Southwest Fox 2010: Speakers and Sessions

The organizers know the biggest draw to get you to come to Southwest Fox is the sessions and the speakers who share their vast knowledge with you during your stay in Mesa. We have an extraordinary line up with some of the best minds in the Visual FoxPro Community lined up to cover some topical and interesting material. Our speakers include a mix of people who have presented at one of the six Southwest Fox conferences, and some new people who presented and even organized other Visual FoxPro conferences around the world.

Our speakers include Rick Borup, Craig Boyd, Kevin Cully, Bo Durban, Steve Ellenoff, Toni Feltman, Tamar Granor, Uwe Habermann, Doug Hennig, Venelina Jordanova, Paul Mrozowski, Cathy Pountney, Rick Schummer, Rick Strahl, and Christof Wollenhaupt.

You can find more details on our speakers page.

There are 24 conference sessions, 4 pre-conference sessions, and 4 post-conference sessions offered in seven different tracks. Please check them out. We believe you will be challenged figuring out how you can see all the sessions you want in the time we spend in Mesa. Fear not though, each speaker is providing an organizer mandated white paper for each session they present so you have reference material to read when you return back to the office.

We have a couple of new tracks this year with the Web Development and a Post-Conference track. The Web Development track is a direct response to feedback given to the organizers last year.

Based on last year’s attendance and expenses, we plan to offer three simultaneous sessions rather than four. If early registration warrants, we will select additional speakers and add a fourth session room. So please help us offer you even more content by registering early and by inviting and convincing other Visual FoxPro developers to attend this year’s conference.

In the coming weeks we will be blogging about some of the plans we have for Southwest Fox 2010.

For some reason it feels unbelievable there are only 160 days until we gather in Mesa.

Southwest Fox Sessions and Speakers Announced

We announced the speaker and session lineup for Southwest Fox 2009 today. This year was the hardest yet selecting from the list of proposals because we had a record number of submissions. Once again, there are great topics such as using Visual Earth in VFP applications, implementing MySQL, getting the most out of FoxCharts, and adding full-text search to your applications.

Registration is now open, so be sure to sign up today for a fun three days in Phoenix in October. Take advantage of the “Southwest Fox Stimulus Plan”: if you register before July 1, you save $125 and get a free half-day pre-conference session, a $99 value. With sessions on Web development, source control, and refactoring legacy code, the hard part will be picking which one to attend.

We also offer an early-bird special: register before September 1 and save $50.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in October!

Choosing speakers and sessions: harder than ever

We’re deep into the speaker and session selection process and it’s harder this year than ever before. We have a record number of submissions, both of speakers and topics. What makes this really exciting is the number of submissions from “Southwest Fox virgins.”

We received proposals from 27 people, nearly twice as many as we need. About half of the 27 have never spoken at Southwest Fox before; some have previously spoken only at user groups. We’re really excited that so many people want to share what they’ve learned.

We have proposals for 92 topics; we need 28 to 30, plus 4 pre-conference sessions. Obviously, there’s some overlap among the topics proposed by different people. However, there seems to be less of that than in previous years. That’s both good and bad. It means we don’t have to do as much of “Do we want person X to present topic Z, or would we rather that person Y do that topic?” On the other hand, this means that we have a lot more topics proposed that aren’t going to make the cut.

The number of topics proposed per speaker ranges from 1 to 19! The median and the mode (most common) is 3. Veteran speakers know that giving us more than 2 to choose from is a good idea, and increases the chance of being chosen.

The topics proposed are pretty well distributed among the tracks. We allowed people to designate two tracks for each topic they proposed. Not surprisingly, the most common track is “Solidifying VFP Development” with 33 submissions. We have 29 topics that fit into “Integrating VFP” and 25 each for “Extending VFP” and “Technology for VFP Developers.” We got 9 proposals for pre-conference sessions and the same number for “Taking Advantage of VFPX.” What’s amazing about those statistics is that, for four of our tracks, we have enough topics to practically fill the whole conference.

So what does all this mean? First, that I’m really glad we gave people a VFP application to submit their proposals this year. Consolidating the submissions into our database was pretty easy. I just unzipped each submission into a separate folder and wrote a little program to loop through the folders and populate the master tables. If we’d had the usual mishmash of Word docs, with some speakers submitting a single document and others submitting one per session, I would have spent much, much longer. (And, of course, now that I have it working, the program is reusable. Maybe next year, I’ll extend it to handle processing the emails and unzipping the data.)

For the three of us, it’s meant somewhat more time working through the proposals and making our individual selections. Interestingly, though, the amount of variance among our individual choices isn’t a lot higher than in the past. We have a conference call scheduled to resolve the differences. (Think House-Senate Joint Conference Committee.)

For those who submitted, of course, it means more competition and that we’ll have to say “sorry, thanks, please try again” to more people than ever before.

For our attendees, we think it means the best line-up of speakers and topics ever. We hope you’ll agree.