So you didn't score a ticket to WWDC? Check out these alternatives

Credit: Ed Yourdon via Flickr

Yesterday I listed five crucial advantages that enterprise IT pros and enterprise developers can get by attending Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) and noted it would probably sell out quickly given that it sold out in less than two hours last year.

Quickly turned out to be an understatement. WWDC 2013 sold out in just two minutes.

The intense interest underscores the fact that Apple has built a very large, dedicated, and passionate developer community, which isn't surprising given that developers have received more than $1 billion  in App Store payments for each of the last four quarters.

That's good news for Apple, but it means that many enterprise IT professionals aren't going to get to attend and get the advantages that I discussed. Here's a list of alternatives that deliver equally great opportunities.

Apple isn't leaving registered developers (and IT pros) out in the cold

One silver lining is that after last year's sell out, Apple has decided to make WWDC sessions available to anyone who's a registered member of the company's developer programs during the conference. The company is almost certain to provide registered developers access to the same pre-release versions of iOS 7 and OS X 10.9 that attendees will receive.

That's a great resource and it's great value for money when you consider Apple's developer program membership costs just $99/year for individuals. There are two programs for individuals -- one for iOS and one for OS X. Each of these affords access to pre-release builds of the related platform (meaning you'll need to spend $198 to get access to both), through traditionally a membership in just one of the two nets you access to all WWDC content. There's also an enterprise version of the iOS developer program, which you have to join if your organization plans to build and distribute apps internally, priced at $299.

The developer programs actually offer even more value. In addition to WWDC videos from the past three conferences, there are several video collections covering both iOS and OS X development. These videos include introductory topics, foundation content regarding Apple's development model and tools, essential videos geared for enterprise iOS developers creating internal apps, videos on integrating Apple services like iCloud and AirPlay, and a range of additional advanced topics. All together, there's easily thousands of hours of incredible content that can be streamed through Apple's developer site as well as streamed or downloaded through iTunes U.

Beyond videos, Apple's developer site is filled with introductory guides, in-depth topic specific references, and a range of technical articles relating to pretty much every development topic that you're likely to need. There's also sample code, marketing resources, and vibrant developer forums where you can ask questions, get advice, and network. And pre-release versions of Apple software.

Apple resources beyond the developer programs

In addition to the resources available through Apple's developer programs, the company also provides enterprise IT focused resources including the following:

  • Apple Education IT Resources - Don't let the word education fool you, this page contains dozens of Apple enterprise videos, reference guides, articles, and white papers. It's a great reference for organizations that are new to Apple products and those looking for best practice guides from Apple itself.
  • iOS enterprise support content - Apple offers a library of reference guides and technical notes about iOS enterprise integration options, free iOS management tools from Apple, and deployment strategy guides.
  • Apple's Training and Certification Site - Like many technology companies, Apple provides a training and certification program. Current certifications are focused on OS X and include Mac integration in Windows environment, hardware repair, end user support, and OS X Server. The texts of some certification classes are available as part of Peachpit's Apple Pro Training Series. The company also offers several enterprise white papers that contain useful information.
  • Apple Education Seminars - This is an education-focused library of webcasts related to Apple products. Most of the webcasts are educator-oriented, but there are several that cover more general topics like iOS licensing and deployment.

Conferences beyond Apple

WWDC may be one of the best experiences for Apple developers and IT professionals that support iOS and/or OS X, it isn't the only one. There are several other excellent events that draw crowds from around the country and around the world. Many of these events include sessions by the top Apple technology consultants from around the world.

  • Penn State Mac Admins Conference - This annual spring conference is a great event for meeting other Apple-focused IT professionals and learning how to manage and integrate Apple technologies in education and enterprise environments. It also includes a one-day boot camp to help folks with minimal knowledge about iOS devices and Macs get up to speed. This year's conference runs May 21 - 24 and registration is full (though there is a waiting list). Videos from all of the conferences sessions are available at no cost.
  • European MacSysadmin’s Conference - Much like the Penn State MacAdmins Conference, the annual European MacSysadmin’s Conference, which takes place in Sweden each fall, is a great place to learn about the tools that you can use to manage Macs and iOS devices in an enterprise or business environment. This year's event runs September 17 - 20 videos and slide decks are freely available along with scripts and other resources referenced during the sessions.
  • MacTech Conference and events - The first MacTech Conference was organized in 2010 when Apple limited WWDC to only iOS programming and it has become an annual event held in each fall since. It includes a wealth of programming for both enterprise IT professionals and Apple developers. MacTech also offers a series of in-depth one-day events around the country. This year's conference will be held in Los Angeles November 6 - 8. Early bird registration is already open and includes a $400 discount off the normal $1299 price tag.
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