Try to limit yourself to learning one new technique or trick per day.
Review the CD for other things later.
Make sure you have whatever you need for the most useable notes per your experience (everyone's different).
Have fun, and make sure to strike up conversations during the meals at the shared tables. It's a great way to meet a lot of awesome developers.
And don't worry about getting it all, but challenge yourself. As a first-timer myself last year, many things flew over my head, at first. I sat in some sessions where the presenter was clearly speaking a different language. After reviewing my notes and viewing the powerpoint and getting the DVD of the session, the information clicked for me. I can think of at least 4 sessions where that happened. Now I use those techniques/concepts all the time.
The time is amazing. I learned more from that week, i think than all the books and 3 years of on-my-own development. Those little tips and tricks that you hear, something small, will change the way you do things in your own solutions.
And get lots of sleep and get out to the pool a lot as well.
Also, since it's back in San Diego this year, make sure to take a moment to stop over in the Gas Lamp district for dinner (they actually have a few great gelato places too, like this place: http://www.yelp.com/biz/chocolat-cremerie-san-diego )
Even if you are not participating in the PreCon (extra fee) courses, arrive early enough on the first day to attend a special session given for first time attendees. Here you will get to meet Filemaker staff and be given helpful tips on planning which sessions to attend.
If you can afford to do so, stay until the conference has ended and leave on the first day after. It's good not to be rushed with departure plans that conflict with the final sessions.
Book your hotel room early so you can stay in the event host hotel. One of the best things to come out of attending DevCon are the relationships with other developers that are formed over drinks at the hotel bar - and its nice to be only an elevator ride away from your room.
Starting last year - and I'm assuming continuing into this year - Filemaker is recording every session and will provide DVD's to participants about six weeks after the event. Therefore, don't think you have to get everything down in your notes. Relax and jot down only those tips you think will benefit you immediately.
Push yourself a little by going to at least a coupule of talks you think will be over your head. Like Jeremy said, sometimes the info will click later. If not, you will have gotten knowledge of some concepts to research further in books or here in the TechNet.
However, if you go to a session that is clearly a waste - either because the level is inappropriate or the topic isn't what you thought it would be - don't be afraid to leave and walk into another session. The speakers expect this and no one will be offended.
If you have some specific problem that is making your work with Filemaker more difficut, document it carefully and be ready to share it with others. You can sign up for time with a Filemaker expert and walk through your issues step by step. In addition, don't be shy about sharing your situation with other participants. There will be hundreds of experienced and/or certified developers you will meet and most are more than willing to help you out - just like they do here on TechNet but with the advantage of beng face to face.
Look forward to seeing you there.
All great tips Mike, Jeremy, and Aigaion! Couldn't said it better myself.
What I love about the conference is how everyone is open and willing to share ideas, tips, and their expertise. As part of planning the schedule, we try our best to allow time for networking between sessions, lunches, and evening events. That could be just as valuable as attending the sessions. I've been fortunate to be part in planning 17 conferences. I've watched strong business friendships form, collaboration on projects, and business opportunities that arise between developers.
Aigaion mentioned FileMaker experts are there to help. He's right. We have our top FileMaker tech support staff that come (you can book an appointment with them). Also, is the Visionary Bar where FileMaker experts volunteer time during the conference to talk one on one with attendees on whatever FileMaker topic that you want to discuss.
I'm excited about the line up of speakers and sessions this year. We've got a couple of new tracks. We really took to heart what TechNet members asked for in the recent polls for content.
Yes, thanks for all of the input!
Room booked - Check!, Registration complete - Check!, just need to book my flight!
My first time was last year and I went by myself. So when you first get there, you see all these people around and it seems like they all know each other. But really they may only know at most a few people and everyone else is new. So it is a great way just to meet people if you don't mind just saying "Hi" to a stranger. A couple of the people randomly met in the hall last year are now friends that I keep up with. Actually, I'm dating one, but don't expect that much - haha. But seriously, people are friendly and are literally from all around the country and the world. While my goal for the trip was to increase my technical knowledge, the networking and friendships I made seem to me to have been more important. Plus I'm hoping more of the FileMaker Field and Inside Sales Reps will be at the San Diego one since it is much closer for them. Last year it seems only the Field Reps were there. As much as I talk to my Inside Sales rep., it sure would be nice to put a face with a name.
Be realistic about your learning expectations. You'll pick up some ideas here and there, but it won't change you overnight from being a newbie to being an expert. And don't think of this as a university course or FileMaker school. Devcon is as much about relationships and fun as it is about gaining technical knowledge. If you really are wanting to gain a lot of technical knowledge, a week of training from a FileMaker Trainer (http://www.filemaker.com/support/training/) will benefit you more than Devcon. But that is because Devcon is a conference and not a training event. Not only do you get lots of good networking, Devcon also teaches things like how to grow your business if you're a independent developer or how to create solution bundles for verticle markets and other non-technical things.
I hope to get to meet you at Devcon! I'll be the one with the Texas accent! <grin>
Thanks Taylor. At least I won't be the only one with a Texas accent!
If you like chocolate, don't miss the chocolate party, which is organized by Jimmy Jones. Contact him for schedule.
The unconference conference sessions are hidden treats. Keep an eye on the message board.
i completely missed those Unconference sessions. Being a first-timer I felt like maybe all those attending would be out of my league and i wouldn't have anything to contribute. Not sure how filemaker developers are in real life, but on here, people can get pretty heated over methods to do something
I'll be sure to attend them this year.
My recommendation is to dismiss any thoughts that you may have that the gods and gurus will have better things to do than talk to you.
At my first DevCon, 3 years ago, I was fortunate to bump into John Sindelar on my way to breakfast. I introduced myself and asked if he had a couple of minutes. Although he had been heading the other way he turned around and walked with me and spent time.
He was not the only one to behave in this way, (thank you Ray, Todd, Jessie, John etc ) one thing that seems to be consistent and makes these people special is that they care, and treat developers of all ability with the same respect.
Awesome Tim. I couldn't have said it better.
Thanks for all the input guys. Really looking forward to going. Wish it was next month!