This will be a semi-formal introduction to what needs to be done to make a Tcl/Tk Conference happen.
- October, Year-1
- At the current Tcl Conference, the operational committee should be roughed out. This will consist of:
- Primary Chair - responsible for keeping things on schedule, nagging, and doing anything that's not being done.
- Facilities Chair - responsible for finding a hotel, getting a decent deal, keeping the hotel informed of what's happening with the conference, keeping the committee informed if the hotel changes. Also includes nagging the hotel and committee.
- Papers Chair - responsible for promoting the papers, finding folks to write them, getting abstracts and completed papers, and nagging to keep things on schedule.
- Web Admin - keeps the Tcl website up to date for the conference. The website will require updates:
- When the city for the conference is chosen.
- When the hotel for the conference is chosen.
- When invited speakers have accepted.
- When the tutorials have been selected.
- When the papers have been selected.
- When the schedule has been finalized.
- Operations -
- Before the conference, a) accept registrations and process credit cards, and b) maintain db of registered attendees and status
- At the conference, a) check in registrants, b) accept payment for new attendees or previously unpaid registrations, c) run errands and get stuff copied for tutorials, handouts, etc., and d) nag hotel about meals, break foods, party spaces, etc.
- After the conference, a) provide an accounting for moneys received and spent. (Keeping receipts for expenses is a very good thing.)
- General Committee - Responsible for reviewing papers, providing support on an as needed and as available manner. Some of these folks manage things like the spam-list for announcing schedule changes and other publicity.
(The following dates assume that the conference is in October, about 8 months after the publicity goes out.)
- January, Year
- The hotel should be chosen and conference dates set. The website gets updated to show that the conference dates and location are defined, first announcements go into Comp.lang.tcl, Slashdot, etc. Request for Papers goes out.
- February, Year
- Tutorials should be finalized. Update website and send out press releases/spam mail.
- February, Year
- Finalize invited speakers and keynote speakers.
- March, Year
- Another Call For Papers, post to SlashDot, Comp.Lang.Tcl and other advertising/announcement sites.
- July, Year
- Papers are accepted, authors notified. Schedule is finalized and web site is updated. Another round of promotions.
- September, Year
- Final copy of papers should be received. CD-Rom is laid out. If the CD-Roms will be printed in advance, this is the last chance to do it.
- October, Year
- Conference happens. Everyone runs in circles and stuff gets done. The final CD-Rom is assembled at the conference and duplicated, passed out, etc.
There are a few things we need in a hotel
- Tutorial Function Space - We need 2 room for tutorials for Mon/Tue. These need to seat at least 20 folks, Classroom style.
- Meeting Function Space - We need 1 room for Wed/Thur/Fri to hold at least 60 people, Classroom style seating.
- Banquet Space - We'll hold a banquet, probably on Thur evening, to seat at least 60 people at small tables.
- BOF Space - We need room for 20-30 folks to gather and chat late into the night.
- Convenient to Airport - Most folks will fly in, some from overseas. Not needing to rent a car to get to the hotel is good.
- Convenient to food - Folks will be on their own for a few meals, or just want to socialize. Again, not needing a car to get food is good.
Things that are nice if we can get them:
- A large suite - If we can get a room large enough to let us mingle, we can use that for BoF space and hospitality suite.
- Convenient to Amusements - Some folks travel with a spouse, or just want a break from non-stop geeking. Being able to walk or take public transit to a good bookstore or Zoo is a good thing.
- Convenient to Office Supply/Copying - There's always last minute stuff to buy, copy or something. Someone on the committee will probably be making this run, and can probably rent/borrow/steal (ok, maybe not steal) a car for this.
What we can offer a Hotel:
The bottom line is that hotels are in business to make money. They can make it in several ways - renting sleeping rooms, renting function space or feeding us. We commonly offer a hotel sleeping room nights and food/banquet functions. If it's a choice between spending N dollars to rent function space or N dollars for a feeding frenzy, the feeding frenzy always wins.
- Room Nights - The Tcl conference will give a hotel about 150 room nights.
- Food Functions - We commonly have:
- Breaks - 2 per day, morning and afternoon. Coffee, soft drinks, bagels, cookies, etc.
- Lunch - For 20-30 people on Mon/Tues and 40-60 on Wed
- Dinner - For 40-60 on Thur evening
- Breakfast - For 40-60 on Friday. This is usually a buffet in our meeting area.
As a general rule, the hotel that works best for us is not a hotel that specializes in business conferences, but rather one that usually does weddings and bar mitzvahs. We need lots of rooms (potentially 3 at once), but no large rooms. It is good to find a hotel that can expand - a function room that divides into 2 or 3 sections, and we need 1/3 of is preferable to one that has a function room that just exactly fits what we need. There is always the chance that the conference will find the right publicity and get more attendees, and it's good if we could expand into a larger room.
The problem is that the hotels that will register with the local Convention Bureau are the larger ones that can handle 300-500 folks, rather than the small ones geared towards 30-50 folks. Finding a good hotel may take some legwork and attack dialing.
SEH 20071031 -- It would be nice if planning for a conference included discussion of technology; specifically what Tcl applications might be used to run/disseminate aspects of the conference, and if there are deficiencies/shortcomings in available Tcl technology, what might be done to overcome them.
RS 2007-10-31: In principle, yes.. but as evident from the above, a conference is mostly a logistic challenge, and a social event. For discussion of Tcl deficiencies we have several forums on the Web, where everyone online may chime in... :^)
CF 2008-10-31: We've actually got a fair set of ad-hoc Tcl tools that we use to run the conference, ranging from the .tml files that do the registration and payment processing to the expect scripts that gather information to update the SQLite/Tcl database engine and the mass mailers that Andreas and I use to coordinate with the attendees.
As mentioned, the challenges in running the conference aren't so much technical as they are logistical. Being methodical with pieces of paper would probably suit just as well as the sets of scripts that we use now.
That said, documenting what we do so it can be handed off to other volunteers wouldn't be a bad thing...
See also Tcl Conferences