I was fortunate enough to attend the 2014 St. Louis WordCamp this past weekend. For those not familiar with WordCamp here is the official lowdown from wordcamp.org.
WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress, the free and open source personal publishing software that powers over 75 million sites on the web. Source: central.wordcamp.org/about
Prior to attending the conference I was able to go to the most excellent website 2014.stlouis.wordcamp.org and carve out a plan of attack. The tracks were broken up by developer and user with a developer/user round table and keynote speaker in the middle.
I arrived at the beautiful Danforth Campus of Washington University around 8:15AM and that was plenty of time to grab some tasty Kaldi’s coffee and go through the 5 minute painless registration process. I next headed into the main auditorium for the short but sweet welcome. There I was given the all important Twitter hashtag #wcstl.
For the first session I chose Customizing your WordPress theme with CSS (Beginner/Intermediate) with Michael Arestad. I am glad I chose this session because it was great and I learned some new CSS WordPress tricks. Michael works for Automattic as a designer and I chatted with him afterwords and asked him how he likes working for Automattic and he said he loves it and it shows. Check him out at michaelarestad.com.
During the break someone told be about WP Armchair which is a WordPress site that aggregates tweets and photos for WordCamp monitoring. What a grand idea.
After break it was on to Anatomy of WordPress (Beginner) with Ben Gathard who gave a really nice overview of the WordPress Codex. I was pretty familiar with the codex already but still learned some new things. And the best thing I learned is that Ben has a new tutorial site launching soon called Lazer Vs. The Machines.
After another quick break and coffee refuel it was on to Speeding up theme development with automation (Intermediate) with Joshua Ray. There was a ton of info in a small amount of time including using deployment automation tools such as Git and Grunt. Joshua encouraged everyone to use command line tools and config files using Dandelion for faster launch times. All and all an informative session with a Joshua adding some funny slides including a geeky reference to Git Stash which had a pic of Tom Selleck’s awesomeness. Checkout Joshua online under the alias pdxollo.
It was lunchtime and I worked up a big appetite after all the information overload. I reserved in advance a delicious Tandoori Chicken Wrap. It was hard to choose given the super descriptive sandwich and wrap options
Shout out to Bon Appetit Catering. Nice job!
During lunch I struck up a conversion with an 84 year old gentleman named John M. Ramsay. It turns out John is a great writer and is looking to publish his works on WordPress. I will look forward to seeing what he has in store.
Now it was time for Carrie Dils – Spare a Square – Keynote Presentation. Being a big Seinfeld fan I was aware of the “Spare a Square” reference and was tickled when Carrie kicked off her presentation with this video.
The gist of her presentation was to be open and contribute your talents to the community and throughout your career and good things will happen. She was really funny and everyone seemed to enjoy her presentation which bordered on stand up comedy at times. My only complaint was that for a keynote the presentation was on the short side. Maybe next time Carrie can bring her guitar and open the floor for Q & A to stretch it out a bit.
Honestly I was planning on bailing after the keynote but I was having so much fun I decided to stay. Also I heard the guy who helped create the Twenty Fourteen theme which I am currently using was doing a session entitled Options, and Transients, and Theme Mods, Oh My! (Intermediate) with Konstantin Obenland. Konstantin admitted he had never seen the movie Wizard of Oz and he just coincidentally named his class with the “Oh My” at the end. The real question is has Konstantin ever seen The Dark Side Of The Rainbow which is watching The Wizard of Oz while listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon! Anyway, the session was very informative and I learned a ton about caching especially. Learn more about Konstantin at obenland.it.
More coffee and then it was on to the Development Roundtable/Panel which was really a Q & A and it was lively.
The last session I attended was WordPress as an Application Framework (Intermediate) with Brian Messenlehner. This turned out to be my favorite sessions of the day. Mainly because of the presenter Brian who is a former Marine turned WordPress/BuddyPress developer. I noticed Brian earlier and saw that he was wearing Google Glass. Later during the session he took a photo of everyone in the classroom with Google Glass and uploaded it simply by nodding his head. Brian is the co-founder of WebDevStudios.com and showcased some of the great work they have done including a new mobile project called AppPresser. At one point he showed by simply inserting a short code in WordPress such as [ap-camera] the system would use the camera device on the front end. Pretty cool! Learn more by watching the video below.
It was getting late and I had to bail. I was bummed I could not stay for Leveraging WordPress for Your eCommerce Website (Intermediate) with Will Hanke. I have been following his SEO and WordPress tip for a couple years. I asked him if he would make his presentation available and he was kind enough to do so. You can find his presentation on SlideShare and lots of other great info at willhanke.com.
I had a great time and met some cool people. Not to mention scoring some righteous swag!
A special thanks to my friend and co-worker Michael who obtained the tickets for this wonderful conference. Check Michael out online at pixelglacier.com. He builds awesome WordPress sites.
Bonus item! I learned the name of the component with three horizontal lines that is found on mobile websites is commonly referred to as the Hamburger Menu 🙂
Here is the WordCamp STL 2014 Highlights video.
Related content: WordCamp St. Louis March 14-15, 2015 Review