WordCamp Phoenix 2018: Amazing coffee and contributor day fun

experiences the cold humidity of an Arizona spring. It had only been 4 months since I was last at Galvanize and I will be honest, I had my doubts about going from a ~200 attendee event to an over 500 person event in such a short turn around. Well, I was very pleasantly surprised and impressed with their organizing team’s efforts to put on a spectacular WordCamp Phoenix 2018!

Food and Fun

Speaker Dinner

I missed it. Due to some logistic issues I had to fly in while this was happening. While I am bummed I missed it, it was the only disappointment I found related to this camp and it had nothing to do with the awesome organizers or camp itself. It looked amazing and I want to give an extra special shout out to the coordination team who made us some of the best, individual personalized, speaker gifts of all time! I got a monogramed passport wallet and bag tag, since I am always traveling. I thought a pic of Isaac’s was a little more interesting visually for the purposes of a blog though. Anyhow, Thank You again for the gift Organizing team, lead by Raquel Landefeld


I’m just going to be lazy and repeat what I said about the amazing Luana’s Coffee Yard “They know what the heck they are doing. If you live in the area, go give them your money!” Just the nicest baristas ever and their coffee quality is second to none. Snacks flowed as well as plenty of cold water, which helped me keep hydrated in the dessert as I chatted with the morning rush of people.

Lunch was served as a giant taco line with OK options for those seeing plant based foods. Still a little hungry I found that there was a burrito stand, called Mi Salsa. Family owned and featuring their “mother’s secret recipes”. Some of the best salsa I can remember having and the more I talked to them the more I liked their company. It is not everyday you feel good about giving back to the local economy and get world class food in the same transaction.

Friday Night had no official plans, but some of us got together anyway for some food and celebration! Since it was unofficial I will only leave this tweet to remind myself of the event


More awesome coffee and snacks and snacks.
Lunch was way better on day 2 in my opinion, Japanese options. Soba noodle salad, rice and more veggies than I could eat. They kept piling them on and I had to actively tell them ‘that’s too much!’. I feel good about any lunch where I have to wave them off from filling my plate with plant based foods. I also like they are doing as much local sourcing of their menu as possible, so big shout out to Conceptually Social

After Party

I am always looking forward to any official after party, never denying that as fact. The after party last year at WCPHX set the bar pretty dang high and I am ecstatic to report that this year the party was arguably even better! Again it happened at Phoenix Public Market Cafe which has the nicest staff and great overall quality of everything. The video game truck was back again and we got to do more VR and Rock Band fun. GoDaddy went all out and brought their party bus where we got to do WCKaraoke (see vid below)! It was an amazing night of being together and celebrating the camp life!


Opening Remarks:

Imposter Syndrome: Stories from Two Different Perspectives
Sheila Hoffman
Dashon Hawkins

It is rare that you come into a talk late and are immediately thrust into what turns out to be the most important part of the whole thing. At least to me it was the most important part. As soon as I walked in the room I was told as part of the whole group, to find a partner and share a time we felt e had imposter syndrome. Immediately I engaged with a fellow camper and shared one of my stories and heard hers. This made me feel less alone in my imposter syndrom driven moments of doubt and engaged with the whole room at once. No one there didn’t have a story to tell. We all face this horrid condition at some point and the only way I think we can overcome it is together.

Raw Notes:
(I came in a little late)
Defining Imposter syndrome
Exercise to share with neighbor your experience feeling it
We ALL had stories
“Comparing the cutting room floor to the Sizzle reel”
Tech needs to know more than any one person Can know
WP community is great for knowledge sharing
Not just luck, Imposter Syndrome makes you think you are just lucky
IS is an act of violence to yourself
risk exposure
Stop playing safe
Greater risk is not knowing how capable and worthy you actually are
Q/A became people sharing stories
IS leads to Smartest guy in the room pissing contests
trying to look smart wastes time
Learn from students
Keep at it
What you have to do
Dev world is a big ocean
stay in the water until you master your lagoon
then swimming in other territories is so similar you can do it

What The West Wing can teach us about building products
AJ Morris

I walked into this room, having not read the session description, thinking this would be a case study on government applications of WordPress. Since it was AJ, I knew it would be a solid talk and I went more for that reason. I was correct on that second assumption, but the West Wing AJ was referring to was the 1999 Aaron Sorkin TV show. It so clearly illustrated the process of actual value creation in the product building process that I am not sure I really understood it at all before entering the room. The biggest take away for me was the idea of moving from a MVP driven process to a MVV one. Minimum Viable Value. If you can’t measure any value from it, is it really functioning? That thought shook me a bit and I am thankful to AJ for this talk.

Raw Notes:
5 steps of a product
Plays example clip from The West Wing
It was all about the ah-ha moment of ‘I can fix that’
These ideas come at us from all over
further clarity propels it forward
Going away and thinking about it and come back
Example idea he had
sending people coffee
sample subscription service is the idea
part of building product is clarifying the idea
if you move ahead too soon, will run into many issues
learn to say no to non formed ideas
You can have a lot of ideas, but they are all ideas
an understanding for a product needs more than that
enough clarity to move ahead
then Value Propositions.
Clear and up front
wp101 – learn WP the easy way
Provide enough clarity to make the defined end user clear
What could we make at a mim to get our product to function to prove it is solving a problem
Unsplash MVP example
free ‘stock’ photos
3 hours from idea to MVP
tumbler + $20 theme
10 photos by local photographer
uploaded for free use
Traffic? hackernews post
2 hours later 20K downloads
free dropbox overwhelmed
over 2 million photos are downloaded a month
tested and validated very quickly
Replace viable product with viable value
if value then people will pay for it
Knowing what to build
start simple, single product
Don’t do ti all at once
get it out the door asap
keep iterating, while constantly solving bigger issues
constantly communicate the vision of the grand problem to be solved
Ship it quick
product market fit means being in a god market with a product that can satisfy that market
Customer Feedback
feedback boxes
reaching out directly
usability testing

My Talk

Discovery, discovery, discovery, discovery! The most import part of the project

I was super excited to give this session again. I made a few refinements and think this was the best version I have made yet. Still, part way through I realized I could be making a few points better by further modifying it, there is always room for improvement. Huge thank you to every person that gave me feedback afterwards, it really helps and is encouraging!

Overcoming Your Fear of Sales
April Wier

If there is one thing that was beaten into me over the years of my time in sales it was ‘Always ask for the sale.” Also known as “Always Be Closing”. The easiest way to lose a sale is to not engage and get the sale. Getting over yourself and your fear of rejection takes courage, determination and a lot of stamina! Just do it, the rewards are far greater than the downside, but you have to know that it will take a mind shift to get comfortable with it.

Raw Notes:
It is terrifying to do sales because of fear of rejections
it is not just you, 80% of people also fear this
to solve this
Frist you got to get your mind right
Get over the idea of “I am bothering people”
Are you talking yourself out of sales?
Stop being a credit manager
don’t worry about if they seem like they should buy it
pool sales story
Pricing for what you think they can pay is all in your head
make more profit by charging what you are worth
In your head it is easy to only think about how the interaction will affect you
instead you need to focus on benefitting the client
Immersion therapy, must do this enough to get comfortable doing it
if it feels as scary every time like the first time you are not doing it enough
Do you want fries with that, repetition removes
You job is not to sell,
your job is to solve problems
Difference between ‘do you want to buy’ and ‘how can I help’
For whom do you solve problems?
Not the universe
once you have clear vision of who has what pain points you can solve, it makes it easier
They need a trusted guide, make them look like a genius
Ask about their business
Ask about their pain
Find what they didn’t like about folks they DON’T buy from
find out what they like about folks they DO buy from
Listen to what they say when agitated
THEN you ge to talk
bend your story to their concerns
hustle and communication story
Classic Sales Techniques, updated for the digital age
Going out of business ->
I’m booking up quickly, I can only take on one more project
Foot in the door ->
Tripwire product, little thing you can sell them that establishes trust, selling a session to find what they need, Keyword research high value and builds trust
Stalking the Client ->
Continue to demonstrate the prospect’s value to you
Sending article and stay top of mind without being annoying
He who talks first loses ->
Still works
What are some other old school techniques?
Make sure you are a fit
turn away business if bad fit
you want a relationship where you can make a difference
only so much time on the calendar
available start date = moving target
if they don’t have time to meet, that is a giant red flag
flipside of scarcity is abundance,
there are many, many opportunities

Yes, And: How improv basics build stronger teams, foster creativity and make the creative process more fun and less frustrating
Amber Pechin

Yes, I do in fact love talks about improv, and not just because it is something I have talked about at camps all throughout the world. I love it because every time I see a talk involving the core concepts there are always people who are uncovering for the first time the ways the key concepts apply to all areas of live, not just the stage. The ah-ha moments around being more positive, making your partners look good and ‘YEs, And…’ are just delightful. Rather than focus on a single role, this was a great general presentation covering those core concepts in a pretty engaging talk making it ideal for a group of people across multiple functionalities who want to learn about these things together.

Raw Notes:
(came in a tad late)
not about being funny
Learning some basic improv tools and muscles
4 rules of improv
1 Yes, And
2 Listen
3 No wrong answers
4 I got your back
Bonus rule
if it is not fun change what you are doing
creativity can be painful but it should eb fun pain
She started doing stand up
got told that the high of performing is like nothing else
chase that high of being in front of people
and through creativity
nailing specific goals
Changing from less about the me and all about the we
Interactive session!
Alphabet game example
You should know the rules
Our job as creatives to to come the best idea
in business feels like competition to come up with best ideas
Goal is not be be funny yourself, but to make each other look funny
The most valiant thing you can do as an artist is inspire someone else to be creative
when everyone is winning the client is happy
no wrong answers – learning
failure is opportunity in disguise
we are highly skilled at suppressing action, good improvisors develop action
when something seems off we stop exploring
the magic comes from going to explore an idea
we overthink our way out of acting
Listen! It is super important
silence is golden
The third thing is usually the best idea, don’t rush to fill the gaps
give the process space and time
it might be awkward at first
yes, and
the and is the hard part
Allowing people to operate without having to explain themselves constantly turns out to be like the rule of agreement in improv, it enables rapid cognition
think so fast you can build ideas
Need diverse thoughts and teams

Why Expression is So Important Content/Strategy/Marketing
Tanya Moushi

When we have the courage to express ourselves, there are a lot of ways that can play out. In the best possible world, this means we are bringing forward the best and highest ideals we possess. The fear that it will not be this or that we are not good enough prevents us from expressing ourselves at all. When we don’t express ourselves, there are only really negative ramifications for ourselves, our organizations and ultimately the whole of society itself. This session was jammed full of encouragement and I think anyone who is in their heads around getting their voice heard would be uplifted in seeing this on WordPress.tv.

Raw Notes:
THink about biz same a speople
blog of energy and ideas
moves into a physical manifestation
german word – being, existence and also being with (both at the same time)
Are you open to feedback
periods of ideation and periods of feedback
as an individual, expression is an act of bravery
everything exposes you as you push out the ideas
Imposter Symdrome – “I’m not good enough”
don’t drop things you love because you are not a pro
don’t stop doing art or sports or anything because you can’t compete and have monitary value
for a society expression of the community is important
drives innovation and understanding
The Value of art thinking
orgaizational level
imagination game (or vizualization)
Empathy Mapping
Contextual immersion
Emotional method acting
point is to get to a point where ou really understand
individual level
Asks + Gives
“What if instead of using our jobs to pay for our lives, we use our work to express the highest part of our being”

Contributor Day

I LOVE contributing to the WordPress project. I cherish any chance to sit together to hack on making the code better, the docs more readable, and all the other small improvements that add up to a better ecosystem. At first I was a bit sad that there wasn’t one planned on the official schedule. Then I had a conversation with Aaron Campbell, who is lead for the security team, and we concluded there should still be some kind of contributor get together. We talked over options with some locals and set our sights on Cartel Coffee Lab as a location for Sunday morning. Without a lot of fuss we got more than a dozen folks to swing through throughout the morning. I was very proud to onboard a new person into Slack and help her find her team. I personally got to lend a hand on some serious work done on a project to help with onboarding for core contributors new to Trac. Could not have done this alone and I am super glad to be part of a global team that feels as strongly about this whole Free and Open Source Software thing as I do.

Wrapping up

If I had to compress my feeling into a single sentence: “It was a blast!” So many amazing people and so many meaningful conversations. That last part, the conversations that come from just being in between sessions, what some people call the ‘hallway track’, might just be the most valuable part of this or any camp. THe connections we make go well beyond the professional and I feel I am walking away knowing family members I had just not yet met. It makes me a little sad that they held this event in February since it will be a whole other year more before WordCamp Phoenix 2019!

WPCampus Online 2018: Amazing content I got to watch from home while helping out a little too

I will start out by saying I do not work in higher education. You might find yourself wondering then why I am such a fan of WPCampus. The truth of it is that I find the problem sets that the WP developers and admins have at universities absolutely fascinating. They have some of the most complex issues to solve with regards to permissions, compliance and delivery, coupled with an “as close as you can get to free” budget from administrations. Every time I hear about a situation where a single dev is managing hundreds of sites and is being pulled in multiple directions by all the stakeholders, I want to extend a hand of comfort and do what I can to help. That is why I volunteered at this year’s WPCampus Online.

This amazing and free event is put on by an incredible team of volunteers lead by the one and only Rachel Cherry, who has this infectious enthusiasm for helping higher education have the best time with WordPress. I signed up to be a Room Monitor, which is a volunteer position to make sure certain information gets announced in the chat window for the rooms as the presentations were happening as well as be on the lookout for abusive behaviour. Very happy to report I had a very uneventful shift as only the nicest and sweetest people were in attendance and all the comments were well within the code of conduct. There were a couple technical hiccups, as there always will be with any online conferencing system, but we got through them all and had an amazing day.

If there is a downside to this event it is there is no social event afterwards since we are all in different locations. Since I was at home for the whole event I will forgo the normal structure here of commenting on coffee, lunch and parties, as the event itself didn’t directly involve those things. So, let’s get right to my notes.


Note, all the sessions are recorded and up on the link from the session titles below.

Which Way Does Your Duck Face
Mike Demo

Not the first time I have seen this talk and I am sure it will not be the last. Every time I glean something new. The biggest take away I think this time was something I have been thinking about with Load and Performance testing, and that is having too small a data set. If you only have 100 visitors, the behavior of any one can skew data. If you have 10,000 visitors, 1 visitor is not going to throw off any number, but dozens of users behaving the same way will for sure be significant. Or maybe not! Demo explains this point more eloquently than I can here, so please do take the time to see this one!

Raw Notes:
WP is a community and we are all here together
A-B Testing
Shake you up
Who has done A-B?
What did you do? Change something conversions change but you don’t know why
change multiple things and nothing works
that is typical.
Have to have a goal written down
a SMART goal
and then controlled tests
Correlation is not causation
Using a tool helps you test one thing at a time
Tells about the drop shadow on a site that made all the difference
but you have to write it down
You have to have real traffic, thousands and thousands of visitors
too small a sample set can mislead you
there is software for this
Every once in a while you will be shocked
You can test EVERYTHING and should
He rolls out his master list of things he tests
it is long
If a test can’t fulfill a goal, why would you do it
Sometimes unprofessional
colors, don’t forget WCAG (Accessibility standard)
low brightness vs high brightness
never know unless you test
Static vs animated
stock vs amateur
layout options
one CTA vs another
Must be open to examine ‘brand standards’ as you work
can’t get stuck in “this is the way we always do it”
mirrored images?
duck image facing left vs right (name of the talk)
facing right had much higher conversion
80% higher
you do not need to concern yourself with the way
the goal is all that matters
if the needle moves then you are winning
if you get sucked into they why you are just making much more work for yourself.
Be careful with trust logos
early rounds of American Idol contestants do well with trust logos
Get this free book
Q: One test at a time
A: yes, you need to control what you are testing, use software that can tune this for you
don’t test a subset of a test
more important to have enough traffic to test each thing
Make sure you write down your goals and keep thinking about the larger goal
‘Number 1’ in google is big to chase but is that really getting them better ‘results’
The one things your site should not do is let your site stay static
test and fin out what works to get you to your goal
caution in using plugins for A/B testing
you don’t want google to index testing
third party hosting tools are way better for the browser agent side, not server side

Unbundle Your Institution: Building a Web Ecosystem
Eric Sembrat

I was excited to see this presentation because I mostly know Eric from his awesome work over in the Drupal Community. The PHP CMS Community is smaller than you think sometimes and it was amazing to see this crossover and see Drupal get some love at a WP focused event. Aside from that, Eric has a pretty sweet beard these days, making this video kind of a must see for that and a cameo by his two adorable dogs. Also the content was super great. Thinking about WP (or Drupal) as part of your solution, not boxing yourself in as the whole solution, is a very smart approach and I loves his insights. I know you will as well.

