it was Jay Freeman who had the WWDC app and it was using Swift. He loaded it on a jailbroken phone and was going through it piece by piece, memory address by memory address, and exposing all the internals. It was really cool to see live, and obviously that would just never happen at WWDC.”
If you’re going to be in San Francisco next week and didn’t get a chance to grab a $1,600 WWDC pass, AltConf has plenty of its own content and a viewing room for extra streaming and panels from other conferences. Just don’t expect to watch Apple’s keynote Monday; it’s looking like the lawyers won’t let that happen.