WordCamp Albuquerque 2018: Seeing my first show of the year and a coin flip to decide on a workflow

A classic route 66 road sign post surrounded by a blue circle tht says WordCamp Albuquerque Winter 2018

When you tell people you are going to The Duke City, they have a lot of various things to say about the food, the culture and about hot air balloons. The one thing no one ever mentioned to me was that the city has an altitude higher than Denver, sitting at 5,312 feet. I discovered this fact when I first arrived at my hotel and felt a bit dry and a tad light headed, as if I was experiencing a touch of altitude sickness. Google confirmed my suspicion, and I felt a lot better after a brief rest and a few glasses of water. Happy to report this was literally the worst thing that happened to me the entire trip as I entered the new year of travel season by participating in an amazing WordCamp Albuquerque 2018!

Food and Fun

Speaker Dinner

As per the norm, kicking things off proper for the camp for me was the speaker dinner. We got a special treat by going to the largest restaurant in the whole are, El Pinto. It is less a restaurant than a gigantic adobe compound that serves authentic New Mexican cuisine. WE had chips, salsa, guacamole and margaritas as we gathered and chatted together, organizer and speaker and sponsor alike. Then a buffet line opened for us and we had a sampling of their finest popular dishes. The corn salsa was the best thing I had and if I ever get back to this city I am for sure going to return just for a pile of that wonderful stuff. Time goes by quick when you are really enjoying yourself and what felt like mere moments after I arrived we had to end the night. Special props to the kindness of Nathan Ingram for giving me a lift home. Along the way we checked out a potential, but not great and will remain nameless here, WCKaraoke spot.

Unfortunately I can’t find a picture on twitter of this event, so here is a nice representational tweet:

Saturday

Albuquerque is home to Prosum Coffee Roasters. This roaster, who strives for working directly with farmers and prides itself on sustainability, is a good solid few steps above Starbucks consistently burnt offering and a lightyear beyond some conference catering options. Snacks were around but I didn’t partake of anything but a few peanut putter filled pretzel bites.

Lunch

I have a love/hate relationship with food trucks. On the one hand I love how the restaurant comes to you and in the case of WordCamp for Publishers in Denver where a food truck festival was going on across the street, the lines were short and service speedy. On the other hand if you have too few trucks offering too many things, the the queue gets very long and lunch becomes an ordeal. I am happy to say that this camp fell in the upper quadrant of my the food truck experiences. There were 2 trucks from The Treet Food Institute, each only offered 2 or 3 options, which they were able to speedily crank out and managed to get us all fed with plenty of time to spare. I had the vegetarian tacos without the cheese and they were spectacular and gloriously spicy.

At one point about half way through service a third truck showed up from PopFizz, with gourmet popsicles and homemade choco-tacos featuring inventive creations and flavor combinations. I had a pineapple habanero pop that was at first perfectly sweet, chased by an intense burning heat that made you want to take another bite of the frozen treat.

After Party

You can’t have a WordCamp without an after party and the organizers delivered a good time at the National Hispanic Cultural Center Grand Hall. Drink tickets and cash bar accompanied spring rolls and meatballs. I even found a free book bin making me wish I could read Spanish better, some of those titles looked interesting. All too soon we got swept out the venue and a couple of us ended up at some Karaoke and got to see the end of a UFC event at Punky’s Place inside Silva Lanes

Sessions

Foundation Day:
I was not there for this. I flew in that day and set up the sponsor booth. Twitter was a blaze with positive comments and I was told over 100 people were there to learn some WP basics in this single track workshop series. I love that these days are filling up at camps, a good sign for our future.

Cain & Obenland In The Morning
Konstantin Obenland
Michael Cain

If you like wacky morning talk shows and like WordCamps, then this is literally what this is. Check out their site. Always a good time, we get insights into the world of WordPress not only from our talented and very knowledgeable hosts, but also from a variety of guests. This time around I walked in the room in time to see Mendel Kurland of Camp.press and Hiking with Geeks and also works for some web hosting company.
If you have never witnessed the zaniness in person, fear not, it is on WordPress.tv.

