WordCamp St. Louis 2018: Bowling under the arch and building a something

Picture of the St. Loius arch with an airplane flying past, says WordCamp St. Louis

When I was 19 years old, I drove to Branson, MO basically because I thought it sounded fun based on a Simpson’s reference and a desire to see some true American camp, before the monoculture swallowed us whole. On the way back I got to see Hannibal, MO where Mark Twain originated from. On the way there, from the freeway, I got to see the great national civic treasure known as The Gateway Arch. Twenty years later I finally made a pass back to the Gateway to the West for WordCamp St. Louis 2018

Food and the Fun

Speaker Dinner

I landed and was immediately greeted by 88 degree weather, which was quite the jump from my lovely hometown’s cold, blustery wind. A quick drive from the airport found me at my hotel, where I had just enough time to drop bags and head on down to Urban Chestnut Grove, a local brewpub with a wide selection and highest standards. The food was about as middle of the southern Midwest as you can think. I had pretzels and fries while the rest of the party feasted on charcuterie plates and deviled eggs. It was awesome to catch up with old friends and meet some new people. It was a great way to start the weekend.


I was happy to find coffee and tea awaiting me to set up before registration. College catering has one consistency across any campus: it’s coffee is never too strong. Lunch found a very nice twist on box lunches where I get a Mediterranean plate with lovely tabbouleh and hummus with a really great vegan oatmeal cookie. I was super happy. We ate scattered throughout the halls and everyone had some time to get outside and enjoy that super warm weather, which many folks remarked had come from nowhere and how it had just plum skipped over spring and got straight to summer.

After Party

We went bowling! At the Tropicana Lanes. This is the largest bowling center in Missouri featuring 52 lanes. That is a lot of bowling balls. The food was very meat and cheese pizza based with a salad somewhere under a mountain of parmesan. I was fortunate they got a few vegan pies from Pi Pizzeria with plant based ‘cheeze’ and, new to me Match Meat which honestly tasked so much like sausage I didn’t believe them at first. We also played a few board games, but the star of the evening was in fact the bowling. The crowd, the noise, the smells. It was a really fun time hanging with the fine folks of St. Louis.

Afterwards some of us ended up finding no good karaoke options but a good late night time was had


Same old coffee and tea. I got my own lunch from the local culinary jewel Revel Kitchen. Their southern style jackfruit wrap is just too good. If you are in the area, check them out. The black bean brownies were also solid.


Opening Remarks

Saturday Keynote

Keynote: Build With the Community
Chris Wiegman

This was the first time I had gotten to hear Chris speak and that is a shame. His no nonsense style really reflects the professionalism you would want in an airline pilot. Matter of fact and honest. There are a lot of ways to get involved with this community and a lot of communities within to get involved with. I loved his advice of solving an issue you have and donating that code out into the world. Spoilers: I did that based in part, by motivation from this keynote. See the wrapping up section to see what I mean.

Raw Notes:
The community is big
lot of smaller communities within
WordPress plugin to make my life easier
paid to maintain websites,
did it for himself
then uploaded and successful
really took off
scratched someone else’s itch
Not a ton of other security at the time
was originally the only thing there really was
before wordfence
go big or go home
Release often
great code is great
but personal connection is best
put all the posts out you want, but knowing someone goes so far
Dont be afraid to say it
use your own voice
imposter syndrome
Community is great
But people do burn out
some people give everything
don’t be afraid to ask for something back
take donations
be prepared to say NO!
Know when to ask for help
Caldera -Josh asked for help and it blew up successful this year
Keeping up with support requests
Don’t underestimate how big community can get
pay attention to the data
pay attention
at least read your work and hire someone to read it before publishing
New features !== a better product
get involved! First step is easy, meet people
Meetups, camps, you aleady took it be being here
Hallway track is super important

Debugging WordPress: Tips, tricks, and tools
Joe McGill

Debugging is hard. Well, everything is hard if you don’t use the right tools. Joe sat us down and walked us though things he had to learn the hard way. Some of this stuff was old hat and some of it I didn’t ever see anyone ever demo before. This is one of the kinds of talks that I think make up the heart and soul of a camp. Folks learning basic best practices from one another and improving the way we all make code.