Raw Notes:
Eric has a sweet beard
Works at Georgia Tech
nice partial view from his office
Ignoring other applications
WP is great but it does not do as well as some other custom apps that are fined tuned for that
for instance
If campus has Drupal in place for website management
and you want to offer a quick way to roll out sites
WP site network works very well in general
vs Drupal multisite which takes a lot of time
and no way to know how long to customize and add new fatures
if you have same amount of staffing, which would you choose
instead of competing for time
see all solutions and learning to love them and see their pros and cons for specific use cases
A prebuilt Learning Management system vs building your own platform
Without a guiding hand, people silo up and reinvent the wheel
over and over
A web ecosystem
making it easier to consume all the info you can present
through new services and tools
blend campus identity across any application
Where does the web infrastructure live?
On Site
does not mean all your platforms ned to live in the same place
security is paramount
updates and support
all need to live harmoniously
What tools helps the team do their job better
2 primary formats
Less, code helpers
living breathing code snippet approach
2nd one is content repository for code sharing and revisioning
allows collaboration everywhere
single sign on for instance, share how that is done everywhere to all teams
Campus Web Dossier
if you want this kind of project, this is how we do that on this campus based on the success we have seen
4 levels of complexity
brochure level, just quick landing pages without building anything, just content
Component based web sites leveraging a CMS
custom-fit applications, largest components, single purpose
DAM, CRM, Repositories, etc
Reusability id key to this, should be able to share across all the levels of complexity
Want to share config and assets within each level of site
also want to share throughout the spectrum
down through al the services
Reusable components
theme and branding consistency
good examples:
news and event tools
directory tools
Logo repositories
Documentation really saves everyone a lot of work
Docs are the binding glue and encourages us to reuse them
4 forms
how, why, where, when
and the community is the subject matter expert
they are not the creators
but they are the customer and first person to give feedback
contributors who drive knowledge decisions
build a Community-of-practice
Caveat: This takes a lot longer to see results in general,
just slower since more people and things involved
Figuring out your goals
what is missing, what are people not doing since there is nothing there currently
Must think about end users
and your stakeholders and experts
Advertise your end goal
make this known
showcase the benefits and current limitations
Get user input
what works and does not work to them
segmented and controlled groups
if decentralized you need to build partnerships
shout out the benefits
Proof of concept, show it
Pushing for change
begin by being the change we want to see
You can’t predict the future but you can plan for change and for growth
Drupal 8 symphony and twig
new way of thinking is seeping into the CMS but core concepts been in place for years
In general thinking of end users first and reusability tied to that when designing

Headless and Brainless WordPress
Ben Moore

I was not sure what to expect from this one going in. I had never heard of this brainless concept before. But of all the talks I saw and tried to capture in notes this one stuck with me the most and I have been thinking about the ramifications ever since. Why not get the best of all worlds at once by letting WP load once so you get all the authentication and power the CMS gives while letting JS do all the lifting of the display on the browser end? I mean, this is core to the idea of the new front end editing experience of Gutenberg but until Ben laid out this in practice, completely devoid of any mention of Gutenberg, did this finally sync home. If you are debating building a decoupled application right now, watch this presentation before you do anything else.

Raw Notes:
Higher level ways to use JS to make
WP is a blogging platform the same way Google is just a search engine
WP very stable
From 2.0
user management
Data traction
basically have to use it now
pulls in content and lets you reuse resources properly
and the WP REST API is the biggest tool to make those other 2 work together
limbless- just little sections of site are just using a little JS
admin ajax
some flexibility, but every new page load has to rebuild from PHP
the back end back-end and front-end front
if limbless is a little going on
Headless is a lot
Anything that can make an HTTP call over the wire
Only data over the Rest API is pulled in from WP
headless therefore only sends data over the REST API
you have complete freedom to use anything you want in the front this way
caveat not using the WP feature sets, might have to have people sign in 2x+
multiple hosts
you have to maintain everything
New buzzwords
brainless solution
n first page request, WP loads the page, but just a shell
shell is going to lead in JS and static assets
one little snippet that instantiates the JS application
you get all the WP features and then JS taks over from there
as you click around not doing full reloads, just JS moving things around.
there are caveats
can’t build out native applications
when disperse front end living on individual phones
front end isn’t being hosted in one place
Brainless does not work here, limited to WP common tech (PHP, MySQL, Apache)
but incorporating node
We are building things that have never been done before
the best practices ar still being figured out
if we follow the WP philosophies rather than technical standards we will be fine
WordPress Philosophy
Example/Demo time!
SEO question and SERP
this is getting better but yes issues still
Google figuring it out now
using this tech for just a site may or not have benefit, specifically Angular
around SERP
Gutes is leveraging the RET API heavily
impacting the tools directly
WP and GraphQL has a lot of potential
more that needs to go into it on the WP side to get full benefit
needs more demand before it will mature
these single page sites brainless sites – theme or plugin?
your custom code should worry about extending the back end tech
front end should be theming components

Please Don’t Freak Out: Managing Change Moments Across Diverse Groups
Steve Ryan

I originally was not in this talk, so missed the first 5 minutes or so. I had missed the part of the description that the core of this talk was about getting your users ready for Gutenberg. I have been thinking a lot about this topic recently, including the fact that [we should stop calling it Gutenberg] (link needed to the core-editor channel where this debate is raging)**.
This talk gave a general, no nonsense approach to dealing with any large scale change that is coming. How to deal with it logically, emotionally and from a practical perspective. If you have any major changes coming in your organization or systems, this is just a great talk all around.

**Not going to link that, go join the conversation here

Raw Notes:
Change management
leading a change is like this cowboy pic
being on a horse
very concerned
Goal is to drive the herd
One horse, one rider, one path
One rider: rider appeals to our logical self
just figure out the critical moves for your audience
think about content as blocks instead of full page like Word does
learn to rearrange as needed
new blocks in the right hand menu
earn to use 4 blocks – text, headline, image, youtube(or soe embed block)
start simple!
connect with community for questions
Rider’s face is very sharp
sharp focus get exhausting, tired easily
avoid decision fatigue
only tell them what they really really need to know
try not to bog them down with too much info
people know what a block is via legos or minecraft
don’t attempt to define it too much
why it is important to be a block is a good discussion but not helpful to new non-tech users
don’t intro technical things to a non-technical audience
don’t point to the end goal of democratize internet the end-point
Don’t turn it on ll at once for everyone for everything, people are going to get tired quick
don’t dwell on the massive change, let people adopt it in a realistic way
if you are delivering the change to an audience let them know a week out, then a day or 2 before, let them know what is going to happen!
follow up messages as needed, delivering messages where there is help available
just in time message serves as a reference point
for those who miss it the first time and they don’t log in for a while, that “in case you missed it’ email will be critical
Scour your sites for things people did that are awesome or cool
then brag about it!
find the people who adopt it and get permission to get that message out
lot of clapping and a lot of praise
use that as the point on the horizon we are moving towards
not ‘democratize internet’ but ‘better content layout like you see here’
make it more logical
One Rider One Horse
the Horse is the emotional aspect of the experience
You have to feel it, the change should feel worthwhile
cause is hard to find sometimes, especially if no immediate payout
Do it as a gut instinct
in order to affect the change in target audience have to find the feel
find a cause
introduce the change moment in relation to something you are actively try to remedy
stuff always out of date
if we are talking about a new post editing experience, build more attractive pages that are easier to use, more users more students they win
5 minute makeover trick
answers “Do I have to redo all my content I own?”
sometimes answer is yes, sometimes no
but a demo that just makes use and let people see what you can do in a short time
makes it less scary
look at that, looks easy now
oh, I see what else we can do…
that is reaction you are going for
learn how the horse moves
small moves
lots of encouragement and praise, leads to move moves
if you can get a handful of people moving in the same direction
they whole herd moves
when encouraging people to move remind them they are not alone
if ever a time to build a community around a change movement, this is the time
small moves can be fun
The Path: one foot in front of the other
roll out in stages
no-code approach turn on or off the plugin
way to ‘get me back to what I know’ buttons in the tool bar
filtering what bits of content are best for Gutes right now
really target releases for narrow group of people
script does not have to be that complex, just turn on and put in handful of hands
get results and move ahead on other groups for feedback
1 on 1 or 1 on 4 is great f you can take that time to do it
best way to get people ahead on a path of change is
make a checklist, make it clear
introduced the concept, scripted some moves, checklist gets them home safe
when you get to that final palce, you are rounding the
Gutes does not have to be a scary thing,just nudging into new direction

Developing a Culture of Mentorship
Tessa Kriesel

The first time Tessa tried to give this talk during the day technology was against her. She persisted and gave a stellar presentation a little later than originally planned. Very glad she did overcome the technical hurdles as this is always an inspirational subject. If the organization we belong to don’t directly provide formal paths to mentoring, it is even more on our shoulders to help those around us to raise their skills and get meaningful experience. I know I would not be where I am today if I many, many patience and wonderful people had not helped guide me along the way. Tessa does a pretty fantastic job of giving us all a roadmap of how we can help make the world a more inclusive place where all ships rise.

Raw Notes:
Her story
small town in MN
helped teach a class for Girl Develop IT
they liked her style and she started doing more
very satisfying
Job outlook is strong 162K jobs right now
2026, 188K jobs expected
this does not count turnover and retirement
most jobs 60% require some kind of experience 2+ years in a lot of cases
how can we expect jr. devs to get experience?
16% of jobs 1 year
only 23% required no experience
how they getting this experience?
be the change we want to see in the world
mentor more devs
why your org should hire more devs
Team Morale
mentoring is exciting
new people are excited by getting to do anything
Passion is infectious
new ideas and ways of thinking, very optimistic
with that being said, how to start?
Write better job descriptions
don’t require years of experience, but instead on personality traits
Don’t require involvement
some people don’t enjoy teaching others, be aware of your team’s interest
Managers are NOT mentors
need an open relationship they can confide in and relate to
make sure communication channels are open
maybe slack, maybe checkin box
track progress and make goals
don’t just create initiatives and hope they succeed
must have follow up
Build a program, not just a one off
Turn the mentored into mentors
So, in terms of actual Devs
say your company does not have an initiative and you want to still help
Why would you do this?
Grows your network
meet interesting people along the way
Feels good man
selfish selflessness
get out of your comfort zone
meetup or local event, or even just leaving your house
going to meet great people and maybe free beer
Do more
Mastering your own skills
teaching means you have to understand it deeply
life long friendships
Where to find people
Colleges or schools
code schools and bootcamps
easy ways to opt in and opt out helping with these programs
code schools have very motivated learners
Local orgs and groups, this was Tessa’s path
Girl Develop IT, Yes we code, Women who code are three good options to start
may though
Hackathons! a lot of fun great way to really get to know someone
Conferences, this can be overwhelming if you are introverted
Why and Where, so let’s talk about good tips for being a good mentor…
Boost their confidence, empower them
remind them what they have done so far and help them feel better
Don’t say ‘do this and not do this’ but guide their career path
educate them to make better decisions
Be available! This is super important, and hard not to overcommit
Share resources with them
share books
Working Code Examples
Live coding sessions – help them work through issues on a real project
shows them the best path approaches
Collect and share resources periodically
will get a dialog going

Building A Training Schedule Platform and Expanding It To Everyone
David Kampmann

First time I have ever heard Mr. Kampmann speak and I hope it is not the last time. He faces a unique set of challenges in his role, which is really a catch-all of anything to deal with training. A role not too dissimilar to one my colleague David Needham faces as head of Pantheon Training and one I am very familiar with as far as the gap filling goes. It was awesome to see how he methodically approached this issue and overcame the obstacles of no budget, no real experience building such a system and finally not having a deep background in WP development. Even with those obstacles he still manages to leverage the WordPress ecosystem to solve a complex issue in a very elegant way, with a future roadmap and maintenance path putting him in a great position for any future challenges that emerge.

Raw Notes:
From SD
training schedule platform, they do a lot of in house training
First, his title is Instructional Facilitator
not sure what that really means, but he is faculty support and development
running lean
gives him a lot of responsibilities and he is wearing many hats
anything under the sun without a person n charge he takes on
this is how WP fell into his lap 7 years ago
WP seemed like the simplest solution
his LMS and CMS was not up to the job
not a lot fo people in his area, but a lot going on
students expect a lot
tech institute, applied learning in demanding careers
new tech all the time
back before WP for scheduling sessions were 1:1, no massive workshops
too busy teaching
Manual tracking was a huge headache
central list was constant headache
made a wish list
After a lot of looking at so many things
DO NOT go down the path of using the existing class reg
event management software is expensive
WP seemed to seem promising
WP Event Manager Pro – $70 a year pro
support is biggest thing you get
Logged In – Active Directory Integration
new accounts
just works minimal config!
WPFull calendar is simple and clean
Force Login
email confirmation
iCal integration was key, makes smart phones easy to deal with
There were things people didn’t need,
turn those things off
keep it nice and clean
no new event making from end users, no new event submissions
but after a year asked people if they would like feature x
they don’t know what is possible because they didn’t know it was avaialbe
most people just said no to all that functionality
custom settings
Event links to the future, near future only
Biggest wins:
only one login (not a new one)
iCal reminders worked well to get users to attend
Easy path to communicate fro reschedules etc
easy process for credentialing
some hiccups:
Multi stage events are not fun with this system
Matching school website look and feel, this was part of the goal, this is frustrating
Difficult completing Extra Signup Steps
Mandatory fields help but not total solution for those xtra bits
New initiative this last year
Campus professional development
Personal dev for all staff
New targets and new challenges
now more people involved, used to be 2 people total running it
more time slots, year round as opposed to just summer
more variables for workshops, multistage is one, but new things emerging
outside registrations, payments from registrants – can be supported but lot to worry about around policy
need to train people on how to use these new tools
training to train
lot of things to know and they will have to explain these things moving ahead
location, location, location
where does this all live?
academic subdomain
does not feel super inclusive
tracking is different
need to track professional development as well as credentialing
need to pull data and use it in a different way, no solution yet
less to duplicate the better
full roll out happens this spring
this is all new
got to teach people how to use it
May 10th is big day of workshops and the true test for the system

At Home in the Cloud
Jason Cauwels

I am one of the people who thinks “why of course your infrastructure should be in the cloud.” For me it is partially motivated by self interest since I work for a website management platform. For those who do not have my vested interest this is a very perplexing question with a lot of variables. It was pretty great to see the way Jason and his team approached this issue and the very forward looking approach they took to solve a very real scale problem. As we see more and more of the sites being built start to adapt a JAMStack sort of approach, it is very informative to see the real world performance results that distributed caching has and the impact for end clients. I would love to see a follow up case study with this system in a year or so, I bet the results only get better as they tune the system further. Awesome content!

Raw Notes:
First presentation ever at any conference!
When sharks are raining in LA
50K people trying ti hit website
overwhelm resources
had an emergency blogger site that could take over
was slow and very manual
minor notices, would not convey the importance of notifications
mobile and desktop sites mobile didn’t have alerts unless other site took over
the complete publishing environment was only known by a few
complex to use
in an emergency they needed:
mitigation for spikes
needed visual messaging
UX and design needed to be responsive
emergency notifications were on homepage
branding should be consistent across all sites
Admin and usability, WP was there
security and tech considerations
resilient, reduce downtime, increase speed of page-loads, move to the cloud
moving all www to AWS
over 1000 Redirects
traffic and scale are major concerns
are their new security concerns?
planned and unplanned events
did they have resources
new initiatives
do they have the skill sets needed
build a page or an app that pulls from WP
How did they choose AWS?
to be honest, did an RFP process
liked all of them for all sorts of reasons
biggest reason, was central IT had a master contract with AWS, should use them
what about all those concerns that followed?
discovery process
had to understand all the options
then they got the idea what if they delivered everything static on AWS
secure, super fast, distributed
global level content serves super fast
that is what they did
Multisite on VMs
published themes from repos to buckets
admin URL that people could log into, this acted as staging site
publish to amazon
fetched all the posts and made static images leveraging Amazon S3 buckets
it works
been running since May
but did it make a difference?
let’s look at success criteria
Responsive homepage
while working on the architecture, moved into WP from old CMS
always responsive from a single codebase
Emergency notifications: instead there is an emergency site always up does not overtake the whole site
homepage looking for fee, new things it puts it up on page
3 levels of severity
update the emergency site branding, now matches the rest of the environments and themes
can handle massive spikes, one false alarm last year saw 1000% spike
emergency site 2,500% increase load
would have collapsed system before
was not slow site before, had 2380 index score
with AWS 1295 (lower is better)
everything is simply faster!
Had to learn AMI vs VMs
Optimized to run on AWS
but they have same issues VM has with tech creep
Docker can isolate things better and they are moving that way
different availability zones
AWS is good but you need to determine what you want
Full stack or SPA
a phased approach allowed them to release more quickly
project shouldn’t really have an end, enhancements ongoing organized around milestones is better way to approach
having a CICD architecture is key to making you sleep better

WordPress as a Platform for Moving to Open Learning
Keith Webster

I gotta admit, for as much as I love this event and the space in general my utter lack of experience with any Learning Management System (LMS) hampered my enjoyment of this particular talk. Most of my questions were around what the heck Moodle was doing in this architecture. I got the RSS and WP parts but Moodle was a giant black box / question mark. Still it was awesome to see a talk on how to tie in various systems to sove a unique need. Despite my lack of expertise here, this was a really good one to watch if you are dealing with learning systems that need to syndicate content in an intelligent way.

