Macromedia and local partners put on a full-day event here in Brasilia yesterday; designer centric content in the morning, developer centric content in the afternoon. The event was very impressive, the theatre has seating room for 500 and there were an estimated 100 standing as well for the afternoon session. 600 people in all (and an estimated 1000 taking into account that some left after the morning sessions and others arrived just for the afternoon), making the event one of the largest I have attended.
A pair of comedians entertained the crowd in between talks (in Portuguese, so I have no idea how funny they were, but the crowd seemed to like them), and opening the afternoon was a local rock band who played for half an hour to warm up the crowd. It felt more like a Super Bowl half time act than a technical event, but the group did seem to get the crowd excited and involved and very vocal.
I did a two part presentation. The first was an introduction to ColdFusion and a detailed discussion of ColdFusion and its relationship to Java. Less than 1/4 of the audience had even seen ColdFusion, and the response was mixed. Initially the crowd seemed rather negative, there is a strong “we only use free stuff” mentality in the federal government here, but the message did get across. The questions were good and on target, and many asked about how to explain and position the CF value proposition to management, that’s a good thing. The second part of the presentation was a step-by-step walkthrough of building a rather sophisticated client-server application using Flash Professional as the client and ColdFusion MX as the server. The crowd loved this one, and were really impressed by what Flash is capable of (about 1/3 use Flash, but all but 5 use it only for design and animation work).
Those of you who have attended my presentations know that I love lots of interaction, a more informal feel, and lots of chat and Q&A. Generally there are three situations that completely preclude this type of interaction: 1) large crowds (attendees often feel intimidated), 2) auditorium style seating (the stage and the distance tends to create a disconnect between speaker and audience), and 3) language barriers (people generally don’t like to ask questions via translators). Well, this session broke all the rules, there were so many questions and comments that at one point I had to ask them to hold off so as to get through some more core content. This was an intense, passionate, technically adept, and very interactive crowd, and the event was thus lots of fun.
You know, maybe I should always have a rock band to open for me.