Back from CppCon 2015

Now that the dust has settled a bit and I’ve adjusted to being back on east coast time, I thought it’d be worth talking a little bit about CppCon 2015. CppCon, for those who haven’t heard about it, is a five day conference devoted to C++ (seven if you pay for an extra class). It’s a relatively new kid on the block, this year being only the second year. It’s certainly not the only C++ conference in town. But CppCon distinguishes itself from all the others in terms of scale. Attendance to C++Now, for example, is capped at around 150 people and features three tracks at any given time. C++ and Beyond describes itself as “small” and features only one track at a time over three days. This year, CppCon saw nearly 700 people in attendance. That’s a nearly 15% growth over last year’s 600 attendee count. The days start early and end late. And at any given point, there could be up to six separate tracks going on. Presenters include folks from Google, Microsoft, Boost, Adobe, etc. As you can imagine, there’s enough content at CppCon to satiate even the thirstiest of minds.

Just like last year, CppCon was held at the Meydenbauer Center in beautiful Bellevue, Washington, a Seattle “suburb” (I use that word loosely. See Wikipedia.) that just so happens to be in Microsoft’s backyard. The conference center itself has four levels. The bottom two floors have amphitheatre-sized conference rooms that are used for keynotes and larger talks. The top floor has a number of smaller classroom sized conference rooms and is where most of the action actually takes place.

Most of the rock stars showed up again this year – Bjarne Stroustrup, Herb Sutter, Andrei Alexandrescu, John Lakos, etc. (Scott Meyers was noticeably MIA this year). Bjarne’s keynote, “Writing Good C++14”, set the tone for everything that was to come. The theme seemed to be “move forward” – abandon your old compilers, modernize your legacy codebase, and leave the past in the past. This was reflected by the significant number of talks that revolved around C++17 proposals and technical previews that will be appearing in a compiler near you.

Me with Bjarne Stroustrup

Like any conference, the quality of presentations was a mixed bag. There were great speakers and some not so great. Some presentations were practical, some were meta, and some were sales pitches for third party libraries. All tech conferences are like this to some degree. For conferences with only one or two tracks, this can be a mild annoyance. But the fact that there was so much happening at the same time allowed attendees to be a bit more discerning.

What about schwag? Schwag is something we all pretend to not care about. After all, we’re only there for the knowledge right? Mmhmm. 🙂 There actually wasn’t much schwag to speak of. This year, attendees received a plastic bag containing some flyers, a deck of “Woman in Tech” playing cards, and a thumb drive containing an offline version of There were no free shirts, despite being asked to provide shirt size at registration time. At one point, JetBrains started giving away yo-yos, CLion stickers, and copies of a mini-book entitled “C++ Today: The Beast is Back”, which happened to serve as the basis for Jon Kalb’s highly entertaining presentation of the same name.That was about it. Not even the meals were free, which seemed to surprise a lot of folks.

Apart from that, there weren’t many disappointments at CppCon. This conference has a lot to offer. The talks were great. All of the presenters were approachable and very personable. The atmosphere was positive. And, most importantly, it was FUN. Would I go back again?
Definitely. Should you go? Absolutely.

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