Raw Notes:
instructional designer
teaching with WP for a few years
Royal Roads university
Important to acknowledge that these are homes to native peoples since before time
lot of movie filming
he handles faculty support
talking about school of education and technology
mostly serving working educators
grad programs around leadership and integration of technology
Master of Arts in learning and technology
recently went through a 5 year review
redesign was agreed upon,
openness and OER were decided upon
coinciding with redesign was the opportunity
new project would be using an open orientation
moving from an LMS into a more open platform for pedagogy and better interactions
having a WP project starting at the same time, it piggybacked on the WP one
first thing was defining what open meant
was a stretch to get comfortable with that
had to negotiate open with each student on the platform
varied as time went on, had to be built in
avoiding too many plugins and themes
supporting students and faculty in WP
using WP in an own way everyone could support
were able to redesign with WP
able to take advantage of project management services
milestones and workload could be shared
within the project could make an ambitious set of goals
separate WP installs
one for core sites and one for student blog sites
WPCloud, Canadian host for WP
Shibboleth to do SSO
unique Moodle and WP templates
personalized support for WP
lot of various skill levels present
redesigned program meant students would be sharing results and discussing on their own
external and in house tutorials set up
key component was a feed reader
manage their consumption of posts and comments throughout the course
identity of current ongoing blog based discussion, if all set up right
last thing before QA
map out what new systems look like

Wrapping Up

I love this event. Every time I get to interact with devs from higher education I approach it with a level of reverence since they are doing the most amazing engineering feats with a fraction of the budget of a normal Enterprise. This event is chocked full of examples of this and there was an entirely separate session track running simultaneously that I could not attend and report on. As of now I have not had a chance to review those but given the descriptions I can’t want to dig in. Very glad this is all recorded.
I am very much looking forward to the next live event, which you can also keep tabs on here. Until then, I will have to be content with these recordings and the lively conversations out in the WPCampus Slack!

Thanks again to all the volunteers who made this event one of the best online conferences ever!

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

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:


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.


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


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
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
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

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
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
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
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”

@mcdwayne and @Kitty took on the task of turning @flixos90’s presentation of beginning use of Trac into a Google Doc:

Meanwhile @angela attended the ‘getting started as a core contributor’ session. and took notes of the general overview she received for Trac:

@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:

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:

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!

WordCamp Seattle: Seeing my first snow of the year and living through the time change

For the first time since I was in Iceland I saw fresh snowfall. Unfortunately it was falling a lot and on the SEATAC airport so my flight got delayed a bit and we sat on the runway once we landed waiting the backlog to clear. Not too terrible of a flight all in all. Regardless of weather, I was super thrilled to come back to the home of Starbucks and Microsoft for WordCamp Seattle 2017, aka WCSEA

This was my second time to WordCamp Seattle and thus my second trip to the Washington State Convention Center. Also, I was just there 2 weeks prior for WooConf and had some pretty high expectations from that event for this community. Well friends, I am happy to report that I was not disappointed! From amazing sessions to fantastic lunch options to contributor track fun and excitement, this was not a WordCamp you wanted to miss. Let’s dig in.

Food and Fun

Speaker Dinner

As per usual with WordCamps, the fun kicked off the night before the event with the speakers and sponsors gathering together and sharing a drink and some food. We assembled at The Elephant & Castle . While this place scpecializes in hearty pub grub, I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of their baked balsamic glazed hummus. Tangy and sweet and creamy all at once. It was so great to see so many people there including some surprises like the amazing Carole Olinger who introduced me on stage back at WC Europe. I was also there with a few members of ym company and I had the divine pleasure of introducing people around. It feels good to make introductions and see people immediately hit it off.

Day 1

Like many conference centers, this place relies on the in house catering to provide conference coffee. Unlike most places, since we are in Seattle, bad coffee is a terrible sin and we got Seattle’s Best which is a far step above most bulk coffee. My colleagues had supplied me with some pretty neat options for breakfast, including some vegan donuts, and the day started out amazing.
Lunch at WCSEA takes an interesting approach that leverages it’s proximity to so many lunch places and I wich more camps would follow this approach. Each day of the conference you get a gift card for $10 to go to one of several local restaurants. $10 is enough for a filling small lunch from any of these places and if you wanted more to supplement it, no issues paying extra with cash or card. I chose Veggie Grill which is a chain I really wished was in SF, but also thankful it is not too close to my house or I would eat nothing else. No animal products allowed on their decadent and robust menu. I really wanted to take all the folks who were on the fence about the plant based food options here. The food is just better.

After Party

Again, as the year before and as many other camps are starting to opt for, the after party happened immediately following the last session on day one. We once again returned to Elephant & Castle for our “No Host” party. I go to a lot of events and I have only ever heard this term in Seattle, leading me oo believe it is a regional phrase. “No Host” means that you are on your own for drinks and food, the venue is just providing the space to use. Not a terrible way to go to be honest. It keeps bad behaviors in check because if you overdo it, then it is your own fault, not ever because you got one too many drink tickets.

It was a great time, but soon enough, some of us wanted to eat dinner so a small band broke off and had some pretty awesome asian fusion over at Wild Ginger. Their wine list is absurdly large, over 20,000 bottles and the staff is top notch. Can not recommend them enough


I was extra excited about WCKaroake this time around because it meant I got to go back to one of my favorite karaoke bars in the world, RockBox, where you can, according to their website “Rock Like A Salaryman.” This is my current favorite slogan for anything. There was a great showing from the camp and this might be second only to Chicago for largest turn out for a WCKaraoke this year. I am super happy to be a part of this community!

Day 2

More of the same from day one. I again had good coffee and once again returned to Veggie Grill to feast for lunch. There was some dessert things that happened but I am not sure of the details, all i know is I got handed vegan ice cream with peanut butter. It was incredible. Thanks to my teammate Tessa for looking out for me.

No pics of this ice cream exist, so here is a random tweet about vegan ice cream I found:


Opening Remarks:


WordPress is a Banquet
Andrea Middleton

It is not everyday I get to hear one of the leads of the whole WordPress Community give a talk. I was super excited as the community itself has become one of my passions over the last couple years. I love being a part of making WordPress even though I have never done a single pull request for code on the project. This was actually the crux of Andrea’s talk and I was super glad to hear this articulated so well. The talk revolved around three stories of people who contribute significantly to WordPress without writing code. No matter who you are or what you think you know, you know enough to contribute to the project. Don’t just sit there, go to make.wordpress.org right now and join the team!

Raw Notes:
Most people are surprised that this free software runnign 28% of the interenet is made by community
lot of people work on WP but no one works for WP
Goes over the teams
Looks like a lot of plates on a table
like a banquet
each of us bring something to create something bigger than ourselves
Not going to talk about the eating part – the using
talk about contributing and the recipes
and what some contributors have found works
One of the goals
I couldn’t do that fallacy
I can’t write code so I can’t contribute
3 stories of contributors with no code!
there is some secret people or unusual attributes required
She wants to show the source code of contributions
humans made of human stuff
1 – James Huff
2004 – Lost and House re new, flip phones, ipods are new
James working at a feed store
macmanx news site
wanted blogs, movable types
James didn’t like it, minor things got on his nerves
WP 1.2
hit bug
answered a few questions on install
he liked helping people
he learned in the process
I learned most of what I know today by researching answers for questions I thought were really cool
User: Can I display only one category on my front page?
Me: Wow, that sounds cool! Let’s find out!
Became a moderator when unemployed
went to work for WP.com
happiness engineer
49,000 replies on the support forums!
start by focusing on what you know, not what you don’t know.
You know something that someone does not know of the forums, even if you just installed WP
Willingness to help others
Dedication to the project over your own needs
Petya Raykovska
Superbad, iPhone and FB premiered
She was marketing manager for publishers
set up a blog
WP let her do things that until then took a dev to do
in 2011 started a web agency
translated stuff into Bulgarian
she learned a lot about WordPress
she got in deep in a way she
Eventually met the head of translations at WCEU
Editing the Codex
just gave her a page to edit, she did, and she realized at that table of international people
part of something huge that mattered
She ended up running the team
in 2015 polyglots went to translating 30,000 projects
still needed more people
Stayed for the people
they came up with WP Global translation day
the last one was the biggest and she didn’t have a direct hand, she passed it on
it will be bigger than you
Curiosity, Respect and patience a
Bridget Willard
in 2007
Was working at the office manager for contractor firm
WP.com blog personally
in 2008 economy crash – crushed construction market
Started a blog for company and didn’t tell her boss
she ran it on her own
they let her
no tech background, she had a relentless curiosity
networking for a lot of social media
brought in work
she had 20K followers, which is crazy good for a construction company
First WordCamp in 2013
Side note – Keeping the price low for WC helps keep it accessible and growing
Bridget kept building and learning and blogging about her user experiences
by end of 2015 she got a job at a plugin
she found her tribe
I got a shout out 🙂
learning and listening
Intellectually honesty
start small and move forward
that is only 3 of the ‘dishes’ in our banquet
You are welcome to join us
you are invited
and you can definitely bring something to the table

Accelerating Custom Development with Dynamic Scaffolding and WP-CLI
Ben Byrne

There is no secret that I am in love with the WP-CLI. It is a real time saver for sure, but the real magic of the tool is that you can extend it and make it do anything you want. It is rare however to hear someone make that as an articulate argument or real world example of anyone doing this. Ben hits the ball clear out of the park with this talk on both of those fronts. His team has not only figured out how to make the most out of what WP-CLI offers out of the box, but they have also bent it to their own needs and made it do some pretty neat tricks. I did my best to follow along here and make sense of my raw notes, but you should really find his slides to see the awesome code examples.

Raw Notes:
real name of talk:
“Come hear about this neat thing we built”
building good stuff fast is the issue at hand
Want to keep affordable, non-profit
custom sites, can take a lot of time and effort
A lot of people immediately got o premium themes
overblown for some use cases
hard to maintain sometimes, bugs and troubleshooting
sometimes very hard to customize
Starter themes
+ component libraries are another approach,
preferred way for a lot of people
but at Cornershop
lot of institutional knowledge
hard to maintain library if you are doing a lot
plus all the copy and pasting
Dynamic scaffolding
for their starter theme
fancy way of copying things and configuring them as they set them
warning: your milage may vary, not a best practices talk
just ideas around efficient workflows they have experienced
First goal is to speed development
also easy for new folks to learn
theme should have everything it needs and NOTHING IT DOES NOT – clean code
Avoid reinventing the wheel
avoid tedious, repetitive work (e.g. copy/past)
WP-CLI is the cornerstone of the their work
Broad support and awareness
already offers scaffolding
supports Mustache templating
Easy documentation! – no separate help docs, all in tool
WP-CLI scaffold child theme
taxonomy – outputs you have to STOUD
theme-tests – build s a bunch of files
They extended it
built Produce (it could be a package as well)
It extends wp-cli with a new command and subcommands
then run, command inject code into our starter theme, Crate
Basic flow
Make sure starter theme is present
install & Activate Produce plugin
Run WP-CLI commands

customize the admin login
manually it is cumbersome
Quick command lines to automate adding new logo and changing background!
other subcommands
wp produce site-options (bundle of fields they commonly mod)
term-fields – acf fields builder
articles gives you a new post type
10 commands now and still growing
lot of ideas in queue
architecture –
base class with methods, variables and helpers to facilitate building commands
subdirectories for a lot fo things
articles files commands/articles
mustache templates
automatic support for WP-CLI is part of why they like it
template with some PHP and CSS
4 variables injected
mustache is name of curly brackets for simple templates
commands are straightforward to extend and build
__invoke is what gets triggered when you type a command
you can skip things that are not needed when you enqueue things
Don’t touch non-generated fields!
makes it way easier to customize bu standardizing what they can touch

Stronger Than Fear: Mental Health in the Developer Community
Edward Finkler
OS Mental Illness

Ed is one of the bravest persons I have ever met. He is brave because he is standing up and saying things that absolutely need to be said. Mental health is just as critical as any other kind of health, in some ways even more so. It is easy to see someone with a broken arm or other obvious injury and give compassion and sympathy. But mental health issues have a terrible stigma imposed by our fear and ignorance as a society which prevent us from even wanting to acknowledge this is a real problem. Ed shared his personal experiences, ones I am all too familiar with and never really talk about because I too have a fear of being stigmatized. It is time we openly talk about mental health and realize we all need some help and know people that are in need of some support and help. If anyone out there reading this wants to talk, let me know. I am always willing to be there to listen and support you if you feel you need someone to talk with about anything mental health related. Be brave.

Raw Notes:
this talk if for the people who work with tech
How many people wear glasses?
Are you comfortable talking to your co-workers about glasses?
How about diving? Talking about it?
Mental health? A larger number than he thought would
talk about your own mental health
difference between talking about mental and physical health
Generalized anxiety disorder – flight or fight is extreme in non extreme situation
like a lion going to eat you is OK to have reaction
but how about buying lunch?
Walking into a new bar for the first time
ADHD – low frustration threshold – ten minute “snit fit” when things go poorly
good at constructing false situations in his mind,
Therapy helps – talks about how and why he does the things he does
some of this is advantageous to his job
security issues, empathizing with users
able to make disparate connections faster
it can take everything from you though
hospitalized and had to do outpatient therapy
forced him to quit a job
had o step away from stuff that is normal for him
Feeling alone is a real part of it
especially in a crowd
depression kicks in
afraid of people getting tired of him and leaving
lot of people feel that way as well
that is what we are fighting
WHO study – burden of mental disorders is largest in North America across all catogies
People do not feel they can talk to their peers or employers about mental health
most people think it would affect their careers
there is some evidence that there is more mental health issues with tech professionals
Sick workers don’t work
it benefits the org to have better employees
mental wellness = better employees
people want to work with people who respect them fully
1. Get the OSMI handbooks for free
ebooks on getting your workplace improved
2. Speak openly about Mental Health subjects
you have a lot of influence o the community around you
you would be surprised how many people open up if you open us first
3. Tell people that they matter
we are social creatures and need affirmation
those are tings you can do
we are talking about our colleagues and friends
suffer in silence
some disappear
and we are left to wonder and regret and try to understand
Fear is the only thing that allows this
we have to choose
give in to fear and be quiet, it is easier
pretend it does not happen
meet inaction with action
meet confusion with understanding
meet indifference with compassion
Yes, we need you, lot to do, go check out the

Women in WordPress Panel
Miriam Goldman
Francesca Marano
Rachel Cherry
Bridget Willard
Tessa Kriesel

I have a ton of respect for anyone that is ever in front of an audience on a panel who is willing to share their experiences. The sheer talent of this group of individuals made this an awesome one. It is almost like they planned an ‘Awesome people in WordPress’ panel and it just happened to be all women. I wish we lived in a world where that would happen by happenstance, but I am very glad that we made sure in fact it did happen this time by planning an all women panel. I showed up and I listened and I took a lot of notes and walked away with some awesome stories to share next time I encounter anyone feeling like they are limited in what they can do because of their gender. I am super grateful to this panel for giving their time.
I did my best to capture what was said and represent exactly what I heard verbatim here without commentary.

