The virtual versions of WWDC have been a game changer.
I completely understand why so many people miss the in-person version and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for years. However I’m someone who just does iOS development as a hobby and has an app that is offered for free. Going in-person to WWDC would be really cost prohibitive (but I still want to do it once as a bucket list item). Having a virtual version of WWDC opened up new opportunities for me. One of those would be labs. Now that labs were virtual that meant that anyone could sign up. I actually thought that labs were only for people that had difficult problems they needed help with. I signed up for one lab for a SwiftUI problem I was having. I happened to mention it to my friend Jordi Bruin, who holds the world record for most labs atteneded at a WWDC. He encouraged me to sign up for as many labs as I could. This Tweet from Holly Borla was encouraging as well.
The Swift labs are underbooked, so bring some of your questions to us! Got some generic SwiftUI code that has cryptic compiler errors? A view body that takes forever to build? Need help understanding property wrappers or result builders? I’m in Swift open hours on Friday 🙂 https://t.co/HFKxAOdgEo— Holly Borla (@hollyborla) June 10, 2021
I ended up signing up up for multiple labs even though I will admit that I had some trepidation. Swift Generics are something I’ve been weak on in the past and I forced myself to sign up for a lab about them to help with my growth. I wanted to see if the approach I was taking to use them was correct but the thought of some of having world class engineers looking at my app’s code did give me pause. “What are they going to think about what I wrote?” I rememer thinking. I saw a Tweet by David Smith that is so helpful to people that had similar concerns.
I ended up getting approved for several of my lab requests. The first one involved Xcode and it was an incredibly rewarding experience. When I submitted my request I said that I know that I’m using a tiny percentage of the tools that Xcode has and I’m really curious about learning more of them. I wasn’t sure if that was too vague or simple to be accepted but it turned out to not be an issue. It was accepted and scheduled as my first lab. The engineers I spoke with were so friendly and genuily enthusiastic about helping me learn more about Xcode. I’m definitely going to do another blog post that lists the tips I learned from it. I was so happy with the experience that I wrote a Tweet about it that was noticed by another Apple employee.
Was every lab a magical experience? No, but I don’t think it’s realistic to expect that. After my labs were over I had a much better understanding of the Apple ecosystem. For the next WWDC I’ve got my fingers crossed that virtual labs are still an option. I’d definitely encourage you to sign up for some. And the code I wrote that used Swift Generics? The engineers said that my approach was sound. That was a good feeling!