WordCamp Sacramento 2018: Beautiful warm, knowledge filled days and very cool nights out with the WP family

WordCamp Sacramento logo, a capitol building rotunda over the wordpress W

Once again, I did not have to fly to an event, something that happens so rarely for me I lead with it on the blogs where it happens. Returning to The Big Tomato we were met with the most idillic weather I can imagine. Special thanks to my colleague Alexander who actually did the driving. There were a number of reasons I was exited to come back: the sessions, giving my newest talk and such. But the community coming together and watching new connections get made and making introductions that went far beyond just technical conversations is what I feel is really at the heart of my special feelings about WordCamp Sacramento 2018

Food and Fun

Speaker Dinner

The first official act of most camps is the getting together of the speakers and sponsors and organizers and volunteers who make the event happen. Same as last year we returned to the pretty awesome Hot Italian to get some pizza, drinks and a choice of gelato or sorbetto. I had the latter as an affogato with a creamy double chocolate nut cream based gelato. It was spectacular. The conversations were wonderful and the staff was downright awesome. Stop by and give them some business if you are in the area, they are doing it right. After closing this out, some of us went to enjoy the classic video games and pinball offered up at Coin-Op, the local brewcade. Very happy to say that with the help of a pocket full of quarters and the talents of my friend Jamie we beat The Simpsons Arcade Game. I played as Homer.


The Sacramento Convention Center coffee is not bad. But it is not bad in the way Folgers is not a bad brand for that it is. There was a Starbucks open for those that wanted a step up. This event is also known for it’s copious amounts of snacks. All the sponsor tables are extra long to accommodate plastic punch bowls full of candy, energy bars, and all manor of packaged sugar. It is pretty delightful and I never felt like I was more than a few steps away from sating any hunger pangs.


The way the schedule works for this camp, there is only lunch on day one and they want to accommodate everyone. They accomplish this pretty well by giving lunch tickets to get pre-selected items from food trucks they bring to the nearby park. The lines are a bit long but the weather was absolutely gorgeous and gave us a chance to eat outside and fellowship while eating a variety of options. I had a pretty good extra crunchy falafel on rice with a salad.

While the lines themselves are never anyone’s favorite part of a meal service, I do want to applaud the WordCamp Sacramento Organizing Team for ensuring that all food allergies and preferences would be able to be met. This is so important in the idea of inclusion and welcoming everyone in. Waiting a tad longer for better food is a welcome price to pay to make sure everyone can be fed.


WordCamp Sacramento has faced the problem of the afterparty and landed squarely on the side of ‘make sure everyone is safe and does not have to travel or wait around to network after the event’. By this I mean the afterparty is a networking reception immediately following the last session and light appetizers and very delicious agua fresca was served. Part of me really likes this approach because it encourages people to talk about their shared experience while it is happening and gives people a way to connect without the pressures to go to another location where alcohol might be a factor. While I am a fan of drinking myself, I am very aware that not everyone thinks that way and I am glad this event is another example of their commitment to inclusiveness in Community, which was the theme this year.


I never want to sound preachy, though I know I most certainly come off that way fairly often, but I get very excited about the fact that more and more people are turning up to these self organized WPVegan events. I put up a call for dinner and several folks I had not yet met and some old friends joined in for a special treat of a meal at Capitol Garage. I love their tofu ‘wings’ and the cashew based western patty sandwich is super filling. Also the staff was out of this world nice to us. They were so nice that I even went back the next morning for a snack and some espresso before the day of sessions. Thanks to all who support more sustainable and more delicious foods.


I honestly did not think the karaoke quality could go downhill from the Denny’s from last year, but there we were.

Note about the hashtags

If you are at a camp and want to make a hashtag happen, then just do it. What WCKaraoke and WPVegan has taught me this last year is that you are very rarely completely alone in your thoughts and beliefs in the WP community. Expressing your desire to want to get together and hang out based around a common interest is a great way to include others and to meet wonderful people. You might even get some new people excited about the things that make your excited in the process.


Coffee was coffee again. No lunch was served due to the sorter, later starting schedule. But there was an afternoon snack break planned which offered hot pretzels and brownies.
No tweets of this break exist that I can see, so here is a snack related one.


Opening Remarks

Leverage Linting To Be A Better Developer
Matt Vanderpol

As a developer, there are things that you wished someone would just sit you down and explain. This was a shining example of just that. This is the second time I have seen Matt speak and both times he flat out impressed me with his no-nonsense approach to just telling people the truth and hard facts of what it takes to be better at professional software development. In a very sincere manner, he laid out what Linting is and more importantly, how you will benefit from it. The bulk of the talk was on actual implementation details and people around me were taking a lot of notes.