Raw Notes:
Came in late due to booth duties
Mendel Kurland special guest
Just a fun time
interview poked some loving fun at Mendel
Q- how has GoDaddy been adapting to be better at WP
A – Aaron Campbell hire, sending employees better in the community
intensely important ways, hiring contributors, and be with the community
level up the community
A lot of small companies do business with small dev shops, decided to important to support that group of devs, make their experience better, that is GoDaddy Pro
global sponsor as well
Been to over 100 camps
Q-advice for new campers
A-keep yourself open to conversations and learning, asssume everyone else is open to this as well
Q-favorite parts of WC
A-until now, the cain and obenland show, but being a guest is terrifying 🙂
Plug for camp.press
Last section
Gutenberg
less than 1/3 of room had heard of it
New Core Default Editor in 5.0
JS based editor
Blocks, and blocks, and blocks
unify all the various contents into blocks
true WYSIWYG
lot of bugs now, but working out
no more post types, widgets, etc
One thing different than short codes- blocks can have prompts, no longer have to fully know how to use, prompts guide now
Does the dirty work for you
lot of default blocks but many more being built
one day will get rid of sidebar and widgets and short codes
custom functionality from plugins
Gutes demo
pre-gutes theme?
works out of the box but not fully using it properly though
New themes will be more and more themes to leverage this soon

Using Arrays as Plugin Variables … Or Why I Should Patch Core
Brian Stinar

This was a brief talk but super dense. Basically, ‘what if you build a form that lets people populate a bunch of WP-CLI and other script calls that create custom sites on demand?’ Well, the answer turns out is, yep, that works very well! Thanks to the stability and predictability of the CLIs, you can do ‘boilerplate’ type scaffolding without the overhead of having the unneeded parts of those templates. For sure check out his project on Github.

Raw Notes:
Created a site from a form
how did this happen
custom code in there too
lots of boilerplate approach?
lot of decisions and clunky like that
used 100% JS to invoke enque hooks
super fast and reliable
Code under GitHub
100% Gravity Forms dependent right now
could hook in others

Keynote
John Maeda

I first heard John speak at WordCamp Boston last year and it stood out among keynotes as more of an inspiring conversations I have every heard with the community. Rather than a lecture about generally why we need not worry about the future of the project, John took questions, submitted on paper, mostly anonymously, during the talk and answered our concerns directly. It set him apart as someone who really honestly cares about us succeeding as a community. When I found out he was the Keynote here I was overjoyed. The talk centered on one of my favorite philosophical points of FOSS, The Cathedral and The Bazaar, which I firmly believe should be required reading in our schools. He ended with a teaser to the forthcoming “project Muriel” shift in how Automattic and hopefully the rest of the WP world starts thinking about user journeys. No link to anything exists yet, but the tweet below sum it up.

Raw Notes:
Student of change
Gave us all his cell # to text him questions throughout the event
People are not ready to change until there is provable reason to make things better
Give space for emotion
why are Automattic folks making clever “cheshire wapuu” shirts?
Need an emotional tie in to the community and people
Mind the mobile
one big issue, stuck int he desktop world
trying to solve mobile issues from the desktop, everyone is mainly using phones
The net used to be super locked down
confined and complex
First military
then academia
in 2008
when smartphones got traction then everyone had access to that information network
devs trying to free this network stack
no single mind could understand, but the chaos was interesting
one MIT network was in fact called Chaos Network
it will continue to be decentralized and complex
anything around for a long while, you get tech debt
London water system loses 40% along the way
Internet is different
Cathedral and the Bazaar
why did linux win, why did open source win
because it is too complex to understand as a single person, but as a group, we can make it together
WP is canonical dev approaches to SW
people that fill in that gap make it all work because we are working with everyone’s best interest in mind
Bazaar is messy and emergent
Cathedral is top down and controlled
companies firmly believe in the cathedral, boss’s boss oks changes
before 2008 not as many computers, because of smart phones, everyone gets access
bazaar makes most sense, the experience gets better faster
solving end user problems not just dev and intended specific user problems
Design by committee has issues and compromise
realizing that you have to be good for specific segments and do that instead of everyone really
Theory: Google is really, really good design
WP used to be the best at design
we need to reawaken that potential
WordPress will be Good Design For All
working on how to make this happen as a community
Why? The parts are good
VR and Voice are already usable with WP
already there, programming by Alexa voice commands possible
devs love new technology
Issue is sometimes we are not solving for tomorrow, just today
AARP realized years ago that the way people aging and how old they were getting changed
We need human “wow”!
how does Open Web survive? Needs to for all freedom for all
lot of things were not designed for people, but for technologists
how to improve? Project Muriel.
how to make products more inclusive and emotional and delightful but data driven
best practice standards for using in your cathedral approach projects
SWOT
lets just talk SW
focus on the Strength Weakness
Hard to know who to design for

