The next 20 to 30 years of development will see the urbanization of suburbia, said Joel Kotkin, author of "The City: A Global History" and the final keynote speaker of the 2007 Developer Conference.

Historically, cities were gathering places that offered their residents a sense of identity, safety, and commerce, Kotkin said. After the Industrial Revolution, this changed. Density in cities was reduced by half, and the preservation of open space became a pressing problem.

Today, the opportunities for development are in the urban centers of the suburbs and rural areas where people feel most safe, Kotkin went on to say. Good examples of these "new suburban villages" are Fullerton, Calif., Naperville, Ill., and The Woodlands, Texas.

Kotkin also pointed out a number of interesting demographic and social trends: 35 percent of people want to live in the country; job growth in the United States is most concentrated outside of urban cores; and minorities will drive the next 100 million in population growth.

Considering these factors, it's important to note that "the future is the digital revolution," Kotkin said. "There will be more people working at home, and the pre-industrial city will be a thing of the past."