TweetFollow Us on Twitter

C4[3] in Retrospect

Volume Number: 25
Issue Number: 11
Column Tag: Industry

C4[3] in Retrospect

by Edward Marczak

Introduction

The C4 conference is a bit of a mystery: at once not terribly well known and yet filling to capacity in hours. Perhaps this isn't quite so much of a mystery, as it's run by one of the better-known people in the Apple development community, Jonathan 'Wolf' Rentzsch. The conference also aims to bring together some of best and brightest speakers and attendees. Once you find out about it, why wouldn't you want to attend?

This year's show, C4[3] ran for three days, beginning Friday, the 25th of September, and running though Sunday. The entire weekend is packed pretty full, morning through night. Held in Chicago's Doubletree Magnificent Mile hotel (Jonathan is a Chicago native), you won't see much else of the city unless you plan for some personal time on either end of the conference.

Blitz

As a relatively young show, C4 is still forming and malleable. Jonathan originally had the idea for a conference after the demise of MacHack, an all-weekend all-hours code-writing fest. C4[3] did away with its IronCoder homage-to-MacHack portion of the show in favor of more presentations. However, presentations were broken into standard, full-length talks, running between a half-hour to hour plus questions and a Blitz-Talk format. The Blitz Talk is inspired by O'Reilly's Lightning Talk: A talk that runs for 5 minutes with no Q&A. Better still is that the speaker's Keynote presentation is actually served up by Blitz.app (http://github.com/rentzsch/Blitz) which enforces a 15-second limit on each slide before automatically moving on to the next one in the deck. It even super-imposes a small countdown timer in the lower-right portion of the slide.

The use of the Blitz talk worked magnificently. No one felt as if they had been watching presentations in the same room for 9-ish hours. Rather than have back-to-back hour-long talks, where your attention may end up drifting after a period of time, you were constantly woken up and challenged. Furthermore, the people presenting the Blitz talks were clearly well-practiced, as they condensed their subjects to the necessary parts and then moved through the material deftly.

Registration and Identity

Show registration on Friday was smooth and run by volunteers (Daniel Jalkut and Victoria Wang). Badges and T-shirts were dispensed, making the show 'official.' Twitter plays a large role in the show, as a Twitter "reflector" is set up for @C4. A direct message to @C4 is picked up by the reflector and resent to all attendees following. This creates a back-channel of communication, often allowing people to set up meal plans or even discuss the presentation in progress with all attendees.

Thanks to this Twitter tie-in, badges contained the attendee's full name, Twitter handle and Twitter icon.

Community

As people lingered around the registration area, determining who is who and interacting with those one may already know, the dining area's doors were opened and dinner was about to be served. This allowed new introductions and familiar faces to come together. After dinner, attendees switched to the main room for Wolf's Keynote.

The kickoff Keynote stressed community by connecting with your peers; constantly sitting with new people and avoiding cliques. (I loved that this was brought up. I've recommended the book "Never Eat Alone" in the Media of the Month section in my Mac in the Shell column. It was nice to hear this re-iterated). This is sage advice as we *are* a community. We interact all of the time: on mailing lists, at WWDC, through Twitter, Facebook and the like, via publications and now at C4. We can help each other in so many ways, and we're often seeing communities losing patience with the brilliant-but-arrogant developers so well looked upon in the past. The fantastic speakers at C4 all took their own time to create a presentation paid their own way to be present and gave up their time to enlighten the rest of us.

The Keynote followed along by highlighting a community project: Gus Muller's JSTalk (http://macte.ch/jstalk), an application scripting interface akin to AppleScript. Discussion followed that debated the relative merits of JSTalk vs. AppleScript.

After the Keynote, the first Blitz Talk was delivered, followed by a full-length talk. By this time, it was relatively late, but the night wasn't over yet. Like the dinner meal, which furthered the community context, people were invited back up to the lobby for drinks, which most did.

