Choosing Hubilo as an online platform for Meeting C++ 2021

published at 07.09.2021 10:21 by Jens Weller

During July and August I did compare many online platforms, to choose the one to host this years online conference and the events of Meeting C++ online in. The winner is Hubilo.

Its been a difficult and time consuming process to compare the various platforms and get a feel for what online events will have a look and feel in 21/22 when choosing a certain platform. I'd like to be able to host all formats of the online User Group in one platform: the talks, the panels and especially the online fairs for C++ jobs/recruiting and tooling. This years conference will host all these event types too!

In the end there were two platforms I could choose from, and only hubilo offered a lounge where folks can just hang out in on tables. Which is a format very well known to the Meeting C++ online community coming from remo. The lounge is a similar feature, but the tables are a bit bigger in size and hence you might have to scroll a bit to find a table to sit on if it finds heavy usage. But unlike remo, its optional to hang out there. Nobody is forced to sit on a table with others to attend the event. This should improve the experience for both groups: those with interest in a video chat, and those just coming to hang out with others but not wanting to join a conversation.

Another important criteria for choosing a platform in 2021 was the availability of sponsor booths, something that remo did not support.

The first events

Meeting C++ hosts 2 events on Hubilo in September, the first one is next week, the Meeting C++ online job fair is in 3 weeks.

Next week the Meeting C++ online user Group hosts Windows, macOS and the Web: Lessons from cross-platform development by Sebastian Theophil from think-cell! The event will start at 19:00 with giving you a chance to get to know hubilo, hanging out in the lounge with others. I'll be giving the welcome message on stage at 19:30, and the talk will begin at 20:00. This evening is a mix of the August events and our normal User Group evening, as in August the events on Hopin were limited to 2 hours.

There are more events planned for October, and in November Meeting Embedded 2021 and Meeting C++ 2021 will be hosted on Hubilo.

Lessons learned from one year of hosting online events

As a community and event organizer, I have learned a lot about online events in the last year. Which has driven the goals for selecting a platform for the conference and online user group in 2021/22. I favor a all-in-one solution, and not splitting the conference into various services.

The main stay for most events of the Meeting C++ online user group has been remo in 2020/21. Its been a great platform to get started, and I want to thank Phil Nash and the ISOCPP Foundation for enabling the C++ community to host on remo for little over a year. Meeting C++ and other conferences did contribute to this effort financially in paying for the license for the month they were in. Remo was chosen because it enabled the social interaction, you could have a discussion with other folks randomly at a table. And you could freely choose at which table to sit, as long as this tabe wasn't full. Remo didn't support multi track conferences directly in the platform, but enabled them by having multiple remo events in parallel. A remo event it self is single track, it branches out to the tables in the breaks, but once a talk is on the main stage, everyone is in the same room and listens to the speaker.

This table feature was then also what gave me the idea of hosting fairs, with folks being on the tables to have conversation with visitors coming by. One experience with last years conference was, that having this in parallel in a 2nd remo event didn't work. Sponsors moved to the tables of the main event because of this. But when its the main stay of an event, it works very well. Folks are coming to the event and hop from table to table to get to know various employers or tooling projects.

But not all was great in remo, otherwise we would have kept hosting there. The big down site from everyone is sitting on a table is that everyone is forced to sit on a table. You could go to a different table or a different floor, but not everyone did this. As I wrote above, that with this feature its not everyone who wants to use it or be part of this experience. Like wise its hard to offer an area where you just can hang out in, or meet the sponsors. 

In August I organized 3 events to test online platforms for the coming year. Originally it was planned to host on 3 different platforms, but in the end all meetings got hosted in Hopin. This showed the promise to host in a all-in-one platform, but Hopin lacks a few core features needed for the conference. Like being able to host parallel tracks that receive livestreams. I want to thank Victor Ciura, Ivan Čukić and Peter Sommerlad for preparing short talks for these events.

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