Why go to Wordcamp San Francisco?

Two weeks ago I was at Wordcamp SF (#wcsf ) and given that I live in Auckland NZ it is rather a long way to go so why do I do it? Simply put – since 2009 I have been working mostly full time on WordPress based projects.

I actually started using WordPress in mid 2006 and made my first public WordPress post in October of that year but it took a while before I worked out that WordPress was more of a platform that a piece of blogging software and longer again to build a business around that.

In the 2012 survey 20,000 people answered that they make a living or significant income from working on WordPress projectsand of that group about 750 of us made it to San Fran for this wordcamp. Here is a snap of the 29 speakers from this year.

wordcamp sf speakers

All those years ago I could see that WordPress might help me ask better questions about everything that matters and any project that does that is one where I want to get up close and tuned in so off to San Fran I went.

This year I wanted to put some more faces to names and meet many of the regional and local leaders of the various WordPress development groups form around the world and SF is where they all go at least once a year.

#Wcsf this year was very much oriented towards the developers however because there were 2 streams many other topics were covered – often by core contributors and key players in the WordPress community.

The 2012 SF Schedule covered everything from faster, faster pussycat kill, kill* (10 Things To Make Your Site Faster, Chris Coyier) through usability Automatic Customers: How to Design User Habits by Nir Eyal, bbPress: What’s all the buzz about? by John James Jacoby, and BuddyPress core team member Paul Gibbs on The State of BuddyPress, State of the Word by Matt Mullenweg is the global showcase piece and that makes 29 presentations in all.

Here is lookin at you kidThis year most of them were 15 minutes + questions which is very close to the TED format that I favour. In general this meant all presenters had just enough time to do a roadmap with selected case studies.

For some of the more technical topics like Mistakes I made using jQuery, and how to avoid them by Andy Peatling and Securing Cookie-Authenticated JSON APIs by Michael Adams I wanted to back the truck up a bit and take a longer a time to understand what we were being told but generally the larger number of topics and faster pace meant that more ground could be covered.

Matt’s state of the Word presentation was a great way to calibrate what has happened in the last year and what is planned for the near future. This time some of the predictions from the previous year were reviewed.

Key points from Matt’s talk was that the retina screen is a game changer for developers and there is already a developer team looking at what can be done inside WordPress to better use the very high resolution screens from the newer Mac’s. ( WordPress is 9 years old now 🙂

“John Gruber has a great essay on the paradigm shift (yes I just said that) of the Retina Macbook Pro” is from a link off Matt’s blog last week.

Incidently a quick survey the next day at the code day ( 85ish developers) shows that Mac is still the preferred kit for most WordPress users including Matt himsewlf now rocking a retina screen Macbook Pro.

Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/photomatt/wordpress-state-of-the-word-2012
Video: http://wordpress.tv/2012/08/06/matt-mullenweg-state-of-the-word-2012/
Blog Post: http://ma.tt/2012/08/state-of-the-word-2012/

Featured in State of the WordSince my first Wordcamp in Sydney in November 2008 I have been to 9 wordcamps which have developed from being user group style meet-ups into more of a celebration of a much wider and more diverse content and technical community of interests.

As Matt mentioned there were 52 wordcamps in 2011. This year there will be 75 wordcamps and they happen all around the world.

This year I even got a a few seconds on screeen as part of State of the word as an example WordPress user “slide number 92” – see pic at left.

It turns out that working with a large number of not-for-profits, education and creative content projects is fairly typical of many of the WordPress based developers at the event.

Having an easy to pronouce name also helps when slideshows are being compiled but thanks for the ad Ma.tt

In NZ I have been a core organiser of 4 wordcamps so far and also been to 3 Wordcamps in Australia all of which have marked a number of key changes in the development of the WordPress core and eco-systems around that such as the development of premium themes and plugins.

WordCampSF is the first wordcamp and is more of a WordPress directions event these days where something like half of the attendees are from outside SF and many of those from outside the US.

WordPress has 3000 open tickets and is one of the largest and most active open source projects in the world.  The frequency of change and the level of improvements to usability and function have been incredible.

I am honoured and delighted to be part of such a community of helpful people all helping to enable others and making it easier ( ironically) for thousands of very smart projects to not have to know anything about code to get their projects online.

If there is something you don’t like – it is very easy to log a ticket in the system and get that issue or idea reviewed by an amazing group of contributors. In practical terms this means that things change very fast and if you like change ( and I do) then most changes can be accomplished within a 90-180 day timetable if they are considered to be of value to the wider community.

Thank you to the WordPress community – it was great to meet so many of you at #wcsf. San Francisco is a brilliant city to visit so I will be back for sure.

Some of the other sessions I went to and enjoyed plus slide links where available.

Paul Gibbs: State of BuddyPress
http://www.slideshare.net/DJPaul/the-state-of-buddypress-2012-13875300

Drew Strojny: How Not To Design A Default Theme
https://speakerdeck.com/u/drewstrojny/p/how-not-to-design-a-default-theme

Isaac Keyet: State Of Mobile
http://www.slideshare.net/isaackeyet/state-of-mobile-13874063

Ryan Imel: State Of The Themes
http://speakerdeck.com/u/ryanimel

Adii: The Business Of Code
https://speakerdeck.com/u/adii/p/the-business-of-code

This list comes from David Bisset

(* Not really but I always wanted to use that movie title when someone says faster)

I haven’t seen the slide link yet for Leo’s talk but Building an Audience as a Writer by Leo Babauta was an afternoon delight late in the day. Much of what Leo talked about is the exact opposite of what most writers think. I discoved Leo’s blog back when he was living on Guam and it was great having him on stage at #wcsf.