Raw Notes:
Miriam intro karate and ballroom dance
Tessa is 10 years a dev, works at Pantheon
Bridget Marketing Freelancer, WPBlab womenwhoWP, apple music CD of her music
Francesca from Italy, siteground manager, building sites since 1999, freelancer 6 years, meetup organizer, global WP community team
Rachel works Disney, build shopdisney, was in an ad campaign for slack, in NYT!
– What was a major challenge and how you overcome it
Mariam: job people didn’t take her serious because she is small and look a newbie in some ways
persevered and now people take her more serious
Tessa: Her attitude is sassy and outspoken, been an issue with
Bridget: Being taken seriously as a marketer, marketing is as important as code, WP does value words!
she went to meetups and talks and taught herself a lot and she is taken more seriously now, friends spoke dev
Rachel: People assume she is a designer or marketer only, she is a dev though, not taking seriously, she had a boss who was intimidated by her
she as trying to make the world better and he made it harder on her, only wanted his opinion validated, she kept on keeping on and ultimately she left on her own terms to go to a dream job
F: Imposter syndrome, very real
first job was picking oranges at age 20
she became freelancer because she didn’t
Siteground tell her she had a impressive resume
she is surprised and delighted, felt good
– What is greatest achievement?
M: Doing so many talks and conferences
T: teaching herself code and site building in a super small town
B: year of transitions, biggest achievement is believing she is worth being valued and worth investing in herself this is the year she is not going to be afraid anymore, that is awesome, we are awesome
Stop apologizing for being awesome
F: born in the herring capitol of Romania, teaching herself English and bettering her life is greatest
R: didn’t;t ever thing she could do this for a living, wanted to be a band director, no access to real education, born in Alabama, she taught herself along the way, worked way up to where she is now, Higher education work, stuff she does at Disney, sometimes she is the only woman int he room, recognizing that she deserves to be there. Feels good to not feel out of place, safety is the main reason teams get better
– how to get started as a woman in WP
All: Just do it!
R: Diversity talk – person speaking is not always expert, just person who said yes
F: sometimes you don’t even need to say yes, just tweeted and got on
R: that’s how we got this organized
Q&A (I had to go get on booth duty 🙁 )

What WordPress is Doing to Keep Your Site Safe
Aaron Campbell

Once again I got to see a new talk from the awesome Aaron Campbell and hear about the deep dark secrets of the security team. This is a special subgroup of the Core team that does not operate as openly as the rest of the Core group and with good reason. They are the team concerned with all the terrible stuff black hats are trying to do against WordPress installs and trying to stay one step ahead. Next time you hear someone say “WordPress is insecure” I would recommend citing this talk. WP does more for its users’ security than a lot of other projects and thanks to their backwards compatibility commitment, every WP user can get the latest and greatest patches ASAP after release, ahead of the black hats targeting their site for those recently surfaced vulnerabilities.

Raw Notes:
Talks about what you have to do
this talk is about that WP is doing for the user
Goal is not really site secure, it is keep users secure
makes what they are doing more difficult than just the site
security team
50 volunteers
most have day jobs around security
Code review is def part of it
constantly changing
bad actors are always coming up with new ways to break things
bug bounty program https://hackerone.com/WordPress
a secure, safe way to surface and fix issues
some real successes with it already
increased number of reported issues
reporters feel appreciated
paid out about $12K in bounties
average bounty $350
better tools HackerOne – used to be an email chain
make sure it is fixed right the first time thanks to testing
there has been some struggles too
only about 16% of reports are valid
information overload, 5 out of 6 are invalid
high touch – lot more time per ticket
time is the limiting factor they struggle with the most
some things we do better than other projects
plugin devs
can help
able to help protect WP sites before the actors ever hit the site itself
want to protect millions of sites thanks to WAFs and Hosts
4.7.2 – millions sites protected before there was even an issue
does not want it to be a fair race, lets get a head start on security
they are pretty good at that
Automatic updates are fast
tens of thousands of updates a minute
If you are turning off auto updates OK if you got 24/7 staff working with host, that is reasonable
But if you don’t have staff and turned them off from fear o site breaking, that is bad
99.9% of new updates success
.001% failure rate
rest are retries
you are far more likely because you were late on updating to get hacked than have a broken site
and with that Q&A

Picture Perfect: Getting Beautiful Images Without Violating the Law
Timeca Briggs
Zainab Hussain
Christine Winckler
Lisa Stewart

I was very interested in this talk mainly because I borrow a lot of images for my talks. Mostly my use falls under Fair Use since I am using them for scholarly reasons and not commercially. However, this talk made me very aware of some of the things I have been overlooking when considering the implications of doing image searches for gifs and such. For instance, I have been taking CC (Creative Commons) licensing for granted if I saw it CC licensed at all. Turns out you should always do a reverse image search to see if it is really CC licensed or if someone just re-uploaded with a new license on it. This is done all the time and not legit at all. You will be liable if it come up for litigation! Be careful out there and maybe just make your own pics to be sure you own the rights.

Raw Notes:
Copyright vs copywrong
Copyright is the legal right
exclusive, yo have the right to use and distribute the image
exclusive but not absolute
they do expire, then go to public domain
cr not to ideas just the specific written down thing
copyright is not universal, it is territorial
Copywrite is automatic without registering
but registering makes it way easier to prove you have the rights
also registered lets you get damages above normal damages
How to find the images
think about what you really need, too tall/too short, what do you need it for and costs
Think about compelling composition
this can subjective, go back to your style guides
make sure it addresses an emotional needs
need to know their needs and how you solve them, images reinforce that messaging
How do I find free images
First up is Google image search, easy to see these
flickr is actually really good as well
another great source is wikimeida – lot of public domain that require no attribution
as well as paper trail on how it was used in the past
unsplash has over 500,000 shared images you can freely use for a variety of reasons
lots of options these days
Use trusted sources because they will have terms that explain licensing in one page
google does a good job of this, but has disclaimer, not 100% but it helps show your good faith efforts which protects you somewhat
Watch out for other people re-uploading an image they don’t own under creative commons license
try reverse image search to see obvious violations
Make sure you are regularly reviewing your use and the terms
sometimes they change but more importantly sometimes you change
some licenses are non-profit specific for example
some specific verticals have certain rules
Licensing for images are NOT transferable
make sure you are not buying on their behalf
if they don’t use it then
tips for non-photographers to take their own photos
Assessment. Know what you need
want to be super organized
orientation, resolution, number needed, budget, etc
blogpost have to have an attractive image that has something to do with content
matching images
sometimes easier to just take own pics
Lighting is super important
daytime if you can
know your subject!

My Session

“Discovery, Discovery, Discovery, Discovery! The Most Important Part of the Project”

I was super happy to deliver this talk only for the second time. The first time was back at Stanford in the Spring. I have developed a similar talk around this subject as well, but with a Motorhead theme. The real highlights for me on this talk are hearing the Q&A feedback and suggestions. As Rachel Cherry said in the Women in Tech Panel, it is not always the be all expert up on stage, it those of us that raised our hands and volunteered to contribute. I firmly believe that the real experts are in the room, collectively knowing more than I could possibly store in my limited brain. The other part was, since this was loosely based on Ballmer’s “Developers” speech I got to close the thing out by having everyone chant “Discovery, Discovery, Discovery, Discovery!” Truly one of my crowning achievements this year!

Contributor Day

There was not a dedicated contributor day at this camp, it was instead a dedicated track on day 2. This has the plus side that there is a lot of foot traffic that would not be there otherwise, but it also means that you have to choose between contributing and seeing sessions. This is a hard choice. Since Andrea had called me out as one of the leads for the Marketing team I decided I better roll up my sleeves and help out. Very glad I did, helping people get started and having some interesting discussions with both the Meta and the Core teams. So many good ideas were born that day and I can not wait to discuss them more deeply with the rest of the team formally at WordCamp US contributor day!
If you are reading this and want to contribute to WP, hit me up, I am more than happy to guide you towards the right path if I can. So happy to be a part of this team and can not wait for you to join in to also experience the feelings of awesomeness that come with contributing.

Wrapping up

I learned a lot this camp even though I missed all the lightning talks to go be part of the contributor day. That is a lesson unto itself that I struggle with, FOMO: fear of missing out. I realize intellectually I can’t do everything and am going to have to make some trade offs. In my head though I feel like I am missing all the best things by doing the other amazing things. This camp actually did a good deal to help me settle down and just be able to focus. This is mainly due to my amazingly talented teammates from Pantheon who held theo booth down and kept the steady flow of folks informed on what we are all about.

I really dig Seattle. From the fact that I never see see the sun, to the awesome coffee options, all the way down to Pike’s Market and the many goodies that are for sale there, this town has a lot going on. Making it even better is a pretty amazing and wonderful WordPress community that puts on a pretty good camp. I am super happy to get to visit and hope to visit again well before WordCamp Seattle 2018!

WordCamp Baltimore: All about that B2B – Bay Area to the B’more

I love Baltimore. Every time I visit I find a new reason to like it even more. It was here that I first gave my improv talk. It was here that I got to take part in the largest to date DrupalKaraoke event. And it is here that I returned for WordCamp Baltimore 2017, WCBalt

Food and Fun

Speaker Dinner

As per the normal custom, got to participate in the Speaker/Sponsor dinner and hanging out. We gathered at Spark, a coworking space inside of Power Plant Live, the entertainment complex tha feels a bit like a little tiny Las Vegas, sans gambling. We had pizza and refreshments. Some of us journeyed a few doors down afterward to extend the eventing’s activities but we didn’t stay out too late, as the one and Sal Ferrarello was set to once again host the pre WCBalt breakfast early the next morning. I tried to get up for this, but I didn’t make it.

Can’t find a tweet with a pic, but it was in the same place as last year, so here is a tweet from then:

Day 1

The coffee at WCBalt reminds me of what you would find at a church function, meaning it is made in small batches in old fashion electric percolators. Snacks were plentiful and flowing throughout the whole event, with rotating selections of chips, candy, soda and such. I was never wanting for snacks.
Lunch on the first day was absolutely outstanding, with hearty vegan options of beans and rice, mixed steamed veggies and fried plantains. I ate way too many of that latter, as they were sorta like a fried banana candy.

After Party (Networking Social)

WCBalt joined the growing list of camps that are attempting to stem the tide of people not making it back out for the after party by turning the event into a networking social immediately following the last session of day one. I have mixed feeling about this to be honest. I am very much in favor of the inclusion it brings. No matter who you are or the circumstances, if you made it to the venue, this is an accessible function. There is no alcohol but there were some pretty spectacular appetizers. They ordered from Dooby’s which got all the locals excited. They had tremendously great vegan Kimbap, a sort of Korean sushi and veggie pot stickers, as well as pork buns, spinach artichoke dip, cookies and some fantastic looking donuts. It was great to connect with so many people but what felt like all too soon, the crowd thinned and we had to find elsewhere to go.


Since the after party ended so soon and there were only (the very tasty) appetizers, some of us wanted to go grab a proper meal before we found later night fun together. One of the greatest side effects of my dietary choice is it helps narrow down the crazy wide array of options a larger city tosses at you when you google search for ‘Restaurants near (an address)’. I stumbled across the menu for Of Love and Regret and was excited to try this out. An amazing beer list, fine spirits and creative cuisine in a very stylish old building across from Natty Boh Tower. Bette than any of that though was the company of my fellow WC folks. While plugins and continuous integration strategies are great subjects, getting to hang out and talk about more human things is part of what keeps me going out on the road. So many new connections and friends made along the way.


My top Karaoke bars are:
1 – Bow Bow Lounge (Cinatown in San Francisco)
2 – Otter’s Saloon (Minneapolis, MN)
3 – Walt’s Inn (Baltimore, MD)
A small group of us made it out to Walt’s Inn to celebrate a great first day at camp. Walt’s has ridiculously cheap drink specials and a heavy hand when pouring. The only downside, which I do not remember them enforcing last year, is a 2 drink minimum before you can sign up for singing. Fortunately, if one person signs up you can get any number of people to back you up. We rocked B’more with a stirring rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Freddy and the boys would have been proud.

Day 2

Coffee and tea were again available and pretty alright.
Lunch however was a bit of a letdown, especially in light of the previous day’s bounty of awesome, filling options. They ordered Dominos and the only vegan option were 2 side salads we would have to split between all the dietary restriction folks that are Gluten, Dairy or Animal Product adverse. I have learned on the road to carry backup food and was OK, but if you are reading this and are organizing an event where you plan to order pizza please, please, please either get it from somewhere that offers vegan cheese or gat a few pies with no cheese and extra veggies. Most pizza dough is vegan and so is the sauce. Not the healthiest meal but a filling one and no dairy involved.

In liu of a lunch tweet here is Mr. Trash Wheel


Opening remarks


The Future: Why Open Matters
Aaron Campbell

I had just seen the first version of this talk back at WordCamp Sacramento a few weeks before and was actually pretty excited to hear the next evolution. I love this central premise in this talk, that we have only gotten here in our technological advancement arc by openly sharing information. This has always been true. From the earliest roots of language, to Newton and Calculus, to the internet, which is the greatest information sharing system ever devised. We are at a place now where some people do not agree we should be sharing and open with information. We face a new kind of existential threat where the very same openness that helped create some of the monster tech platforms might not help further our freely shared knowledge base. It is in this light that he made a ‘call to arms’ for us to own our own data and make sure a free and open internet continues to exist. No easy answers here, but an important conversation that needs to be had.

Raw notes:
History teachers
not a fan of history
but important for this talk to go back in time
1994 super important year
changed all our lives
how we shared informations
but before that 1990
SNES changed Aaron’s life
such a giant leap from qbasic gorillas
but that game and DOS taught him to code/modify the source code
before internet, books from bookstore
open code he did not write, just modify
standing on the shoulders of giants, from 1100’s is that saying
Newton 1675 paraphrased
sharing information has evolved
technology has improved knowledge base you can access
books were a huge jump
stores of information
then computers
then internet – single most effective information sharing tool in history
closed systems are not necessarily bad, just potential hazard
risks are OK sometimes, but looking from history
sharing is what advances us
now we are risking private hands of big advances and not share
divorcing net neutrality
trying to treat all data the same
should be easier than it is
handling all data the same weight is a lot easier
but morally and ethically this is not so easy
not illegal stuff, just bad info
“If I was in control I would wipe out this bad info from the internet”
small groups that hold minority opinion are sometimes right
majority rule and suppressing voices and info
then who decides what is true?
Internet is where people go to learn things
historically, putting that in the hands of a limited set of people has issues
only way to overcome those mistakes is to distribute all into to all people
then people can decide
must allow things we don’t care for, it is possible we are wrong
love that people can prove him wrong
most be allowed to have progress
What happens to the internet in the future
can we make info free to create a next isaac newton?
Steps we need to take make sure it stays around
1) use open alternatives. Don’t give single companies closed monopolies.
2) Spread the word about this idea. Inform and inspire people to keep it open and accessible
3) Vote and make your voice heard, but please be informed
4) Vote with your money, support businesses that support the open web!

Write Better Javascript
Ethan Butler

I am not even going to pretend I absorbed all this. It was a very quick paced delivery and jammed full of awesome knowledge. Part of this is my just lack of personally using JS day to day. Without a direct application only so much is going to seep through. I think it is vital to understanding the future of the internet to undertand it though and I hate not trying at least. I did glean some knowledge and didn’t know JS can directly do Map/Reduce. This is a terrific talk to watch if you are thinking about building JS and want to do it right!

Raw notes:
Javascript is the future
(I came in late I assume he said that)
“Writing webpack direct is like inviting demon into your home”
recapping modularity
write doce i
you need a bundler
JS makes it hard to express your ideas
transpiliation to the rescue?
Future specs!
Languages move faster than browser tech
real language features
babel is the go to, really only game in town for transpilers
(I got distracted and missed more)
Object notation
He deconstructed an object for us
Object destructuring is a newer thing
Object assign – data method on the object primative to merge objects
Promises are if you expect a return at a future unspecified time
resolve or reject
used is Ajax a lot
async/await is a more powerful alternative
we can use transpiliers to leverage new features without worry about browser
final problem for today
hard to debug
Functional programming
avoids mutable data
program is just an evaluation of user input
same input gets the same output, every time
Bugs happen because of side effects
pure functions a + b + c example
Data – arrays of objects for the most part
array.map – iterate over the values and transform it
array.sort (not a new thing) compare values pos, neg or 0, to sort posts for instance
array.includes – see if includes a string, so a search, can use for strings or anything really
array.some – true if callback is partial match of term
array.every – true if every value matches term
array.reduce – flatten values to a single value,

Making Your Code Easy To Extend
Sal Ferrarello

Sal is a great guy but also a terrific code writer. If you look at his github repos they are well commented and have clear readme files (which is vital to any project). This talk was not about that aspect but the cleaner the code the easier it is to build off of bu other later. If you are contributing code at all this is a must see.

