So this past week I attended the first (I think) Cocoaconf to be held within a reasonable distance of Huntsville. In this case, a mere 3.5 hours away in Atlanta.
Overall, I'd say this was a very good conference. It was small (I'm guessing about 150 or so attendance). The location was easy to get to, and the conference in general seemeed well organized.
I went to this conference as a (reasonably) seasoned Mac developer wanting to learn about iOS. While they're based on the same language, the toolkits are entirely different and, I would argue, so is the approach to programming. Which is good because this conference was almost enitirely iOS. I think I only went to one Mac panel.
I did the all-day iOS tutorial, which was taught by James Dempsey, a former Apple employee. While the first part of this panel was "Objective-C 101," after lunch it got interesting as we moved more into iOS development. By the end of the day, I had made a little recipes app. Gotta start somewhere, and with a little bit more practice, I should be able to start contributing to the DealNews apps.
The rest of the weekend was a blur of good talks. I took lots of notes. In fact, I can only think of one "miss" the entire weekend, which is a pretty good batting average for a conference.
Jaimee Newberry's "designing app engagement" panel was brilliant. Really interesting hearing about good design. A lot of her points, I was like "oh yeah, I hate it when apps do that" but it's nice to hear someone else say.
The food at the hotel was surprisingly good. I usually don't expect much from hotel catered conferences, but the food this time around was really good, as were the desserts!
I got to meet Aaron Hillegass. I learned Cocoa programming form his book way back.
Mikey Ward's panel on privileged work on the Mac, the only Mac panel I attended the whole weekend, was funny and informative. I really liked his "this is the problem, this is all the steps I went through to solve it" approach to talks.
I know conference wifi is a hard problem to solve, but the wifi at the hotel ranged from "barely adequate" to "wholly unusable" for much of the weekend.
I wish the conference hadn't run onto Saturday. A Wednesday-Friday would have been preferrable to a Thursday-Saturday.
So overall, I highly recommend Cocoaconf, especially for beginning iOS programmers. There's a lot of good knowledge to be had there on the right and wrong approaches to iOS programming.