What do you want to learn, 2019 edition?

Every year about this time, we post a list of topics attendees from the previous year suggested for future conferences, so that prospective speakers can consider them. (Here’s the 2018 list, as well as the 2017 and 2016 versions.)

Here’s the list from the Southwest Fox 2018 evaluations. We’ve organized it a little and eliminated duplicates. We also recognize that Southwest Fox attendees represent only a fraction of the VFP community (though they’re a significantly larger fraction of those willing and able to come to a conference).

If there’s something you’re hoping will be covered at Southwest Fox 2019, please add it in the comments. If you’re thinking of submitting sessions for this year’s conference, this list may give you some ideas what to propose.

  • More VFPX
  • Role of open source in VFP development and extension
  • Broken VFP components and core functions and their viable replacements
  • Working with external APIs
  • Tips and tricks on various VFP tools and utilities
  • Using or creating report listeners in VFP
  • Report layout or design rules for better looking reports
  • SQL Server
  • SQL Server-related topics (e.g., SSIS, SSRS, T-SQL)
  • Case study of setting up (or converting) a VFP app using one of the SQL backends
  • Which backend to use for networked enterprise vs single-user, one-computer scenario
  • In-depth training on SQL Server tools, tuning, optimization, etc.
  • Swift
  • Xojo
  • Python
  • Xbase++
  • C#
  • .Net
  • Entity Framework
  • Interacting with .NET controls from VFP
  • Tying VFP, Python, .Net together and playing off each other’s strengths
  • Web Development
  • Angular
  • JavaScript-based frameworks
  • Blockchain
  • AWS and TSPlus
  • HTML 5

A few people wrote more general comments about what they’d like to see, including more advanced topics, more soft topics and more extensive business topics.

What do you want to learn, 2018 edition

We’re working on the Call for Speakers for 2018. So, as in 2017 and 2016, we’re providing a list of topics our attendees have asked for. These come from the evaluations filled out at last year’s conference. If you’re thinking of submitting session proposals, you may want to take a look and see whether anything on this list (or one of the earlier lists) is something you feel able to speak about.

The Call for Speakers says this, but we’ll repeat that we encourage submissions from those who haven’t spoken before. We think it’s healthy for our community to give new speakers a chance.

Here’s the list of topics last year’s attendees mentioned, cleaned up and consolidated a little. As you can see, they span a wide range of areas, from core VFP topics to extending VFP to business and technology.

  • Some vfpx items
  • More on keeping vfp and our apps modernized
  • SQL Server
  • Converting from DBFs to SQL Server or another SQL database
  • How to download and/or scrape data from web pages
  • How to automatically have an application post data into a web page.
  • Not just cloudify but how to webify vfp.
  • Continued Web topics.
  • More on web development and maximizing knowledge of VFP in other environments.
  • C# for VFP programmers part 2
  • C#
  • Architecture/OOP Design
  • Apple and/or other watch apps
  • HIPAA compliance in general and in relation to VFP
  • Team Building
  • More on the marketing side
  • Challenges of the Independent Consultant Part 3

If there are topics you’re hoping we’ll cover this year, please add them in the comments.

What do you want to learn in 2016?

As we’ve mentioned in earlier posts, we read all the comments on the evaluations attendees submit, both those on the conference evaluation and those on evaluations for individual sessions. As you’d expect, we look especially hard for themes, multiple people mentioning the same issue. Usually, when that happens, they’re on the same side of the issue.

For example, a few years ago, tons of people commented about poor WiFi service in the hotel and conference center. We used those comments to encourage the hotel to improve their offerings and that’s made a big difference.

Sometimes, though, all we can do is shake our heads because commenters want exactly opposite changes. For example, one of this year’s attendees indicated a preference for a keynote session that “will preferably get the crowd interacting” while another requested “Anything that does NOT involve audience participation.”

This year, fewer of you mentioned issues around the temperature in the session rooms. That may be because we worked with the conference center staff to find a temperature that seemed appropriate, and avoided resetting thermostats during the conference. It was also probably helped by the weather being a little cooler than we usually encounter. Nonetheless, there were still plenty of comments on the topic, but as usual some complained that session rooms were too warm while others found them too cool.

One theme that was new this year was people having trouble finding sessions in every slot, along with some comments about sessions being overcrowded. No doubt this was partly due to the fact that we had fewer VFP speakers and topics this year.

As speakers, we actually love it when a room is full. A crowded room generally has a lot more energy, and we feed on that as we present.

But we know that for attendees, getting to the session you want to hear and finding that all the chairs are filled is a bummer. So is looking at the list of topics in a given time slot and finding nothing that seems applicable to your needs. (In fact, we saw a reflection of this in some session evaluations, too, where the speaker was rated highly, but the ratings for “Session provided valuable information” and “Session topic was relevant” were much lower. In some cases, there was a comment along the lines of “This session was well done, but was a schedule filler for me. I don’t expect to use this.”