Raw Notes:
(missed first few minutes)
Benefits of Linting
Catch bugs
Enforce best practices
ensure return
no arguments (about formatting, just focus on code quality)
Let’s look at Process Flow
and adding to existing project
Resources (slides are going to be available)
Many goals for this talk, the biggest is to be a jumping off point
* Edit –
* Lint –
* Report
do what works for your project, this is not the ‘one true way’
Rules are the lynch pins of the project
formatting rules – cosmetic, spacing, indentation, etc
code quality rules – how long should functions be, variable name standards
the second one is harder
Inline config
ignore or Tweak
* special comments
* by file
* by block
* by line
//this is an inline comment
IDEs can show your errors as you work
rule sets are most often predefined
indenting is that tab or spaces, that is example
Reports show you where the problems are
3 main things
Report errors
Autofix is a thing, but it changes things without you
prettier (is a program for this)
up to you, he does not like this
* stylelint – node based solution – fast (the one we will look at)
* scss-lint
* sass-lint
Config file for stylelintrc.json
JS COnfig File
webpack with bable to es6, es5 is shipped after minification
extending an existing rule set
options to config specific rules per
PP ruleset
* WordPress
He would start with WP, easier to learn,
not parallel, different but accomplish basically same thing
PGP Config File
rule sets are like plugins a bit
Errors and warnings work the same in the PHP-code-sniffer
everything with an X can autofix in the tool
auto add parenthesis for instance
flag ot show the sniffs by instance and the code
add to existing project – can be a fairly big activity
Autofix is nice to clean up low hanging fruit
run linter again
then you are looking at things that need conversation and decisions
ignore entire files?
Ignore specific rules in file?
Fix Everything?
Existing – lint new code!
if you want to exclude or ignore old code, thats OK, but going forward LINT!
sample theme is available screaming-fist
Code quality measurements
PHP Unit is the standard!

Better Search And Beyond: An Introduction To ElasticPress
Vasken Hauri

Vasken and I met a few years ago and I knew that if he was presenting there would be a lot to take in. This man is a wealth of knowledge and it is a very rare event where I get to hear him speak. Elasticpress is something I hear about pretty often and have to speak about. While my current employer does not support it directly, opting for [Solr], I still think it is important to understand the tools the community is using overall. This talk is exactly the crash course I would send people if they ask me in the future. Can’t wait for this to get to wordpress.tv

Raw Notes:
What is Elasticsearch
open source java based standalone DB and query engine based on Apache Lucene
Designed to do queries WP can not do out of the box
Restful API
Relevant Results, Performant aggregation and is much more!
Running it
Own server with Docker
Or get 10UPs Elasticpress tooling
amazon has a thing
Basic search functionality
If you install ElasticPress and all WP Search queries run thoguh it
but is that all you want?
can be used with any taxonomy (Categories, tags, or custom)
Helps visitors focus in on content they’re looking for
great alternative to traditional keyword search
designed to fit into your theme’s stylesheets
WooCommemrce integration
Great for search faceting and findability (fuzzy matching, etc, helps people find stuff)
also for searching past orders
easy to add things iteratively over time
let’s break mysql
start with a million posts
add a healthy sprinkling of revisions
store some useful, queryable data in taxonomies and metadata
query is reasonable from business logic is not good computer logic
can blow up very quickly
if you add one line of ep_intergrate a the top, very fast
filtered search
Specify meta and taxonomy fields to include in your search
Allows you to create buckets
improves complex queries that are impossible in MySQL
multi-site search
pass sites-all and search them all
related content
ep_find_related($post_id, $return = 5)
Document search
got a legacy process that involved PDF or Office docs, now that content can be searchable in WP
Requires Ingest Attachment plugin running on the ES instance
Other features?
protected content: enables to index non-public data from your WP install
Autosuggest helps searchers find what they are looking for
NB: this does require that visitors be able to directly access your ES cluster
filter events within a geographic range
sort event by date
aggregate by event types
Things to consider
retrieving specific post from DB works fine, don’t use ES for this
not everything is faster
ES does not do security. anyone can index anything, can delete indexes
no native permissions
you have to lock it down
Debugging EP
tons of plugins for this plugin
see what is happening behind the scenes
Advanced customization
ep_config_mapping enables field mapping and tokenization
ep_register_feature() lets you add own features int he same way as WooCommerce module, protected content an others

The Biggest Design Problem I’ve Confronted Is Project Management
Chris Ford

No secret that I love talks about Project Management. As my career path pushes me further into this realm I can honestly say if it were not for talks about the PM role at WordPress events and Drupal events I would feel way more lost than I do. Chris is a wonderful presenter. She laid out how she went from designer to PM and how her previous experience and specialization allowed her a unique perspective that helped her better communicate with her team. While it is easy to open a slack channel or email thread, it is not so easy to actually actively listen to what is being said and to meet people on their wavelength all the time. A look a the basics of design is a great way to think about the basics of how a team should communicate.