Raw notes:
(missed first 10 minutes)
MU Plugins -best kept secret in WP
Best place to put code as pugins and not worry about client deleting them
the code expects it
Add actions – do_action – await for a thing to happen
not returning a value
takes control and then give chance to do own thing
he likes bootstrap to acheive effects
wrote a email stop plugin stop-emails
used do_action
takes focus and says log email to a file
using DIR .
solves a problem for a plugin request without actually modifying the plugin
by exposing that do_action and tiny bit of code
esc_html( $btn_text ) .
using include

SASS isn’t Scary
Beth Soderberg

Last year at WCBalt 2016 I met Beth and heard her amazing talk I Learned to Code Through WordPress and So Can You
. I have sent this talk to a good number of people who are getting started or want to get started. Clear an straightforward, I really appreciated her approach. I was excited to see this same style applied to a talk about something I really didn’t fully understand, Sass. Just like JS, I don’t touch it all the time, so my limited functional understanding is limited. The lightbulb turned on for sure and I can’t imagine someone approaching a larger project without this approach. For sure one to see when it hits WordPress.TV

Raw notes:
Beginner, welcome, you do need to know a little CSS
that is it for CSS
A preprocessor is a anguage that compiles to another language
all kinda the same, syntax is a little different but converging on a set standard of ideas
Preprocessors bring programatic methodology to CSS
DRY: don’t Reprat Yourself
Reusable libraries – pulling from a standard set of code
ability to define abstract values, let the computer built to do the math
CSSS preprocessors are NOT CSS
CSS don’t have to follow the rules of the CSS specification rules
Modularity – don’t get lost by stuffing everything in one file
programmability + automation + modularity = scalability
Potential challenges
Fear of change
old way fels inefficient even for small projects
Set Up is sometimes hard, uses Ruby and is unfamiliar to most
Issues are normal, you are not alone
Debugging is harder with SASS since there are so many partials
“Why is this not telling me where this is coming from?” – Beth’s least favorite part about SASS
Bloat – easy to write crappy code in SASS just like CSS, just way more code created
Still want the thing you are compiling to to be as small as possible, avoid bloat
Maintainability – can be an issue for legacy especially – inherited sites are much harder
once compiled to one file can at least make it approachable though
Why SASS over LESS?
Work team preference
Overall in the WP community – lot of resources and blogs about this and WP
Accessibility written books/resources
Less is still a thing though –
Syntactically Awesome Stylesheets
Sass is a extention of CSS
Really helps you use Compass
Sass has 2 extentions
.sass and .scss
Learn SASS slowly but also learn CSS first
avoids duplicating selectors
reflects markup structure
uses indentation to indicate heirarchy
should eb limited to 4-5 levels
less typing
Nesting Properties with Shared Namespaces
in simple examples not that impressive, but in production real world saves a lot of time and effort
can reference the parent selector
invoking varaibles
good uses
font stacks
image paths
font sizes
Allows defining a group of styles once for use throughout a style sheet
should be used for common patterns independent of HTML markup
80% of mixins have less than 5 declarations
Mixin Libraries
write your most common mixins once and reuse accross projects
write your own
Sass CSS3 Mixins
Breakpoint and more!
Operators – letting the machine do the math
and underscore-prefixed Sass file is prtial
Don’t generate CSS files directly

Conquering Continuous Integration and Deployment
Tessa Kriesel

I am a huge fan of Tessa and her relentless work for Girl Develop IT, which is a great organization teaching women to code. I am also a real fan of the content of this talk since I also discuss and deliver these worts of enablements and trainings at our shared employer Pantheon. No matter how deeply you understand something like CI, seeing the crowd react to this information is always enlightening.

Raw notes:
First let’s look at what daily things we routinely do
She lays out a list of daily dos
Automating tings in your life
Invest the time in automation
can be hard to fit it in
walks through automating updates
look at slack to show off visual regression tests
explains Backstop
pics comparing 2 versions of a site
build steps
setup containers
install dependencies
running automated testing
behat (behavioral testing)
containers are awesome
Github is where all the code lives

Sketches: The Universal Language
Joshua Wold

Joshua was last of the Would brothers I had not met. All working at the top notch XWP, they further the state of the art of WP in their own ways. Joshua is much more design minded and brought those sensibilities and skills to his session and to the WordPress Core Team. Anyone who has seen my site can likely attest to my lack of design skills and I feel very lacking in my visual communication abilities. One of my mental blocks has always been my self consciousness around nonexistent drawing skill, always worrying it is not good enough. I was very encouraged by Joshua to not care at all about this i the early stages of sketching. He showed how with some very simple lines and shapes and a few basic notations you can turn a page long written description, that might take hours to interpret, into

Raw notes:
How should a portal be set up
how to communicate with the client on what they want
and how the designers are thinking about it
He did a sketch to try to understand what the client was trying to say
the whole conversation changed for the better
cleared up confusion
Once the client saw the issue more clearly, was able to move forward much better
a quick sketch in 10 minutes changed everything
the tech doesn’t really matter, he used an ipad
most people are visual thinkers
hard to put into words what a website looks like, easier to sketch
they are building a house
miscommunicated on paper, once saw in person, visually saw what was issue
if you have a pen and a napkin you can sketch
simple lines and shapes and arrows are all you really need
just draw something and share it
does not have to be pretty just to get idea across
Gutenberg example (see his handout)
Ticket management…hard to recall what ticket messages mean
if you can sketch wire frames an attach to ticket
gets anyone no matter what their native language is to get on same page in seconds
stay in the ugly lines as long as you can,
once you move beyond that it can takes hours to make any changes
He has been able to contribute to core by adding sketches to help everyone communicate
simle really is better, just standardize a few simpe elements like clickable buttons
Sketching: paper and pen really is the best way to go for initial phase
next best is ipad pro, + Paper 53, then Balsamiq for squiggly lines (tells people you are not done.
Prototyping: Adobe XD, Illustrator, INvision
Sharing CloudUp, Quicktime, Tapes for Mac
It is more important to get on same page with clients than to dwell on tech or pretty sketches

My session

Everything louder than everything else! Navigating stakeholder needs through better discovery

I have only given this talk one other time, at MIT, and was very happy to give it again! The talk is basically me cramming all I know about the discovery phase of a project or sales process into 35 minutes of slides with a lot of references to Motorhead along the way. I love sharing tools that I have gathered over time by earning it the hard way. It was great to see so many people nodding along and asking questions as they were trying to apply these “best practices” to their situation. Thank you too all who had such kind words afterwards in person and on social media.
During the Q & A, both times I have given this talk, there indirectly arose the matter of ‘what is the goal of a website’. I think I am going to write a talk on that next.

Closing and cleanup

Wrapping Up

After a great camp it is always a little sad to pack up and part company with folks. I got to spend a rare personal evening meeting up with an old friend who lives in the city and seeing yet another new-to-me vibrant part of the old town. Every time I visit I find new surprises and reasons I like it a little more. Plan your visit today!
I am not sure when I will be back to Baltimore. I certainly hope I will again before too long. For sure I plan to return next year for WCBalt 2018!

WordCamp Sacramento: The time I didn’t have to fly or stay at a hotel to go to WordCamp

I spend a lot of time on the road going around the world to WordCamps and I make no secret that I love it. But I do wish that I had a hometown one. San Francisco last had a WordCamp in 2014, right before I got involved in the community. I am very fortunate that just 80 miles or so from my house though is one of the largest WordCamps in the West and they were more than happy to let me call it home for the weekend for WordCamp Sacramento.

As the title suggests, I did not have to make extensive travel plans. Instead I rented a car and called up my old buddy who lives downtown for a place to crash. It was pretty neat to be able to drive from the office to the camp straightaway. I realize that this is how most people, in general, experience getting to camp, but for me it was a novel thrill. Sacramento itself feels a lot like San Jose to me, to the point I called it SJ more than a few times. There is a pretty major revitalization going on in the downtown corridor where we were and we benefited from some pretty awesome restaurants as a result.

Food and Fun

Speaker Dinner

As with any good WordCamp, this one kicked off the night before day 1 with a speaker/sponsor dinner. We gathered at Hot Italian, which is home to one of the Big Ass Fans which used 75% less electricity to do the job of 38 fans! We had pizza, including gluten free and vegan varieties, and gelato or sorbettos. We were treated not only to good food but also some quality music from a local musician named Forest. It was great to see so many familiar faces and to meet to so many new friends. What a great way to kick of the camp.

Day 1

The coffee was OK as we starting things up. One of the unique things about this camp was the venue prohibited the event organizers form directly handing out food if it was not being served by the Conference Center catering service. To get around this ban, all the sponsor’s were given bowls of snacks and candy, refilled by the volunteers, so that all the attendees could get their cookies, energy bars, and oh so much candy without issue.
Lunch was served from three food trucks, for all 500 attendees. Sort of reminded me of the WCEU after party. The vegan options were supposed to include falafel, but they did not. I was able to get some vegan tacos, but I was very, very glad that the snack bowls contained Oreos and Nutter Butters to round out my meal.

After Party

The ‘after party’ for WCSacramento was a Networking Reception with tacos, chips and some agua frescas. It was awesome to connect with folks who were fresh out of sessions about what they learned while it was still totally fresh in their minds. Since the camp drew people from all over NorCal, it was an interesting but thoughtful choice to not have an afterparty that had no alcohol or made people kill time before an event at a separate venue. For sure not your typical after party, but was very inclusive and for that I applaud the effort.


Since the taco option was light and non-vegan friendly, I got together with one of our favorite #WPLife camp sponsors, SiteLock, to throw a little after party dinner. We went to Capitol Garage, which is a funky diner/cafe with a really choice vegan menu and plenty of other dietary options as well. We had a great time and as we celebrated a fantastic first day at camp.


Of course there was #WKaraoke as well. We went to The Distillery which I found out was just a clever name since they did not distill any alcohol there on premise. Fortunately for us they definitely sold it though.


I was not able to get a session submitted before the deadline for this camp. This meant more time for hallway track, Happiness Bar time and going to sessions. I didn’t actually get to as many sessions as I normally do at camps, but happy to share what I learned.

The Future: Why Open Matters
Aaron D. Campbell

Aaron is one one of my favorite speakers since he has a laid back style that puts the audience at ease. He picked a topic that is very near and dear to my heart but which can open up a whole can of worms in discussions. I have very good feelings about the future of Free and Open Source technology, but as he discussed there is a lot of work still to do. I was very happy he ended with some definite action items we can take back into our day to day lives. He even wrote a whole blog about this over at his site

Raw Notes:
QBasic Gorillas was his intro to open code
breaking it and shift-f5 to compile
1991 – Tim Berners Lee and Commercial Wed Consorstioum
12th Century
Bernard of Chartres – dwarves perched ont he shoulders of giants
Start by building on what was already there
Isaac Newton Paraphrased 1675
If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants
Waitbutwhy website
growth of knowledge before language
how tribal knowledge works
pre-language was very slow
post-language amount of knowledge grew exponentially
The internet is the single most effective information sharing tool in all of history.
open systems have some dangers
Closed systems are owned by companies and they control the data
they will only do things that benefit them as a company, not really a bad thing
If don’t like it leave
Net Neutrality
closed systems sit on top of the web, Net Neutrality is really about the way the core of the internet works
lot of separate networks joined together, is basically how it still works
Let’s talk about the ideal, not the legislation
Treat all data the same
Historically sometimes common knowledge gets it wrong and only a small group gets it right early
if we don’t allow everyone the same voice online, can stop this from happening
taking away people’s right to make decisions by force is wrong, is it also just as bas to prevent them from learning a thing?
The internet is not the future
The internet sets us up for a better future
What can we do?
Use Open Platforms
spread the word – many people don’t know this is important, tell them
Vote – Be Informed
Vote with your $$$

Using WordPress As A Decoupled CMS For A Single Page Application
Treighton Mauldin

I always enjoy a talk on front end anything. This mostly is from my bewilderment at visual design. Learning how something is actually implemented demystifies this a bit and in a pleasurable to my brain kind of way. I especially love case studies where I can see actual real world results and peek at the code. This was a pretty good example of that and if you are thinking of building in React (or any other JS library) to work with the REST API I would for sure check this out for some best practices he learned from good ol’ trial and error.

The original stack
The issue – lot of bloated AJAX calls
Lot of load in and too many AJAX calls!
Fighting around the templates an issue
decided to build a developer specific single page
Used the Rest API
WordCamp Plug: session at 1:40 on REST API (from Andrew Taylor) for more on Rest API
He is not talking about REST API dev, just using it
React is all JS
ES6 syntax
just normal JS though
In REACT pass everything as props
map over them in an artifact component,
on individual article pages just pull in the content
Can server side render JS so it loads faster
Rest API lets you very quickly make ‘endpoints’
allows you to just get the info quickly, without pulling all the normal post metadata

Distribute Allthethings: WordPress And The Era Of Multiple Content Channels
Jake Goldman

This was the second time I had seen this talk, but Jake is a very good presenter and the ideas he laid out were so good I wanted to get a second dose to absorb more of what he was laying down. Very glad I did, as this was less geared to a publishing audience, as it was when he delivered it at WordCamp For Publishers and I could wrap my head around his overall point a little clearer. It is going to become even more critical in the near future to not tune your WP install for presenting to the browser faster and faster, but instead to be able to pipe out content via the REST API in a coherent and reliable fashion faster and faster. The future is very cached, very well organized and delivered very quickly.

Raw notes:
Distribute all the things,
big enough to conquer any problem, small enough to care
Why is this important?
10UP tells stories with digital media
thinking about how you telling their story
Traditional as well print and network news media
newer brands like the Oprah
Modern Digital First as well – 538
From their infrastructure to their audience and rev team, thinking that when the digital publishers succeed, they succeed.
Encyclypedias Britanica and Encarta
things changes underneath them
concepts of putting your content in multiple channels is not new
Associated Press, special access needed, lexus nexis and similar followed
Early was just another way relatively basic secondary channel
‘web specials’
email news distribution, RSS, WAP, low bandwidth
the App era started desktop channels
then RSS extends, XML RPC, JSON
not just platforms like iPhones, but accelerating with special platforms, like CRMs
interoperability is the key
roughly now
Jakes 2 axis paradigm for modern distribution channels
Axis 1
the open web has turned to crap and we can do better but same thing, (evolution)
A response to (revolutions)
Axis 2
open – different ways
constrained – best to let us control the content
as move from LL to UR
complexity increases but opportunity grows
this is not static, always shifting
newspapers changed the world, completely open when new
now pretty standard, not even really evolving
TV same thing
then the way things have been done
html5 represents web technologies
but not the future, iteration
Kindle tried
Apps thinks there is a lot of room in space for opportunity
youtube, constrained but right in between evolution and revolution
AR and VR is the most open right now, newest frontier, most complex though
where does the digital CMS fit in?
First web CMS as give requirements to devs, they build it
next build a text editor that does not need human element
the CMS as the hub of a multichannel strategy
next thing for CMS is to solve for this problems
MUST have a good writing experience for the CMS
Ecosystem of third party integrations
API and data accessibility
trend is only accelerating
and increasingly proprietary
ecosystem of integrations is even more important!
what does this mean for the future
review: yesterday solving for content creation, organization storage and presentation
channels pull out presentation layer
editors are pulling out the content creations
the future is very focused on storage and API and data accessibility
nobody really creates in the CMS directly anymore
as the channels converge in engagement levels, do we spend time in the CMS worrying about the final ‘design’ of content?
standardized template will be norm
1) presentation layer and content creation is less relevant, how to sort is more important
editorial UX is higher value than rendering
2) extensibility is vital
3) custom is crazy, economies of scale apply
these are vibrant in the ecosystem, many options!
watch for new announcement of tools from providers/companies like google
will mention WP a lot
4) Platform and content control is even more important
with private players competing to ‘own’ consumption, an open platform protects publishers from third party business interests and choices
(what would happen if Apple bought Medium)
Q&A: ultimately Gutenberg will be less relevant as we move away from content creation in the CMS
don’t fragment your channel unless segmentation is obviously a right move

Coding For The Masses
Justin Busa

Every now and again you come across a talk that you wish you had heard at least a year before and also wish that everyone who touches code had also heard. This is one such talk. If you are thinking of developing anything you are going to release out into the world, go watch this talk. There was so many good things on his slides, I didn’t capture them the best, go look at them here

Raw notes: (I stepped in a little late)
…Limit the frequency of large releases
minor releases, patch release
users want to update with confidence
pushing minor updates with more frequency and less content
don’t include too many releases in minor releases
do updates on Tuesday or Wednesday
Foster an ecosystem by providing APIs
Make docs available
write clean code thats easy to read and follow
Make your code base public and accept pull requests from others
Don’t pass the buck
New features
be selective with the features that you ass
build things that help solve your user needs
too many features can make a product hard to use
new features directly impact support
don;t add a feature just because someone else did

