This article is an overview of the try! Swift Tokyo Conference, which happened in early March 2017.
It has been almost three months since we organized the second annual try! Swift conference in Tokyo. With 30+ Speakers, 30+ Sponsors, and 700+ attendees, it was the biggest Swift conference in the world! try! Swift Tokyo took place over three days - with the first two days dedicated to international speaker presentations, and the last day to workshops and a hands-on hackathon!
try! Swift is not just a conference, it is a community. The main goal of the conference is to bring developers from all over the world together to create one big family. That is why try! Swift focuses on creating extra opportunities for networking.
The day before the conference, Pivotal Labs sponsored a special International Reception for all of our international speakers and guests to get to know each other and become friends, so the they are less lonely at the conference the next day. This also gives space for speakers to get to know each other and some of the attendees, so they are more comfortable at the conference the next day and are able to deliver the best presentations to their friends instead of 700+ strangers!
It was an amazing experience - Pivotal Labs sponsored food and drinks for everyone. Speakers were so happy, they were walking around, talking to everyone, playing table tennis, networking and enjoying themselves! It’s so fun when worlds most talented people meet each other in a fun and friendly atmosphere.
We also made sure to arrange a special experience for all speakers and attendees, a moment to take a deep breath from the sky at Tokyo City View and Sky Deck. Imagine looking at Tokyo from the top of the world and seeing the sunset with a clear view of Mount Fuji… it was a special moment indeed!
Meanwhile, there were a lot of different other events going on around Tokyo organized by the local community and conference attendees, including a Fastlane Meetup, Swift Meetup w/ Healthy Japanese Food, and Mario Cart!!
It was a beautiful morning, except for all that chilly weather and drizzling… It was so hard for international attendees to wake up early in the morning and get to the conference venue at Belle Salle Shinjuku Park, but they made it! On the way, there was a beautiful park. Some of us intentionally walked through it to absorb the fresh morning energy and listen to the chirping of Japanese birds.
When we reached there at sharp 06:00 AM, the conference hall was ready. There was a big main screen with two sub-screens in the middle, with chairs and tables properly arranged. We stood at one end of the conference hall and took a deep breath imagining it fill up with all the amazing people in only a few more hours. Trust me, that was spectacular.
Do you recognize the Japanese and English words in the sign below? Yes, the conference was bilingual. Since we organize the conference in the heart of Japan, most of the attendees were Japanese-speakers, so we made sure everyone understood where to go and what to do!
We hired an amazing Japanese / English translation team [ KY Trade Co, Ltd ] to simultaneously translate each talk from English to Japanese or from Japanese to English. We gave out wireless receivers to attendees who wanted to hear the translation. To hear the translation, they just had to tune the device to the correct channel. More attendees had to use this device and loved it! It’s a truly magical experience to hear a talk translated like that!
As time passed, our amazing volunteers set everything up and attendees started coming in. There were over 500 attendees in the conference hall by 09:00 AM!
This year’s conference badge was the beautiful Riko bird wearing a cute Japanese Kimono with the Imperial Palace in the background. The whole scene comes to life with heart-shaped Sakura leaves falling down from the sky through the milky clouds. Thanks to our fantastic designer and contributor Yucovin for this incredible work!!
The conference started 09:45 AM sharp, it was a continuing process. There was a new speaker every twenty minutes with a few lightning talks in between. Attendees who had more in-depth questions about each topic had the option to go meet the speaker in a designated Q&A room after the talk. The Q&A room was very busy, and soon turned into a fun social discussion room with the speakers!
A light breakfast, coffee and snacks, and of course lunch were provided throughout the day. At lunch, attendees could choose from a variety of delicious Japanese lunch boxes [ Bento ]. There were vegetarian, no-seafood, and meat and seafood options available for people with different food restrictions.
Later in the evening, we organized a special Speaker & Sponsor party with food, drinks, and karaoke! It was super fun with many speakers and local developers from local companies singing and dancing. Some of the speakers sang Karaoke to English songs, but there were also a few non-Japanese people singing Japanese songs - those were the most impressive! Some Japanese developers sang songs by Linkin Park in English! It will be hard to forget those good moments - coming together as a community and breaking the language barrier… with music & songs!
This year’s try! Swift Tokyo conference had 30+ amazing sponsors. Without our sponsors, try! Swift simply wouldn’t be possible. Sponsoring an event like this is one exposes amazing companies and products to 700+ Swift / iOS developers around the world. With this much exposure, companies increase their brand value, making recruiting talented iOS developers much easier among other benefits. The opportunities are endless.
Gold and Platinum sponsors had amazing booths set up throughout the conference, and attendees had the chance to roam around and take a look at each and every company. Sponsors provided fresh coffee, natural juices, sponsor swag, food, and great conversation!
On the second evening, we organized a big party for all conference attendees at a gothic-themed cafe, with fun chandeliers, demon statues, lit candles, and food and drinks for everyone. It was the moment for everyone to come out of the conference hustle and really come together as a community that we have all built over the past two days. Everyone was talking and connecting with everyone :)
After two days of learning, the third day was dedicated to attendees getting hands-on in a fun hackathon! Over 130 attendees participated, and yes, we did give away a Nintendo Swift to the winners! But of course, the hackathon was not about the prizes. Anyone could participate.
We were super impressed by what try! Swifters were able to accomiplish during the short hackathon. We saw a team trying to connect to a Robot using a Swift Playground! There were much more crazy creative ideas like this - participants were building Xcode plugins, Server-Side Swift tools, Apps, translation tools, and much more.
It was really difficult to select winners. There were so many amazing final products! That’s where speakers came to help! They paired up and selected the first round of 10 winning teams. The winning teams presented their project, and we then had everyone vote publicly using two colorful stickers that attendees stuck on a paper with their favorite team’s names.
It was a hard choice for everyone, but in the end, we gave away the Nintendo Switch, AirPods, a Drone, and many sponsor gifts! Check out all the amazing projects here.
Those who weren’t interested in the hackathon had the option to attend one of the workshops we offered during the hackathon, including an IBM Kitura workshop, a Realm workshop, and a 2D game workshop. Some impromptu workshops formed as well - including one to set up open source Swift and a React Native Workshop!
It was a great day, with participants very happy about both the hackathon and the workshops. Attendees got more personal time with world-class speakers, they got help from our amazing volunteers, and they learned a lot solving problems.
Just the Beginning
We still feel the energy of the conference as if it just happened yesterday. Even though the conference is over, the learning and community built during the event is just the beginning. Conference attendees continue to form study groups, meetups, and friendships in their community and around the world!
We owe a big thank you to the amazing organizers and volunteers who helped make this magic happen. Their hard work and dedication to the community is priceless.
See all photos from try! Swift Tokyo 2017 here. Thanks a lot to Takashi Kaga.
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try! Swift Tokyo 2017 Icon Set
Author: Alvin Varghese - @aaalveee