A Snapshot of Perl at FOSDEM

Mon Feb 6 22:45:20 2017

In what has become a yearly tradition[1] some members of the Shadowcat Team decamped to Brussels for a long weekend in the early months of the year for the annual FOSDEM event.[2]

FOSDEM is arguably one of the largest, if not the largest, open source developers conferences held each year. Attracting over eight thousand developers with hundreds of talks across multiple tracks and rooms. The event is a registration free and cost free, to attend, offering whose aim is to broaden the interaction across the many open projects and languages.

Each year Perl manages to be well represented by both a table and a day of talks in a developer's room. This is organised by the powerhouse team of Claudio and Wendy who spend the entire weekend making sure the experience at both the booth and the room is as seamless as possible. Shadowcat have made it a tradition to help with both of these initiatives. Mark spends the weekend behind the Perl booth and Tom spends the Dev. Room day helping with the video. This year is no exception. Part of the expenses for the event are borne by the Enlightened Perl Organsiation and the Perl Foundation who add to the level of free marketing stuff.

Stickers and freebies Stickers and freebies
A Whole host of goodies for sale A Whole host of goodies for sale

The booth this year was once again a double table (we are one of the only projects that get two tables) and we filled it with free swag of stickers, t-shirts, twist, leaflets and booklets. At the same time WenZPerl (the small company managed by Wendy to promote Perl selling books and materials) filled a table with Camels, Camelias, books and wine to sell.

One of the best sellers on the weekend was the new Perl6 book, Perl6 at a Glance, written by Andrew Shitov.[3] This is a whistle stop tour, with example, across many of the new features in Perl6. Andrew was on hand during Saturday to sign books which may be part of the reason we shifted between thirty to forty copies.

The biggest test of the popularity was how many we sold on the Sunday. Though the two nights of drinking with one day of multiple talks, for the attendees[4] reduces their enthusiasm by the time Sunday crawls around. There is also the fact that Sunday is a shorter day, the event only runs until 17:00 which pulled down sales as we were forced to start packing up at 16:45 when many attendees were making last minute passes by the booths. The figures from Wendy suggest that Sunday was slower but proportionate to the time we had available the figures seem to match with Saturday’s sales.

Wendy with the mascots Wendy with the mascots
Mark manning the stall Mark manning the stall

There was a good deal of help from volunteers again this year. It was particularly good to have the same faces at the booth like Sue and Ovid and also wonderful to be joined by Ann Barcomb for the whole of Sunday and part of Saturday. The speakers from the dev room also made time to come to the booth and to answer questions, so we are grateful to them for doing this and helping represent Perl, this list includes Jeff, Stefan, Liz, Upasana and JJ. The time is aso filled with greeting many old friends and new faces to the booth. Because of our great looking display and friendly nature we manage to attract a regular group of people who want to say hello.

Meeting old freinds Meeting old friends

For me I enjoyed being with all the Perl people and to meeting new faces and old. I also enjoyed everyone who came slightly negative or dismissive of Perl as I could put on my best smile to greet them warmly to the land of Perl. We may not change minds or opinions but we can change hearts with our welcoming attitude.

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Notes

[1] A small confession. I wrote some of this while sat at the booth early on Sunday morning. So the frequent diaspora betwixt tone and tense is a reflection of that.

[2] Fosdem is held on the last weekend of January or the first weekend in February dependant on where the end of the month falls.

[3] Wendy confirmed after the event that we sold 60+ Perl 6 at a Glance books and that it was the best selling book at a conference for her. It sounds like a small number but language books do not traditionally sell well at events, sixty copies is a moderate success. We moved well over a hundred booklets of the Introduction to Perl6 at the same time.

[4] The annual event at Delerium is always busy and accounts for a good number of bleary eyes for the next two days.

[5] No doubt I can correct this figures on Social Media later when Wendy gets some final figures.





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