Chris Lema Interview: Ashleigh Axios
Ashleigh Axios
Chris Lema

If you know anything about Chris it is likely that he likes cigars, wears a hat a lot, and is an awesome blogger. What I had not really realized until this camp was how good of an interviewer he is. The difference between a bad interview and a good interview, as explained by Nardwar, is research and preparation. The way he lead this conversation made it sound like he and Ashleigh were old colleagues sharing memories rather than a formal interview.
Ashleigh is a delightful human being with some fabulous stories about her time working with former president Barack Obama. From the time she helped him pick out his picture for twitter to the delight and surprise their whole team felt when Bill Clinton tweeted back at him for his first tweet. She also gave some amazing insight into design principals. This is going to be one of the ‘do not miss’ WordPress.tv selections for years to come.

Raw Notes:
We should ask what end users need, nobody thinks that is a bad idea
implementing that is hard
Sometimes government gets it right
how important precedent is, huge thing
policy precedent is an interesting thing, listen to your constituents
how policy is shaped
why not how policy is communicated
cultural changes are hard
How important is listening for inclusion
super important
must discover and create space for it, hard in a democracy
wethepeople platform took a lot of discovery
Base foundation is listening and intentionally allowing people to share
People already paying attention are already there
want to bring in other voices
Issue with “won’t Fix” status
makes it less inclusive in WP
non-accepted code submissions make it geel isolated and not growing community
need to get out of the internal bubble mindset
always a learning curve, how to we manage that
Why WordPress and Automattic?
Based on the time of recognizing tech community importance
democratizing to give people better voice
need people sharing voices and engaging in new dialog
can’t guarantee that people will stick around, need tools to bring in new people
any change happens from community driven
lot of commonality with the way people think about it
better civic dialog inside
need to do this across the internet, communities,
that is why WP is important, 29% and growing
What did you take away from your experience in design school?
can’t grow if you don’t learn
must have mechanisms to hold lessons dear and learn from them
Tips on doing more reflection:
Document along the way no matter how informal
think about why you are doing thing and answer these questions in docs
as you learn and adjust and get new data, you can better track momentum
at first feels silly, but over time pays off huge
Makes teams more focused and when new ideas come through you can better vet them
Community and conversations are a big deal
one of the ways they started to battle pay discrimination was trying to shift the firewall of people discussing compensation
Having open dialogs are the key to so many things

My Session:

WP-CLI: Don’t Fear the Command Line
Slides and such

I LOVE giving this talk. Had a full room and some amazing feedback. Thanks to all who came out. Only issue is I ran the heck out of time. Only 30 minutes total, including Q&A, just not long enough. I am in the midst of rewriting it for WordCamp Miami. Can’t wait to unveil the 2.0 version!

Help! There’s Too Much Spaghetti in My APIs
Dennis Snell

I went in expecting a talk about spaghetti code, which is far less delicious than it sounds but leads to exponentially more stomach aches. Instead I walked away with a brand new appreciation for how we can, and likely should, be thinking about the REST API. When you get down to it, the internet is not about the images or words themselves, but about how we are using them. Clicking, pointing, dragging, filling in forms, etc. These ‘events’ make much more sense to design around rather than the ‘objects’ involved in the transaction. Instead of checking for the states of every object, let’s just design states that include those objects. Literally flipping the issue on it’s head but to much cleaner scenarios with far fewer lines of interdependent code. If you are writing for APIs this is an interesting topic to bring up with developers, designers and clients alike, since they can all explain what they want to do.

Raw Notes:
REST API, why is it important and what we need to do
We have done a good job of building posts and users and such in REST
Object vs action
things vs actions
API is easy for a post, a thing
but harder for submitting a post, doing a thing
let’s talk about processes
processes that do stuff, that can fail, that can do all sorts of things
Hypothetical Post Content Analyzer plugin
analyze writing and provide feedback
premium suggests images
What happens when something changes when calls are made,
move back to free, server dies,
Let’s talk about State Machines
State machine API approach
state = await fetch{…
gets a single type of data
return JSON
with state specific data, time, inactive, complete, alerts, finshedAt
Lot of data
Waiting -> processing <-> complete | inactive
modeling processing let’s us abstract into discreet semantic units
each has properties that only exist in that form
jump between states but only along certain business rules you can define
if/then
await and then return
if refresh page while submitting, causes error
in state machine, no longer a user interface dependent on browser,
UI updates not because of transition but because of the status that gets pulled
easier to translate what you want to do to developers
describing states is better than describing objects
no need to check 100 different places in JS, just one
list of endpoints needed to know them all
with state it needs a lot less
no duplication, all logic from one spot
Encourage writing in a more modular way
In many cases inactive states, error states, issues, live on their own
helps to write code consistently with the browser
API becoming hollow shells

