Summary of the WordCamp Europe 2017

Published in Community.

Translated by Núria Adell.

We just got back from the WordCamp Europe 2017, which took place in Paris this year. As I didn’t want to forget any details, I started writing this summary article as soon as possible to be able to tell you what we’ve experienced during these past 5 days in the city of light, taken literally by the international WordPress community.

If you couldn’t attend, I hope that at least by reading these lines you get the opportunity to know a little bit more about the event and what to expect if you decide to attend the next one. Without further delay, here you have the summary, with my personal opinions. I hope you like it!

Location

What can I tell you about Paris that you don’t already know? The truth is that Paris is a beautiful city, and very accessible from practically any European country. But let’s focus on what interests us, which is the location where the WordCamp Europe took place.

Even though it was located on the outskirts of Paris (in the northern part) and in a somewhat underprivileged area, so to speak, once you were inside the two naves of the building, where you had the tracks, sponsors, and everything else, the place was surprising. And in a good way.

What I particularly liked is that although there were more than 1900 people there, at no time it felt crowded or that there was a lack of space. The site was huge, as you can see in the following photos:

The strategic position of the sponsors was also very interesting, located at the center. Something to thank for, as it’s always nice to be able to pass by in between the talks to check out what they do and get to know them. Thanks to the sponsors we can enjoy events of this caliber; they deserve a treatment like the one I was happy to see. The organisers definitely got it right!

Amongst all the swag we could see in the WordCamp Europe 2017, our favourite were the fidget spinners 😎.

And the game we played at the SiteGround stand wasn’t bad either. Here you can see me trying to assemble a WordPress logo puzzle with my eyes covered 😅.

In short, the assessment of both the location and the organization cannot be more positive.

Contributor Day

The first day of the event was the contributor day, where all the teams that make WordPress come together and contribute to its improvement. As we always say, you don’t have to be an elite programmer to contribute to WordPress. No matter what level or profession you have, you can surely find the right team to contribute with.

In our case, both David and I decided to participate in the Core’s team, responsible for reporting bugs in WordPress and solve them. As newcomers to this group, we had the opportunity to meet very interesting people, including Pascal Birchier, who helped us better understand the workings of WordPress trac.

David was even able to report an error with child themes that we encountered with a client who had problems with one of our plugins (and the problem turned out to be a poor definition of his child theme). In fact, as you can see in the report itself, we were able to include a patch to solve the error and a unit test to prevent it from reappearing in the future. Best of all, the improvement has been proposed to be included in the next update of WordPress. WordPress 4.9 will include code written by Nelio! It’s a pretty small thing, but we’re very excited.

Nelio contribuyendo en el equipo de Core durante el Contributor Day de la WordCamp Europe 2017.
Nelio contributing to the Core team during the Contributor Day of the WordCamp Europe 2017. Photo via WCEurope on Twitter.

In addition to this, David had the opportunity to give a talk during the Contributor Day about the WordPress plugin and theme directories, and the developers’ needs that are currently not covered. I don’t want to spoil it for you, because I’d rather have David writing an article in this blog soon explaining everything himself.

So that you can’t say I haven’t criticized anything, I think I preferred the Contributor Day format we had at the WordCamp Europe 2015 in Seville. If I remember correctly, the work groups there were organized in a common space, while this time each group had a different room (more or less). In addition, everything was divided into several floors this year, so I had the feeling that changing groups or attending lectures and workshops was more complicated because you didn’t always know where everything was.

This was a minor detail for us, since we spent our morning with the Core team and our afternoon attending presentations, but I thought it was worth mentioning. I understand the reasons for organizing it this way, but in my opinion, having it all in an open space is better. Still, I think it was a good Contributor Day.

Conferences

Before going into detail about the presentations, I want to emphasize that I liked their format much more than in other WordCamps I’ve attended. There were two talks going on simultaneously every hour. But best of all, the presentations lasted half an hour, including 10 additional minutes for questions. You had the remaining 20 minutes to move to the alternative track, walk around the sponsors area, talk to other attendees, or even relax for a little bit until the next session. And this, my friends, was very much appreciated. Not having to rush is a wise move.

In addition, if a speaker went a bit overtime, it was always possible to readjust everything without taking away minutes from the next presentation. Although in general everyone sticked to the half hour. I also want to emphasize that at all times there was simultaneous translation into French and a transcription of the talks in English  👏

Summarizing all the presentations of an event as big as the WordCamp Europe 2017 is almost impossible in a single article. So what I’m going to do is tell you which ones I was able to attend and, of these, highlight some points that I think are interesting to mention. Much less tedious to read, right?