Code (and more)

The presentations on day two ran a wide gamut: from tips on giving a good presentation to security. Most presentations did have the indie developer as a target and common theme. The bulk of attendees at C4 are independent software developers (ISVs), so, this made perfect sense. Some are long-time independents while others are just starting off on their own. One thing that's for sure is that presentations covering tips on running your independent business or managing your time were welcome as good initial lessons or reminders from the seasoned pros. Many of the lessons that MacTech's ISV-focused "Inspired by Life" column have been tackling were presented in one way or another through the course of the day. There was plenty of code, too, of course.

A favorite talk by many was a surprise design tool called Opacity (http://www.likethought.com). Opacity is a developer's graphic tool. An artist can design their graphic in Opactiy just like other graphic design tools. However, from this point, Opacity fits smoothly into a developer's workflow. It can write out the source code to use the graphic in your project or even work with variants of a graphic at build time by providing shell tools that can be integrated into a project's build phase. It really needs to be seen in action to be appreciated (which, the attendees did see. You however, should go download a trial from the Like Thought web site).

Several work-in-progress projects were shown here, too. Cocotron is an amazing effort to bring Cocoa to Windows. This is an open source, independent effort. While there's still work to be done, the amount already there is absolutely a testament to the skill of the people involved. Another still-shifting project is Appcelerator's Titanium, a cross platform development framework based on JavaScript and HTML. The idea is that anyone familiar with web technologies should be able to leverage that knowledge into the desktop application arena.

MacTech's own Dave Dribin also presented on the importance of unit testing. Likening unit tests to source control - as in, it's something you should feel uncomfortable if you're *not* using - Dave made a great case and some converts along the way.

Culture

After the very long day 2 (but it didn't feel long at all, really!), dinner brought out some Chicago culture as everyone traveled to Gino's East Pizzeria. This is another way the group gets to bond and individuals get to meet and 'talk shop.' The dinner was followed by a pool-side bash back at the DoubleTree hotel.

Canadian Bacon?

Well, ok, "Canadian Bacon" may or may not be the fourth C, but there is a meat-lovers bias throughout...in a fun way. That mostly gets taken care of at Gino's on Day two with the serving of "meaty legend" pizza. But we're on to day 3 now, the final day. Day 3 dealt mostly with code. There were two presentations that were eye-opening for the primarily Obj-C only crowd, but would be familiar ground for MacTech readers: a Blitz Talk on Python and PyObj-C for scripting and development, and a longer talk that closed the day out on MacRuby. Another non-code talk separated these two again dealt with ways to be more effective as an ISV (and again, similar to what Oliver Popisil has been writing about in his monthly "Inspired by Life" series).

Four C Material?

The C4 conference is open to anyone that can purchase a ticket, however, the 170-attendee limit is reached in mere hours, making this a difficult show to attend. There is a ticket pre-sale that goes to prior attendees first, and then the public at large. Tickets for C4[3] sold out in 8 hours from the time they went on sale to the public. While I hope everything I've written so far is inspiring, you may or may not want to attend. The question is, "are you C4 material?" It boils down to this: are you a developer? Are you willing to expand your horizons by hearing new ideas? Can you give these alternate views a chance? Can you (respectfully) stand up for your own ideas? Are you willing to meet new people and alter your typical routine...at least for the time frame of the show? Can you break out of the echo chamber of advice that seems to permeate most Mac communities?

Jonathan Rentzsch is hoping to put on more than a conference that teaches developers some new coding tricks. It's clear that he has something special in C4 that's enabled by the Mac community, for the Mac community, and for the good of the community. Some of the best-of-the-best were present at C4[3] and past C4 conferences. I had a chance to ask him if there were any plans to expand the size of the show, seeing that it sells out so quickly and a good-sized wait list builds up. For now, the 170-attendee cap stands. Jonathan is worried that increasing the size will change the dynamic of the show too much. After attending myself, I'd agree: he has a wonderfully successful show that is wonderful itself. Until that dynamic changes on its own and needs a kick in the butt, control what you can and watch the evolution.