Raw Notes:
BEfore you begin
check up to date
check other things first
Debugging constants – part of wp-config.php
WP_DEBUG – Display PHP errors, warnings, and noticies
WP_DEBUG_LOG – Sav errors to log
WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY – Hide errors from the Browser
SCRIPT_DEBUG – will load dev versions of CSS/JS
SAVEQUERIES – save every query along with execution time and what called it
WP Developer Plugin
installs a menue of tools you might find helpful
Debug Bar – add debugging info to admin bar
Debug Bar Console – PHP/SQL console in admin to test with
quick dummy checks
DEBUG BAR CRON – see stats of cron jobs
Rewrite rules inspector – View and flush rewrites
Log Depricated Notices – notes deplricated fucntions
User Switching – quickly switch between multiple users
Beta Plugin – run beta versions of WP
Demo time!
Debug bar
XDebug – general use tool for PHP on local installs
upgrades var_dump()
adds stack traces for noticies, errors, etc.

WordPress, The GPL, & Ethics
Wolf Bishop

For any talk about the GPL, I am already going to attend and take notes. But Wolf was presenting on something new to me that was based on a specific reading of the GPL and something I have been turning over in my mind since that session. That topic is the GPL clubs that have spring up. Redistributing code in a way that some people see as abuse and others see as a blessing. It is one of the messy parts of any democracy that some people will read things different I suppose. Ultimately I think there is more of a market in services based companies rather than licensing. At least that is what I am hoping is true with this whole hosting thing.

Raw Notes:
Basic rules:
Do not claim another’s code as your own
Cite original
Do not released forked items under the same product name
if you modify GPL software, it must remain GPL
Dev edition:
Expect the product to be forked
accept that you are giving others permissions to redistribute your work
Do not whine when people give away your work, that is what you signed up for
What is forking?
Modifying software into a new product regardless for public or private, free or paid
is forking Ethical? YES!
WP – forked from B2
WooCommerce is a fork of Jigoshop
CMS Commander fork of ManageWO
WP Sync DB fork of WP Migrate DB
Pretty common process
GPL Clubs
a website that redistributes WP themes and plugins, usually for a monthly fee or one off purchase
are they ethical? Yes
well….mostly. These operate outside the GPL do not last very long
activate a license as they are
search ‘gpl club’
cons – no support
no auto updates
Pros – Test premium plugins/themes on the cheap
Cheap premium plugins//themes
nobuda.com (sp?) only one that can autoupdate
basically fee marketing channel (if above board)
protecting yourself
Truly understand the GPL
Provide rock star support
fair pricing
frequent updates are really key
release for free and charge for auto updates and support
His opinion:
Forking and GPL clubs are ethical and legal
devs who release under GPL must understand implications
Devs should release plugins/themes for free, but charge for support and auto-updates
End Users have a responsibility to understand the GPL

GIT it under control: an introduction to GIT and code management
Paul F Gilzow

Go, git, go! I love git. I give talks on git as well as workshops. Even though this session was for the complete novice, I absolutely loved it. Paul’s energy is infectious and his war stories from the field are very real. Seeing someone get it for the first time is just amazing and we got to see Paul talk some people through points to comprehension for the first time, with a little help from some blackboard diagrams. Go learn git deeply as you are learning anything else.

Raw Notes:
Version Control System
not necessarily software
but git is software
Local, Central, Distributed
local VCS
examples dates directories and or fies
revision control system
advantages: cheap, simple easy to work with
Disadvantage: collaboration can be difficult
error prone
can’t work offline
Advantage: Collaboration much easier
Everyone knows where the latest version is
more control over who has access
everyone can clearly see what everyone else is working on
single point of failure
you can’t commit changes if you don’t have access (no offline)
can be slow
Peer to peer version
everyone has their own complete copy of the repo and exchange patches.
Collaboration is easy
every clone is full copy
you can work offline
local changes/commits can be made, history maintained without having to share with anyone until you are ready
common operations are fast
permissions are lightweight
Every clone is a full repo copy
does not handle binary files well
no built in error handling
management permissions are lightweight
Git advantages:
Everything is local / the ability to work offline
branching is easy and really really fast and easy
can be confusing
does not impose a specific workflow
CLI based, though not always intuitive
145 commands in git
access control is read or notread
Does not support empty directory
What is GitHub? (or bitbucket, GITLab, Gogs, Gilea, etc)
Git Basics and Terms
everything starts with git
GUI is available
git –help
branch (the noun) not the verb
default new repo has master
but names do not matter
branches are unlimited
start from a specific history in an existing branch
Branching is BIG
you can have your own little universe to experiment in
create a copy locally and track changes against the remote
HEAD – the current branch
Working Tree
The files you are working on
Normally contains the contents of the HEAD, plus any changes you have but not committed
there is only one working directory, if you switch branches, GIT replaces
where things live
Status, tells you what is going on in the world
store all the contents of the index and a message
how the file changed
a reference back to the commit it came from
an ID (hash)
pull gets it from remote into working tree