Design Patterns with Advanced Custom Fields and WordPress
Daniel Schutzsmith

My one and only gripe with this, or any talk of the day, is the name. If there is an award for mislabeled talks, this might be the all time winner. If he had called it what it really was “How Amnesty International US became more usable with Atomic Design Principals” (or something like that) that room, even though the last talk of the day, would have been overflowing I think. I love me a good case study, because it is literally the story of how tech was applied. Getting to see the journey he took as a designer and developer from the old way to the new approach taught me so much in such a short time. In fact, my notes are so short here only because a couple times I caught myself straining my eyes at the projector screen while my brain was wrapping itself around the design principals he was explaining and I was grasping for the first time.
Do not miss this one once posted on WordPress.tv! If there was a better way to end a full day of sessions, I have not attended it yet.

Raw Notes:
Starting with a case study of the Amnesty international rebuild
that story, where do we start
Looked at what worked and did not
looked for similar design studios
Hyperakt
just happened to be next store to Amnesty in NYC
ethos was good
both refugees and REALLY good at design
focused on transformations for orgs
Watched users through GA and heat maps
found only 15% bounce rate
about us and careers were a surprise thing a lot of people clicked on
used HotJar
smiley face message box at bottom of the page to communicate with design team, cool HotJar feature
Need to A/B test
Reasons for a design system
Support brand
Naturally agile
ease of use
design agile
very quick iterations
administrators need a better experience
specific places to put images, makes like more manageable very quickly
ATOMIC design
Atoms, Molecules, Organisms, Templates, Pages
visual ways to show content
Creating mobile app example
Bootstrap 4
devs hate it, but design it makes alot of sense, one common core system to work with
reusable and contrib to a single system
no matter the vendor
Had to look at global brand and what to adhere to
the Big Yellow Book
all the branding guidelines for all sites in the world for Amnesty
Used modules (not Drupal, though it was on D6)
really chunks of design
end results were easier to reach since modules laid most of work outline
just slot in proper stile

Contributor Day

About 25 people gathered for Contributor Day on Sunday. It was held at a different location, the FatPipe AQB co-working space. Very roomy. Had awesome coffee and leftovers from the after party as well as some of the snacky foods left over from the camp. It was great to see a few new people get onboarded and brought up to speed with how to contribute. Since my focus in on the Marketing team, that is where I got to contribute.
Here is the write up I did for the Marketing team:

Marketing Team Contributor Day Recap from WC ABQ
Team members present:
@mcdwayne, @Kitty, @angela, @heatherm

The main focus for the camp was working on:
“Navigating Trac guide for new people core.trac.wordpress.org”
https://trello.com/c/g3z2GbSX/47-navigating-trac-guide-for-new-people-coretracwordpressorg

@mcdwayne and @Kitty took on the task of turning @flixos90’s presentation of beginning use of Trac into a Google Doc:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fzaafckFhSEwDtWY7Sbo0WpgQVvVEF0fKAGwpyFVBUI/edit?usp=drive_web

Meanwhile @angela attended the ‘getting started as a core contributor’ session. and took notes of the general overview she received for Trac:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1mDm9cY9qn_s8EgVopUO_6u66e6AZMIVzJDUrKDK_Hfs/edit

@Kitty worked out an outline for a new user guide, including minimum criteria for the intended guide user, which was discussed in depth by the rest of the team over lunch, resulting in this document:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Em7wZKWF-crY2_AuamQb1vvTsFR8sFcoUVAxIq1LtUw/edit

After debating the merits and disadvantages of a single doc for both outline and draft vs using a second dedicated doc for the drafting of the guide itself, only to find ourselves equally divided on preferred approach, we flipped a coin and went with the 2 document approach. Draft is here:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lPjhePVxSTAK0Q4NY7bhtF60PS6zk7Swz7pwK-ACO-Y/edit

Wrapping Up

This was a heck of a great way to kick off the year. The sessions were incredible and the people of the SouthWest are always so nice. Shaking off the rust of writing this blog after about a month off felt good but also took me longer to publish than I intended. Reminding me that I only have so much time and can only get so many things done.

I am very much looking forward to 2018 and I can’t think of a better way to have kicked it all off. This was my first time in New Mexico but I sure hope it is not my last. At a minimum I hope I can return next year for the all the fun and excitement for what will be a bigger WordCamp Albuquerque 2018!

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