Last weekend, WordCamp Cologne 2016 took place. And there are at least two facts worth mentioning: since having regular and official WordCamps in Germany (i.e., since WordCamp Hamburg in 2014), WordCamp Cologne 2016 was the first to happen as a real BarCamp, and it was already the third WordCamp in Germany in 2016. For me, it was also my first BarCamp ever.

Friday: Warm Up

As usual, WordCamp Cologne 2016 started inofficially already the evening before it started. In order to give people, who arrive the evening before the first WordCamp day, the chance to network, the organizing team reserved a few tables in a brewery. It was a nice evening with delicious food, self-refilling Kölsch, and lots of interesting conversations. I called it a day at about 10 PM.

Saturday: WordCamp

The first 30 minutes of the WordCamp day can easily be summarized like so: checking in at around 9 AM, grabbing a coffee, and saying Hi to both colleagues and other well-known faces.
The official kick-off speech started at 9:30 AM, and the organizers briefly explained what to expect from the upcoming WordCamp-as-a-BarCamp day.

Round of Introductions

Right after the kick-off speech, we had a round of introductions. Passing a microphone around, all campers briefly introduced theirselves to the room by saying name, Twitter handle, and three hashtags. It would have been a good idea to also state where everyone is living, what some already did. The hashtags should give hints to the individual interests of the people so that everyone already had a clue about who to ask for specific things. We were also asked to tweet the hashtags so that everyone can look them up again later. This is my tweet:

Proposing Sessions

Having introduced ourselves, we went over to proposing talks, workshops, discussions and any other possible session format for the day.

As giving back is very important for me as well as the whole WordPress community, I didn’t only want to attend sessions, I also wanted to at least propose one talk myself. I had prepared (in fact: updated) two potential talks about testing. Since there were more non-developers than developers, I decided in favor of “An Introduction to Software Testing”, which seemed to be interesting enough for more than twenty people. Wow! 🙂

With around 75 people in the room, we had the 28 available slots filled after … 28 minutes. Coincidence? 🙂

Schedule done, grab another coffee, and then off to the first session…

Open Source vs. Business Model

The first session I attended was already not a regular talk with prepared slides. It pretty fast turned out to be a living discussion about open source in general, open source licenses, and making money in spite of vs. with open source.

Thanks to the pretty mixed group of people—for example, agency folks like Heinz Rohé from Inpsyde, freelancers, bloggers, and David Jardin from the Joomla community— we had a great conversation.

In the end, we tried to find an answer to the question if there really is a versus. We finally agreed in that there is, but shouldn’t be (at all). There are lots of business models that go hand in hand with open source software without feeling bad or pissing off people. Furthermore, it should be understandable for virtually anyone that people who do open source and/or community work also somehow have to make money.

WordPress Plugin Development

The second session I attended was half presentation, half discussion. Tobias Fritz first showed a few slides about plugin development and related topics, and then we started an active exchange about the slides and all that came to mind. This included several totally different things that always one or more people found benefit in. For example, I mentioned that you could sort a plugin support forum by last update (instead of ID, like it is since the upgrade to bbPress 2) by simply adding /active to the URL—which was said to be the most important finding of the day for someone. 😀

Why I Use a Real IDE for WordPress Development

After a copy-pasta lunch, I attended the session by Bernhard Kau that was really a great show-and-tell. Taking PhpStorm as an example, Bernhard explained and illustrated various good reasons for working with a real IDE compared to a simple editor (even when on steroids, meaning plugins for almost everything).

Since I am using PhpStorm for more than three years now on a daily basis, the session didn’t have much news for me; but it still did have one. I totally didn’t know of (and thus don’t use) the possibility to store the complete IDE settings in some Git repository. As also confidential data might be stored (depending on what you enter), this repo should be a private one.

My humble contribution to this session was mentioning the built-in REST client that allows to test any HTTP-based RESTful web service in a really comfortable way. I learned to love it since working with the WordPres REST API.

The Future of Multisite

It followed a somewhat chaotic session on multisite and multinetwork—you did great, Felix, so no offence. 🙂 The first shock was that there were (a lot) more people than the room was prepared for. Seems like not all people raised hands for this session in the morning. So doing a round of multisite-specific introductions was no option.

The second shock was that almost noone did not know what multisite was and/or even use it already. Felix mentioned that, in general, only 5% had encountered multisite, and concluded like: well, maybe that’s a little different in Germany. 😀

The session itself didn’t have much to offer for me, but to be honest, this was to be expected due to the fact that I am the lead developer of MultilingualPress, a pretty complex multisite-based plugin. It was, however, really cool to see the people’s interest in multisite and hear about what they (tried to) do with it.

An Introduction to Software Testing

Right after having listened to what Bernhard and Felix had to say in room Berlin it was my turn.

I already gave an almost exact same talk at WordCamp Berlin 2015, which I straightforward told all attendees. I also explained why I decided to repeat an old talk instead of preparing something new: the contents still matter, and the talk seems to be not that bad. 🙂 Since I uploaded the slides of the original talk to SlideShare in November, 2015, it has been watched almost 29,000 times! The slides of my other talk from WordCamp Berlin count not even 1,500 views, by the way.

In addition, I still get asked (basic) questions about testing in general, and especially unit testing, so I thought I’d give it a try and do the talk again in Cologne. For undecided people I summarized the whole talk in three words:

The slides of my talk can be found online. Reveal.js-based presentations are easily navigated with SPACE and SHIFT + SPACE. 😉

I was more than happy about the number of people in the room, and the feedback I got so far:

Copyright of Image and Text

Monkey Self Portrait
Self Portrait

The last session for me was easy-listening, fun, and informative. Two important take-aways are a list of free image databases/services and an image that comes without any copyright issues (because the monkey itself took the picture).

Community Party

The WordCamp day ended with the community party that offered lots of delicious food, sponsored beer, soft drinks, and great conversations.

Sunday: Contributor Day

WordCamp Cologne 2016 had initially been announced without a Contributor Day. That’s why I already had other plans with my family for Sunday when I heard the news about it. Still, the contributor day was well-visited:

What’s more than great to see is that both newbies get started fast and passionate, and also old hands still can find/learn new things.


So, all in all, it was a great day!

Would I go again to a BarCamp? Yes, definitely.

Do I like it better than a regular WordCamp with a Call for Sessions, and thus pre-selected talks, a well-designed schedule and all that? No, sorry. To be honest, sometimes I really like to know what to expect beforehand. Being spontaneous is also great, if you can, and all of the sessions I attended were fun. But the schedule could have been structured more thoroughly and better, in my opinion. Only taking the number of hands into account when choosing a suitable room is not all that counts.

PS: Help!?

Yeah, I’m still fairly new to blogging. But, should I really (have to) spend more than four hours in total for something like this post? 😮

It seems I have a tendency to write an earful. Who of the people who made it here fell asleep more than once? Would you have liked this more concise? Best in steno? Is this OK like it is?

I’d be really more than just interested in your opinion on this. So, thanks in advance. 🙂

2 responses to “WordCamp Cologne 2016: Recap”

  1. Hey Thorsten,

    It was really nice finally meeting you in person! I’m a bit sad that I missed the warm-up on Friday, though, self-refilling Kölsch sounds good! 🙂

    Thanks for the nice recap!


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