WordPress Performance – Foundation and Tactics
Matt Vanderpol

While some of talks I have seen focus on various plugin approaches or singular focus strategies such as caching, I really appreciated this talk because it took a much broader approach. He started out with a very interesting premise, that we can, in fact, create time. Not literally, but every millisecond we give back to our users when they are not awaiting our pages to load is the same as creating that time for them. He then went through many best practices to look at performance with development and testing tools, focusing mainly on his go to solution WebpageTest.org. Even though he focused through the lens of this tool, the larger patterns he discussed are just a best practice approach to tuning. Very glad this session exists. For sue check it out when it hits WordPress.tv

Raw notes:
Creating time, not for you, but for your users, not just better for your page rank, better for you users
Research for


Overview, perf-matters.squirrelwp.com/ as a Concrete example
rickety foundation means bad site
need good foundation
Fast web request components
fix different parts, need to understand them
Analytics is a good place to start
benchmark of where people are coming from, all the details effect performance
Lot of tools for this, like Pingdom, Google Pagespeed, etc
problems on these tools
a single set of heuristics,
gives you a score which may or may not represent website performance
WebpageTest.org is the one he likes best, using it for this presentation
he thinks it is best because:
1) real world test
2) actual devices used
3) Change parameters, like locations, what kind of network, types of networks, etc tailored to your real analytics, first view only or repeat to test caching
4) film strip output, frame by frame breakdown
5) Test history
you can run your own private instance if you want
it is a free service, you will likely be in a queue
hard to quantify a score, does not give a one true score
Now, looking at WPT output to see how and what to fix
some scores
some metrics 1000 is the minimum, this is not really time, but close
waterfall chart is the key output
content breakdown, everything that is not html
image analysis – taking it with a grain of salt, resolution not certain
always double check your analytics for tuning to your real users
Waterfall – graphical representation of all events that it takes to display a web page
Vertical lines are events
after DOM is loaded then JS starts churning
DOM = document object model
events – window.load and width of vertical line where it starts and how long it took
JS execution length is important to note
A good recommendation is run a test on the theme demo site when selecting themes
Time ti first byte TTFB
this is time for browser to make request, resolve DNS, transfer HTML to browser, first byte hits that is TTFB
caching fill make this fast after this point
cache later in process, it can obscure other data points when you are tuning
static content not cached
may be difficult to
(most of room not using a CDN in any way, 1/2 knew what it was)
long waterfall example
This is best way to keep checking if changes makes impact
Optimizing images will speed things up
should be optimizing your images
bigger issue is content images
concatenate resources, might not always speed things up, good case for checking with waterfall
page cache with WPRocket does a lot of other things like concat resourced automatically
browser can not do anything until it gets the HTML, best interest to get all the HTML as small as you can
CDN – he likes KeyCDN and Cloudflare
browser caching
lazy load images
http/2 – very common now, allows parallelism, multiple JS files can be loaded in parallel
Summary – analyze, fix, test, tweak, test

Demystifying WordPress Multisite: When Is Multisite A Good Choice And When Is It Not?
Mike Fitzpatrick

Working where I do, we have a pretty specific view of WordPress Site Networks, also called Multisite. I was very curious about a couple things. Mainly, how this approach is seen by industry professionals who use it and more importantly, what use cases they think it is a good fit for and which are a ‘never do this’. I was very happy to hear the way Mike described it was very much in line with how I have been thinking about it already. Basically there is a use case where all the sites have the exact same code every single time, no exceptions. At Pantheon further think that scale is also a real consideration and under a certain size a network does not make as much sense as a common upstream and automation strategy around updates. I left with a much richer understanding of this approach and feel I can have better conversations moving ahead.

Raw notes:
First 15 sites on MultiSite right after it made it into core
very opinionated talk on what he will and not do with WP-multisite
should you use it or not
1/3 of room has used MultiSite
Don’t use MS if…
too many plugins
350 car dealers on single MS – individual plugins on each site, test bed
200 plugins at one point, a mess
nightmare to administer
make it for one use case and one use case only
this is why WP.com is only for blogs
Do use it when you have a silo-ed use case and want to have repeatable sites creation process and management
more time to deliver functionality, easier to scale within silo
trade offs: with their use case each new functionality they wanted would spin out site into its own site, charge for it, then manage one off as a separate site
domain structure
Subdomain vs path based
he has never found a reason to use folder/subdirectory path, he always used subdomains
actively have to research and pick your path
Setting up MS
deactivate all plugins
add MS in core, wp-config
adds network setup under tools
install gives you code to copy/paste into wp-config and htaccess file
point domains
going to need to put a way to add a way for wildcarding to work, have to do it under subdomains
Roles within Multisite
car dealer is the typical client, they will break things if you give them the chance
give people the least amount of access possible to begin with and let them ask for more
super-admin role is unique to MS
give roles some serious thought
2 ways to deal with Plugins
network activate
or not
There are some reasons to not network activate, for example , slider plugin if you change on one site can be added to all of them, make sure you are sure if multisite compatible
other reason to not network activate is if you are looking to monetize
want to charge more for plugin/functionality, do it on a per request
or use plugins that allow for pay path to get the functionality
admin plugins
which plugins are activated on which sites
site creation plugins
backup plugins
network or individual sites
Anti-splog (name of a plugin to prevent bots from building fake sites)
monetize plugins
charge for functionality, etc.
Ect, ect
add on new user
Admin menu pro
new blog templates
Domain Mapping – abc.com – 123.abc.com – want to point jsmith.com – when request jsmith.com directs to 123.abc.com
Snapshot WPMU dev
backup individual sites
shared hosting – hostgator (ewwww)
reseller perspective – really quick to pick up sites that fall over, shared hosting isn’t that bad
from a cost perspective – make sure one install is one MS, WPEngine works this way
WPE is shared hosting on basic packages, but offers Dedicated solutions

Speed Networking

One of the sessions I attended where I took no public sharable notes was the ‘speed networking event’. We split into groups of 10 and had a minute each to tell everyone who we were and why we were at camp. I loved getting to hear so many diverse reasons and from people at all stages of their WP path. Really a terrific idea for any camp, easy to organize and let us network in a structured manor that I think was less intimidating that the classic ‘throw everyone in a room, give them food and hope for the best’ approach so many networking events I have attended use.
Here is how they described it:
Don’t worry if you’re an introvert… We’ve got you covered! This is a structured session with facilitated networking, which means you’re not just going to be wandering around introducing yourself to people, feeling awkward, or wondering if you’re interrupting a conversation. Instead, you’ll be following a system that we provide so you can confidently speak about what you do and what you need and look like the pro you are.

Wrapping Up

I do hope that there is a WordCamp San Francisco again one day, sooner than later, but for now I feel I got my ‘home region’ WordCamp itch scratched. It was great to see so many folks I recognized from the WP-SFO meetup at the camp. I also really appreciate the sheer number of brand new to WP folks that showed up, it felt like over half the camp was there learning about WordPress for the first time. This is exciting since it means we are growing as a community. There is a lot to do and if we have a lot of new hands on board constantly we will make lighter work of these challenges in good time. While I can not say I was a huge fan of the drive back and forth and I did miss my United Club lounge visit I normally get to experience on these trips, I can say with absolute certainty that I had a blast at WordCamp Sacramento and can’t wait till next year!
Also, I will make sure I watch the deadline for speaker submissions a little closer 😉

WordCamp Denver: A very full schedule and a few surprises

WordCamp Denver: A very full schedule and a few surprises

For the second time in 2 weeks I made my way back to the mile high city but this time spent most of my time there in a much different part than I had in the past. Previous adventures had lead me to the downtown area, close to the 16th street mall but this time I found myself in the Southern neighborhoods, close to the beautiful University of Denver campus. It was a bit of a whirlwind trip that found me going directly from the airport to the speaker dinner and from my session to lunch and then the airport, so not a lot of time to explore the awesome trails and get in a little nature this go round. But overall this was a great experience and I did learn a bit at WordCamp Denver 2017.

Speaker Dinner:

My flight got delayed about 2 hours, which normally isn’t a huge deal, but this trip I had not left myself much leeway for such a thing. As a result I arrived at the speaker dinner direct from the conspiracy filled Denver International Airport with bags in tow but was met with a very warm and wonderful reception by the camp organizers. They even had the kitchen accomodate me with some non-dairy cheese and mushroom pizza. Tip of the hat to Ernie’s Bar & Pizza for a really good spread. It was fun to see so many familiar faces and get to connect with a few new ones. The exhaustion of the road soon hit me and I left to check in for my 75th night at a Marriott property.

Day 1

Getting to the venue was a breeze as the team had signs out very early and took the extra step of chalking WP logos on the ground so people could find their way even easier. This was a great accessibility move as it made getting to and from the parking lot a much less intimidating feat.

The coffee was particularly good in my opinion, even though I didn’t have much. I don’t know if it is a Denver thing or not, but every coffee service I have experienced there puts out little tiny lemon slices for your tea. Forgoing the team and just having some fresh lemon juice in my hot water kept me hydrated and refreshed most of the day.
Lunch was preprepared sandwiches, chips, a couple salad options and cookies. The vegan quinoa salad was my favorite part of the meal. The University of Denver campus is very well maintained and we took advantage of the summer sun to dine on the quad as many a student has done over the years there.

After Party

The after party was advertised as a taco party, which I normally love. The menu though didn’t seem super veg friendly and combined with the later start time for the party it seemed a good idea to find alternative dining. I was very glad to be joined by some other plant based food fans at the highly rated Thai Pot Cafe.

The after party was at Cochino Taco. We got to enjoy the patio and a pretty well stocked bar, using copper tokens instead of paper drink tickets, which I really appreciated. As most folks who know me know, a vodka soda ‘tall’ is my drink of choice and I almost always just go with whatever they have for well. The house well vodka at this joint was Reyka from Iceland. It was a pleasant surprise and the bartenders were very proud of the quality in all they made. If you are ever in that part of Denver, go give them some business.
It was a great time catching up with folks about their day at camp and swapping stories and plans around contributing. I was glad to see one of the participants from the previous week’s WP-CLI workshop and got to talk about the pull requests he had made at the previous week’s camp. It is exhilarating to watch folks go from user to contributor and to be part of their journey. Share what you know with folks and let’s make the world better together.


A few of us actually made it out to sing some #WCKaraoke after such a long day. We went to Sobo151 and got there just as the Bronco’s preseason game was wrapping up and they were warming up the karaoke equipment. Not the largest event ever but happy to report we saw a 33% increase in attendance over the previous year’s festivities and had one person sing for the first time ever. Very much a great part of any WordCamp.


Opening remarks:

Most of the time I don’t write any comments on opening remarks, but this camp had one of the best pre-keynote warm ups I have seen. It started with Gordon Seirup getting our attention with an anecdote about his original misunderstanding of the nature of WordCamps. He did a fantastic job of warming us up. At one point he had us introduce ourselves to folks around us. It was a very nice welcome, especially with so many folks experiencing their first WordCamp. It set a very nice tone for the rest of the event.


The Future of WordPress
Zack Katz

I was very glad to hear that they got Zack to speak at this camp. I had not heard him speak before but reading up on him a bit before the camp he seemed like someone with a lot of experience and knowledge around this space, hopefully meaning he would have a solid opinion on our future. He started with a crash history of of WP and I had never heard anyone articulate this forking of B2 and the reasoning behind it so clearly. It gave me a new perspective on the origin. This definitely colored the rest of the presentation as he painted a world where Gutenberg and Customizer are giving the admin a lot more flexibility in the near future. If you have been wondering where the project is going, this is a must see talk.

Raw notes:
Gravity View, Small team, 5 people all over the world
WP makes it happen
History of WP
His WP story
Future of WP and You
A fun surprise
In 2003 Ma.tt was a college student
lot of photos
B2 – was cool, allowe to be upated
B2 maintainer dissapeared and it stop being updated
Matt could either wait for the dev to come back or he could take b2 and make it his own
Mike Little thought one or 2 people might be interested 🙂
Zack started in 2007 making GravityViews
worked at Fast Signs
learned how to do web design, PHP and mySQL
best tool was his phone
he cold called and got clients
was building static pages
and clients wanted to change content themselves
they wanted a way to manage their content, CMS
Then clients wanted custom functionality
the custom code he built became Gravityviews
he has 38 plugins on wp.org
Future of WP
Matt is pushing us back to be the best in publishing
Gutenberg: from text to blocks
blocks are consistent interface for all the elements of your site
everything is a block now
Gutenberg demo
feels normal and cool
It is the future of content editing
The Customizer is how to change view
Not much at the moment, but future is how to interact with your site
Edit existing content with customizer soon
Really cool live preview demo
Customizer Change set have multiple people and multiple changes scheduled at once
this is 4.9 core!
Implications: page building is in core now
for Page builders need to either embrace customizer or do their own thing
get involved now with Gutenberg, this is the future
and there is a lot more
The four freedoms of Open Source
the contract of using WP
1) the freedom to run the program in any way you want
2) you can study code and change it
3) share it
4) modify and fork with a diffrent name

What I Wish I’d Known About Freelancing
Nathan Ingram

The very first time I heard Nathan speak it was at WordCamp Denver 2016, where he gave a talk that remains to this day one of my favorite talks. It was a treat to get to hear a new talk from him that was jammed full of amazing advice to the freelancer and really anyone that has to manage their own time, which I think is everyone. There was one quote that I am going to remember and recite as I am thinking through priorities: “People are more important than projects!” I know this is true but as someone on the road a lot and with a fair amount to get done, sometimes I forget this. It was great to be reminded of this and to hear that I am not alone in this struggle.

Raw notes:
You don’t have to know everything, no one does!
Become a person who is good to know!
Stay out of debt
Checklist manifesto
Put everything in a list in order and that means you can streamline
and when you onboard people, you have process you can pass on
difference between owning job and building business
Focus on process, not heroics
There are seasons in freelance work, don’t waste the slow times
We stay in a cycle of stress, must make best use of time and dont freak out
business will come back
The ‘someday list’ when slow times come, you can do that list!
being busy is not a badge of honor
Don’t forget what matters in life,
lost opportunities for family and friends don’t come back
midset shift that it is good to be too busy to have leisure, a status symbol
People are more import than projects!

After the Post: SEO, Images, and Meta Descriptions
Mendel Kurland

There was some technical difficulties in this session room as Mendel got underway and he had to deliver without his slides. Fortunately for all of us Mendel is a tremendous storyteller and a natural entertainer, so he handled the projector outage with grace and charm. He told us an intense at time story of being scared in bear country and avoiding crocodiles before having a nice relaxing time by a lake. Afterwards he broke down the story into some component parts and explained the layout of a story arc. This is very much along the same lines as the story spine I teach in my session and was glad to hear a variant perspective that still conveyed the same underlying value around the importance of storytelling.

Raw notes:
Technical SEO go to Yoast
instead we are going to be talking about telling your story with your content
3 things
1) being descriptive and interesting
Writing for humans, conversational and eas to read, some
basics of story anatomy
Tells a story and then explained the story arc
also is an article part
intro to a topic H1, H2, H3
2) Enjoyable and illustrative
shows progress form boring Lorum Ipsum -> Bacon Ipsum – pic -> animated gif
more info
more interesting to look at better for SEO
generate this stuff
3) making things sharable
click to sweet, share icons
basic plugins
write your own meta, just gives you control, not SEO tip

Creating & Telling Your Brand Story
Pamela Herrmann

Every camp lives on a spectrum of all technical and all business side. This camp is more focused on SEO and business side of things than technical skills. This meant, much to my approval, that there was time for multiple talks on storytelling and I was glad to hear Pamela lay out her thoughts on the subject. She focused on a character driven story approach which I had not encountered before and felt like it came from a much more literary view of things rather than a theatrical one, which I am more accustom. I walked away with a new perspective, which I believe makes this a very succesful session.

Raw notes:
brain science
reptillian brain, conundrum
want to talk to middle brain
cast a net, just under the boat – leading with science for IVF vs how changes family
instead think of fly fisherman
highly targeted
Garret White Wake Up Warrior
knows who he is fishing for
how to create a brand story
Joseph Campbell Hero’s Journey
3 element to her Hollywood
1- the character, the desire and the obstacle to the future
Rose from Titanic example
ordinary world- what makes them relatable (reliable?)
fabricating your first customer profiles
Rose is pressured into marriage, high society, free thinker, etc
Translate into brand story
Weight Watchers – because it works
2- the desire
Chuck from Castaway
goal is to escape the island alive get back home
Design arounf 4 goals
and Retrieve
Dollar shave club example –
the desire of the customer is
quality, save money, delivered to door
shave time and shave money
Focus on the result // the plotline
connect the dots, create the glue
3- the obstacle
Ray from Field of Dreams
Plowing under field – now his home and livelyhood is in danger
overcoming objections from both sides of transaction
No fail template
story spine! 🙂

My Session

Workshop: Let’s learn Git. No more excuses.

