WordCamp Montreal 2018: A city as beautiful as I remember it and connecting things.

The words WWordCamp Montreal 2018 under a red WordCamp banner and below a white flag with the WordPress W on it

“Mount Royal” is a pretty amazing place in the summer when the temp is a very comfortable 26 deg C/ 80 deg F and not too humid. The days are long and the people are in a celebratory mood, getting to lose the toques and parkas in favor of a rainbow of colors and light fabrics. THe streets convert to what feels like a giant festival atmosphere with European like sidewalk cafes lined with coffee and wine drinkers along any major avenue. And the background of the river and mountains made every view from practically any vantage completely picturesque. These were the conditions that met me as I flew from Chicago for the 10th anniversary edition of WordCamp Montreal 2018

Food and Fun

Speaker Dinner

What would a WordCamp be without a Speaker/Sponsor dinner? We gathered down a half closed street, behind a tarped off fence that hid Kafein making it feel less like a cafe and more like a private club with a giant patio that extended well past the front of the store. Here we had some light food options which included very decadent vegan brownies. The staff was downlight delightful and made us all feel at home. It was such a treat to see folks from this community that I never get to see in the US and it set the mood for everything that followed.


Aside from New York City, Montreal is the town renowned for their bagel. There is a bit of a rivalry. As if to participate in this fray, the organizers brought in a giant bag of bagels each day for us to sate our hunger for two full days of sessions. The coffee and tea service, which were excellent and a notch above most catered options I have sampled, were accompanied by various spa water options with strawberries, mint, lemon and cucumber. Orange juice was also served.

Lunch was sandwiches and salads. The vegetarian and vegan lines were separate and that made me happy since my line was much shorter. Still, everyone got fed and many a good conversation was had.

After Party

The plant based food fans of Montreal joined me for some of the best vegan fast food on earth at La Panthere Verde which boasts 6 locations now. Best non-animal poutine I have had yet. I love being part of this. Next time you see me, ask me about the WPVegan hashtag.

We would have likely returned to the same spot we went to for the 2017 camp but that place had a fire in an apartment above and was not in operations at the time. Instead we went to a funky cafe/bar Cafe Osmo which felt to me like a place intended to be something rather futuristic in the mid seventies. It had a lovely patio and a slanted glass window. It was a blast to get to hang out with the WordPress community here and talk about everything from the weather to content strategy and everything in between. It also was an ideal location for further revelries, which included some WCKaraoke for sure.


More bagels and coffee and peanut butter with the bear on it met us on the morning of the second day. The previous night meant there was a slower rush as people filtered into the hall, but we were in full swing by the time sessions fired up. Lunch was pizza. I am again thankful for the plant based options, but given that I was in the hometown of my other favorite Canadian based vegan fast food chain, Copper Branch so I decided to indulge there with some of the best tempeh BBQ I know about.

The afternoon snack break brought with it a very special snack, the 10th anniversary celebratory cupcakes!


Go With the Flow: Boost Your Efficiency With a Development Workflow
Ann Cascarano

There are some basic things that you will need to know as a new developer. One of the greatest strengths of WordCamps is that someone will literally sit you down and tell you these things. These are peer reviewed thought leaders in their field who care that the free and open internet gets built in better, more accessible ways, for free, mostly on the weekends. This talk is a pretty great one for anyone who wants to technically advance from novice.

(came in late)
level up talk
You need a local
you need a safe space
mess around
code editor
atom, sublime
Command line
install tools
node, git
all the commands
code history
protect the integrity of the history of your project
very light and fast
video game save point methodology
git is not github
Staging site
must mirror production environment
another backup
recovery strategy
managed and unmanaged all allow this workflow idea
might just be easier in managed

Bridging the Gap between Designers & Developers
Mehgan Dove

I did not see some of this talk. But what I saw reminded me of everything I know about DevOps being more about tightening the communications feedback loop. We need to start trying to learn a more common language, especially in an age of more rapidly expanding tool chains and their inevitable acronyms that make the jargon unparseable. I am grateful for this talk because having the conversation about having better conversations is a conversation we need to have. When we think about interpersonal communications, especially within organizations, having better defined channels and processes in place should make for more efficient workflows.

