There are two main reasons I like to go to WWDC. The first is to talk with Apple engineers down in the labs, and the second is to catch up with friends and make new ones if possible. Based on those criteria, I'd say this WWDC was one of the best in recent memory.
After a brief wait in line(s) for a particular lab, I was always able to get paired with an engineer on the relevant framework I had some questions about. In the past, this really only happened when I hit the Core Image labs (they know my face and name by now) but when I went down to the Metal labs with specific questions, I was hooked up with someone at Apple who had actually done what I'm attempting to do. I can remember times in previous years where I would be shuffled around from person to person as I explained my problem, only to find out that the person I was looking for was in earlier that week and "Sorry, here's a card please talk to our evangelist".
Was it because the new location was closer to Cupertino? Or did I get lucky this time around? Whatever the reason, it was a happy change from previous years. Even randomly running into engineers in the hallways happened more often and provided fruitful conversations.
But what about San Jose itself? The last time I was there was in 2000, again for WWDC. Developer Preview 4 dropped for us and we got our first look at Aqua earlier in the year. I don't have too many memories of it, but I do remember walking around with friends in the evening, trying to figure out what to do. We couldn't find much to do. It was pretty uneventful.
Most developers I talked to before WWDC were pretty worried about San Jose, but pretty much everyone I talked to was satisfied by the end of the week.
The best thing about WWDC in San Jose was that everything was so close together. The major hotels were only a few blocks away from the convention center. The Bash was a few more blocks away beyond that. There was even a climbing gym a few blocks away so I brought my shoes for a mid week break there. All the night time activities were close by as well. It was pretty awesome.
The next best thing was that San Jose isn't crowded like San Francisco is. In San Jose you had a clear view of the sidewalks and you generally knew who was a developer and who was a local. And because it wasn't so crowded, you ran into people all the time. You didn't have to organize meetups, you just kind of went out and you knew you'd run into someone to hang with.
I really enjoyed it and I hope to go again next year.
Oh, and the new Core Image stuff is pretty hot as well. I can't wait to start using that.