WordCamp Antwerp 2018: Recap

Last weekend, there was WordCamp Antwerp. In total, this was my twelfth WordCamp, and the ninth one as a speaker. I also made my debut as a table lead at the contributor day. 🙂

My last WordCamp was a longer time ago, in early September 2017, because I decided to take a break from it to enjoy a new family member. That’s why I was really excited to go back to Antwerp—I also attended the first WordCamp Antwerp, back in 2016—and officially kick off my WordCamp season for 2018.

Friday: Contributor Day

On Friday, there was the contributor day. This is where several of the WordCamp attendees meet to contribute back to WordPress as a whole—the software, but also lots of other fields such as marketing, translations, infrastructure, and events, to only name a few.

In Antwerp, there were tables for Community, Core, Design, Documentation, Polyglots, and Support.

Core Table

I had been asked to lead the Core table, and I happily took on that role. 🙂

We started with a quick round of introductions to get to know each other a little, to state our prior experience in using and contributing to WordPress, and to share our individual expectations for the next hours.

At the end of the day, we had discussed various things related to where the code lives, where to find or file issues, and how to create, test and submit patches. We fixed metadata on Trac tickets (e.g., keywords), opened one new ticket, refreshed existing patches, and submitted a new one, fixing a brand new issue. And now, two people are waiting for their first-time contributions to get merged into Core. 🙂

Speakers Dinner

Given they made it through the somewhat surprising snow, people were able to let the evening end with the speakers dinner at the only Mexican-Brazilian restaurant in the world, so they say. 😉

While speakers and volunteers had been invited and had the evening sponsored, the dinner was not exclusive to that group of people. Anyone who wanted to spend the evening there was able to just go there, and pay themselves. The exclusiveness of such dinners is a thing that has been discussed several times already, and I really loved how the organizing team did it this year.

It was a nice evening, the food was very good, and I had the chance to talk with both well-known and new people.

Saturday: WordCamp

Now, the actual conference day got kicked off by a live-action frietzak. Since they sold 190 tickets, lead organizer Dave Loodts stood by his promise, and put on a costume for the opening remarks. 😀

10 WordPress GDPR Fails

The first session, and keynote, was about a hot topic: GDPR. Herman Maes talked about quite a number of important things to keep in mind when—or rather: because—GDPR will very soon be a thing. The tips included obvious things such as keeping your (clients’) sites up to date, and thus hopefully secure, but also shed light on keeping a good overview about where—as in geographically, but also as in with whom—you store your visitors’ or users’ data.

Meet Gutenberg, the Future of WordPress Publishing

Next up was Marcel Bootsman, who gave a very nice and interactive introduction to another hot topic: Gutenberg, the new editing experience for WordPress.

I guess the best thing with this session was its openness, interactiveness and semi-Q&A character. People were asked to ask questions whenever they had any, and so everyone left the room quite a bit smarter than before. Also, for several people, this must have been the first time they actually saw Gutenberg live, which is both understandable and frightening at the same time.

Debugging WordPress

Brecht Ryckaert provided an extensive overview of all the tools and techniques you may want to use to debug WordPress (errors). These include—but are not limited to—WordPress configuration, server logs, WP-CLI, and WordPress plugins.

Personally, I was missing (custom) logging a bit, and thus hinted at Wonolog. This is something like a bridge between WordPress and Monolog, the well-known PHP logging library, and it can be very useful when you either want to log arbitrary events, or have to debug rather randomly occurring issues.

Lunch and Networking

Over lunch, I had the chance to talk with several people, some of which I got to know at the contributor day table or the speakers dinner, some new people, and someone I know from the first WordCamp Antwerp, two years ago, and hadn’t seen since.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the WordPress Coding Standards

Then it was my turn! I had the pleasure to take a fully-packed room on a journey to—and through—the WordPress Coding Standards.

After a brief introduction to coding standards in general—and all the related terminology around coding conventions, code style, best practices, naming conventions etc.—our next stop was in the middle of the WordPress specifics. I first shared what you can use, and then how to use it.

Simple things like .editorconfig or .gitattributes files will get you started, while tools such as PHP_CodeSniffer, ESLint or Prettier can get you moving forward another couple lightyears.

As usual, my slides are available online.

Docker for WordPress Developers

The last session I attended was about Docker. I expected it to be an entry-level talk about Docker in general, and some specific use cases in a WordPress context. However, Thijs Feryn decided for a sweeping swipe about almost all you can do with Docker. 😀

While the talk was very good and valuable per se, it was late already, and people—me included—had a hard(er) time following everything. Which is too bad, because there was a high interest in that topic. One of the earlier slots would have been so much better in that case…

Closing Remarks

Then it was over already.

Thanks to all the volunteers—both from Antwerp and other places, countries even—for making WordCamp Antwerp possible and a success.


With beers and other drinks, the after-chat invited to talk about what people learned and experienced the day, and everything they had on their minds.

I was happy to catch up with a few people who I hadn’t been able to speak to before, and who had to leave before the actual after-party.

Pre-After-Party Dinner

After lots of chatting in a noisy conference venue, I headed to a more secluded and less noisy place to get something to eat at a steakhouse. I discovered the restaurant when I was looking for food after the first WordCamp Antwerp in 2016. Funny aside, because absolute coincidence: both times I ended up there with one colleague of mine, someone I only know from Twitter, and someone I didn’t know at all. 😀

The food was just awesome, again, and I will so come back whenever the next WordCamp Antwerp is about to take place. 🙂



I liked WordCamp Antwerp 2018 a lot, and I will absolutely come back to the next one. However, now that we had snow this time, maybe the next time again something around June, please? 😀

In case you would like to meet up some time before that, I’ll be attending (and speaking at) WordCamp London, and also WordCamp Retreat Soltau, the first ever WordCamp Retreat. Oh, and WordCamp Europe in Belgrade, of course! 🙂

Where are you going?

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