Comparing OSDC  (the Open Source Developers Conference) with iqnite (the conference for professional software testers), if you guessed that OSDC would be ‘cooler’, more hard-core and more feral than iqnite, you’d be right.

If you also guessed that OSDC would be less concerned with matters financial, you’d be wrong. Money was explicitly discussed far more often at OSDC than at iqnite.

To understand why, remember that the typical iqnite attendee is a professional at a VBC (Very Big Company), quite likely to be concerned with the effort estimates, schedules, and targets, all of which have dollar implications, but only indirectly. Further, that concern is usually local, often not going beyond the person’s own contribution. As the old saying has it, “The operation was successful, but the patient died”. Or, as a salesman once said to me “I don’t know if the projects I sell make a profit. That’s not my job.”

On the other hand, a significant proportion of OSDC attendees are small business owners, precisely because they have a passion for technology but – ironically – to survive as a small business person requires a constant focus on the financials. Or they are running, and funding, Open Source Projects.  Therefore, there were topics such as: “How to sell, for geeks” (Giri Fox), “Small Business Mistakes” (Jacinta Richardson), “Free as in Kittens v2.0″ (Evan Leybourn) and “Blood from Stones: Asking for money for your project (Cat Allman).

A theme common to both conferences was the move away from bespoke development from scratch, towards building on (integrating) off the shelf packages. Paradoxically, as the utility of 3rd party platforms increases, so does the number; it becomes simultaneously more necessary and more difficult to keep track of new developments in any given field.

And of course, there were robots. There was a 3D Printer. There was a mind-controlled mouse. As one speaker put it, “the future is here”; all of these things which used to be science fiction are now affordable by hobbyists and will eventually be every-day items.  If you were at OSDC 2012, you saw it first.

One more thing. There has been a turnover of the OSDC executive committee – so expect some changes and improvement for OSDC 2013.