After being a LabVIEW developer for around 4 years now, I managed to convince my management to send me to NIWeek this year. This will be my first time at NI Week, but also my first time in Austin and my first business trip ever.
I tend to be a bit obsessive over planning ahead so I've already set up a session schedule using the app, and found a session I'm interested in for basically every time slot (I think I may skip the Wednesday afternoon keynote as I have absolutely nothing to do with the automotive industry, and there isn't any alternative session to attend).
I keep finding myself wondering if there's anything a veteran attendee would recommend doing or not doing, any recommendations on sessions to definitely attend or not attend, etc. etc.
There are several threads from previous years that have a similar topic that you might want to read up on.
I can't find the others that I remember participating in. Go to the sessions and enjoy learning from others. Ask questions, get involved, discuss topics with presenters after the session has ended if they have time. Be sure and take notes on the sessions you went to, and things to research when you get back. Session content is usually posted online later, and in some cases videos of the sessions will be uploaded online. And don't feel like you have to stay in a session you started. I've left a few times when it turns into a sales pitch, or the topic wasn't quite what I thought it was.
Attend the keynotes, they are pretty cool but may have moments of uninteresting bits. Breakfast, and lunches are included, and pretty good. Even last year the boxed lunches were fine, but years previous were catered. The conference party is always a good time, with some kind of music entertainment, drink, and food. In your down time check out the expo floor. I think they close it Thursday, or maybe Wednesday night I can't remember but I never feel like I spend enough time there and before you know it the week is over.
Outside of the conference do some networking. Meeting up with like minded individuals is pretty easy. This is a place where some people who are the only LabVIEW person in the company, get to nerd up with other LabVIEW people. Lots of fun discussion about where the industry is going, and technology in general. Bring business cards. You'll usually see a bundle of LabVIEW nerds walking the street wearing NI Week swag like shirts, or confernce badges.
Night life on 6th street is pretty epic, you can be out as late or as early as you want. Be sure and check out the Vulcan Gas Company, the Piano Bar, Buffalo Billiards, Maggie Mae's, or Cedar Street Courtyard (where the Spazmatics sometimes play). There usually is a meet up at The Ginger Man Sunday night if you are there early. And let us not forget about the LAVA BBQ. LAVA is the largest independent LabVIEW community and this is an opportunity to raise some money for site hosting, as well as enjoy some Texas BBQ, maybe win a door prize, and meet some of the LabVIEW celebrities you've seen online. Several from NI R&D are usually there and they are pretty open to discussions.
When you get back go over the notes on the sessions you took. Look up the presentation slides and material, and watch the session videos. If you have other LabVIEW developers at your work I'd compile the content into a presentation. This helps make the trip not just look like a week of partying.
It's wonderful that you are attending NIWeek. I think you'll get a lot of value out of your time and investment.
As for what other options you have if you don't attend the Wed. afternoon keynote, meet with NI R&D. Or you can visit the Expo Hall - view live demos and make new contacts.
Here are a couple of blogs you may find interesting:
The Software Engineering Processes, Architecture and Design track with LabVIEW Champions presenting
See you in about a month.