The Case for RevolutionConf

Erik Olson

Erik the Founder & CEO at Array Digital. Companies come to us when their software or manual processes hold them back from growing. We automate solutions to complex problems so our clients can compete at a higher level.

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As a company that creates custom software solutions, it’s important that we stay on top of the rapid technological changes for which our industry is so famous. For that reason, each of our developers may attend a software conference every year. This past year we all flew to Knoxville for a two-day conference.

It was a great conference – we spoke, we learned, we networked. At 950 attendees it was a good sized conference. But I was shocked to learn that Knoxville is a smaller metropolitan area than Virginia Beach alone, nevermind the whole of Hampton Roads.

If Knoxville could host such a large software conference, why couldn’t we? We have the population, we have the talent, we have the infrastructure. Why are we not hosting a software conference in our own backyard?

I wasn’t the first one to ask that question. For the past couple of years a few software developers have been kicking around the idea of holding a conference here. Last year several developers in the community came together to begin testing the waters to see if there was interest. And there was!

What was once codenamed 757DevCon has evolved into RevolutionConf and is scheduled for May 13th at the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel. The new name is a nod to our region’s indelible link to the country’s revolutionary founding. It’s also in recognition that Hampton Roads has experienced somewhat of a revolution in our software development community in the past few years.

Just three years ago the software development community in Hampton Roads was practically non-existent. There were one or two isolated groups, each small and vendor or platform exclusive, and the energy level at those meetings was pretty low. But thanks partly (maybe mainly) to the social website, we now have a half dozen software meetups that get together every month. Some meetups are small at just 5-10 people; others are larger at 80+ regular attendees. Some meetups are vendor specific, such as for Microsoft technologies. Others are language specific, such as for JavaScript or Ruby on Rails. Still others are platform specific, such as for WordPress or iOS. But each is a forum for professional software developers, and those aspiring to one day join their ranks, to teach, to learn, and to network with others in their community.

Hampton Roads deserves more than just a collection of meetups. For every developer that shows up after work for a meetup there are 5-10 times more who don’t. It’s tiring to work all day and then stay out for a few more hours for a meetup. Throw in family and other obligations and the meetup loses that competition most of the time. We know there are many more developers here, locked away for 8-10 hours a day, then going home afterwards. The intent of RevolutionConf is to pull these developers out of the woodwork, expose them to the light, and to encourage them to share, learn, and interact with the rest of the community that’s already here.

Our goals don’t just stop at bringing out local developers. Our vision is to pull developers from regions beyond Hampton Roads. And why wouldn’t they want to spend a day or more here? What we locals take for granted is viewed by others with jealousy. Our rich history, our beautiful views, our hipster communities; these are all coveted resources. And besides, who wouldn’t want to attend a conference at the beach in the late spring?

We’re spreading the word to developers in Charlotte, Maryland, Roanoke, Raleigh, DC, Richmond, Williamsburg, OBX, and the Eastern Shore. What took Knoxville 8 years to build up to, we hope to reach in 3-4 years.

Help reinforce the software community here and help put Hampton Roads on the software development map. Do you know or work with software developers? Tell them about RevolutionConf. Do you employ software developers? Send them to the conference and help them get better, smarter, and to be more fulfilled in their jobs.

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