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Strengthening Connections

Dev Meet Ups foster developer communities

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Is once a year enough? Perhaps for birthdays and holidays it is, but meeting once a year is not often enough for the growing community of geospatial developers. Consequently, Esri suggested to GIS developers that meet ups could be a way to bring the community together more often than the annual Esri Developer Summit.

Meet ups are events facilitated by a Web-based social networking site with a twist: it uses online connections to foster offline interaction based on a shared interest and a shared geography. "Do something. Learn something. Share something. Change something." —'s motto has been bringing people together since 2001. The groups created through vary wildly (Las Vegas Hiking with Dogs, Raw & Organic Mamas, The Riverside Robotic Society Monthly Meetup), but members seem passionately interested in their chosen topics.

The response to the Dev Meet Ups organized by the Esri Developer Network (EDN) team has been similarly exuberant. From the first Dev Meet Up, held June 24 of this year in New York City, these events have spread across the United States. Meet ups in Los Angeles, California; Decatur, Illinois (aka "Soybean Capital of the World"); and Washington, D.C., quickly followed. As of November 2010, a dozen have been held, and 15 more are currently planned through May 2011.

All developers are welcome at these free events, from GIS professionals with years in the industry to those new to geospatial development. At meet ups, developers can demonstrate an application or framework, present an interesting concept or idea, share experiences, and connect with others in the field.

Todd Buchanan at Dev Meet Up in Boise, Idaho

Todd Buchanan, GIS analyst with Ada County Highway District, gave the keynote presentation on regional GIS development at the Dev Meet Up in Boise, Idaho.

The Dev Meet Up format is simple and informal: one or more presentations followed by four lightning talks. Lightning talks are short (10-minute) presentations on something the presenter is working on, has done, or has learned that might be of interest to the group. For example, at the Dev Meet Up in Fort Collins, Colorado, Brian Sullivan of the City of Greeley gave a lightning talk called What Would Dieter Do? that identified the characteristics of good design in a way that was both entertaining and visually appealing. Following events, presenters will often share their presentation slides through the group's Meet Up site.

The rest of the evening is devoted to free-ranging discussions that cover hot topics, geospatial technologies, complementary third-party tools, development platforms (e.g., Silverlight, Java, Flex, JavaScript), programming challenges, and tips and tricks. This format is flexible and provides lots of time to enjoy good food and make new friends.

Andy Gup, Esri technology lead, observed that these events "have tapped into existing energy in this community." He noted that in some places, communities already existed, so Dev Meet Ups have provided the impetus for "these folks to get together more often." In other places, meet ups have brought people together and created new communities interested in developing with geospatial technology. In either case, the developers participating in Dev Meet Ups work in various settings—private companies, local government, the military, and academic institutions.

Visit to join a group; find out if there is a Dev Meet Up scheduled near you; or join the online community via Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Register for upcoming Dev Meet Ups at

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