Sunday Keynote

Mothers: Our Very Own IRL Heroes
Josepha Haden Chomphosy

I likely have told you this story if we have ever mentioned Josepha, but she is my WordPress hero. It was at WordCamp Dayton 2016 where I first met her. It was there that I watched her, fighting through a cold, help person after person with any manor of WP issue. It was there that I caught a vision for a career that was based on helping people that led me to where I sit now as a Developer Advocate. This talk tells the story of how she got to be how awesome she is and who inspired her. Most heroes don’t wear capes, but an awful lot of them answer to ‘mom’.

Raw Notes:
Mothers Day
What are heroes?
Green lantern
the hulk,
you don’t run into these people every day
feats of strength
they are rich, alien tech, magic, ect
Ada Lovelace
Grace Hopper
Mother Theresa
what they got in common?
All human
some famous because of their actions
smart, empathetic and future minded
much closer to us,
try to be as great as they are
Her heroes
best friend’s mother
her optometrist
but why?
Didn’t know until much later didn’t know they were her heroes
Her optometrist
her willingness to change
went back to school late in life
got a job at chain ophthalmologist
she got passionate
late in life started her own company
Best Friends Mom
she knew what was best for her clients
and always fought to the end of the day
to get the best middle solutions for everyone
Her mother
She can inspire people
a teacher
taught ESL, classroom, college
on more than one occasion
said her mom made them want to do better
changing lives
Origin story
Josepha only knows about WP because of her mother
Vocal Performance Major
went to college for singing
Bachelors of science
starving artist
went home, mom was going to WordCamp
her first WC she did not know what WP was
people seemed into it
5 things
1. Assume no ill-will
2. People fight for the best choice
3. Always be punctual. (Being late says your time is more important than theirs)
4. Listen through anger
when you gt mad, you get a cloud of anger fog
body does not receive all signals right
Josepha’s 5
1. Be Realistic about pursuing passion
2. Change your perspective. If you are stuck, it is just a day, do something different,
3. Always, Always be learning
4. Be: Flexible, Forgiving, Fair
Change with the times
Remember you have to be fair
5. Flex your people skills

Local WordPress with Lando
David Needham

It was a real treat to hear David give this talk. I have the extreme honor to work with him and use the same tool chain he does from time to time. Lando is the real deal. This is not just a local environment for WP, this is advanced Docker management with a future leaning edge. I will admit my notes are scattered here but so much of his talk was code and demo that it would be hard to capture it all in notes anyhow. The best way to learn is to do, and since Lando is FOSS, what are you waiting for? Get started with Lando right now!

Raw Notes:
by tandem
based on docker
uses idea of recipe
code example
can be anything
many recipes
many people making these
opens simple php info
look at lando and
Why? Because you should cause you can
thats why
start stop
db export
composer out of the box

YAY, I’m Working Remotely… Now What?
Jamie Schmid

I did not join as a remote worker, but I work with an all other but me remote team in my capacity as Developer Relations. It is easy to forget what it is like working from home, even though I have done that in a previous working life before I got into the Drupal and WP space. This talk was a great reminder of what they are dealing with and gave me ideas on how to better support them. Number one thing is having patience because they will not have the same chance of hallway conversations that you get working in a central office and some news just moves slower than others. Always strive for clear communication and you can’t go too far astray.

