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Why We Need Another C++ Conference

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Jon Kalb, the conference coordinator for CPPCon, talks about how the conference came to be, and the value of meeting face to face in this age of easy digital connectivity.

In a time when high quality video conferencing is ubiquitous, whether the world needs another tech conference is a fair question to ask about CppCon, the C++ conference that is being held for the first time on September 7-12 in the Seattle area.

In fact, the creation of this conference owes something to the closure of another conference. SD West, although not focused exclusively on C++, was a destination for me and many other C++ programmers until it ended. I was disappointed to see it end and felt that the industry needed to have a conference focused on mainstream C++ developers. C++ has not had this, but Python has. PyCon has been in operation for more than a decade and attracts over 2500 attendees and almost three dozen sponsors. But more importantly, this conference is a huge plus for the Python community.

I’m a C++ programmer, and I believe in conferences. I wanted to see what PyCon was doing for Python being done for C++. Even in the age of ubiquitous high quality video conferencing, there is something magical about being in the same room with dozens of people sharing the same interest. Somehow seeing someone that you disagree with sitting across the table from you encourages you to work just a bit harder to find common ground. Talking about shared problems with others who are as knowledgeable (or more knowledgeable) than you is motivating. Hearing about how others have solved tough problems with tools you know how to use can be inspirational.

The comradery and meeting of minds across all the C++ user bases that a mainstream conference could facilitate is something that I wanted to see. Python is a popular language, but C++ has even more users. If PyCon can be successful, then why not a mainstream C++ conference? Of course, I’m a programmer, not a conference runner. So I approached Dave Abrahams about this. Dave had founded BoostCon, a conference to bring together developers and users of the Boost open source C++ libraries (which he also helped found). I’d been attending BoostCon and loved the experience. I told Dave that I wanted to see a mainstream C++ conference and that I thought BoostCon could evolve into that conference.

I explained that I’d like to see BoostCon change its name to emphasize C++ rather than Boost. I suggested that we increase the program’s content, adding tutorials, increasing the number of attendees, and moving in the direction of a mainstream C++ conference. Dave was intrigued and suggested that I present my ideas at the conference planning meeting. The ideas were well accepted and C++Now was born. A few months later Dave asked me to co-chair the conference with him.

The next year, 2012, we went from two tracks to three, adding a track of tutorials on C++11. Moving toward the mainstream proved to be very popular. Although BoostCon had always been successful, both financially and the in the eyes of the attendees, it was a small conference with 85 attendees in 2011. In 2012, our first year as C++Now, we jumped up to 135 attendees and the year after that, for the first time ever, we sold out at 150 attendees.

So in 2013 I came to C++Now excited about growing the conference. But the Boost Steering Committee didn’t share that vision. The committee wanted to preserve the small size of the conference. I was disappointed, but I understood their position. As I explained at that year’s planning session, C++Now needed to stay what it is, a great conference serving cutting-edge C++ library developers. If there was to be a mainstream C++ conference it would have to be a different conference—one created with that goal in mind and run by someone else. Discussion of such a conference captured the imagination of a lot of attendees. I enjoyed the excitement of talking about it, but I loved C++Now and co-chairing it was enough. After all, I’m a programmer, not a conference runner.

After the planning session, Chandler Carruth came to me and said if I was going to start a mainstream conference, the organization to do it with was the Standard C++ Foundation. What? Didn’t he hear what I said at the meeting? That conference was someone else’s battle. I’m just a programmer, not a...

Some ideas just take on a life of their own. Chandler was correct that the Standard C++ Foundation, which had just recently been created with a charter to promote C++, was the perfect organization to work with. When Chandler and I explained what we’d been talking about to Herb Sutter, the Foundation’s chair and president, he immediately said, “We’re doing this.”

So CppCon was born. There are other C++ conferences, and I think they are very good (I’m chair of one, after all). But they’ve not had the scope of CppCon, which is being created with the help of many of the key players behind C++ and Beyond, C++Now, Going Native, and Meeting C++.

Our vision is a conference for the entire C++ community—a platform for language-wide discussion. The C++ user-base is huge and varied and we feel like we are reflecting that with a five day conference of six tracks, featuring many of the biggest names in the C++ community and some interesting ideas presented by people with names you haven’t heard of yet. We will have over 100 sessions, most of which will be professionally recorded and distributed free over the internet.

To support our vision of being a platform for the entire community, we are opening our evening sessions to anyone interested in C++, even if they’ve not registered for the conference. We look forward to the participation of C++ programmers in the Seattle area as attendees or leaders of sessions they’ve proposed.

If you are interested in C++, look for us to announce free streaming of our sessions. We think you’ll find the recordings valuable, but don’t miss out on attending in person because there really is nothing like the charge you get from attending a really good conference.

Find out more about Cppcon.

Which Conferences Should You Attend?


Conference Name

Website

Next Conference Date

Next Conference Location

Brief Description

Best For…

Cppcon

http://www.cppcon.org

September 7-12, 2014

Bellvue, WA

A conference organized by the C++ community for the entire community.

Mainstream C++ programmers looking to deepen their knowledge and exposure to best practices from across the industry.

C++ and Beyond

http://cppandbeyond.com/

September 29-October 1, 2014

Stuttgart, Germany

A small, conference-like event built around intensive technical sessions by Scott Meyers, Herb Sutter, and Andrei Alexandrescu, but designed also to facilitate the exchange of experiences and insights among the unusually talented developers who attend.

C++ developers who want to modernize and optimize their C++ code.

Meeting C++

http://meetingcpp.com/

December 5-6, 2014

Berlin, Germany

Focuses on C++ and its frameworks like boost, Qt and others and attempts to establish a european network for C++.

Those interested in scientific programming with C++ (this year’s theme) and in C++ and its frameworks like boost, Qt and others

The ACCU Conference

http://accu.org 

April 21-25, 2015

Bristol, UK 

Formerly The Association of C and C++ Users, the conference focuses on raising the standard of computer programming, especially C++, C#, Java, Perl and Python.

Anyone interested in developing and improving programming skills.

C++Now

http://cppnow.org/

May 11-16, 2015

Aspen, CO

Formerly BoostCon, this conference is dedicated to discussion and education about C++, with a focus on discussion and education about open source software usage and developments in the C++ developer and user community.

Advanced library developers and open source development.

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