Raw Notes:
Her background is not PM
it was design
what she learned in design helped her succeed with PM role
Principles, processes and presentations
Number 1 is Empathy
for her this mean to actually care about people
bedrock of design
have a genuine interest
be flexible
this is an under appreciated part of Empathy
if you ‘decided’ what the solution is before understanding the problem, can’t be empathetic
Communication is another key principles
shared language
Using asana has helped standardize language
a project vs a task
active listening,
don’t just wait to talk
clients are paying you to listen to them
had a watershed moment where she realized if someone didn’t understand what she was talking about it was her fault, not their fault
this small shift changed everything
everyone brings something to the table
Collaboration – we have to work with other people
Process – design thinking
not showing the arrow thing
a few been very helpful
Define the problem
if you don’t know what you are solving you will never solve it
observe, research
Test Everything
Iterate often
things change over time and that is how it should be
small changes
frequent feedback
this is key to everything
a 5 year plan is real
not stressed about things she has not done yet
Visual hierarchy
let people know what is important by showing it
borrow/steal design ideas from other projects
4 page checklist for Asana
Use templates!

The Benefits of Continuous Integration
Andrew Taylor

Literally everything I know about this topic is the result of either Andrew’s or Steve Persch’s work. In fact, in my Postitnow project is built using Andrew’s example repo for BackstopJS training. It is always a pleasure to see him speak and this is my favorite delivery so far. This is one to watch for on wordpress.tv

Raw Notes:
Maintaining sites is the what we are doing
update a site, see is it the same site,
did this update break things?
slide by side
easy to miss small things, like padding issues
world of updates and testing
should update, but do we always check all features?
trying to not break production
client signs off on things once it works
need to make sure it worked before the feature
the ideal workflow, make change and then fully test site
do not let bugs out
but changes happen frequently
changing things is boring!
manual testing kinda sucks, adds up quick, lot of time
Make the robots do the work so we can be lazy but still have the benefits
Tools make this easy
WordHat, Lighthouse, Backstop
What I want to be doing is fix what the client thinks is broken in production
not looking for the breaks
CI servers, Travis, CircleCI, GitLab runners
script and defined workflow
if you run gulp, grunt, webpack locally
can have this done from a CI server
VRtesting does have limits
noise is an issue
automated Workflow Examples exist on his github
rigged for Pantheon, but you can mod to use any staging environment
reduced overhead
we don’t do manual testing every time because there is too much work
reinvest your time to automate more things, just analyze test results over time
consistency. Team wide.
gives us confidence!
reliable communication
git to store Jira tickets in commits
don’t untangle things and hunt for things by hand any more
get Jira to update itself
thinking deeper about the update process
update and then repeat on all sites
automating this means we can scale this
make this run while I am focused on other things
occasionally things break , but we know where and we fix and move on
test on every change, automate your tests
enforce the rules
upfront work
outweighed by long term benefits

Solving Content Reuse And Syndication
Jake Goldman

Jake gave a talk at WordCamp for Publishers 2017 that changed the way I thought about decoupled systems. Jake returned with a talk that wonderfully detailed the problem set of publishers who need content distribution across multiple properties. While the use case itself is fascinating to me, the solution, Duplicator, that he and his team at 10UP have built is just as interesting. I guess I am just trying to say I really enjoyed this talk.

