One week after Meeting C++ 2021
One week ago Meeting C++ 2021 started, and for the next 3 days hosted various program items from talks to a book & tool fair online.
Overall it was a lot of fun to organize the conference, but having to build the conference twice, at meetingcpp.com and in Hubilo was a bit more effort then I thought. From the attendee perspective it went really smooth, talks streamed into Hubilo and you could after the talk meet the speaker in the lounge to have a continued conversation about the topic. Most things in Hubilo was for attendees easily reachable with 2-3 mouse clicks. The sessions are now available for on demand streaming to attendees, and quite some folks seem to login and watch talks. While my C++ User Group has hosted 3 meetings prior to the event in Hubilo, for most of the 322 Attendees the software was new, so you had a bit of a learning curve. But for this I had made a Hubilo 101 video and also showed the main features in the welcome message.
Hubilo has great potential but also a few short comings
I've been looking for virtual event platform in Summer, and in the end decided for Hubilo. The event in Hubilo went very well, and there were not a lot of issues directly impacting the conference. The video conferencing went very well, if you met other folks in the lounge you had a very smooth experience. The talks were streamed over the Hubilo Broadcast Studio, which mostly went well, some talks had to be restreamed over streamyard, as the HBS didn't like the setup (Macs in particular) so much. Though HBS is what we had to use, as only a single talk at a time could be streamed over streamyard. The release of their team feature came to late for the conference. And I didn't want to explain two different streaming setups to my team and speakers.
Though as this is a virtual platform which is still maturing, there are some issues which would be easy to improve. Like the Agenda only showing sessions, and nothing else. The program was split accross all Hubilo features, not only utilizing sessions for running the conference. One of the quirks I'm not sure about is that rooms have an ultimate end. There is a timer, which once it is 0 kicks everyone out of the room. The room is ended and not visible to the audience any more. This put a bit of a different ending to the AMAs, in retrospect hosting these also in a session might have been better.
The book & tool fair went great on the first day, but on the second day too many folks seemed to skip this program point favoring the streaming of earlier talks. In retrospect I should have not made that feature available during the conference, it had a negative influence on the live content.
Insights from organizing
One thing I underestimated was how much work it is to organize an item based online conference. Where each session is a data point of its own, with various webforms to play around in. And Hubilo is here just like C++, all the wrong defaults. So you've got to click through all the talks to set a default you'd like. So setting up the conference and getting all settings correct was a serious effort.
Though, I still think that in the end the result was the one which I wanted. To have an all-in-one online conference setup where most things for attendees were 2-3 clicks away. Compared to other platforms, the video conferencing in Hubilo works really well, and that world wide.
Next years conference will be from 16-19th November onsite in Berlin and online in Hubilo as of now. Hubilo is the home of the Meeting C++ online User Group, and I'd like to keep an online component for speakers and attendees, as not everyone is able to come to Berlin in 2022. More details about next years conference will be available by April. Its difficult to make plans one year ahead in pandemic. But I assume that Germany will have a 3rd pandemic year, which means that the conference might have to restrict to certain number of visitors or be only for vaccinated folks like CppCon 2021. We'll see next year.
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