I got to teach Git as part of the three hour Sunday workshop day. I love teaching Git. The first time I taught this workshop I was a bit nervous, but this time I felt way more solid in the updated materials and anticipated some of the questions better. It was a complete thrill to take one student, who had issues even installing git on their machine, all the way from git init to submitting a successful pull request. Not bad for 3 hours on a Sunday morning. They left feeling very confident they could use this tool and planned to teach it to their significant other. Everyone gave me some great feedback and I learned a few new things along the way. I got one question I had no idea how to answer, so we just replicated the issue on my machine and solved it together, which felt amazing. I am hoping this workshop gets accepted at more camps in the future so I can keep spreading the love.

Wrapping up

Given this was a one day camp, I spent a little more time in the ‘hallway track’ having some great and meaningful conversations with community folks. It meant I saw fewer sessions and meant I didn’t have any time to hang out at the Happiness Bar, one of my favorite things this community makes happen.
I left Denver pretty tired, as I found little time to myself and no time to see mush of the natural beauty that is hidden all throughout the urban landscape. Still, I walked away very happy with the trip and am already looking forward to next year when I can return for WordCamp Denver 2018!

WordCamp Minneapolis: Hashtag confusion and so many familiar faces

WordCamp Minneapolis: Hashtag confusion and so many familiar faces

I make no secret that Minneapolis is one of my favorite cities in the world. In fact, other than my beloved San Francisco, it is the only place that even comes close to feeling like home anymore. This could be from the simple midwestern pleasantness, or the left leaning co-op believing local esthetics replete with vegan options and bike lanes all around, or the fact that I know so many people here. Likely it is a mixture of all those factors and more. It made it very enjoyable to return to the larger of the twin cities for WordCamp Minneapolis.

Food and Fun


One of the amazing synchronicities I have experienced recently, the fact that the Twin Cities Drupal Happy Hour was taking place the first full evening I was in town. It was an absolute treat to reconnect with some of my Drupal family, many of whom I had not seen since Chicago or Baltimore. I was especially glad to see Tim Erickson, who is the direct inspiration for my ‘improv for developers’ talk and I was super glad to tell him my experiences delivering it in Paris. Really could not have done it without his input and support. I rarely drink beer but had a really solid american stout at Wild Mind Ales. It was an ideal way to pre-game for the rest of my weekend!

Speaker Dinner:

I left my Drupal kinfolk to go hang out with the #WPLife family at the Speaker/ Sponsor dinner to officially kick off WordCamp. We gathered at the Modern Tribe office which just so happens to share a patio with Norseman Distillery. Norseman provided us with some pretty amazing punches and made their entire amazing spirit menu available for purchase. I found their local grain based vodka mighty smooth, smoother than Tito’s though not nearly as available at your local market. I was even interviewed by podcaster and fellow speaker Rebekah Smith. Made a few new friends and got to play giant Jenga with some old friends while munching on some pretty good BBQ rice and beans. Chicken, pork, cornbread and mayo based slaw was also served. Sorry to say I didn’t write down where it was from. If I find out I will update this post. We didn’t stay out too late as Friday morning was starting early and this is a very busy camp, so we said our goodnights before it went too late.

Day 1:

Friday morning brought some pretty good conference coffee and tea with a selection of granola/snack bars. I was very glad to get some caffeine before the floor opened to the attendees, as there were a lot of them and it was an exceptionally busy morning at the booth.
Lunch was a taco buffet from Taco Cat and the line stretched out for a mile it seemed. At first I was very nervous I was going to go hungry and need to find food elsewhere. I was more than relieved when the lines died down rather quickly and there was a lot of food left. I ate way too many chips and amazing salsas and grilled veggie tacos. There was enough left over that we had surplus to pick at all afternoon, with all hot foods kept at proper temp with sterno.

Coffee Social

Day one concluded with a coffee social what had us playing board games and relaxing on a cloudy Minneapolis evening. There were donuts that spelled out WordCamp Minneapolis St. Paul. There was also crazy good cold brew coffee and infused teas from Quixotic Coffee. Given that day 2 of the event was going to be extra long and capped with an after party, the organizers made the very wise decision to have an earlier and more mellow event on the first day of the camp.

It turns out that the camp took place a block from one of the more veg friendly restaurants in the twin cities, Hard Times Cafe a really, divey place with no meat, no booze but sells tobacco. If you are in the area, check it out and get the THT (Tempeh, lettuce and tomato). The coffee is pretty awesome as well.

Day 2:

Day two started out with even more coffee and granola bars, but we also had left over donuts for extra energy!
Lunch was again tacos, but this time from Qdoba. The quality was on par with the previous day as were the leftovers. Missing was the mile long line as they catering folks set up early and we had at it as quick as sessions let out. Great job by the organizing team. It is rare I have been better supplied with sustenance at a WordCamp.

After Party

We were hosted at the the offices of Rocket55 for our after party. We had a very good selection of local beers and some yummy boxed wines to wash down falaffel and kabob wraps. Dessert was cinnamon pita strips with a frosting dipping sauce and chocolate syrup. I would never think to put cinnamon and sugar on pita before but ya know what, it works. I watched a valiant Super Mario Brothers attempt and played chutes and ladders, a game that teaches kids the random unfairness of the universe and takes much longer than it should for the most part.


One of my favorite places in the world is Otter’s Saloon and we went there on a very too crowded but oh so fun night to sing together some WCKaraoke. I am always amazed by the talent and heart of our community. #WPLife is pretty sweet and put the icing on the cake of this camp.


Day 1 Panel: Staying Sane In Tech

Rob Walling, Cory Miller, Ed Finkler, Sherry Walling

This camp took an interesting approach to Keynotes and had opening panels each day, focused on a couple different topics. The first day dealt with mental health. I only got to see about the first 20 minutes of this as I had a few other duties to attend, but what I saw was awesome. We need more open discussions about mental health and the real challenges we face in this industry. The more we can discuss this the better off and less isolated we will all be. Cory Miller once again shared his Iceberg method, which I first saw back at Raleigh, and I heard many folks talk about that throughout the rest of the event. Thanks to all our panelists for helping the community have this conversation.

WP-CLI – Save Time by Managing WordPress from the Command Line
Shawn Hooper

Oh boy I was excited to finally see this presentation live and to see the modern up to date version. Shawn is a crazy good presenter and I found every moment riveting. If you are a camp organizer reading this, invite this man to drop knowledge on your camp.

Minds BLOWN in the front row. One person had such a meaningful ‘ah-ha’ moment he actually shouted about it, to his embarrassment. But we were all feeling the same way with him in our awe of this tool, so it was a good shared experience.
Here are some of the things I learned in this ever evolving session and things I will for sure be incorporating in my talk:
explaination of the paramaters (what I have been calling flags) notation meanings
wp core verify-checksums (Check if core is hacked)
wp plugin search “any string” (searched the repo for keywords)
wp cap list (shows full list of capabilities list for a role)
wp cap role add/remove
wp cache flush
Do this demo in this order to blow more minds:
1 db export backup.sql
2 db site delete : show site gone
3 db import backup.sql
search-replace “Hello world” 🙂 🙂 🙂 (better deo than broken site IMHO)
Serialized arrays? Simple; it skips them, does not look.
search-replace “hello” “goodbye” –export=changed.sql – only changed in the exported DB
wp server (runs the dang WP included built-in php server!)
wp doctor (woah, didn’t know this was a thing, fixes some basic stuff reliably)
wp any-ipsum generate-posts

Cowboy Coding – Best Practices
Gary Kovar

I went into this session just to see what the heck he was going to saw and because Gary completely committed to the bit by wearing a cowboy hat the entire camp. You might know that working where I work I have a very strong bias against ‘just doing it on live’ and I had a fear that this would be a talk about not needing Dev or Test servers. I was quickly relieved when he explained that you really should not be doing this but there are times when you just can not avoid it. When you do hit these rare exceptions, you really have to go very slow and make sure on that site there is never going to be a reason to straight up cowboy code ever again. In fact, you could make the argument that if you are just going to direct change code or config on a live site it takes a lot of extra work and know how to do it right. Such as you must learn bash and learn it deeply to be abel to command line in. You must learn Vim, since you are likely going to be dropped into it on any random linux server. You must know tools like the wp-cli to be effective and make site wide changes. You have to know JS for doing any work on a modern website without blowing it up. I left feeling like every developer on earth should watch this walk. If you can avoid it, avoid it, otherwise go slow and get that site in version control ASAP.

Day 2 Panel: The Importance of Open Source

Aaron D. Campbell, Karim Marucchi, Lynn Winter, Mike Demo, Rian M. Kinney

Going to be honest here, I didn’t see this. But the conversations that spilled out of it were pretty great and on a subject that matters a lot to me, not just professionally. If we don’t actively keep the conversation going on the challenges and benefits of FOSS, there is a danger of it receding. Really though, I am only including this panel here so I can show the following tweet in context:

Configuration Management: WordPress Configuration in Code
Tessa Kriesel

Basically, stop overwriting your dang DB when pushing things to production. This used to be the only way to leverage a dev or stage server in a professional workflow, but the state of the art has advanced in the last few years. The best practice is to version control your configuration by moving DB config into code and pushing it forward. WP-CFM is a pretty solid plugin that does this for your WordPress sites. Don’t keep overwriting the DB, push the config via code FTW!

Lightning Talks

I absolutely love lightning talks. I was delighted to learnt hat there were multiple lightning talk tracks at this event giving me a chance to see almost double the normal number of talks. On a certain level, yes there is very limited time for these, 15 minutes total per talk, including Q&A. This gives the presenters a laser focus though and they get to their central point immediately. As you will see here, sometimes this does not equate to less overal material covered, just a faster delivery, which is awesome if you like drinking from a firehose.

Is your data dirty?

Jenna Totz

Not dirty as in adult X-rated. Dirty as in causes ecological damage. It is super important to consider carbon footprint! Every tweet you send gives off .02 grams of carbon. Each email produces 4 grams. Every search generates 8 grams into the atmosphere. I never really thought about each online action I take having that kind of direct impact and it was a bit startling. Especially since I use Google to find almost every page I land on, even if I know the URL. I will be reconsidering how I use search moving ahead.
There are several organizations that focus on helping people understand their carbon footprint from online use, such as the Green Web Foundation and tools like Ecograder.com from Mightybytes. Efficiency of web use directly is better energy policy.

Surviving a Crisis of Confidence
Nathan Ingram

Please take a minute to answer these 10 questions:
1. Are you ever worried people may find out you’re not really as capable as they think you are?
2. Do you sometimes feel pressure to know the answer to any professional question someone might ask you?
3. Is it hard for you to accept compliments about your work or accomplishments?
4. Do you secretly compare your abilities to those around you and feel like they’re better than you?
5. Do you ever feel like the reason things went well is because you were just in the right place at the right time or knew the right people?
6. Do you ever think that if you can do it, anybody can?
7. Do you agonize over even the smallest flaws in your work?
8. Do you become defensive when you are given constructive criticism because it makes you feel inept?
9. When you have success, do you privately feel like you’ve fooled them again?
10. Do you ever feel like you really have no clue what you’re doing and you’re afraid people will find out?

If you answered yes to any 3, there is a good chance that you are experiencing Imposter Syndrome. This is very real.
He used a very interesting escalator analogy.
We focus on the people ahead of us, forget there are poeple behind us
“Here is a secret, the people ahead of you have the SAME CRISIS of confidence that you have.”
We compare reality to other’s personas, especially at live events. Everyone puts your best foot forward at events, so don’t think ayone has issues.
Tips on how to escape it:
Remember: Nobody knows everything!
You know things that others do not and vice versa.
1. Be realistic
2. Be perceptive, everyone is good at something
3. Be Helpful We are all in this together! Reach out to those around you on the escalator. Become a prson who is good to know. helping others builds confidence. be humble!
https://nathaningram.com/wcmsp for all the slides and the full length presentation

Becoming a Community Builder: A WordPress Story
Raquel Landefeld

Sometimes you meet people in the community and it seems like they have been there forever. That they are in a position that you could never be in because you started too late and are not one of the ‘first movers’. I know I have felt that way many times in both the WP and Drupal spaces. I am very glad to have sessions like this one where Raquel discusses her path from ‘just someone’s wife’ to being the thought leader and community builder she is today. The short version is ‘be nice to everyone’ and ‘be sincere’ with what you are trying to do. This is a great one to show anyone new to the community.

So, You Want To Sell Online?
Zach Stepek

You have to make some big decisions to sell things online. Like what to sell. This is a deceptively hard decision. It boils down to why you are selling it: Passion or Profit? Not mutually exclusive, but mostly it is an either/or proposition for most people.
Once you have that sorted you need to find customers. Traditional marketing used to work, but now need more personal touch. Email marketing has slight bit of personal touch, but not enough. SEO is good overall but not a full marketing strategy, got to stand out. Pay Per Click used to be the gold mine, not now. Video is very powerful and getting cheaper to produce all the time. You want a Branded experience. Make sure your brand voice is evident in everything.

Embracing Page Builders
Tyler Golberg

Tyler made a really good case for page builders in the right situations. Yes, page speed might suffer and that is a serious drawback, but the convenience and time to delivery is the reason many poeple embrace them. Some people let their ego get in the way, meaning they feel it is cheating to use tools like Beaver Builder or the like. Sometimes these tools break and when it does, you are stuck in a world of short code hell. There are other considerable risks and less ability to customize specifics. But a slightly less tuned interface, if it is faster, is an OK trade off for him. I can’t say I disagree for a certain type of site.

Starting your first online business
AJ Morris

Tells the story of Liberty Jane Fashions
There is the version of their history on their site but the version that Aj tells is far more personal. It started as just a way for a mom to connect meaningfully with her daughter who had recently discovered the American Girl dolls. Her mother had shared a love of sewing with her and this was a meaningful for multiple generations, giving this a very emotional bond. At some point the clothing was noticed by other moms and a business was born. Every decision made after the first one to sell that first outfit was driven by the same passion to drive meaningful connections between mothers and daughters. The details of how it scaled were interesting but the underlying truth is you must be personally and passionately connected to your business if you have any hope of thriving.

What I learned raising 2 Million Dollars for Politicians–and How it Applies to the WordPress Community
Lindsey Miller

She started with the advice her first manager told her: “Preachers, pubs and politicians always pay up front!” Seems very sound advice to me. The rest of the talk was her sharing her experiences as a very successful fundraiser at a national level, based in Washington DC. It all comes down to personal connections. You must cultivate a genuine interest in people. Remember their names and details about their lives. Everyone loves this kind of acknowledgement. Ask questions and actually listen to their answers. You are trying to create connections. Only after you have made a real connection can you realistically make your case, asking them to do something, like give you money for a cause or invest in your business. Very solid advice that seems common sense, but was very well articulated.

My Session

Let’s learn Git. No more excuses
Man, I was hecka nervous about this. I read so many dang tutorials and docs in prep for this that at one point I lost perspective on how to structure it. Eventually I landed on going from first principals, meaning going forward with commits, backwards, then branching and ending up with working with repositories on machines that are not yours. I hesitate to use the term ‘remote’ after this talk because in fact everything is local to git. This is one of the harder concepts to a beginner and one of the things that makes Github/Git confusion so pronounced.
Here are the commands I covered:
git init
git status
git add
git commit
git log
git diff
git checkout
git revert
git reset
git branch
git merge
git remote
git push
git pull
git clone

Feel free to copy my slides for your own use.

I learned a TON doing this talk and am very grateful for all the feedback. I ended up going too fast a few times and after all my prep work to make all the demos animated gifs, I forgot to explain what people where seeing, instead explaining the theory behind the command while people where reading the slide. This failed. I now know better and next time will be way smoother.

Contributor day:
Well, there was one. But I felt rather ill, so I bailed right after it started. :/

Wrapping up

One of the best parts of this camp was seeing a ton of crossover from the Drupal community at this event. From the organizers who for sure are firmly footed in both communities, to the ‘first time attendees’ who I have known from Drupal for longer than I have been in WP space, it was delightful to see the family of PHP CMS coming together. Made for an extra special time.

I always feel at home in Minneapolis and this time confirmed that it really is my people. Midwest is the best, though the left coast is the most coast! I am not ready to move away from my SF any time soon, but glad there is somewhere that would not feel foreign if that day should come.
Super big thanks to Drew Adam and Tessa for making me feel extra at home in the the Pantheon Minneapolis offices while I was there.

WordCamp Boston: Learning so much in Boston in the summertime

Last time I was in Boston, I was really in Cambridge for the most part. I returned for the second time this year for WordCamp Boston 2017 and got to see the nightlife in bean town proper. Once again this camp took place at the Boston University’s George Sherman Union, which features an amazing gigantic pipe organ! It was amazing to see my #WPLife family out there and meet so many new folks. I didn’t get to go to as many sessions this time around, but I stayed super busy at the camp and have so many thoughts. Let’s dig in.

