It's a free-for-all. Room allocation is done on the assumed popularity of the topic / speaker. Seating is usually not a problem but if you are nervous about it, show up early. People will mingle and chat outside until close to the starting time.
And asked seasoned attendees 'which sessions make for a good first time experience' i.e. good solid foundational stuff that makes some of the other sessions make sense....
vote #1 for Darren Terry, Shaking the dependancy tree.
Yes, both are right. You may go in and out of sessions - your choice. The conference program guide will also have a video icon next to the session so you'll know which sessions are recorded. Come to the DevCon Orientation on Monday - great way to meet others there for the first time, and you'll get to meet me too :-)
Congrats on coming for your first time. This will be just my 3rd time. The first time is always a bit intimidating. Actually, the biggest surprise I had on my first time was realizing many sessions were taught at the same time and there was no possible way to attend all sessions. So it can be frustrating determining which sessions you want to go to sometimes since there might be mutliple ones at the same time you want to go to. Granted FileMaker later releases videos of some of the sessions, but not all of them and it is months later.
Go to the Orientation class on Monday at 3:45am. That helps and it is also a way to meet a number of other new people too. A lot of the Devcon experience is networking and making new friends in addition to learning new things. Whenever you sit somewhere, introduce yourself to the people next to you and make some new friends.
The schedule is online at http://www.filemaker.com/developers/devcon/ Go over it and try to pick out sessions ahead of time. Figure out what topics you want to focus on. jrenfrew has a good suggestion if you are wanting to dig into schema. Maybe you want to focus on security or User Interface or even business as a consultant. There are quite a number of directions to go.
When you register, FM gives you a lanyard/name tag to hang around your neck with your name on it and they also have these stickers to place to hang down under it showing things like what part of the country you are from, if you are FM certified, etc. Some people make a competition to see how many they can dangle down - haha. But they are big and good for reading each other's names and making new friends.
Sessions are given during the day and big events are done in the evenings. One evening (Wed) will be just a for the fun of it party with no FM topics other than maybe some presentations/awards.
There has been free wifi in the past and I assume we will have it again, but when 1200 geeks log on at once and hit their servers hard, the network slows quite a bit. Last year I brought my hotspot to guarantee I had fast connections back home to my server.
My first time I was in a hurry to get back home and figured I would leave early during the last session and also avoid an additional night in the hotel. That was a mistake. The last night (Thurs) is the closing session and is always a big deal. So don't skip out early. Likewise, Monday night's opening presenation is fairly important too.
Best of luck and hope you have a lot of fun there. Look me up if you want.
Remember that dress is casual. I always bring a backpack to carry a laptop , iPad, etc to do a little work between sessions.
The recorded sessions should not be skipped simply because it is recorded, but skip it to attend a session that is not recorded. The recordings are released some time after Devcon and can make the material either old news or hard to keep your attention because you are watching them in a different atmosphere. Also, the presenter is not recorded so you will only have the benefit of seeing slides and listening to the audio.
Do the social events and try to get rest. The days are long and it is tempting to call it a night early, but most of what I learn comes from talking to others.
One last note, please don't take pictures before the keynote with an iPad. Otherwise I will have a great picture of you and the rest of the audience holding huge screens in the air proving just how ridiculous it looks. I'll be the one with the Windows Phone in case you are looking for me.