As a developer I used to tell people “Look, my boss should go to OpenWorld, I belong at KScope”. That’s because at the time, I viewed OpenWorld as strategic, as a lot of sales and marketing and a bit of a junket. KScope is where I chose to satisfy my appetite for technical content and network developer to developer.
Having now attended both conferences many times over, I’ve softened my stance. I still believe KScope is the best conference for the typical APEX developer, but there’s still plenty of reasons to attend OpenWorld. For those first-timers it can be daunting and overwhelming. Read on and find out how to survive your first OpenWorld.
Travel and Lodging
By now you should already have your flight and hotel secured. If not, be prepared to pay a premium. Let’s talk flights and airports. In the past, I’ve flown into San Francisco, Oakland and once even San Jose. Of those my favorite is actually Oakland. It’s small when compared to SFO, and a majority of the time when I fly domestic I fly Southwest. A short BART ride and you’re standing on Market Street.
Hotels within walking distance are either insanely expensive or pretty sketchy…from 5-star digs to hostels. If you can’t find suitable accommodations, consider finding something along the BART lines using AirBNB. I actually did that last year. I found a nice condo in Oakland and I simply took the BART over each morning. No, it wasn’t ideal but it wasn’t that bad either. The cost, however, was unbeatable.
Plan on walking..a lot. Expect to burn up the sidewalks between the Hilton and the Moscone even south to AT&T Park.
I mentioned BART which is Bay Area Rapid Transit, or the subway. It’s pretty cheap. It’s pretty convenient, but it doesn’t go everywhere you need. If you’re a night owl, you’ll need to make other arrangements.
For you hopeless romantics, there’s the cable cars. Everyone should do it at least once, but expect long lines and again you’re pretty limited in destinations.
Oracle itself has a fleet of buses that travel between various venues. I’ve done it on occasion. They pick up on the south side of Moscone West. Definitely worth
checking into as free is a very good price. Make sure you have your conference credentials visible to gain access to the buses.
For most Uber or conventional cabs will be the mode of choice for those travelling with a purpose.
Packing and Preparation
Since you’re likely walking to and from your hotel or the various venues plan on bringing a compact umbrella and a light jacket. You may not need either, but it’s best to be prepared…especially with regard to the jacket. You’ll be on your feet so comfortable shoes are an absolute must.
Now’s the time to start building out a tentative list of sessions and keynotes. Access the mobile app. Build your schedule. If at all possible arrange appointments ahead of time. Once onsite people book up fast and with more than 50,000 people in attendance, availability is far from guaranteed.
I usually head to Moscone West Sunday morning. The last few years have been pretty painless. Haven’t really experienced the long lines at registration you hear about. Walk up to your kiosk (segregated by last name), log in with your Oracle account, pick up your badge and backpack and head over to the Marriott for the APEX content associated with User Group Sunday. I’ll detail individual recommended sessions throughout the week in a separate post.
The week will go by quickly. The sessions will run together. Try and take in a keynote or two. Most all are in Moscone North. If you aren’t able to secure a seat, they’re usually simulcast to large screens on Howard Street between Moscone North and South. Keynotes are actually a good time to sit and take a breather, especially if the weather is nice. Remember you’re going to be doing a ton of walking and your dogs will be barking.
I usually spend the majority of my time in Moscone South. Grab a T-shirt from OTN. Visit with the Oracle ACE program. Take a hands-on lab with Noel, Jake and the rest of the guys from the Apps Lab. There’s also the Oracle Bookstore where I’ll be picking up a new Oracle ball cap. Don’t forget to stop by the ODTUG kiosk and grab some goodies there.
Make time to walk through the exhibit hall and the Oracle Demo Grounds. The conference couldn’t happen without the participation of the sponsors and vendors. Get your questions asked and answered. There’s no better opportunity to do so.
OpenWorld isn’t just about sessions and keynotes, it’s about expanding your network and such opportunities abound. Sunday there’s a Welcome Reception. Tuesday night is where the various communities come together at places like Johnny Foley’s Dueling Piano Bar. Wednesday night is OpenWorld’s flagship after-hours event. In years past, it’s been held at the Cow Palace and on Treasure Island. Now it’s just a short walk south to AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team. This years event features The Chainsmokers and Ellie Goulding. I’ll admit that neither can be found on my playlists, but it promises to be an unforgettable night.
A few other places in my rotation…
Several years in a row I’ve stayed at The Adagio on Geary. Across the street may be the greasiest of greasy spoons, but if you’re in the mood for an old-school diner experience, it’s hard to beat the Olympic Flame Cafe. The omelettes, the pancakes and breakfast burritos all recommended.
My wife got me hooked on green tea. If you suffer a similar addiction, head to Chinatown and the Red Blossom Tea Co. They’ll treat you right.
If sushi’s your thing, Akiko’s can’t be beat. Very small place but sushi well worth the wait.
Finally, no OpenWorld would be complete without a pilgrimage to the unpretentious Occidental Cigar Club – my favorite cigar bar anywhere. The bartenders are also the owners. Very knowledgeable in both cigars and spirits.
Here’s a map detailing the locations mentioned in this post.