SDL Innovate 2015 Hackathon vs. SDL Bootcamps

SDL Innovate Developer Day is coming up. You should find a way to go and not just for the chance to win $3,000 USD.

In addition to technical presentations it includes a hackathon that seems like a competitive, self-directed bootcamp, but with a $3,000 USD cash prize at the end of the follow-up 30 day competition. By joining a small team, you might win:

A virtual representation of the $3k USD your SDL Innovate Hackathon team could win.

  1. First prize $3000/team
  2. Second prize $1500/team
  3. Third prize $500/team
Okay, so the hackathon is definitely not a bootcamp except that technical people will come together to learn, work with, and meet others that implement Tridion.

With that tenuous connection made, let me revisit my very first SDL Bootcamp, compare Innovate with other conferences I've attended, and suggest you find your own reason.

My First SDL Bootcamp

It's three years late, but here's the Event System write-up (Google Drive) from a 2011 bootcamp.


This was before I joined SDL. I paid my own travel expenses and even requested time off work to attend. I should have requested help for personal career development and technical training.

My "a ha" moment was meeting people who did this as their day job, as their main job. I met a few future colleagues who would later vouch for my application to SDL Your "a ha" moment when you attend SDL Innovate may have nothing to do with changing careers. Professional networking isn't a matter of "who you know," but rather who knows you and how you can help others.

Other Conferences

I'm biased having "gone native" as an SDL employee. For comparison, I've attended SharePoint and Gartner conferences in the past and I still remember and apply things I've learned at those events.

SharePoint conferences showed how SharePoint development might be familiar to my .NET colleagues, but they probably wouldn't like it. It's inspiring to see how small-to-large vendors could build on Microsoft's solution by offering services and extending the products. I've also seen hard sells in supposedly vendor-neutral presentations.

From a Gartner Project Management conference, my biggest lesson was learning the levels of reporting.


  1. You start with one data point.
  2. Then data over time, creating a graph.
  3. Then a comparison graph with a benchmark or what you should be at.
  4. Finally, a comprehensive view explains the data, possibly by letting you drill down into data points.
You measure key performance indicators rather than the tool. Don't measure the treadmill, but rather the person running on it.

And from stories about Gartner Analysts that didn't make it as just analysts, it's important to know the difference between your title and your value.

Come to SDL Innovate looking to learn and connect with others and you'll likely find a memorable

Your Next Conference

Three points on why you should sign up and find a way to go:
  • Many companies have travel, conference, or "personal development" budgets and will fund at least a few events per department or development team. You can always ask to attend an event, especially if it's related to your work tasks and role.
  • I've seen developers consider training, conferences, and software with their own personal budgets in mind, thinking, "well, I wouldn't pay that much." But IT departments and companies enterprise companies have significantly larger budgets and a different perspective. Conference costs are a fraction of what companies pay for "full time employees" (FTEs). In other words, you are totally worth it. You deserve to go to Innovate. ;-)
Once you set a precedence, next year will be easier. The budgets shrink and grow based on use.
  • If you like where you're at, go, learn even more Tridion, and meet others.
  • If you don't like where you're at, go, learn even more Tridion, and meet others. Do not share this post.
  • If you want to compare notes and confirm if others have the same challenges as you, go, learn even more Tridion, and meet others.
  • If you're looking to learn more about SDL's solutions and software or would like to meet partners and related vendors, then definitely go.
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