Raw Notes:
Uber example
blog in a network
blogs have different editorial staffs and methodologies
don’t want to give editors world wide access
but also want freedom per region
if publish in one region how do we reuse content accross the newtork
9to5 network
electric, 9to5 Google, etc
6 different sites across tech/lifestyle subject matter sites
don’t want to become a generic tech crunch
in their feed they want to highlight something from another site
have that link directly back to the original source to cross promore
Bloomjoy, syndication network
work with a lot of lifestyle brands, a lot of them
most large properties have more than one property
Promoting content across sites
pushing from content staging env to prod
new content types, news releases, whole set of publications and push all at once
challenges and opportunities for them
editorial efficiency (UX)
maintaining and managing copies
SEO issues around attribution to original source that does not double count content
meta tag – rel=”canonical”
this solves this
Authorship & “Users”
do you create author for Jane Doe on all the sites or just the original site
one solution to rule them all
2 modes to think about how to distribute
1. push it our to all the sites
2. pull from other content providers you can pull into your sites
Adds “Distributor” box in your wp-admin
Clean UI
other concept – connection types in the tool
sites distribute to and from other sites
internal = inside multisite
external = site to non-multisite site
internal, all access is maintained based on previous settings
for external, one authenticated connection you create
at creation time setting rights and access levels
Distributor MUST be installed on all sites to work this
exposes the REST API in a novel way
currently support regular REST API
and the wp.com REST API – slight variation
if you want to get fancy can make own connection types
Drupal, AEM, Contentful
would love to see other people build and use these
connection to product catalog
custom content distributor UI (Associated Press)
RSS feeds and etc
Body, Media, Taxonomy, Metadata
content – different plugins and blocks on different connections
solutions is ‘rendered’ and ‘raw’ content body are both shared
by default, we try to be smart about this based on what editor is where
you as a dev can override this
render as HTML if missing block
Media – content with a lot of media can be very slow to copy and time out
canonical URLs in body
solution: copy featured image,use remote images in body. Option to copy “attached” media, Hooks and Filters
Road map: intelligently scan and update body for local assets
smarter for things like timeout
Different sites often classify content differently
send all the taxonomy
for now hooks and filters
road map – set ‘right’ taxonomy at time of send
Metadata is the full one…
common to say “here are related story with post ids” breaks if post order is different
dev: Hooks and filters metadata
Road map: add build in support for poplar plugins and solutions that rely on meta data
example: ACF
tool auto checks if post type before syndicating
fundamental, all copies get updates from original version
content managers are forking the original
locked by default on destination
can unlink it and then edit
users, replace author name with name of the site it came from with link
auto handle meta tags
SEO correct
YOAST SEO assumed and compliant
support Gutenberg (Beta right now)
designing with extension in mind is key to all their work, seriously here
can ignore hierarchy from a code level
not all networks are the same
modify content behavior
add attribution before it goes out.
good road map laid out, wants to get more devs looking at it
free to use, is behind reg
would love more feedback

Accessibility: Beginning The Journey
Ben Byrne

“Make your sites Accessible. You don’t have to tackle it all at once, but every little step in the right direction helps.” says Ben. Every time I go to any talk about this subject area I learn at least one new thing that helps me improve my site moving ahead. This time around I learned to never link text that simply says ‘click here’. Someone using a screen reader to just display the links from a page will get a lot of unhelpful ‘click here’ links they will have no idea what to do with. Small things and incremental improvements make all the difference in the long run.

Raw Notes:
Not full time job is focus on A11y
but it is a full time concern
let’s clear up some expectations about who a11y is for
issues are common and not necessarily permanent
he does not know a real % and ow that math works,
maybe who is using a screen reader
focus on the ideas
when some people hear about a11y, they think permanent situations
not always the care
visual impairment
auditory impairment
grampa holding a baby vs autoplay
cognitive impairment
might be really tired or you might be a cat
Why care?
search engines
nobody wants to limit our reach, want all users to use your site
when working with non-profits, strings attached, if not a11y, no grant $
withdrawn $ and government issues and lawsuits if you are dropping ball on this
Section 508
W3C WCAG 2.0
levels A, AA, AAA
needing to meet AA is largest chunk of customers
AAA is highest standard no one feels need to get there
2.1 is coming
19 new things added, not revise old things
the basics!
not final total checklist
use ALT, TITLE attributes
keyboard navigability
mindful of TABINDEX
skip-to-content link
remember doc structure
use semantic HTML5
<nav> <aside> <main> etc
be mindful for good A11y
use descriptive titles, headers, and link text
never use ‘click here’
do not reference this by position
see sidebar at left
we live in a responsive world, left, beneath are not guaranteed on all screens
no autoplay, ever!
captions on video, audio and other non-text content
no images of text
in code:
indicate language
don’t have major errors
Gracefully handle zooming
Spectrum – another good tool
simulates different colorblindness situations
WCAG contract ratio analyzer
other tools
AXE (from deque systems)
this is not a binary problem
it is a spectrum
journey is never complete
Compliance is not everything
the UX is that matters
Every step is good
as long as it is forward
don’t feel you have to solve everything at once.

My Session

Shipping Content With WP-CLI

I really had a great time giving this talk. This is, by far, the most complex talk I have ever attempted. I was able to refine it after presenting this back at WordCamp Montreal earlier this year and glad I did. I had really good conversations around this after the talk and I was delighted a couple project managers said they had new ideas to take back to their team to save valuable time. One person mentioned they wrote down 5 terms they had not encountered before and they were going to research these as a way to improve. It might be the last time I present this to be honest. The star of this talk is good ol’ fashioned BASH and I really have a desire to help people understand that as a topic next. Stay tuned.

Wrapping Up

This is my local WordCamp. No, it is not in my hometown, but that is the truth for so many people that come to any camp, traveling from their homes and routines and loved ones to a city they do not actually live in. They come from miles and miles around to share their knowledge and to rejoice in the community of WordPress and FOSS. This year was a great one, with so many new people to meet and so many new things to learn. I am so amazingly grateful for the chance to be a part of it all. Cant wait until next year for WordCamp Sacramento 2019

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