With 3 Titanium community conferences held last year, 3 already announced for this year and 4 more coming I thought it was about time for an interview with the man behind tiConf: Boydlee Pollentine, also known as The Evangelist.
For the few people reading this who somehow managed to stay ignorant of who you are, could you introduce yourself?
Sure. I’ve been a Titanium developer and active in the community for a number of years – I’ve written one book and co-authored another, along with numerous online articles on Titanium. I have also spoken about Titanium at dozens of meet ups and conferences. Last year I organised a series of Titanium developer conferences in Europe, America and Australia called tiConf. My company, Tipsy & Tumbler Ltd, specialises in developing digital solutions for web and mobile and we focus almost entirely on Titanium application development.
How and why did get to use Titanium?
I started out using Titanium around late 2009. I’d been developing a few native iPhone apps and was looking for a way to produce the same content onto the Android platform (which was just starting to gain traction then). Back in the days when I worked for mostly banks, governments and corporate clients you were either a Microsoft .NET developer or a Java Developer – I was the former and had zero experience writing Java apps and, in all honestly, no inclination to start learning it either.
So I Googled for cross platform alternatives, came across Titanium, did a few small apps and have stuck with it ever since.
About a year later I was asked to write a book on Titanium Mobile development for Packt Publishing which was released in December 2011 and was the first English book about Titanium in the market.
Now why did you came up with the idea to do the first TiConf?
It started late in 2012 as a conversation between some Titanium developers on Twitter. I think I’d not been long back from CodeStrong 2012 in San Francisco, and we were discussing just how far and expensive that trip is from Europe, and why didn’t we have an alternative conference here? One thing led to another and suddenly tiConf EU was a real thing, followed by tiConf US and also a smaller tiConf event in Australia. This year we’re pushing for seven events around the globe so it’s grown quite quickly!
What does it take to organize conferences like this?
These conferences are a lot of hard work – there’s more to organise than you could imagine: speakers, attendees, taking payments, event insurance, sponsorships, venues… the list goes on. Add onto that doing some events in non-English speaking countries and you get some idea of the complexity! Thankfully, Javier Rayon was instrumental in helping me out with the first tiConf in Valencia.
Honestly, I just looked at a map of Europe and pointed to a spot!
We’d had plenty of Titanium Meetup events in London and I wanted to go somewhere neutral, somewhere relatively cheap, and somewhere people perhaps had never been before. The original idea with tiConf EU was to hold it in a different European city each year and that’s something we’re still continuing today.
There were 3 tiConfs last year and 7 planned for 2014. What is that you like about doing this?
Well I like traveling and it turns out that event organising is something I’m pretty good at. I like doing it – most of it’s non-technical and when you’ve been a developer for as long as I have, a break from writing code is pretty welcome. If I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t be doing it again, that’s for sure!
How is your relationship with Appcelerator in this?
Appcelerator was a major sponsor of the events last year, helping out with some of the costs and marketing, but largely tiConf remained and still remains a community driven event. This year Appcelerator is helping us a lot more in terms of funding and getting the word out, which is fantastic. That also takes the financial pressure off me somewhat – all the initial deposits and shortfall (tiConf’s lost money last year, not including my time or expenses) came out of my pocket in 2013 so knowing that Appcelerator is generously providing more backup certainly makes my life a little less stressful.
What makes tiConf different then CodeStrong, apart from it happening? ;)
Haha, well – I think the if you attend a tiConf it’s pretty obvious that this is an event by developers, for developers. All of our talks are technical or at least have a direct related interest to the development community. CodeStrong in 2012 was great but for many people it’s difficult or too expensive to make that flight to San Francisco – tiConf is an affordable way for people to attend a Titanium event much closer to home.
What’s the latest on the upcoming tiConfs you have for us?
Well we just announced tiConf India for July 17th – that will be our first ever event on the subcontinent. We will be announcing speakers, sponsors and schedules for our Amsterdam and New York events by mid-February, so if anyone is intending on submitting a session proposal please do visit ticonf.org and fill in the form!
We are also working hard to provide more substantial online content this year for our presentations including purchasing some new semi-professional cameras for the video recording, and getting TiDev.io to provide a live blog of the events for those who can’t make it.
We also have a brand new website with all of the past content available online, and we’ll be producing a Titanium app for it too. Anyone who wishes to use our content can also do so for free via our new Beta API.
Personally I’m looking forward to attend and speak at least 2 of the tiConfs this year. And indeed, we’ll try to have someone providing live coverage of all events here at TiDev!
Thanks Boyd, see you… wherever!