Conclusion

The final day of the show is only scheduled out until 2pm, but what actually happens speaks volumes: people tend to keep hanging around. That says a great deal about the experience. There were many current and former Apple employees that were in attendance, which also says a lot about the caliber of people that attend. In sum, it's a group that can be fairly pedantic about technology, but for a good reason; it's because they care. And this group has the opportunity to all come together in one place. It's an excellent show in every respect—one that every independent Mac developer should try to attend, at least once.

I was happy to see many of the trends we've identified in MacTech in line with what was taking place at the show (PyObj-C coverage, information for ISVs, etc.). Overall, I was happy I could attend. Judging by the Twitter back channel, I'm not the only one who felt this way. Comments from returning attendees like, "This was the best C4 yet!" and talk of presentations that "blew my mind," are assurance that C4 has a long life ahead of it.


Ed Marczak is the Executive Editor for MacTech Magazine, and has written the Mac in the Shell column since 2004.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

ScreenFlow 7.1.1 - Create screen recordi...
ScreenFlow is powerful, easy-to-use screencasting software for the Mac. With ScreenFlow you can record the contents of your entire monitor while also capturing your video camera, microphone and your... Read more
Xcode 9.0.1 - Integrated development env...
Xcode includes everything developers need to create great applications for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Xcode provides developers a unified workflow for user interface design, coding, testing... Read more
TotalFinder 1.10.2 - Adds tabs, hotkeys,...
TotalFinder is a universally acclaimed navigational companion for your Mac. Enhance your Mac's Finder with features so smart and convenient, you won't believe you ever lived without them. Features... Read more
Adobe Flash Player 27.0.0.170 - Plug-in...
Adobe Flash Player is a cross-platform, browser-based application runtime that provides uncompromised viewing of expressive applications, content, and videos across browsers and operating systems.... Read more
VirtualBox 5.1.30 - x86 virtualization s...
VirtualBox is a family of powerful x86 virtualization products for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers... Read more
VirtualBox 5.1.30 - x86 virtualization s...
VirtualBox is a family of powerful x86 virtualization products for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers... Read more
ScreenFlow 7.1.1 - Create screen recordi...
ScreenFlow is powerful, easy-to-use screencasting software for the Mac. With ScreenFlow you can record the contents of your entire monitor while also capturing your video camera, microphone and your... Read more
Adobe Flash Player 27.0.0.170 - Plug-in...
Adobe Flash Player is a cross-platform, browser-based application runtime that provides uncompromised viewing of expressive applications, content, and videos across browsers and operating systems.... Read more
Xcode 9.0.1 - Integrated development env...
Xcode includes everything developers need to create great applications for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Xcode provides developers a unified workflow for user interface design, coding, testing... Read more
TotalFinder 1.10.2 - Adds tabs, hotkeys,...
TotalFinder is a universally acclaimed navigational companion for your Mac. Enhance your Mac's Finder with features so smart and convenient, you won't believe you ever lived without them. Features... Read more

