My first Dreamforce was in 2007.  It seemed huge.  I felt optimistic.  Excited.  And — I'll admit it — I wondered if everything that sounded so good at the event would turn out.

Fast forward to today.  It's Thursday, I'm at the airport, and now I'm a veteran four times over.  This was the biggest Dreamforce yet: 30k people, insanely huge announcements, and, I'm sure, more than a few people wondering how the next year is going to unfold.  Before I give you my predictions, let me share some great experiences I had.

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Dreamforce for me started with Cloudstock.  60+ sessions.  Almost 30 partners.  3000 developers.  All learning about the cloud.  Not just the Platform — many, many platforms.  My favorite quote from that event comes from partner Apigee.  One of their speakers pointed out that "Getting it right is a matter of getting it incrementally less wrong over time."  Brilliant.

@ReidCarlberg is a developer evangelist with

Side note: at the end of Cloudstock, a platform user asked me about how to configure Find Nearby.  We talked about that and three other apps.  She looked right at me and said:  coming to Dreamforce has already paid for itself.  #Awesome!  (Seen below: @DarthGarry, King of #Awesome, on a different topic.)

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I had two of my sessions on Day 1.  The first was Introduction to the Data Model.  Great questions from the audience about how to do a database right.  My favorite data model story of this DF was about a project I completed 3 years ago.  I joined part way into the project and fought for a new data model and convinced people to give it a shot.  Found out that that client is still using what I built today.  I also found out that they've put in more than 30m records.  That's 30 million.  I love scale.

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The second session on Day 1 was Introduction to Visualforce.  What a fantastic audience!  Rockstar Ryan Lavallee helped me monitor the Chatter feed for questions and the attendees asked some great ones.  My favorites had to do with including JavaScript — can you use it?  Yes.  Absolutely.  And I also sent them to see one of the two excellent JQuery sessions conducted by Josh Birk and Jason Venable to learn how.

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The second day was a lot of fun for me.  I had booth duty in the AM — which I love — and then got to appear on Salesforce Live!  My first set was interviewing Chuck Mortimer about our authentication services.  He knows waaaayyy too much about Oauth.  And then Mr. Demo Dan Darcy himself interviewed me about two of my favorite subjects — the intro dev experience and Labs.  Put me in front of a camera and ask me to talk about Labs Apps?  Just try to get me to shut up!  Mr. D had his hands full.

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Then, on day three, I started off the morning with a code consult.  Tina, my customer, walked me through her very robust bidirectional accounting integration (with a 20 year old legacy system!) and then we talked about a Visualforce view state issue.  Turned out all she really needed was a little tweak to a SOQL statement in the controller.  A very minor tweak on a highly sophisticated app.

Oh — and I had a co-worker call run over to me and say "Reid Reid — you have to come see this!"  What was it?  A completely great JQuery based Gantt chart.  Watch for it in Milestones PM soon.  

My last session of the conference was with the Chatter dev crew.  I learned a ton about roadmap as well as some interesting things in the electronic health records arena.  Super cool.

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And I should mention one thing that hasn't changed since my first DF: I've lost my voice.  It started to go on Tuesday, was pretty much toast by the end of Wednesday and today?  Well, let's just say I'm writing for a reason. 

Now let me give you my prediction: yes.  Yes, we'll deliver on the many announcements. already has people thinking differently and HOLY COW Heroku is joining the family. Completely, ridiculously cool. It will make 2011 a super fun year.  Why am I so confident this company will deliver? History shows we do.  Past is prologue. 

To all the people I knew before and got to see again: thank you.  To all the people I've met on Twitter and in the #awesome Dreamforce app: it was fantastic to meet you IRL.  Thank you for being as friendly in person as you are on line.  And to all the customers, partners, prospects and fellow employees I was able to connect with for the first time: thank you — you are the reason I love my job.

Dreamforce 2011 will be here before you know it.  A lot of partners have already signed up and a large number of attendees have already made up their minds to be in San Francisco again.  

I can hardly wait.

And PS I had a complete unscripted keynote cameo!  How #Awesome is that????

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