Raw Notes:
learn some development
if you are handing over things and not care how it is implemented
and don’t know what is hard or complex and don’t care
you are going to have a bad time
have some respect for your designers work and skill
Handover in layers
Design s not arbitrary
show some respect
layouts are hierarchical in so many ways
Devs should not have to guess or recreate things in Photoshop
provide layers!
use guidelines and agree

Made you Look: Eye-Catching Web Design Trends

There are talks where I learn something and it seems like I am the last to know it. This time it was the concept of Pantone Color Of The Year that I had a wow reaction to and everyone else was like, ‘yep’. For that moment alone this was a great talk, but the fast pacing and just example after example and idea after idea was just entertainingly engaging. The sites she shared are all over the map on style, but it made me keenly aware of micro animations, which I see all over on sites now. Thanks Mandela Effect.

looking at yogurt
colors and bold
Pantone of the year
Ultra Violet its bold 2018
neon colors
have to have a lot fo contrast
have to see neon colors
high contrast,
trickles down into everything
bold colors again sunet patterns
full screen websites
lot of monochromatic
Be honest
this is possibly scary
if you want to add a pop of color, just add a bringht pop
one or 2 neon color
otherwise rainbow vomit everywhere
adobe color wheel, helps make complementary colors
another is brandcolors.net
color codes for influential brands
different colors
color pallets must work, don’t get too far without sorting it
illustration styles, more individuals and textured
multidicipline project
created illustrations and font to bring endangered animals to light
illustration over photo
striking typography
very striking
creative typography, funky
monochromatic again
food typography
look around and grab inspiration everywhere
in the real world
objects and elements in play with the typography
deconstructed type
not new, but will show up on the web more
broken grids and free form
no defined grid
before thinking about breaking the grid, remember why the grid is good
why are you doing it?
define a strong grid so broken shows
negative space
concise vs wordy
see copy first
way interact with the
micro animations
particle background
little JS gradient effect, very light, not heavy
adds a little something
She is not a wizard
thats how she knows what is using WP
and the themes used
glitchy and not perfect, but fun
augmented reality
minimalist photography
What story are you telling
where are you guiding them,
what is the journey
whats next
more customized shopping approaches
Anything goes right now though
no 2 sites are alike
if it works if it does not they won’t notice (ha)

How to Format Your Text to Help Your Readers

I have left a handful of talks and felt like I got the wind taken out of me. This time, I learned that I have been doing headers wrong this entire time. Literally the entire time. I thought H3 and H5 were just style options and I can not even fathom what I have been doing to screen readers and the like. Moving ahead, starting from this post I am going to be using the right headers correctly. There were many other good points as well and it was a lovely talk.

Raw Notes:
History lessons
March 12, 1989 Sir Tim
makes proposal for HTML
1993 publishes standards
Jakob Nielsen “How Users Read on the Web”
Summary: they don’t
they scan picking out individual words and sentences
Wall of text loses everyone
HTML is not a programming language is markup
structure of a page
semantically – elements themselves describe the content
Know the basic tags
H1 – H6 and accessibility
Don’t use H1 on the page or post, that is reserved for the page title
important for SEO and Ally
having H4 without an H2 is actually really bad
Help all readers
think older readers
Formatting in WordPress
Gutenberg is coming
1/2 the room never heard it was coming
Tour of the editor and Admin
Bold and Italics
not for pretty
for emphasis
Alignment is important
stick with left alignment unless Hebrew or other language with RtL

Your First Headless WordPress Project with ReactJS and GraphQL

I am going to finally actually build a front end project one day, I know I am. And when I do, talks like this that just in plain English explain what things like GraphQL actually do will be the reason that project will be successful. This is a great talk for folks who are ready to roll up their sleeves and dive in. My notes can’t do code examples too well, so I opted to not even try, await this to arrive on WordPress.tv.

Raw Notes:
Old fashion, desktop to web
how CMS works
responsive design
Tons of things that need to hook to the backend to get data
Advantages of decoupled
separate content and presentation
generate unique user experience
make your content available to mobile apps, kiosks, VR and anything else
/Retrieve post
overfetching – getting too much data for the UI
a query language for the API
retrieve only thee needed data
RESAPI – Post endpoint/ users EP/categories EP
GraphQL is one call that grabs those pieces
self hosted GraphQL
Framework for WP apps (server+client)
Relay from FB
Apollo-boost = no setup, cache, manage local and server data
you can extent wp-graphql plugin
retreive data
reactjs setup
in CLI create-react-app
create project
install packages
code examples

A Buddhist Guide to WordPress Development

When I was a traveling salesman in my younger days I listened to books on CD, one of which was Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse and to be honest, that is the sum knowledge of what I think about when I think about Buddhism. I really appreciated the bit of history lesson and the pacing, especially toward the end, of new concepts and ideas. His no-nonsense slides are a valuable resource for anyone wishing to explore either Buddhism or WordPress best practices or both.