Home Street guide - how to make friends...
From the creators of Food Street comes Home Street, a new simulation game that tasks you with building a social network and designing a beautiful home. It's a bit like The Sims, but you won't have to worry about the daily chores involved (feeding,... | Read more »
Color Ballz guide - how to bounce to the...
Color Ballz is an addictive new arcade title from Ketchapp Studios. It takes old school mechanics from games like Brickles and puts a fun twist on it. Your job? To catch balls with a paddle and send them back into a chute to be carried back to... | Read more »
Q&A: A-33 Studio explains why Combat...
When it comes to mobile FPS, it’s often tricky to get the fundamentals right on a platform lacking a physical controller, large display and hefty RAM. With Combat Squad: Project Wednesday, A-33 Studio bravely took on the challenge of making a... | Read more »
Taichi Panda 3: Dragon Hunter guide - ti...
Taichi Panda 3: Dragon Hunter launched this week to players all over the world. It's a beautiful mobile MMORPG that blends elements of Eastern and Western fantasy. It reminds us of a mix between World of Warcraft and Jade Empire. MMO's can have a... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
Phew. It has been a week, but now it's time to relax, put your feet up, and enjoy some brand new mobile games. It was a bit of slow week, but there's still plenty of new titles to add to your collection. Here are four of our favorites. [Read... | Read more »
Yoink - Improved Drag and Drop (Product...
Yoink - Improved Drag and Drop 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Productivity Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Yoink for iPad and iPhone lets you easily and quickly store items you drag, copy or share, for later use... | Read more »
Cottage Garden (Games)
Cottage Garden 1.11 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.11 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Into the Dead 2 guide - how to survive t...
Into the Dead 2 is an endless gunner, of sorts, with a lot of grit and satisfying gunplay behind it. The game looks amazing, and tells an effective story to boot. Plus, it has some quality voice acting behind it to really bring the story to life... | Read more »
Smash Up - The Card Game (Games)
Smash Up - The Card Game 1.0.7 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.7 (iTunes) Description: ***“It’s a goofy theme with fun art and high replayability, but beneath that veneer of casual play is a great... | Read more »
Dive in to Combat Squad if you’re lookin...
Earlier this year, A-33 Studio made the leap from developing Counter Strike Online to launching its very own FPS for the mobile. Combat Squad: Project Wednesday pits your team of mercs against the world in multiplayer death matches, so if you’re on... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Sale! 10″ Apple WiFi iPad Pros for up to $100...
B&H Photo has 10.5″ WiFi iPad Pros in stock today and on sale for $50-$100 off MSRP. Each iPad includes free shipping, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 10.5″ 64GB iPad Pro: $... Read more
Apple iMacs on sale for up to $130 off MSRP w...
B&H Photo has 21-inch and 27-inch iMacs in stock and on sale for up to $130 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 27″ 3.8GHz iMac (MNED2LL/A): $2179 $... Read more
2017 3.5GHz 6-Core Mac Pro on sale for $2799,...
B&H Photo has the 2017 3.5GHz 6-Core Mac Pro (MD878LL/A) on sale today for $2799 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only . Their price is $200 off MSRP. Read more
12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook on sale for $11...
Amazon has the 2017 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free: 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray MacBook: $1199.99 $100 off MSRP Read more
Bare Bones Software Releases macOS High Sierr...
Bare Bones Software has announced the release and immediate availability of BBEdit 12.0, a significant upgrade to its professional strength text and code editor. BBEdit 12 introduces a new foundation... Read more
Yale Announces Availability of Apple HomeKit-...
Yale Locks & Hardware has announced that Apple HomeKit support for its Assure Lock family is available this month. The new Yale iM1 Network Module, which provides support for the Apple Home app... Read more
Clearance 2016 13″ MacBook Pros, refurbished,...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 13″ MacBook Pros available starting at $1189. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: – 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB Touch Bar Gray... Read more
12-inch 64GB iPad Pro on sale for $749, save...
Adorama has 12″ 64GB iPad Pros on sale today for $749 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP. Read more
13″ 3.1GHz/256GB Silver MacBook Pro on sale f...
Amazon has the Silver 13″ 3.1GHz/256GB MacBook Pro (MPXX2LL/A) on sale for $1699 including free shipping. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
12″ MacBook available for $1099 with Apple re...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 12″ Retina MacBooks available for $200-$240 off the cost of new models. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more

Jobs Board

Lead *Apple* Solution Consultant - Apple In...
…develop a team of diverse partner employees focusing on excellence to deliver the Apple story. Even when you're not present, you will maintain a consistent influence Read more
watchOS Frameworks Engineering Manager, *App...
Job Summary Join the team that is shaping the future of software development for Apple Watch! Apple is looking for an exceptional software engineering leader to Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Farmin...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.