Friday 16th of June

These are the talks I attended:

  • Demystifying the WordPress Bootstrap Process – Alain Schlesser – #development
  • Improving WordPress Performance with XDebug and PHP Profiling – Otto Kekäläinen – #development
  • The Three Kinds of Design – John Maeda – #design
  • Security is a Process – Mark Jaquith – #development
  • Lightning Talks: Content – Monique Dubbelman, Dario Jazbec Hrvatin, Jen Miller, Syed Balkhi – #business
  • 5 Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your business + 2 Proven Ways to Succeed – Joshua Strebel – #business
  • Lessons Learnt Marketing WooCommerce Since July 2014 – Marina Pape – #business

For me, John Maeda has been a complete discovery in this WordCamp. I didn’t know him and the truth is I really liked his presentation (and his peculiar way of presenting). He talked about design and the future that is to come. As soon as the talk is uploaded to WordPress.tv, you should go check it out!

I also want to highlight Mark Jaquith‘s security talk. I’ve been following Mark on Twitter and I believe it’s always important to emphasize the issue of security in WordPress. He even asked us not to trust ourselves, since the code we wrote 2 years ago is much worse than what we’re writing now.

Finally, I don’t want to forget the talk by Joshua Strebel, founder of Pagely. I think WordCamps need talks like Joshua’s, in which an entrepreneur explains that succeeding isn’t always a path of roses. The stories he told us are very valuable.

Saturday 17th of June

These are the talks I attended:

  • People Over Code – Andrew Nacin
  • We Are All Making This Up: Improv Lessons for Developers – Dwayne McDaniel – #development
  • The Pernicious Myth of the Code Poet – Boone Gorges – #community
  • How WordPress Communities Are Built – Andrea Middleton – #community
  • Interview and Q&A with Matt Mullenweg
  • A Deep Dive into the User Roles and Capabilities API – John Blackbourn – #development
  • Data Visualization with the REST API – K. Adam White – #development

I loved the talk by Andrew Nacin. As computer scientists, we often complicate things too much and struggle to talk about what we do with non-programmers. Through multiple examples from his time working for the government of the United States, Nacin showed that people go first, the code, after.

I also want to emphasize the talk of Boone Gorges, in which he proposed arguments to demystify the slogan of WordPress “code is poetry”. Coding is not an art, nor it’s something individualistic, but something done in a community. We’ll have to think of another slogan, since according to Boone’s presentation, code is not poetry.

And of course, I have to highlight the moment when Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress, was interviewed by Om Malik. In fact, the interview lasted half an hour and then the audience was able to ask some questions until the time was up.

In my opinion, the first part, that is the interview, was a bit tedious. The only announcement that saves itself is that Gutenberg was already available as a plugin in the WordPress directory. On the other hand, the audience’s questions were much more interesting. I would have preferred most of the time being devoted to the questions of the public.

There was even a little heated discussion when asked about Woo’s acquisition. Fortunately, you can see the full interview on WordPress.tv (David and I appear on the background at some point during the questions 🤣).

I can’t really talk about this particular part of the event from my point of view because didn’t end up going. But my colleague David did, so I’ll explain what he told me about it and what I could follow via Twitter.

The closing party of the WordCamp Europe took place in the Pavillon d’Armenonville, a place with enough charm and capacity for all the attendees. As a novelty, this party had a very original theme: the 30s in Paris.

Although it wasn’t mandatory to dress up for it, don’t miss the whole Yoast team prepared for the occasion. It’s priceless!

And here you can see some people leaving it all on the dancefloor:

Apparently, the long queues to access the food were not welcomed by the attendees, as shown in this tweet:

But leaving this aside, David told me that he had a good time and that he was able talk to many people, which is the whole point of the event.

Personal Opinion

Attending an event like the WordCamp Europe 2017 in Paris is very interesting. For several reasons, but perhaps the most important is getting to meet in person all the people who make WordPress. We are used to knowing people by their profile picture on social networks or by their nickname, but there are real people behind all of this.

Not every day you get the opportunity to talk to a WPEngine manager who comes from Austin (Texas), or meet entrepreneurs like you who also make a living from developing plugins. Or even hear Matt Mullenweg talking about Gutenberg and answering questions from the audience.

As for the presentations, I think I was more satisfied with them than when I attended the WordCamp Europe in Seville. I don’t know if it’s because now I know much more about it than I did two years ago, or because I was more interested in these topics, but my assessment here is on the quality (which was already good then); it has improved.

Both the volunteers and the organization in general deserve a good grade. If an event of this kind is exhausting for a simple assistant like me because there is a lot to do and see, I imagine it must be much harder for the whole team behind it. And they always had a smile on their face, so from here, I send you many thanks.

A little slap on the wrist to the Spanish community. I would have liked to see more Spanish assistants at the WordCamp, especially the usual suspects that we tend to see in national events (don’t get offended, huh 😘). Seeing how much we’re growing as a community in the country, I missed you in Paris.

That’s it for today. I hope the summary was useful to understand a bit more how the event happened and what we got to see there. The next WordCamp Europe will take place in Belgrade, in 2018. Until then, we gotta keep working hard!

Featured Image by WordCamp Europe 2017.

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