TL;DR – GO TO CODEMASH! It’s worth it.

ZAGG Studios, Ltd.: After Dark &emdash;

The New Year’s buzz is over, vacations are over, and the dead of winter is right around the corner. If only there was some way to kick start your January. Why don’t you start off this year the RIGHT way and travel to Sandusky, Ohio!

“Sandusky, Ohio? That’s where Cedar Point is, right?!?! I love riding coasters! Brilliant!”

Well, sorry to break the news, but it’s closed. You won't be riding roller coasters. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 and wait till May (don’t worry, I’m right there with you #Valraven ).

“But what else is going on in Sandusky that could possibly be that interesting?”

What if GitHub blocked a region of Sandusky? Or, what if it was the top trending on twitter? Or if it has 2.2TB of internet traffic per day? Does that sound interesting?

“Ok I’m interested”

What if I added 2,500 people over four days and 280 sessions all geared around technology and development?

“Ok it's better but I’m still not sold”

You get out of the office for a while?

“Yeah, but it’s just a conference. Big deal…”

It’s at an indoor water park!



What I am talking about is CodeMash and it is not what you would think of as a regular conference. It's a fun and creative learning event for developers by developers.

Being a junior developer I was hesitant about going because I thought it was going to be over my head. But boy was I wrong! If you're you a new developer who's thinking about attending CodeMash. You should, and here's 13 reasons why.

1. Location

Seriously, CodeMash is hosted at the wonderful Kalahari Resorts. This includes America's largest indoor water park, hotel suites, and a massive convention center. There is no shortage of fun while on the Kalahari property. Plus, people trek from all over the world this event. Here is an HTTP2 talk by Ole Michaelis from Germany. How about a Node.js talk by David Neal from Georgia. Or even Aztek's very own Michael Hagesfeld!


2. Start the new year off right

Free your mind to take on some pretty awesome knowledge from some of the top vendors and speakers around. The most insightful talk I attended was "Tracking Real World Web Performance" presented by Nik Molnar (Creator of Glimpse). He talked about how to improve site performance and the tools to do it. Checkout this awesome tool to measure your web performance! WebPageTest

3. It’s not expensive

I’m talking about the main event that runs Thursday and Friday. You get admission, all your food/drink, and water park admission for Thursday night. $300 is not too much to ask considering what's included. That’s $150/day with water park time. Seems pretty fair to me when other conferences can cost $75 for one day or all the way up $1700 for a week.

4. Co-workers!

If you go with co-workers it’s less scary, I promise. Seriously, though, GO with co-workers. You can cover more ground that way. You can also have great discussions on what you learned and how to (or how not to) implement new concepts. It also doable as a team building exercise! And one of my co-workers gave a presentation at the event, check out his slides about how lessons from improv comedy can help your communication and your career.

5. Meet new people

Oh. My. Gosh. This is the place to be for networking. You can talk to some of the vendors/developers that you already know or meet some new ones. You also make friends throughout the day in your sessions. 2,500 people that all know something you don’t.

6. Run into old friends

There is just something about catching up with old friends. Whether they are from school, former employers, user groups or other walks of life. There is a high chance you will run into someone you know. I ran into three within my first two hours of being there.

7. Learn new things

Want to learn that hot new JavaScript language? There is a session on that. Want to learn how to extend a current skill set? There is a session for that. Want to improve some soft skills? Yup, sessions for that too! Want to see an ironman exoskeleton that runs on JavaScript? It’s all there. See for your self!

8. Get out of your comfort zone

Piggybacking off of number seven, there is plenty of new content to be discovered. Go check it out. If you don’t like it, it is ok to get up and leave. Most presenters start by saying “…if this talk is not for you, feel free to excuse yourself and find one that is. Get YOUR money’s worth.”

9. Stay on top of industry trends

With 2,500 developers, chances are some re-occurring themes will emerge. Some of the 2016 trends that I noticed were Node.js, Web Performance/Accessibility, and Mobile development. I am sure there are plenty others in the 200+ sessions!

10. Pat yourself on the back

Who doesn't like validation? It improves who we are and helps reinforce things we know. During the presentations, you could be thinking ‘Hey, we should really do that to help improve area X” or “Wow! That’s pretty cool and we already do that! Glad to know we are on the same page.” A couple of us went to a talk by Tim Corey about automation where he talked about using Jenkins. Happy Birthday to us! We already use Jenkins.

11. Talk about event coordination

First off, this place is HUGE! Like 215,000 sq/ft huge! And CodeMash had all of it. There was a lot of commotion all day long but it was never a rat race. Registration was a breeze. A bad projector was operational in under 10 min. Most importantly, being a developer conference, the Wi-Fi worked. Like, flawlessly.

12. Eat food

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all provided by the resort and it was excellent! All the way from the salads to the desserts there were plenty of options and a constant supply. I think the only thing they ran out of was bacon at breakfast which is to be expected. Also, a wild candy bar would appear in random spots throughout the day. Kudos to Kalahari for supporting 2,500 hungry people with tasty food.

13. Have fun

There is nothing more to this last point other than it was fun. If you want to learn in a fun environment, this is the way to do it. As Einstein once said “…never let your schooling interfere with your education.”

BONUS: KidzMash

Spouses and kids can attend KidzMash for free! KidzMash runs in parallel with CodeMash organizing family oriented events. So for whatever reason, your family can come be a part of the all-day learning and fun!

Going to CodeMash as a new developer was defiantly worth it and I would recommend it to any developer. It’s a fun learning environment with great people all about sharing great ideas. I look forward to returning next year to expand my knowledge. *cough January 10-13, 2017 cough*