Well, it was that time of year again. The time when people’s thoughts turn to warmer weather, cool drinks, blockbuster summer movies, and ofcourse how to improve their WordPress skills. Maybe that last one is just me… or not. Recently, (during WordCamp New York City : June 9th – 10th) WordPress themers, pro bloggers, development rockstars, and newbies thirsty for knowledge got a chance to assemble from all over the world much like Marvel’s Avengers to rub elbows with WordPress core developers (and more importantly each other) in the spirit of learning.
Since I had such a positive experience in 2010, and due to the fact New York took a collective hiatus in 2011, I was looking forward to another wonderful event this time around after all the anticipation. Turns out many people were looking forward to this as well, because we easily hit in the neighborhood of 800 attendees. This year was really special for me personally, because I decided to introduce my son to WordPress. He was excited about assisting me in volunteering, and getting a window into what I do for a living. He also looked forward to being in the “beginner track” sessions, because he has dreams of running or being part of a school newspaper in the future.
“Focused” And Diverse
In addition, this year felt more “focused” and mature to me. That is probably a side-effect of my own knowledge, and the maturation of WordPress itself (WordPress 3.4 launched June 14th.) Also noteworthy, are the facts: like myself several people brought their kids, there were a lot more female presenters, and the topics spanned the spectrum of “improving how you blog” to “getting into the guts of WordPress and coming out the other side” figuratively speaking.
Due to my affinity for this event, I answered the call for the second time in three years and volunteered to aid the WordCamp NYC 2012 team to stage one of the most diverse events I’ve ever attended- diverse in attendees, and in presentation content.
The Fellowship Of WordPress
If you’ve never been to one of these WordCamp events, you really missing a treat. WordCamps are hosted year round, all over the country- supported by local Meetup groups, sponsors, and the WordPress foundation. Speaking for “our event” (WordCamp NYC), there is a real spirit of “brotherhood” and “tutelage” at the event that everyone buys into.
Since the event was held at Baruch College (mostly in their 55 Lexington Ave. location) It was always an interesting proposition navigating the hallways and watching people do the lost-freshman-first-day-of-high-school routine trying to find the room numbers of the different sessions. But as usual people made it work.
Shoutout To The Organizers, Volunteers And Individual Sponsors
This year the hard assignment of organizing this year’s WordCamp went to a crack team of intrepid souls from our local WPNYC.org group. If you want to shoot them a note of thanks, Check out this WordCamp NYC 2012 organizer Twitter list. We also had 40 people step up as volunteers and 22 people step up as individual sponsors, including myself.
Why You Should Volunteer Next Time
Just a little secret… I love volunteering, especially for morning setup and lunch because they are really critical. Not only that, but you get to meet the most people which helps if you want to turn to a neighbor for clarity on a point during a speaker’s session. I also like to meet, or work with the speakers if they have to register at your table, or if you happen to be their room monitor. It’s really a great advantage, you get the see the event in a whole different perspective than just being an attendee.
The Theme Of WordCamp NYC 2012
If I had to pick a theme for this year’s WordCamp New York City I would say it was: “There’s a right way to do things and a wrong way. Learn the right way.” There was a lot of head-nodding in the sessions I attended (even if it was only me doing it.) I definitely think we’ll see a lot about “best practices in WordPress” in the near future. Take a look at this developing page on CSS in the WordPress Codex for example.
The Biggest Things That Stuck With Me As A Designer/Developer:
1. Stay on top of your updates, and take proper security precautions to protect your install.
2. Don’t work against how WordPress works, if that can be avoided at all.
3. Learn the nuances of why WordPress does what it does, this will make you a better developer.
4. If you don’t like the way WordPress works then become a core contributor and patch it, or file a trac bug.
5. We all have access to a really great WordPress community that’s willing to help.
For My Teenager, His Take-aways Were:
1. He really got a ground level introduction to the software.
2. Really enjoyed learning about SEO and taking full advantage of the tools Google offers.
3. Loved the concept of guest blogging and different things you could do to raise your online profile.
4. He really liked the idea of learning a trade that he felt would be in demand
5. He liked learning about all the useful plugins at his disposal especially for things like video integration.
A Lot To Process
This WordCamp was “off the chain” busting out with content, 80 sessions were held on Saturday alone with more on Sunday including repeats by popular demand. It was a lot to process even for a veterans, but oh so awesome ;-)
The coolest things I learned about by far were the new debugger tools available (see slides below), and the new Theme Customizer tool in WordPress 3.4 : download the latest WordPress, (3.4 or later) is out now!
My List Of Homework / Favorite Presentations (*means I saw in person)
These are WordCamp NYC 2012 presentations I saw live or wish I saw (like the Mets no-hitter.) It was so hard making choices! This is a list of 20 out of 80! I originally just wanted to highlight 10.
It’s really hilarious and an embarrassment of riches that so much information was offered to the attendees in one place (and in some cases direct from the WordPress VIP developer team.)
I’m not going to bore you any further, or steal the thunder from any of these slide presentations, so just check them out for yourself…
1. Brad Williams – WordPress Security
2. Boone Gorges – Using Git for Sane WordPress Development [Sunday]*
3. Mo Jangda – WordPress Debugging*
4. Andrew Nacin- You Don’t Know Query [Sunday]*
6. Alexandar Sapountzis and Jeffrey Marx – Customizing the loop*
7. Sonja Leix – WordPress Responsive Design Bootcamp
8. John Havlik – The Power Of Custom Post Types*
9. Sarah Whinnem- WordPress Hierachy and Custom Templates
10. Mel Choyce – Alas, No Mind: Designer-Developer Communication
11. Jeremy Clarke = Dry CSS – Theories, Methods And Tools For Scalable Stylesheets
12. Helen Hou-Sandi – Making Plugins and Themes disappear in into the WordPress Admin
13. Jason Paul – WordPress As A Custom CMS
14. Siobhan McKeown – Killer Docs For Devs
15. Mason James – Supporting WordPress:Caring For Your Clients And Community
16. Ben Doherty – WordPress On The Command-Line
17. Jake Goldman – What Would Core Do?
18. Erick Hitter – Moving beyond the Codex: Learning WordPress from itself
19. Kathryn Presner – A Beginner’s Guide to WordPress
20. Alex Miranda – Google Loves WordPress – Blogging For SEO
If want to learn more, checkout the WordCamp NYC 2012 Website. If you want follow-up info just check the #wcnyc hashtag on Twitter. Also my Meetup buddy Jean-Pierre Welch (@jpwelch) has a running Delicious.com feed of all the available WordCamp NYC 2012 #wcnyc slides from the event and eventually the videos will be available online as well.
Special shoutout to the WordCamp NYC 2012 sponsors for the free swag and the support. Especially the @WPEngine guys who gave any #wcnyc attendee that was interested a free personal account for life! I got into a great dialogue with their team and they’re really committed to sponsoring and promoting WordCamps across the country. Check them out if you’re interested in a hosting company that believes in WordPress. The t-shirts were printed up by Graf-X Unlimited in Brooklyn. Please visit, support and tweet about the sponsors of our event to encourage them for the future.
Other Recaps, Please Comment
If I have left out anything important, if you see any glaring typos let me know. Also, if you have your own WordCamp recap, please comment, shoot me an email, or hit me up on twitter (@chrisdigital) I’ll update the post: