Recently, I participated at the WebCamp Zagreb conference (a bit of the atmosphere is captured on the conference Facebook page), so I'd like to share some of my impressions.
Disclaimer: although I was there in a role of a speaker, I was in no way associated with the conference organization. I know some of the members from the organization team, back from the student days, and I met some of the others last year, but other than that, I'm not personally involved, so this can be considered as a fairly unbiased review of an independent participant.
WebCamp is an interesting conference, quite possibly unique in Croatia, since it is not tied to a specific community. Instead, it is a joint venture of a couple of IT communities, such as Python, PHP, Microsoft and others (I didn't mentioned them all, but they're listed on the web site). As such, it has a nice advantage of being able to offer a variety of topics you can't usually find in one place. It's more about people's own experiences and less about marketing, preaching to the choir, and community self-praise.
And it shows in the contents. While most talks deal with mainstream technologies, they definitely cover broad range of topics, most of them being based on people's own professional experience. This diversity even makes it possible for people that use exotic technologies to talk about topics that are not often presented in the mainstream conferences/meetups, such as RabbitMq or a polyglot project powered (not only) by Haskell, Scala, and Go. And of course, I was lucky enough to get a chance to talk about Elixir/Erlang. Being one of the few (to my own knowledge the only one) professional Elixir/Erlang developer in Croatia, this is the only conference where I could get the chance to talk about it. So in that sense, I'm very grateful and also quite partial to the WebCamp conference. Without it, I'd never get a chance to present Elixir/Erlang to a broader audience from this region.
Another great thing is the duration of the talks. Abandoning the classical 45 minutes, the organizers decided to make the talks last 25 minutes (this includes the time for questions). Having been a speaker, both last and this year, I found it very hard to fit everything into that timeframe. However, as a listener, I think that shorter talk duration is great. It gives speakers just enough time to provide a higher level overview of the subject, without becoming too involved and too detailed. The whole feeling is dynamic, with talks changing at a fast pace. After all, there were 12 talks per track, which is really a lot.
The conference was free of charge, and this is in itself a fantastic achievement. Obviously, this wouldn't be possible without sponsors, and yet the selection of talks seems to be relieved of the usual sponsor influenced politics. The organizers really deserve a praise for pulling everything off. I can only imagine how much effort had to be invested to make it all happen.
According to the organizers, the turnout was more than 600 people. I can't estimate myself, but there was definitely a lot of people, and this made it possible to socialize with many developers from different companies. For me it was a great (and rare) chance to exchange experiences with other IT people. Socializing is one of the important aspects of conferences, and being able to go there for free, and hang out with 600+ professionals is a great benefit.
All things considered, I found WebCamp Zagreb to be a very pleasant experience. In Croatia, it's a unique conference regarding topics and format, and it attracts a very big and diverse crowd of IT professionals, making it one of the largest IT events in the country. I am definitely looking forward to come there next year!