I had a good time at OSB this year. But I enjoyed it more in past years, and I’d say that this year was good, but not great.
In terms of focus and information, OSB is geared for projects first and technology second. Most of the talks are about the psychology, logistics, mechanics, or organization of open-source projects, often from the perspective of a project organizer or lead developer. If you use (but don’t organize, run, or contribute often to…) open-source projects, you have to internally re-map these talks to benefit from them. There are some technology talks, and of course technology is also brought up in the project talks. But no talk delves into technology to any great degree.
The other (big) open-source conference, OSCON, is (I think) inversely geared. It’s for technology first and projects second. Most of its talks are about effective technology use and migration; a minority are about project management and organization.
My reflection today is prompted by the fact that I don’t run any open-source projects. I’ve made small contributions to some in the past, but none are worthy of mention. (None of my contributions, that is. The projects were all quite worthy.) I’m good about reporting bugs, but filing tickets or tweeting a developer don’t merit even bronze stars.
So OSB’s focus isn’t material to how I interact with open-source technology!
Having said that, the talks I attended were generally fine when they were relevant to me; the conference was very well run; the OSB community was creative, outgoing, smart, and accomplished; and the venue was very good-to-excellent. I reunited with a couple of friends and saw some familiar faces. (One of my acquaintance categories is, “people I see once or twice a year at conferences.”) Hooray for all that!
As I sit typing this on an Amtrak heading back to Seattle, I’m mulling whether to continue attending OSB. I was extremely disappointed when O’Reilly moved OSCON to San Jose, and giggled when they returned to Portland the next year. Now I’m considering returning to OSCON next year, and maybe trying DjangoCon. I don’t have any decision points now, of course. But it’s on my mind because the conference is fresh in my mind.