Autodesk DevDays 2009 – Part 3

I am sitting at the Bangalore airport waiting for my flight back home to Goa. Thought I’d give you some more information about the Autodesk DevDays event that I cam here to attend. The DevDays events are a series of day long developer conferences held all across the globe. Contrary to popular belief, none of the Autodesk developers from Engineering attend these events. At least, I have not met any. By Engineering, I mean the programmers that actually write the software at Autodesk.

The software development side of things at Autodesk is structured more or less like this. There are programmers who sit in various development offices in countries spread across the world. Some of these programmers come on board due to acquisitions that Autodesk may have made. There are product managers that manage these teams of developers. There can be more than one product manager for a product. Something as large as AutoCAD has several product managers. These product managers interact heavily with users and draw up detailed specifications and mock ups of features to be developed or things to be fixed. They coordinate with each other and see to it that things happen.

Autodesk has a separate department to handle their developer partners like myself. They are part of something known as the DevTech team which are also spread across the world. These guys are programmers as well, but are not actively involved with the core development of the products, although they do contribute code from time to time. They are the crucial link between Engineering and third party developers. They help in the drawing up of API (Application Programming Interfaces) that partners need to extend Autodesk products. They document the API’s, create tutorials, code samples and are responsible for supporting partners as well. They even regularly advise partners on which API’s to use and suggest tips and tricks. Basically, they are a very helpful bunch of people always eager to solve our problems.

The reason I am telling you all this is because at the DevDays events, these are the people we get to meet. They give us presentations on the new features added or are being added and show us how we can use them in our solutions. We have one-on-one meetings with them and discuss our plans for the future or raise issues that have been bothering us.

Although DevDays is free event for Autodesk partners only, non-partners can attend as well after signing an NDA. If you are developing solutions based on Autodesk products, even if they for in-house use and not commercial products, I strongly urge you to try and attend one of the events that is closest to you. As a developer I find it extremely helpful.