As we start planning for 2016 (yes, we actually started on the day that the 2015 conferences ended), we don’t yet know how many speakers we’ll be inviting. It’s likely that we’ll do something like we did this year, and pick a core group first, and then add speakers if early registrations warrant.

Beyond the possibility of offering more simultaneous sessions, we’ll try to do a better job of picking sessions that you want to hear. That’s where we can use your help right now, whether or not you attended this year’s conference.

We asked for topic suggestions on the conference evaluation and quite a few people offered ideas. They’re listed below. We ask that you comment on this post (or send us an email) both to tell us what you think of these ideas and to tell us what else you’d like included. We’ll include the list of potential topics in the Call for Speakers that will be released sometime in February.

Here’s the (long) list of ideas from the evaluations:

  • User Interfaces
  • VFP in the cloud
  • REST API with VFP
  • Disaster recovery
  • Case studies
  • Business development, marketing, sales, customer service
  • More non-VFP technologies such as Python
  • SQL Server
  • Web technologies (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)
  • Client side web development (JavaScript,JQuery, Angular, JSON, etc.)
  • Web services
  • .NET technologies (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)
  • Mobile technologies (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)
  • More on Thor
  • 64-bit compiler
  • Building applications to run as a service and building complimentary UI based apps to interact with and/or control that service’s behavior.
  • Specific things I can do in xBase++ that will complement my suite of VFP applications
  • Lessons Learning Upsizing Data
  • Hosting VFP Apps in the Cloud
  • Building CXP apps for VFP developers
  • Alaska open panel: What features do you want? What direction do you want to head?
  • Cathy Pountney on Reporting topics
  • Rick Borup with an advanced session on branching and merging in version control as a half-day pre-con, especially if we could actually work through examples on our own systems

Some of you may notice that we have offered some of those topics before. Please tell us whether you’d welcome (updated) repeats of any of those sessions; we know that some of our prospective speakers are more likely to submit topics if they can recycle something they’ve presented previously.

Finally, we’ve had some suggestions for workshop-style sessions, where the speaker would would actually walk attendees through a topic, as they try it on their own machines. Obviously, such sessions would cover less material than a lecture-style, but you’d leave having actually tried the relevant technique or technology. Let us know what you think about this idea.

Less than a week to Super-saver deadline!

Hear that sound? Tick, tick, tick, tick…

That’s the countdown clock here at Geek Gatherings getting closer to the Super-saver deadline for Southwest Fox and Southwest Xbase++! June 30th is a little less than a week away and we thought we would pass along a reminder just in case you forgot to type it into your task list, or put a yellow sticky note on your monitor. We still need people to register to make the conferences happen.

The conferences take place October 15-18, 2015 in Gilbert, Arizona and we really hope you can be there. We would hate to see you miss out on the $125 discount, the FREE pre-conference session, and an opportunity to win a scholarship or a license of Stonefield Query SDK (a $6,000 value).

Head over to the registration Web site today: http://geekgatherings.com/Registration

If you’ve already registered, we thank you. Can you help us remind your fellow developers who have been procrastinating about the looming deadline by sharing this post or tweeting about it? Spread the word by telling others you are going on our Facebook event.

Also, if you sent in your registration and have not received a confirmation, please contact us to see what happened. Everyone gets a confirmation when the registration is processed. As promised, we are not cashing checks or processing credit cards for new registrations until the middle of July.

Check out our list of amazing speakers and dig into our session tracks for VFP and Xbase++. Follow the news about the conference on this blog.

Contact Us:

So please beat the rush so we still have some fingernails left when July begins!

We appreciate all the support people have shown for the conference with early registrations; we look forward to getting many more this week.

How many speakers will we have at Southwest Fox 2015? It’s up to you.

We recently did one of the hardest tasks associated with running Southwest Fox–choosing speakers and topics from among the ones submitted. This year, it was harder than it has been in a long while. (We’ll post the results as soon as it’s all worked out.)

Based on last year’s attendance, we’ve decided to plan for two simultaneous VFP sessions rather than three, as we’ve had for several years. Doing so reduces our financial risk and makes it easier for us to commit to holding the conference. (Like last year, we’ll actually make the final “go/no go” decision the first week of July.)

Of course, we understand that there’s a trade-off here; some people may find the list of speakers and topics less compelling because it’s shorter. We’re hoping that doesn’t apply to too many people.

On the other hand, maybe attendance will be better than we expect. To prepare for that possibility, we’re also identifying a few speakers and topics we really want and hoping for the chance to add them when we look at registrations after the July 1 SuperSaver deadline.

So this message is a bit of a challenge to the VFP community. If enough of you register for Southwest Fox by July 1, we’ll be able to add one or more speakers.

We believe that the program we’re putting together is absolutely worth the price we’re charging, but we’d love to give you even more for the money.