Record attendance for TPF conference
Wed, 08-Jul-2020 by
COVID-19 may have put a stop to The Perl Foundation’s physical conference, but it didn’t prevent almost 500 people coming together across the three-day Conference in the Cloud via Zoom. A total of 467 tickets of 500 were sold raising funds for The Perl Foundation. At its busiest single point in time, 263 people were live on Zoom with 157 watching on YouTube.
Delegates from around the world, many of whom may have been unable to attend the originally planned event in Houston, USA, were able to take part in lightning talks and hear keynote sessions on the uses and future of Perl and Raku, as well as other tech talks and Birds of a Feather ([BOFs](https://github.com/perlconference/tpc-2020-cloud/wiki#bofs)).
A total of 62 YouTube videos were produced from Zoom talks. The average length of video was 29 minutes, 36 seconds. Total length of playlist was 1 day, 6 hours, 35 minutes, 16 seconds.
Stuart Mackintosh, TPF President, commented: “Despite a global pandemic, with thanks to our Conference in the Cloud team and all those who took part, this conference brought far more of the Perl community together than a physical conference would have done. Although you can’t beat having that face to face get together - the dinners and the social aspect that goes with a physical conference, it begs the question of whether we should hold an annual or bi-annual virtual conference alongside a physical one. It’s food for thought and something people have been talking about since the event.”
**Perl 7 announcement starts chatter**
The biggest news at the conference was the announcement by SawyerX of the forthcoming [Perl7 release](https://news.perlfoundation.org/post/perl_7_announced_sawyerx_conference). 367 viewed via Zoom whilst a further 180 watched [on YouTube](https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=6wPMh-3qYJM).
SawyerX said: “I think a lot of people are excited about it and we’re hearing from people who want to help and see this as the logical progression. At the same time, there is uncertainty to resolve for the hardcore Perl developers who aren’t used to such big changes in the language. This is tough waters to navigate but I hope we’ll be able to do this as a community.”
Todd Rinaldo commented: “I’ve heard mostly positive feedback on this development and “it’s about time” seems to be the general response from the public.”
One of the lessons learned from running a worldwide live event was the timings of keynote speakers and lightning talks.
Rinaldo explained: “These were by far the most popular aspects of the conference, but they were scheduled for 5pm New York time, which meant 2pm in California, 11pm in Europe and later still in Asia. Australia effectively missed out of these live sessions because it was the middle of the night for viewers there. If we were to do it again to capture a larger live audience we need to address the timings of what we think will be the most popular sessions.”
He continued: “Another area of the conference that went really well were our hallway and BOFs. We need to look at how we can develop these in the future.”
**Driving forward a cohesive Perl brand**
TPF took the opportunity to start conversations around the image of Perl. Mackintosh is particularly passionate about marketing and wants to see a consistent Perl brand message. He commented that his key focus for the workshop was about TPF finding out what the audience wants to do to achieve this.
Mackintosh shared research conducted by an external source which highlighted the very different and inconsistent messages and representations of the Perl language and community.
Mackintosh commented: “This is a reaction to a larger challenge: negativity towards the perception of Perl. We need to change that. We need to stop talking about it and do something. The bigger step will be beyond my term as President – if we can take a step forward by achieving consistency we have a better chance of taking larger strides to see Perl where it should be. The tactical point is a consistent brand, not necessarily consistent look. I’m inviting the Marketing Committee to come up with a strategy for this, along with feedback from the community.”
He continued: “We need to take the lead to get the community behind it to show it is worth their efforts to make things better. Support the changes. Let’s hope that in a year’s time, things have changed.”
**Thanks for sponsors**
The TPF is grateful for the support it has received from all our sponsors, in particular cPanel and Grant Street Group. These have supported TPF throughout the year and help ensure events like the conference can happen.
Thank you to everyone who helped organise this year’s CIC. Without the efforts of The Conference Committee, the Marketing Committee, our Fundraising Team, all the speakers, as well as the TPF Board, none of this could happen.
A big thanks goes out to every conference organiser who volunteered to help make this a success: Abigail, Alex Beamish, Dawn Wallis, Dave Jacoby, Dave Rolsky, Joshua Turcotte, Lena Hand, Nicholas Rochelemagne, R Geoffrey Avery, Samantha McVey, Todd Rinaldo.
The myriad jobs (promotion and social media, talks organising, graphics and theme, Zoom moderation, BOF wrangling, sponsor outreach, video editing, speaker dry runs) required to make this conference happen could not have been accomplished without their help.
We apologise if anyone has not been included in our thanks who should have been. Please tag anyone you feel we have missed in the comments on the article.