WC Raleigh 2019: I didn’t see KISS but I did eat at a Waffle House

A squirrel holding a balloon with a 10 WordCamp Raleigh on it and holding an acorn with the WordPress W on it.

It was raining when I took off from SFO and it was raining when I landed in the City of Oaks. This had a pretty fantastic effect of knocking the thick yellow pollen out of the air for the day. I thought it was a tad busy on the roads into town but it wasn’t until later that I found out that over 40,000+ people also were visiting Raleigh for either the KISS “End Of The Road” tour date or the Dreamville Music Festival. While not as large of a crowd, the 450 of us gathered together made sure there was just as much energy at WordCamp Raleigh 2019

Food and Fun

Speaker/Sponsor Dinner

I rode straight from the airport directly to Hibernian Pub where I got to see so many awesome old friends and meet so many interesting new ones. I even got to try a local vodka brand, Social House. Not nearly as smooth as I like mine to be, but it had real character. And speaking of characters, I want to give a shout out to Nathan Ingram who is downright inspiring on so many fronts, now including healthy living goals.


Believe it or not, Raleigh is home to some awesome coffee. For example, Counter Culture Coffee is based in Durham. We arrived at the event Saturday morning to find Sola Coffee and some assorted teas. Easily in the top three for conference coffee experiences at any camp I can recall.
At Lunch time we shuffled over to the dining hall across the wonderfully bright and open lawn. A wide variety of lunch options with something for everyone stretched before us. I do love all you can eat endless option lunches.

After Party

After a full awesome day of campThe Raleigh Beer Garden which claims that they “are proud to offer the world’s largest selection of draft beers available in one restaurant!” I believe them, but I am actually more impressed with their massive back gravel lot with all sorts of games like cornhole, foosball and a giant connect four. I also didn’t drink any beer but later in the night we did explore some finer whiskey. The city was a little on the packed side and while it brought a good energy it also made for a loud party that kind of had to spread out to fit in amongst the other revelers.


More awesome Sola Coffee and there were donuts. I did not have a donut, but wow that coffee is good. There was no lunch provided as it was a short day.


Opening Remarks
Adam Silver

Normally I don’t write up anything on Opening Remarks, but this flowed into a ‘sorta’ keynote and panel discussion with the organizers. The main room was completely full and I was one of the couple dozen of us that were next door over watching on a youtube feed. This was overall OK, but we played a trivia game based on Kahoot. The lag caused by the stream meant my room never stood a chance. It is super awesome though that this camp is in its 10th year.

Raw Notes:
450 in attendance
Kids camp
Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much – Helen Keller
The original organizers and other organizers
Doing it because they thought it needed done
just stepped up and did it
anyone can get involved
people do step up and bring people in
so many new people finding and using WP
What have they learned, a lot
sessions, there is so much more to learn
choosing one of the tracks is a challenge
Volunteers are amazing and bond
Kids Camp this year, 25 kids, this is a record for a first outing
Sandy flew in from Orlando to make this happen

Building a Trustworthy Website
Ray Mitchell

I really like Ray’s presentation style. He likes engaging with the audience by asking them questions and getting group replies. I admit, I borrowed this technique in my talk later in the day. His first question was “what is trust?” It was fascinating to hear so many voices define the term, when most of us only “know it when I feel it.” It gave me some good thought points for trust beyond the SSL.

Raw Notes:
What is trust?
“I know it when I feel it”
It is something in your gut when deciding something or someone is sketchy or suspicious.
Do we trust him? Should we?
Nice kid (pic of him as a kid)
Meeting a person at a bar?
same as visiting a website for the first time
First impressions
what do my friends think?
How does it make me feel?
Benefits vs Frictions
Mission has to be worth doing
First impressions
1. Design
like in dating, first impressions matter
Meet site visitor expectations. Use the “design Language” for your industry
Pros look professional
use authentic images
Free is expensive, don’t use subdomain
use a real email address
meet expectations the client would have
if you are not investing in your own domain and own hosting, are you really trustworthy?
Provide social proof via testimonials
leverage Google Reviews
Display affiliations, associations and endorsements
point to your social media following, your subscribers or customers served
Leverage the “Halo Effect”; showcase your client and partner logos
think BBB logo
Have an SSL cert
Consider using badges to give visitors confidence
Do you have a privacy policy? Is it published?
Are you adhering to common privacy standards and relevant legislation?
Is it clear how you will use information that you can collect?
Benefits vs Friction
Unnecessary Hurdles
Why do I have to submit my email first?
Is it easy for customers to self-serve?
Content meets expectations
Speak to your audience – use the appropriate level of industry language or jargon

My talk

Let’s learn Git. No more excuses.

I love talking about Git. Every time I talk about it, I get something new out of it. It is always awesome to get a full room and we had such a fun time in Q&A. One attendee even asked a leading question that even I thought sounded a bit planted that let me expound on .gitignore. I am giving this as a workshop next as far as I know and I hope that version has as much energy as I got from this room.

1% Better: How little changes add up to a better, stronger business
Natalie MacLees

I once saw a talk with a similar premise up in Iceland and thought I would check out what the difference would be. I am glad I did. The talk I had seen before did have the same underlying premise but Natalie did an outstanding job of making it much more personal and immediately actionable from a day to day perspective. I will be thinking about “just floss one tooth” for a while. I hope to apply this one small change approach to get some better habits soon.

Raw Notes:
Conventional Wisdom
a story about herself
Purple Pen founder
Co founder of n2
Author of jQuery for Designers
Co-founder of LA chapter of Girl Develop It
Founder of Website Weekend (non-profit sprint)
2 time first place winner of PLugin-a-Palooza
that is her success, but let’s dig deeper behind the scenes
back in 2014
she was overworking and it was killing her
then, she worked from the moment she woke up
now, starts work at 9:00am
then, she stopped when too tired to do it
now, 6pm
then, no hobbies
now, so many!
social life then, no, people stopped inviting her because she always said no
now, Great!
self care, then no
now, awesome
side projects, then no time
now, lot of projects
stress then, 11
now, 4ish, reasonable
happiness then, 0
now, 10
How did she work that magic?
let go of the big lie!
Starting on Monday, or next week, her life would be different.
keeping that view of the world keeps you from being able to change
Digging in
Change really happens little tiny bit at a time
there are 2 ways those changes work
one tiny change makes ripples
Other is Compound and Build
the magic of compound interest
2 year chart
if you make business 1% better a week, that is almost 200% improvement over those 2 years with compound interest
we are creatures of habit
we form them intentionally or arbitrarily
but we always have them
part of our brain that keeps us from making big changes based on our habits
that part says ‘things are fine’ and hard to overcome this in your brain
smaller changes does not trigger this part of brain
smaller is easier to manage too
BJ Fogg tiny habits
he studies how people do things and habits
He says to make a habit you need
1. motivation
2. ability
3. a trigger
tiny habit first, flossing is to big
just floss 1 tooth
that is how small of a change is needed
Routines make habits better
Morning routine
mug of warm water
shower and dress
plan the day
hot liquid
cool down the room
wash face
floss and brush teeth
bed yoga
read till fall asleep
she added in things she wanted little by little
Time limited challenges
up to 30 days is about the limit
she quit watching TV and FB for a month
now not going back
is it enriching me, is it fulfilling
Who do you want to be?
podcast, interview with very accomplished woman
she gave the advice, she makes decisions about who she wants to be and what they would do in that situation
Focus on lead measures
a timebox chart, really a grid
looked at how she was spending her time
she was doing things vaguely related to marketing
like FB
always going to have admin tasks and other things,
remember that is not the business.
you have to focus on your business
to make the money she wanted, she needed 20 billable hours a week
20 was reasonable for her
row for every week of the year
20 boxes in row
check box each billable hours
helped her see why she was not making the money
tiny change, huge results
changed everything
get a 10K foot view from time to time
setting a plan for the day
she does a weekly plan
and a monthly and a yearly
does a goal review at the end of each period
quarterly check ins
weekly, yearly…
Keep setting goals and be free to change them as things change
it is OK to refocus
doweeklypodcast.com with Alex Vazquez
you can do it
just 1% better

Gutenberg Phase 2 and the Future of WordPress
William Earnhardt

I have been to a good number of talks about Gutenberg over the last couple years. Mostly they have been about the editor and how to live with it. I can really only point to two other talks I have seen in person that talked about the larger overall plan. William’s talk was the absolute best I have seen of giving actual, real details on what is evolving next from this initiative. In short, dang there is some change coming, the Classic Editor and Theming in general’s heyday are clearly coming to a close sooner than later. For sure one to watch and makes me hope they get this one on WordPress.tv ASAP.

Raw Notes:
Defining Gutes
What’s so great about blocks?
at core, HTML
Can be nested and combined in infinite combination
themes = hard coded PHP templates
type of site building components
posts, menus, sidebars (widget areas), widgets, media
Want to move away from this and to a 1:1 view of your whole site
Gutenberg Phase 1
Replacements of the editor screen
Gutes phase 2
Allow editing and customizing the entire site
Eliminate roadblocks
Reduce the amount of technical knowledge required
Builds on top of phase 1
iterative approach in order to maintain backwards compatibility
Look at the make core site
pase 1 is content
phase 2 is head and widgets
but in 5.2, next, what is in there?
out in a few weeks
groundwork for next steps and some improvement for editor
block manager
as list of blocks have grown, the inserter list has become unmanageable
site admins don’t want to make all blocks available
manager lets you hide things
turn off entire category of blocks or one offs
Core Widgets as blocks now
search, calendar, tag cloud, rss, etc
lots of smaller things too
microanimations on menus
hover states
background settings on tables
next blocks inside a cover block
–missed part–
legacy widget block
Menu Block – still in design phase
Section blocks
essentially just a wrapper to hold group of blocks
allows you to create reusable sections
easy to duplicate and share
in testing queue and plan for GA in 5.3
after that
Blocks in the widget areas
use block in any widget area/sidebar
manage widgets just like current editor
Iterative step that would allow existing sidebars to keep functioning
hints at a future with no sidebars
block areas
Widget Blocks in the Customizer maybe coming, mock ups now
Directly installing blocks, just announced last week and call for designs
the earliest in process, hope is 5.3 GA
Beyond that
Creative Concepts
in line editing of blocks in place
single block plugin
new block plugin repo
direct install inside editor
more granular control over features
could be bundled with multiple features into a single config file
Existential questions for themes
do we even need themes?
Now: php templates + styles
Future: blocks, block templates + styles
no more PHP in themes
Most basic theme could become just a full page container

Creating better APIs with WPDB and API Middleware
Jordan Cauley

While I historically claim I am not a front end guy, I don’t actually go to that many backend development talks. I am very glad I attended this one, which went in a direction I really didn’t anticipate. I expected that it would be all about the API internals and some explanation of why this offered his team a specific advantage on some client app. I walked out with a new theme to drool over due to it’s out of the box super high Lighthouse score.

Raw Notes:
His team a little over a year ago.
Chose custom tables, too much join and other stuff for just posts
custom APIs have issues
Cloudflare, WordFence and Securi block WP API
json is not automatically sql injection
if you do have custom data, can be extremely powerful
just loads plugin first
default file API routes
API version number
Static object to hold models and an instance variable
some helper functions
if plugin version changes updates properly
custom WP tables now
they do a custom class
technically ORM is WP
define a schema, associative array
nested arrays
pass into filter
add table name, version, schema
trivial effort to create new class
once passed in, large pile fo functions
loop through if column type is not set, set it
warning, edge cases and unoptimized things outside their scope
but for them this is what they want to do
approved plugin
sanitize and pare queries by default
Once you have the model set
no sql value in using shorter values texts
long text is OK
for int use bigint
API services, some ideas into the REST API that were lacking
for this demo, no authentication of Endpoints
please authenticate and think security for real life
make sure sanitize coming in
half code is just defining WP routes
— missing —
custom middleware helps with this
first unit is validation function
universally param requests
if come back clean, return response, kill response if wrong
entire function for data is 10 lines
loop through models and and create data against that
point is abstracted so much to make API creation accessible
can download and look at UI working
next version will improve the visibility
Looking at whole
insert vs create
create is friendlier
Upcert functions
should be standard in DB
pretty much all other DBs he had used had better implementations
took their experience with other ORM and wrote this
find function is friendly default
Understanding the lifecycle
better code if you understand this
lifecycle hooks now and he puts them everywhere
when first building lifecycle hooks for find actions
recast before it goes out
comes in integer, comes out a string
re-encode json to array
double encoding is just something you have to live with
cardinalmedia.co – super fast theme
built to beat Lighthouse testing

Successfully implementing Open Graph for improved social media marketing
Steve Mortiboy

While I am in need of knowledge about twitter image sizes and other social media, I will admit I have not done too much research on the standards. That is why I am super grateful for the chance to attend talks like this at WordCamps. So much amazing information packed into a single session that I can actually apply to things I am working on. It also turns out that I wasn’t alone in my thought that “man, this stuff is just badly and not consistently documented.” That is the general default state I think everyone has unless they live and breath this stuff daily.

