Mendeley @ WWDC 2015

Mendeley is growing and wants to be on the edge of innovation, to better serve our users. It is therefore essential for us to be present where the technological (r)evolutions happen. So we send our developers to some of the biggest IT conferences around the world where they can learn about the latest development trends, find inspiration and speak with other developers.

Most recently we sent Stefano, (one of our developers from the Mobile Team) to the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, and this is the basis for today’s guest blog post.

From the 8th – 12th June 2015, I went to the Apple WWDC at the Moscone Center in San Francisco – this is where all development innovations on Apple platforms take place, and developers meet to talk about these latest products.

Aside from the mainstream keynote presentation, where Apple showcased the next major versions of its operating systems (OS X El Capitan, iOS 9, watch OS 2) and the new service Apple Music, the WWDC is the main opportunity for an Apple platform developer to learn new technologies in advance, consolidate the knowledge as well as to have the opportunity of speaking with Apple Engineers and asking them whatever questions.

The conference in fact was composed by three different types of training:
– Sessions where Apple engineers talk about new features and best practices.
– Labs offer a unique opportunity to spend time in a one-to-one discussion with an Apple engineer.
– Lunch sessions are less technical and more oriented on inspirational topics.

The main benefit of all these training sessions is to speed up the development of new features and to improve the integration between Apps and the Apple ecosystem, especially with the next generation of operating systems.

With more than 5000 developers and 1000 Apple engineers arriving in the city from all over the world, there were also plenty of side events during the conference days in San Francisco including some hosted by other companies based nearby. These provided additional training opportunities, but also a chance to catch up with other developers and speak face-to-face with some of our business partners who develop technologies that we use to create and test the iOS app. For instance I had an interesting chat with the developers of the PDF library we use in Mendeley iOS and I had the opportunity of clarify some doubts with the makers of the crash report tool we currently use to improve our products. I also visited the HQ of a potential partner where I got an overview of their products.

The time spent outside the conference place was as useful as the time spent inside for another reason: notorious bloggers of the Apple world and well known indie developers organised their own events, and so I had the opportunity of networking and partaking in technical discussions with people I that have previously only read and communicated with from in front of a screen.

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Coming out of this conference, we have already started to work on some of the hints  from the Apple engineers to improve some weaknesses of the Mendeley iOS App, for instance the internal search it’s faster and more reliable in version 2.7 just released, and we will improve the general stability and security of our mobile product. We will also be working on supporting multitasking on iPad in iOS 9 and adding new ways to import and open PDFs in our App.

We have also started to think about how to interact with the new intelligent search and proactive assistant made available from Apple that will permit searching documents in the user library directly from the iOS search… And maybe in the future ask Siri to lookup a paper for you within Mendeley!