Raw Notes:
Buddism and Jer in a talk
Pali and theravada
very diverse religion, lots of sects
school of the elders, Sri Lanka, Thailand
root of secular ones
sources for secular Buddhism
Contracted with Mahayana, greater vehicle, a diverse branch in china and Japan
FYI: Words here are in Pali not Sanskrit
Religion or Philosophy
both metaphysical and pragmatic
most teachings apply directly to material life
its an ancient science, got some things right
Ancient Indian cosmology is weird and a bit crazy, metaphorically can teach a lot though
Buddhism is a series of very useful lists
Quick meditation, anapanasati breathing meditation
breath in
breath out
just be
5 minutes exercise
anicca impermanence
whatever is subject to origination is subject to cessation
everything changes and we are all going to die
everything we have is borrowed, death or WP updates will take it all away
often translated as suffering and pain and dissatisfaction
nothing lives up to our hopes, so everything brings disappointment and stress
unpleasant things are dukkha because we can’t avoid them
pleasant things are dukkha because we can’t hold onto them
Lack of essential self
Three features of every CMS, PLugin and Theme
Impermanent: Won’t last forever
Unsatisfying: Guaranteed to disappoint
essence-free: Just a bunch of code
accept these things and let them go!
Cause of stress is clinging to our expectations
when we try to control the world, we suffer pointlessly
the ‘second arrow’ is the one we shoot ourselves
cycle of clinging and disappointment
when we imaging WP won’t challenge us that is makes us crazy
End of stress is freedom from clinging
if we accept things we are free from disappointment
Wisdom, Virtue, Mindfulness
8 fold path
Kamma truth cause and effect
really means actions
kammic fruition are effects of your karma
intention is key, as long as we know our intentions are truly good we can live with peace of mind
Samsara WO
Rebirth WP
We are reborn when we return to old themes, plugins and code
we inherit the decisions of our past selves, good or bad
learn from challenges you’ve passed on to yourself
wee clearly how your current decisions will determine your future
check the logs
being aware of yourself and body and mind in each step
Samadhi means concentration as well as meditation
set aside time just fro this training
meditate on wholesome states to develop altered states
like any skill, regular focused practice is how we get better
metta – kindness
Panna wisdom
all experiences created in our mind
accept things as they are, let go of what is painful
clear conscience and open heart
be mindful
mediate as much as you can and it all gets easier
insighttimer app

WooCommerce Troubleshooting Basics

I don’t think there are enough support talks at camps. They definitely exist, and I am extremely grateful to all that give them. But I think there can be more. Helping other people is a natural instinct for most people. The art of helping others is itself a set of skills one can achieve proficiency. Sarah was kind enough to tell us how she does it for Prospress and WooCommerce clients at a range of skill levels themselves. There is a lot of hope in teaching people how to find answers. I was pretty worn out at this point in the camp, so my notes are pretty sparse on this one.

Raw Notes:
internet wizard
Quest goal
learn Woo troubleshooting
to acquire more tools to fix all the things
fell confident when troubleshooting
Backup and Staging
Backups – important, fall back point
Google is your guide
Google error and description of the problem
sometimes github
sometimes WP codex
sometimes stackoverflow
reproducing the issue
scenario 1 pending payment orders with Stripe
looking at what screen they can see
test by doing the action yourself
reading a bit of the docs revealed the expected behaviors had changed
simple as a setting was blocking their issues
scenario 2, country not displaying orders
quick Google after replicating scenario
congrats you are now a Level 1 internet wizard
slay bugs

My Session

Shipping Content With WP-CLI And Why That Is Awesome

I have spent a ton of mental effort on this talk and this was the first time I gave this one. I am very proud of what I made as a result, this is the tools and workflow for how I post content to my site.. The largest part is postitnow and the internal modular component the terminus wpclonecontent plugin. I also learned a ton about behavioral testing, Visual Regression testing and am happy to share the tiny bits I know. At the end of it I think I am making too many broad points in the talk and still feel trapped in the fear that this is a lot of ‘look at me’, rather than having a conversation about the differences between ‘copy’ and ‘content’ and the difference between WP as the holistic platform for editing and as an artifact repository, as we generally do with modern code and build systems. I feel now in reflection, perhaps the general premise of ‘stop overwriting the DB’ is less obvious a goal then I can see it as from my vantage point. Perhaps I should articulate that more. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have a career path that gave me the opportunity to go to enough sessions that I could present this. It will be tuning this talk for Sacramento in September.

Wrapping Up

Every camp I go to a WordCamp it teaches me brand new things. Not just in the sessions, but in every facet and about so many aspects of life. I have called San Francisco home for so long that until I started traveling this much I feel there was a perspective I was missing. A wider perspective that makes me think we have so much more in common than we are believing we do. I would have no idea how to gather such a wide view if it were not for my community of OSS folks. Seeing how much we really all do have in common and how much we have to learn from one other gives me hope beyond hope for what we can accomplish next.

If you do get the chance I would highly visiting Montreal in the summer. It is seriously like being in a whole other country. I hope I get to go back next year for WordCamp Montreal 2019

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