Raw Notes:
Working in a company
early morning
not flexible
Not so obvious good
social interactions
leaving work behind
company resources
not so obvious bad
working too much
no separation of work/life spaces
life distractions
difficult communication
out of the loop
collaboration is difficult
timezone issues
lazy health habits
not leaving the house
expenses are all on you
time management
make sure you monitor your time
there are software tools for that
pop ups to tell you to get back to work
rescue time, time doctor, IDoneThis, Trello
Daily/Weekly scrum
Tools are there to help you do things more efficiently,
Google is great for this stuff
password managers
lastpass you can safely share!
get out of the house!!!
good for your mental health to get out

Improving WordPress Development Efficiency With Your Own Framework
Heather Acton

Heather had a hand in my very first talk I ever gave in this industry. Way back in 2016 when I was nervously submitting and building new slide presentations I went looking for a calculator a freelancer might use and came across her worksheet she had presented in her talk Financial Business Planning for Freelancers. I asked if I could borrow it for use in my talk and was met with a very friendly “go for it.” I will never forget how that made me feel. Connected.
This talk comes at a very interesting time, when the editor is about to change and force all our hands into design based on modular components. It is a great thing to discover the path you are on sometimes is the one everyone else is trying to catch up to. My notes are spotty on this talk, so I highly encourage you to go see it yourself once posted.

Raw Notes:
Before frameworks undercharging
framework helped them raise their rates
what is in a framework
many things on front end
modular building
if 80% of clients use it, it is in the framework now
reduce what is not used
copy block, callout block
text icon block
style premade and you can pick and choose
very fast to implement
Modular design
a list apart language of modular design
naming convention according to blocks
sass files and ACF layouts
Underscores and SASSified
Bootstrap Grid
Slick Slider

My Session

WP-CLI: Don’t Fear The Command Line

I love giving this session. I really like the fact that every time I give it someone in the audience has a ‘oh, wow, I didn’t know it could do that!’ moment. Makes me feel great sharing knowledge and explaining it in a way that engages at least some people. This time I even got to talk about what I think I see on the horizon, where we need to start automatically testing content before a final deployment. More on that in my wrap up, but this time giving this talk was the first time I had brought this up in a public forum and the number of nodding heads suggests either I am on the right track or others at least are on board with it. I hope to keep evolving this talk and give variations as long as I can get to camps.

Wrapping Up

It took me about a week longer than I had originally planned to post this post. Well, to even write this post. Based on my little demo of the wp-cli post create script I put together for my demo, I just couldn’t stop thinking about making that a real utility for myself. So I did. It turned into 2 parts of a project.

First, there is postit which has 2 tools based on how I want to run my workflow. the command postit will create a post based on a github address, asking for the RAW. Crude but effective. The second is postitnow, tailored for my nutty workflow of pushing to github and then just posting the most recently used file as a new post. I also built in a drag and drop to the terminual way to post the file from local and a featured image. But with Basically this is a static site generator for WP posts based on markdown, but I love markdown, so that is why I made it. Feel free to play with it and maybe help optimize if you are so inclined.

Second is a new Terminus plugin called WP Clone Content which let’s you clone a post from point a to point b. It is a work in progress that is good enough for my current workflow, but has issues, depending on how featured image was set and some other small factors like Tags which I still need to unravel. THis was the first time I have ever even tried to extend Terminus, and man, I am not a PHP expert at all. I can do it in bash, but 6 hours of this effort were just reading basic PHP examples again. Again, free and open source, so please help if you think this is a good idea for a tool.

Why do I think WP Clone Content is a good idea for a tool?

Basically, the future of Gutenberg and the WP 5.0 changeover is heralding in a new age when functionality and configuration are being moved back into content. I personally believe that we are going to have to start testing content in automated ways more often and multi-environment workflows, eventually harvesting REST API calls, is going to become critical. I don’t envision a world where we are actually directly touching mysql that much anymore, the same way you don’t likely touch your underlying OS kernel that much directly anymore. This is not a final product but gave me insight into the world of how content is constructed and made it clear there is a lot more work to do in this area. The future is bright but we have to work for it.

I immediately had a good feeling about St. Louis and still do a week later. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is something to it. Maybe it reminds me of where I grew up a lot more than most other places I have been. Maybe it is because it reminds me of Detroit 20 years ago, when the opportunity to build was the only thing that was in high supply. I do know that the people are some of the nicest, most grounded and honest folks you can expect out of the Midwest. I hope to get back before too long and spend a few more days exploring the Rome of the West, at minimum for next year’s WordCamp St. Louis 2019.

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