Raw Notes:
What is Open Graph?
Social Share
you can’t run a business today without using social media
How do you market business
website content
+ adding content info to all the social media sites
Open Graph Protocol
started at FB in 2010
standardize how info is provided to them
og:image – this is actually a very import one
fb:app_id – needed for FB insights
a good quality image can influence our buying
informs the business decision
og:video – URL to a video to pass to FB
example card shown from FB share on Twitter
after FB other social media channels said this is a good idea
most adopted OG
except twitter
Iamage guidelines
FB – min 1080px Ideally 1200 x 630pm
Twitter – min 300px by 157px/ max 4096 x 4096px
Linedin – min 1200 x 627px
Pinterest – 735px x 1102px
insta – 1080px x 1080x
Open Graph Instagram Sizes = a lot of different opinions
the numbers above are from dev docs but could be outdated
Overall, image file size should be less than 5MB in size
Poor image sizes mean small super cropped old fashion looking preview
OK, Select a plugin for Open Graph
there are 100s of social media plugins, just a search is a lot of results but confusing
Does it let you set site wide defaults?
Can it be controlled on a per post or page basis
Does it let you set specific OG metadata for individual content including custom post types?
Does it help you debug typical problems?
Demo for AllinOne and how it deals with OG
live demo
checking the source code and looking for ‘og:’ reveals if set up correctly easily
Most social media crawl and cache, cache TTL is 7 days default
some socials provide info on how to force a purge and request re-crawl
most do no do that
Live Debugging

My favorite design tool … is a browser.
Mary Baum

I love some Chrome Dev Tools and I am always happy to learn more about them. What I really liked about this talk was Mary’s excitement about how much better her work gets when she leverages the right tools for the right job. Seeing her praise Chrome and then also explain that for CSS Grid Firefox is the real rock star, it made me realize we should be holding up all tools we use in our talks more. I also loved her patient and thoughtful answer explaining the history of ways to do layouts. I had never heard as clear or concise an explanation before. For sure one to watch if web design is in your life.

Raw Notes:
Few examples of way to display same basic thing
Many ways
Using chrome to see them all
Love Gutes now
Chrome device emulators
Phone view
and resolution it is and not the one you think it is
you can custom like jumbo-tron
new update has hoverover awesome views!
manipulate css and html live and preview every change before you make it
It is her standard
Firefox has some uses
CSS grid
can show you a better grid layout with highlighting
laying out in 2 dimensions uses a grid
if a column or a road, she uses Flexbox
6 ways to layout boxes in CSS
display table – she never touched these
block -vertical and inline block – horizontal
floats – to the left and the right
Flexbox – does the math for you
CSS grid
before Flexbox and Grids, very hard to do things like same height columns
grids let you place things precisely
once you copy the style into stylesheet
want to go to Youtube
subscribe to “layout land”
Everything about CSS you want to know from Jenn Simmons
CSS Tricks in the tool bar csstricks.com
codepen as well
pull it apart and put it back together on the fly
Character – Colonel Standards
magic until they are not

Wrapping up

This camp was very good overall. Sitting in the airport, on my way to DrupalCon Seattle 2019 I realize I don’t have enough time to reflect as fully as I like and I know I would be lying only to myself if I said I would come back and update this. Let me do my best though.

Turns out the the additional 40,000 people meant some traffic delays but it really did make for a positive energy in the air all around. There is just something authentic about this community. Not that the other camps and conferences I attend are less authentic, but this one feels like people really are at home with one another and the overall vibe of the camp made it easy to just fall into conversation with anyone.

I didn’t make a WPKaraoke happen nor a WPVegan dinner assemble, though both were discussed. It would have felt a bit forced with the slower pace that seems to be part of the culture of the area. I look forward to maybe doing those things in the future if I get the chance to mosey on over to this part of the South again, maybe for WordCamp Raleigh 2020!

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