No, I don’t have a WWDC selfie to share

Rant alert, you have been warned.

We’re nearing the end of WWDC 2022, the most exciting, exhausting, and distracting week for people working on Apple platforms.

Like the previous two editions, the conference was on-line only, with the exception of a Special Event at Apple Park on Monday 6th.

If you were there this year, or at the previous in-person editions, I hope you had fun. If you didn’t get a chance to go, I hope you don’t feel sorry for yourself.

Your quality as a developer has nothing to do with how many WWDCs you attended.

Of course, there’s a sense of community that only attending an in-person event can give you. But there are other ways to be part of the community if that’s what you want. For example, you can join the conversations that shape Swift in the forums, be helpful on StackOverflow, or contribute to an open-source project.

And anyway, being “an active member” of the community is not necessary to be good at your job. I met countless ace developers with no Twitter following or even a blog. Scott Hanselman calls them dark matter developers.

They don’t read a lot of blogs, they never write blogs, they don’t go to user groups, they don’t tweet or facebook, and you don’t often see them at large conferences. […]

Where are the dark matter developers? Probably getting work done. […]

They use mature products that are well-known, well-tested and well-understood. They aren’t chasing the latest beta or pushing any limits, they are just producing. (Or they are just totally chilling and punching out at 5:01pm, but I like to think they are producing.) Point is, we need to find a balance between those of us online yelling and tweeting and pushing towards the Next Big Thing and those that are unseen and patient and focused on the business problem at hand.

I might be coming across as overly critical about WWDC. I’m sour Apple found the time to implement emoji dictation but couldn’t add the dot command in Xcode’s Vim Mode and I’m venting out this way.

So, just to be clear: WWDC is great! It’s the event for Apple platform developers. If you don’t go, you are missing out. But what you miss out on has little to do with what makes you a good developer, your commitment to improving, or the value you bring to your users and employer.

Here’s a secret: I never went to WWDC. Maybe that means I don’t have the right to pontificate about it. Or, maybe, I’m the living example you don’t need to attend to be a good developer. Here I am, having worked for a whole decade as an iOS developer, with enough expertise to get a deal for a book deal with a major publisher.

You are under no obligation to do a yearly pilgrimage to San Jose.

Don’t feel bad about yourself if you don’t have WWDC selfies to share on Twitter, the time to run the Xcode beta, or a spare device on which to install iOS 16. That’s not how the value you bring to the world gets measured.