WordCamp Geneva 2016: Recap

WordCamp Geneva 2016 just happened last weekend. It was my seventh WordCamp in total, my fifth one as a speaker, and my second one outside of Germany. I was in Geneva both as a regular attendee, but also as a speaker and, together with a colleague, representative of Inpsyde, who also sponsored the WordCamp.

Thursday: Informal Dinner

The evening before the WordCamp actually started, we had an informal pay-your-own-bill dinner with around 20 organizers, speakers, and sponsors. Tasty food, not-so-bad beer and very nice conversations with new people made it a great evening.

Friday: WordCamp

The WordCamp itself took place at the Natural History Museum of Geneva. With a check-in time of 8 AM and opening remarks scheduled for 8:30 AM, this was definitely the earliest WordCamp ever! 😉 After a few welcoming words, the first session already started.

How to Teach WordPress to Clients

Alexandre Bortolotti was the first speaker in the conference hall. In his talk, he shared ten metaphors to make your clients feel smart when it comes to (using) WordPress. Alex therefore mentioned ten WordPress-specific or -related questions and presented for each of these a straightforward and more practical than technical answer. Included in these questions were, for example, “What is WordPress?”, “What is a theme?” and “What is caching?”.

Excursus: Natural History Museum

Having an entrance to a huge room full of life-size animals on either side of our sponsor table, the museum got more and more attractive with every hour. After a few conversations with attendees and also other sponsors, we just couldn’t resist any longer. So we went on a journey through various ages, animals, and pretty all the things nature has to offer. This really was a great side program!

Accepting Bitcoin with WooCommerce

In the second talk that I heard, Nick Weisser spoke about the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin, the underlying technology called blockchain, the history of Bitcoin with a focus on e-commerce, and ways to integrate Bitcoin into your WooCommerce-powered online shop. I do not have a webshop myself, and so far I also haven’t been involved in a client project using Bitcoin (or another digital currency, for that matter). Since I am a software engineer with a higher interest in cryptography, though, this talk was pretty intriguing nonetheless.

Create a Multilingual WordPress Site with Bogo

As the lead developer of MultilingualPress, I just had to hear the talk about Bogo. Bogo is a plugin that allows you to turn your WordPress single-site installation into a multilingual website. It might be an alternative to WPML or Polylang. From what I learned in the talk, Bogo is pretty limited in its functionality, though, and even if I had nothing to do with MultilingualPress, I wouldn’t think single site to be the way to go for a well-performing and flexible multilingual WordPress site. Sooner or later you will hit a wall, or have to make compromises between functionality and performance.

Why Code Quality Matters

Just before the coffee break, Thierry Muller gave a fairly alternative talk on code quality and why it does (or should) matter. Alternative because, due to technical reasons, the talk had to be given without slides. 🙂 But this was absolutely not a problem at all, as Thierry did a very good job at explaining reasons for investing time and money into high-quality code instead of going the quick’n’easy way. In the end, very many clients will have to pay twice for such a quick solution. Important aspects when striving for code quality are following reasonable coding standards (e.g., the official WordPress Coding Standards) and doing (automated) tests (e.g., by having static analyses as well as unit and integration tests get run on some CI server, and also doing manual code reviews).

Customizing the WordPress Admin Panel for Your Clients’ Needs

The talk by Jesper van Engelen was all about improving the WordPress Admin experience for clients. Oftentimes, a client does not need all of what WordPress has to offer by default. For example, a real estate company might not want to use a blog and thus regular posts at all. They do, however, want to have a tailored interface that provides all the information they need to have. In his talk, Jesper explained and showed how to easily customize both the admin menu and the posts screen by hooking custom functions to appropriate action and filter hooks. With only a few lines of code, you might be able to do huge improvements here already.

WordPress Actions and Filters

The first talk that I attended in the workshop room was about the basic and yet very important concept of actions and filters. There were quite some people in the room, and a lot of them were obviously not yet experienced in using and providing action and filter hooks. For such basic knowledge, it is really important to learn it the right way. Luckily, Ari Leviatan did a pretty good job with his talk; except for not finishing on time, and thus stealing some of mine. 😉

One Website, All the Languages

Next up in the workshop room was me. 🙂 Since Switzerland is a country with more than one official language—in fact, there are four: German, French, Italian, and Retoromanian—WordCamp Geneva was a perfect fit for sharing knowledge about how to make WordPress sites multilingual. In my talk, I provided a short introduction to both MultilingualPress and WordPress multisite. By means of several user stories, I then explained how to set up a multilingual WordPress website with MultilingualPress.

In case you are interested, the slides of my talk are available online.

Internationalization Improvements in WordPress 4.6 and Beyond

The last regular talk was held by Pascal Birchler. He gave an overview about all the cool things regarding internationalization that came with WordPress 4.6 (e.g., language packs, and just-in-time translation) or will come with WordPress 4.7 (e.g., locale switching, and user admin language), and also things that are currently under development (e.g., JavaScript internationalization). Since I have been contributing to the locale switching as well as the user admin language that will both be shipped with WordPress 4.7 in two weeks’ time, this talk was of particular interest to me.

Panel Discussion

Next, Alexandre Bortolotti, Benjamin Lupu, Silvan Hagen, Robert Windisch (yep, my colleague), and Thierry Muller were asked on stage to discuss the missing pieces in order to make WordPress the perfect CMS, and also gladly answer any question from the audience.

After a short introduction, Robert pretty much straightforward dropped the words “Composer”, “PHP7” and also “page builder” all in one go—and thus essentially all that needed to be said. 😀

According to the panelists, some of the missing or to be improved things of WordPress are better page handling in wp-admin, better search, and improved media management.

Right after the panel, Patricia rounded off WordCamp Geneva. We had some short conversations here and there, packed together our sponsor stuff and brought it back to the hotel, and then left for the speakers dinner and finally the after party.

Saturday: Contributor Day

Next day, there was a contributor day—yay! 🙂

I had some discussions about MultilingualPress as well as the WordPress community, and a longer conversation with Pascal Birchler about a WordPress Trac ticket on improving looping through sites to switch to and restore. By the end of the contributor day, I had submitted an improved patch including a new class holding the current site state, according functions for this as well as updated WordPress core files that now make use of the new structures. Go ahead and test it, if you like. 🙂

Summary

WordCamp Geneva was a great success, and I will happily go back to Switzerland next year in order to attend WordCamp Bern 2017, which is in the early planning stages already.

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