A guest editorial from the SQL Bits team
On March 4th 2015 in London, we begin the 4-day epic of SQL learning that is SQL Bits, now Europe's largest SQL Server Conference and Steve Jones kindly offered us a guest editorial slot to talk a bit about what feels like quite a milestone in growth and evolution of the event.
SQL Bits was founded by Simon Sabin with the help of a few enthusiastic database professionals and user group volunteers, and the first event was held in Reading, in October 2007. It was a free, Saturday-only event that offered 20 sessions and attracted over 300 people. It was a success so instant, it even took us slightly by surprise, but it proved to us beyond any doubt the continued value and viability of face-to-face conference learning, in the face of an ever-expanding wealth of online technical content.
From that point on, we've tried our very hardest to deliver an event with as much technical value as possible but that also recognizes that many potential attendees have low-to-zero training budgets and limited freedom to take time out of the office. Instead of taking residence in a single venue, we took the conference out to the community, touring around the country as far North as Liverpool and South as Brighton. Instead of committees, we selected sessions by community vote. We actively nurtured new speakers from the local UK SQL community. In short, we tried to do an event that was for and by the local community; an event where people felt a sense of 'belonging' and that tackled issues that reflected the reality of their daily jobs, rather than just the latest and greatest features gushing out of the Microsoft marketing hose.
It's worked. Take a look now at the SQL Bits XIV homepage. Give your eyes a moment to adjust to the retro design and Day-Glo Superhero wallpaper. Once the do, I hope you'll be impressed by the array of internationally-renowned speakers vying for attention, alongside Microsoft heavyweights such as Bob Ward, Connor Cunningham and Mark Souza. The event has grown fast and changed a lot, though a scan down the speaker list and you'll see that its roots in the local SQL community are still firmly attached. We have experts teaching beginners, and beginners questioning experts, providing feedback and improving our event every year. It's a virtuous circle and it's why we love working with the community. We're immensely proud of what we've achieved so far with SQL Bits, and excited to see similar grassroots community events flourishing throughout the world. PASS SQL Saturday, for example, which began life in the US at around the same time as SQL Bits now has thriving local communities and events in South America, Australia, across Europe and throughout the World, with recent months seeing first-time SQL Saturdays in Hungary, Austria, Guatemala, Panama and Israel, to name but a few.
It's a remarkable story of SQL Communities flourishing throughout the World and hopefully an inspiration to get involved. If you're able to attend one of the pioneering events, SQL Bits, next month, even if only for the Saturday, which is still free, we'd love to see you there (register with the code SSC-HERO to get a 15% discount on the ticket price!).
If you've an inspiring tale to tell of a SQL event or community flourishing in a previously "dormant" region of the world, we'd love to hear it.