SORT Conf 2012

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The sky lightens with the rising sun. Wheels are on the road. Friends are in the car. The leaves are changing on the towering Wasatch mountains. Finally, we pull up to the University of Utah Institute building. Stepping out of the car, the October air is fresh and clear, high in the Rockies. It’s a good day for a tech conference. It’s a good day for SORT.

Wasatch mountains

SORT is an annual tech conference put on by the LDS Church. The IT shops of the Church are all represented, including ICS, Family Search, the BYUs, CES, and probably a couple more. Attendance last year, I think, was about 1200.

Something For Everyone

A unique feature of the conference is that there are soooo many subjects covered. It’s really kind of a joke the number of tracks that are represented:

  1. EIM
  2. Architecture
  3. Design
  4. Engineering
  5. Partner Summit
  6. Infrastructure
  7. Leadership
  8. PM
  9. QA
  10. Requirements
  11. Security
  12. Sharepoint/CRM
  13. Solution Mgmt
  14. Other (misc)

Holy cow! That’s a little nuts. It started out as an engineering-only conference in 2009. Since then, it’s blossomed. I feel like it has been a double-edged sword: The whole office is invited and should have something to soak up there, but it feels like the engineering track has been watered down a bit.

Mostly Intro

The topics are varied. It’s often the case that there’s so much going on that you don’t know what to pick for each hour. That is awesome! Out of the presentations offered in the engineering track, I would love to see more intermediate or advanced topics. More deep dives would be fun to geek out about. I think we touch that in some cases, but in general, I feel that the presentations could be categorized as cursory introductions to topics.

Free-flowing Sugar

I am never lacking for ATP at SORT. The day starts with a great breakfast. Lunch is also delicious. This year, both were provided by Kneaders bakery. Between every session, there are plentiful mounds of various snack foods and refreshing beverages. And being a conference put on by the Church, the drinks are top notch, ready for the Church membership. :)

Entry to Speaking

I have presented at SORT for each of the last 4 years. You already know the bar can’t be that high. If you submit a paper, you’ll probably be accepted. I was 2 for 3 this year. :) Some might worry that this would lower the quality of the conference material and presentation. Yes, it probably does. But, just like any conference, if you are a little careful in your schedule selection, you’ll find some fantastic speakers and super-compelling content.

A Yearly Highlight

In all, SORT is a fantastic experience. I look forward to it next year. It’s fun to review what I’ve learned and presented on in the past (Django, then jQuery plugins, then TDD on MarkLogic, this year BackboneJs).

It’s at a great, close location. The company is fantastic. The topics are varied and interesting. The two days are time well-spent to me. I feel tired (a sign of lots of fire hose drinking). I’m inspired to learn a few new things:

  1. Do more CoffeeScript
  2. Try SocketStream
  3. Use Postgres’ row_to_json
  4. Try LawnChair and IndexDb
  5. Do some user media capture

Did any of you go this year? What do you appreciate the most about SORT or your most recent conference?