Food and Fun

Friday night

If there is one thing you get used to at any WordCamp or DrupalCamp it is the tradition of the Speaker (and sometimes Sponsor) dinner. Typically the organizers invite the speakers to meet and greet one another. I always love this part because speakers, in general, are super busy during the event itself and this is the best chance to catch up or get to know them in the entire weekend.
Well, WCBos is a little different insofar as they still believe in this idea as you will read a little further down, but there were no pre set plans on Friday. This fact did not go unnoticed by some of the road dogs and we quickly made plans to check out Citizen Public House. Very glad we did, as they had a huge selection of fine spirits, a terrific menu and outstanding service as they gracefully handled an uncertain party size with people trickling in throughout our time there. If you find yourself anywhere near BU, check them out! It was fantastic to get together and catch up with those I knew and had the pleasure of meeting several new friends as well. Well fed and refreshed, we were officially ready for day 1 to begin.

Day one

The morning was met with the normal pastry, fruit, coffee catering you know and love. Well love is a strong term. I was thrilled when the GoDaddyPro crew pulled up with growlers full of iced coffee, which was tremendous. I didn’t get the name of the place they ordered from, but it was fine!
I was delightfully surprised by my vegan option at lunch. We had brown bags prepared for us and I, unsurprisingly, had a wrap of some kind. Surprisingly it was ‘meaty’ with thick eggplant slices and a generous amount of hummus and came with an oatmeal raisin cookie that satiated my sweet tooth, which had been triggered by all the donuts being offered that morning. Afternoon snack was ice cream and lemon sorbet.
Picture of a vegan wrap, a red aple and a half eaten cookie

After Party

Immediately after the final session, ending at 5:20, we migrated down the street a ways to the Brighton district and the White Horse Tavern for a very well attended after party. This local sports pub had a lovely patio and really friendly staff. There are some advantages and disadvantages to starting an after party immediately after a camp day. On the one hand it means your attendance is going to be much higher, as the stride of being together isn’t broken and the rest of your life hasn’t had the chance to seep in and distract you away. but I find it makes for a higher early attrition rate as folks need to go get a ‘real meal’ since hungry crowds tear through appetizers which only whet the appetites after burning so many calories swimming though so many bits of new information and conversations. It also means you don’t have any recovery period from the day. I, for one, get exhausted interacting with people and need little pockets of quiet and reflection to recharge. It does not mean I don’t enjoy people but it does mean that without a break I am noticeably more exhausted when my head hits the pillow and I find my mind less at peace as it churns through examination of the day. All in all this was a great, very well run party and I 100% applaud the organizers for making a very inclusive and well attended after party! I had a great time.


“After the party, there’s the after party” – Remix to Ignition. I got to hear a spectacular version of this sung by one of the local regulars to our spot of choice for WCBos WCKaraoke party, Limelight Stage and Studios. While only beer/wine, this place had a full izakaya menu. There are many private studios you can rent out but we were there to use their main stage that night. This place was happening on a weekend night, but fortunately for us most of the people there to sing were in the private rooms which let 20some of us campers sort of take over the main stage area. I was delighted to read on twitter at one point that WordCamp Ottawa was not only having their own WCKaraoke party but actually where challenging us in Boston to ‘show them what we got”. Which of course we did!

Sunday Brunch

As I said above, the organizers believe in the speaker/sponsor get together fully, but they are unique in the WC world (as far as I know) with having a speaker brunch, with is logistically possible thanks to an 11:30 start time for the camp itself. We got together at Tavern in the Square for a delightful brunch buffet. I ate way too many waffle fries and not nearly enough fruit. There is no lunch on day 2 so I figured that was a good idea at the time. The iced coffee they served up was tremendous. Next time I am near there, I am going just for that. Full and caffeinated we headed to the venue to. . . .



Design and inclusion John Maeda

This talk immediately took an unexpected format, as it was not your typical “here are slides about a thing” setup. Instead he asked folks to find the red slips of paper that were distributed and write down their fears. Then he collected them and directly addressed them. His logic: “To talk about the future you must address the fears.” While I don’t think he, or any one person, has the full answer to many of these concerns, he gave everyone in that room a jumping off point to articulate our fears and begin a communal dialogue about our future overcoming them. I was very glad to be a part of that room. I will put my raw notes below this paragraph, which you will see are a tad disjointed as the topics changed rather rapidly. Highly recommend watching this when it gets on WordPress.tv.

PHP based, not the new kid on the block, but still solid and massive use First exposure to the community? Fears of not knowing what up, inclusion If someone tells you Open SOurce like WP is not secure, remind them that all systems have vulnerabilities we just DON’T KNOW! Facebook does not disclose their flaws for example Many older people use all upper case since it is more legible, not all old people are yelling at you. Lose new users with changes like Gutenberg Resistance means somebody cares it means people care when you meet it, get excited things are moving fast, don’t be afraid of that, be afraid it it moving too slow the way we age is not the way the world really works things speed up, not slow down

Plugins panel:

Adam W. Warner, Christian Nolen, Lisa B Snyder, Lauren Jeffcoat

Of of the things I really appreciate about this camp is the panel discussions. Rather than have speakers with prepared statements and slides, we have thought leaders and a moderator answering questions around a specific topic. In this case we got to hear very good questions, both pre prepared and sourced from the audience, about plugins. Some questions of note: What is the safest way to update plugins? How to get the last % of way there for projects? How do I go from stage to live? How to determine what is a ‘good’ plugin, how do you evaluate? What are your favorite plugins.
It turns out the answer to almost all of these begins with the phrase “it depends” since the topic of plugins covers such a wide swath. This is a great one to watch at home when it gets uploaded.

My session

Open source panel Dwayne McDaniel, Jared Novack, Mel Choyce, Steven Word

I was very fortunate to be invited to moderate the open source panel at the event. When I was told I would be moderating, something I had volunteered to do if needed, I was not given too specific instructions on how to structure the panel or what topics around Open Source would be suggested. Given this opportunity I steered the conversation to 3 main areas. 1) What is Free and Open Source Software and why does that matter 2) How each person has contributed and how anyone can contribute and 3) what does the future of Open Source mean for WordPress. I feel pretty strongly about FOSS and I was thrilled to hear this passion from my fellow panelist as well. The biggest thing I wanted people to understand is that the community is that makes open source technology possible and it is up to each and everyone who is in the community to keep that community growing and vibrant. Without that, open source is just a pile of text files you can go look at.
Unfortunately I can find no pictures of this panel at this time.

Day 2

Democratizing Software

K.Adam White

I was excited to see this man’s name as the day 2 keynote presenter. Even though I have gotten to hear a number of his talks over the years every time I learn something new or find a new perspective. This was no exception and I left feeling inspired.
He talked about the reality that while anyone theoretically can code, not everyone gets the opportunity to code. Starting from there, he took us down a road of how those that have the opportunity to go this route learn as they go. I found it really interesting to hear his explanation that PHP, which stands for Pretty HTML according to him, is mostly learned through HTML and sort of in a backwards way in WordPress. This stumbling into it does not work for any other language like JavaScript, which is why that seems as hard as it does to most people starting out.
He also touched on the importance of a highly skilled and specialized community acting as a backbone to allow every person to develop their own niche, further strengthening the whole body when collaborating.
The best line from the whole talk I think though is “WordPress is for learners”. WP become a learning community. That is what we are even doing going to camps, either learning new skills or sharing the knowledge that we have with others. I am very grateful to be part of such a vibrant, supporting culture.

Contributor Day

I am working on a separate blog post about this. Will link here when it is posted.

Freelancing Panel

Amanda Giles, Jennifer Nickerson, Kyle Maurer, Adam Silver

I always enjoy these panels. Not a lot to say as the questions varied wildly as the answers. Go check it out when up on wordpress.tv. Here are some tweets about it though.

CSS Grids are here

Juan Pablo Gomez

I am always quick to admit that design is not my strong suit and something I know very little about. I still hold the first part of that to be true (as evidenced by this site’s layout [twentysixteen FTW!], but the second half of that becomes less true every single time I go to a camp thanks to amazing presentations like this one. He started us off with a quick history of design tooling, starting with raw HTML, going through Flash and Responsive design and added a few critiques of the resulting world. He holds a premise that as we have simplified for accommodating ‘all‘ devices, we got too simple and all sites started to once again look too much alike. But now, here in the present and looking into the future, we have grids.
Firefox was the first to embrace this standard and all the others, even Microsoft’s Edge, have since followed.
At it’s core it sets to achieve the goals that Responsive introduced. Which I am going to oversimplify as ‘have the browser do the math’. This is seen in things like the use of ‘fr’ or fractions to set column and rows dimensions, template elements, implicit and explicit mixed use of elements and repeat built in. He also took care to thank the thought leaders that pushed this standard and made his work possible, like Jenn Simmons. The Q&A was delightful. If you are even the slightest bit curious about CSS Grid, this is the intro talk for you.

Automating WordPress Updates With Visual Regression

Andrew Taylor

You know what robots are really, really good at? Repetitive tasks. You know what repetitive task is really boring and tedious but the entire security of the internet depends on? Updates. Let’s make the robots do the work.
The short version, which Andrew has spelled out in detail in his blog and github example repo is this:
wp-cli update plugin/theme –all is awesome but dangerous. Doing it in a staging environment is really good path, but manually testing gets monotonous, neglected and frankly impossible at scale. Continuous Integration services can be set up with testing tools to test every page, every time when doing updates. Further, it can report and automate emails to you and clients who you are charging update maintenance fees. It is a win-win, since they get frequent updates, you get far less manual effort required and there is a ton of safety built into the process to never take down a live site with a update ever again!

Happiness Bar

I looked back through my notes (Thank you to github for making that so simple btw) for any mention of happiness bar and I realized that I have never written about what goes on at these things.
For those who have never been to a WordCamp, there is a designated table or space for volunteers to basically hold open office hours for any and all WordPress related questions. And when I say any and all, I mean it quite literally.
At one point two of us were diving into a javascript issue with a single asset load malfunctioning on the most recent Chrome update. For a good 20 minutes we dug and dug. Finally we made some suggestions of solving this but they left with the issue still affecting live traffic. I was overjoyed the next day to have the person find me to report that one of the solutions we suggested had been implemented and the issue was solved! There is nothing quite like that feeling of “we fixed this together”!
Other questions ranged from HTTPS issues, design suggestions and plugin related discussions. As quite often happens with any technical discussions I was introduced to several bits of software for the first time and got to spread my love of the WP-CLI and LastPass (well password managers in general but that is my go to). You meet folks from all walks of life and stages of their WordPress learning curve. While it is awesome to know the answers to certain questions from memory I absolutely love having to look up information and show people how I got to the solution. No one knows everything, but Google knows where to find any bit of technical knowledge if you learn how to ask.
If you are going to WordCamps and want to get in on this action, definitely reach out to the organizers and let them know. This is such a vital part of what makes WordCamps special.

Contributor Day

I am working on a separate blog post about this. Will link here when it is posted.

Wrapping Up

While I am awaiting the Gutenberg to harden a bit more I decided to start using the markdown language editor, if you see something weird (other than my spelling and grammar) please let me know.

This was my 16th conference in 2017. Not a significant number in and of itself. I have 10 more trips booked at the moment and likely will have 3 to 5 more added on to make me hit or get really close to my arbitrary goal fo 30 for the year. So this trip was the 53.3% mark on that path.
So much has changed since the last time I was in Boston for this event, not just in the world and state of the Word, but in me as well. I often think of the words of Sean Tierney from back at Pressnomics Paraphrasing – “People come and go like seasons and you don’t always know wYou can never be mad at summer for passing though.”
I have gotten to bask in the glow of so many bright and warm individuals in the course of my adventures and I hold each memory dear. I do get a longing feeling sometimes when I think about the fact that I only see certain people so few times a year and some people I might never see again. I can’t say thank you enough for being part of my journey. It has made every step of it worth it.

I seriously am looking forward to my next chance to visit the old city and find myself in the silicon valley of the east again. Hopefully sooner than later. At worst, it will be for WordCamp Boston 2018!

WCEU: Paris is hot in the summer and you have to walk a lot. Who knew?

I ended up in Paris at the end of a two week vacation that didn’t exactly go as planned.  Parts of my vacation were amazing, like being in the middle of the ocean on the Queen Mary 2 and getting lost in a 1000 year old castle in Luxembourg.  Other parts were not so good, like the lack of sleep, blisters and some other calamities happening.   All in all I had a good time but I arrived back in Paris exhausted and just all sorts of out of it.
The amazing views and the always awesome WordCamp community were there to revive my soul and make my trip to WordCamp Europe 2017 unforgettable and a wonderful time.
So much went on that week, that it does not fit my normal format.  It would be at least 4000 words to capture, with any accuracy, my experience. So instead, I am going to make a top 10 list of my favorite memories and then just post a LOT of tweets with maybe a few comments in between.


  1. Getting to hang out with my team, Drew, Andrew and Matt, plus all our peers and friends from the WP world was amazing!
  2. Contributor day saw us get a lot of work done, including moving the WordPress Marketing Team to a Trello team for easier project management and tracking.
  3. I got to see the Mona Lisa and most all the other awesome stuff in the Louvre
  4. I learned a good chunk of the Paris Metro by heart and am confident I could get around that city without consulting my phone too much if I had to go again
  5. Getting to give my talk about Improv to a crowd of about 700 people. That was pretty cool.
  6. Inviting my friend on stage during my talk and getting to play and improv game with her.  (see tweets below)
  7. Chatting with camp leads about running workshops at two different, unrelated WordCamps later in 2017.  This blew my mind that I am seen as a subject matter expert.  So grateful
  8. Having very reasonable vegan options at lunch at the camp and about 1/2 the meals I ate in Paris.  The others were a bit of a challenge, but thank goodness for couscous.
  9. Meeting so many awesome new friends in Paris and singing WCKaraoke at a new karaoke club where I was their first US customer and we brought a larger crowd than they ever thought possible for their venue.  Was such an amazing time!
  10. Being part of the event where the Gutenberg plugin was released.  I used this amazing new editor to create this post (though I could not publish as a regular post using the still in Beta.  Instead I constructed what you see with the tool then copy/pasted) and will for all new posts moving ahead.  It is lightyears beyond the old editing experience and introduced the concept of ‘blocks’ to WP.  Everything is a block and these blocks can be moved around and reshaped at will making for a completely new posting experience.  I am proud to be one of the first 100 downloads of the plugin. I did it while Matt Mullenweg was on stage making the announcement about the plugin.

Onto The Tweets!

Exhausting but highly productive day with the marketing team at WordCamp Europe. Got some really useful content done!

I can’t believe. I’m here. My first WordCamp Europe and it’s starting…

A new feature project has been started by @schlessera to properly document the bootstrapping process

Wij investeren graag in de relatie met onze klanten. Het is dé sleutel tot een langdurige en prettige samenwerking. Bevestigd tijdens

Aujourd’hui c’est le Wordcamp Europe. Plusieurs conférences sur la sont proposées.

“Trust no one – don’t trust the people who wrote previous code, nor users that enter data.” @markjaquith

Next lightning @WCEurope talk: “Translating WordPress into a Language Nobody Speaks” @swissspidy

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Sitting here bursting with pride from so much awesome showcased work by the polyglots teams 🌎🌍🌏

.@alice_s_still on now at @WCEurope talking about how they started and developed her local WordPress meetup.

“You catch more flies with honey”. Thanks @strebel for sharing your experience. What an inspirational talk 🙂

Good talk by @McDwayne about @WCEurope . I particularly liked the “I love” & “Yes, and …” games. Also constructively!

Weaving threads between + , @mcdwayne delivers a magic carpet of empathy,humanity,and self-awareness. Coding? It’s This

Few things in life have made me as proud as having TinyMCE tweet about me.  Even though in this post I am abandoning their editor, the internet would NOT be as good as it is without their amazing work!  So happy!!

Living style guides from @sarahsemark can help you battles the monsters in your Code closet. Just make sure it’s not a zombie guide

.@michaelarestad states that a 12-year-old helped with the rest API. Mentoring, communicating, and patience are key.

In this talk of @mor10 gave an intro to CSS Grid and its impact on design Thank you Morten!

Very proud to be volunteers at the WCEU, une expérience si enrichissante, si émouvante, 92 pays différents réunis autour de WordPress

What an event, can’t get enough of it, see you at the after party WordCampers

You’ve been practicing your robot dance moves at and now the dance floor awaits @the after party @GoRobotNinja