Last Thursday was a sunny one in Bristol, UK. It was also the inaugural meeting for the South West’s Force.com dev group.

The group met in The Elephant in the city centre and was, according to those left at the end of the night, a great success. We never expected the group to be big when we were planning it’s birth and the fact that a total of seven developers turned up to swap tales was pleasantly surprising.

The format was intentionally informal and the evening consisted of a few beers, a good discussion around how we’d like to see the meetup evolve and of course a group therapy session around our latest set of “challenges” the platform has presented us with. As you’d expect the topics where very varied from query parameter striping and reordering to testing http callouts to JSON parsing in Summer ’12.

Going forward we intend to meet on the last Thursday of every other month this allows us to fold in nicely with the South West User Group as well. It also means that we’ll be more or less due an event around the time of Dreamforce so we may well endeavour to do something terribly English, or worse West Country esk whilst we’re there. For the meantime we’re going to keep the fairly informal format as well given the size, although we may think about having “themes” to base our discussions around to give us some focus without needing to go down the whole presentation route – just yet. Our biggest initial challenge is to try and find those Force.com developers that hang around the South West and maybe hope for a slight down turn in the weather as well to encourage a few more people indoors.

If you’re reading this and live/work locally then I really do hope you can come along to the next event. Given our minority standing in the developer community as a whole it’s easy to shrink away into the corner and feel forgotten about. But at our events there’s no need to feel like that we’re all in the same boat and so welcome other with out-stretched arms.

Finally no developer meetup would be complete without a picture or two to prove that it happened – unfortunately I only have a couple of pictures that prove I was in the pub with a group of people, one of whom just happened to be wearing a Force.com cap!