This weekend, the very first WordCamp Retreat took place, in Soltau, Germany. This is a new kind of WordCamp where all attendees, organizers, speakers, volunteers etc. are accommodated in the place where the WordCamp is happening; this is most likely a hotel. Overall, this was my fourteenth WordCamp, and my eleventh time speaking.
I was really looking forward to this special event for a long time, and by now I already know that I want to be part of the organizing team for WordCamp Retreat
2019 in Germany, wherever it will happen. 🙂
Thursday: Arrival Day
All packed for the very first #WCRetreat!
So looking forward to an awesome jam-packed weekend full of #WordPress knowledge, networking, activities, chilling, and "community adrenaline".
Now, what to do until arrival?
Prepare a #React beginner workshop for the BarCamp day? 🤔🙃
— Thorsten Frommen (@thorstenfrommen) May 3, 2018
Well, I actually started brainstorming, and not long after set up a repository. Most of the time on rails, I then worked on exercises or rather stepped solutions for the workshop. 🙂
Check-in & Welcome Drinks
Every hour—when the train went by again—more and more people arrived at the hotel.
All unseren Gästen eine gute und entspannte Anfahrt zum #WCRetreat in #Soltau. Wir freuen uns auf Euch. pic.twitter.com/c4SAZ1iGED
— Frank Neumann-Staude (@staude) May 3, 2018
Checking in to both the event and hotel went super smooth. Luggage to the room, some water in the face, and back to the lobby to say Hi to so many nice WordCampers.
Herrlicher Abend auf #wcretreat pic.twitter.com/YtTfCGaUXl
— Detlef Heese (@iDet) May 3, 2018
The weather was more than just OK, so lots of people enjoyed their coffee and/or beer outside.
At 19:00, the dinner buffet started, and within a few minutes only, lots of hungry traveling WordCampers assembled to pitch into the pasta buffet. Round tables for six to eight people ensured easy-to-manage conversations.
Networking & Entertainment
The rest of the evening was open for further networking, darts, billiards, Kegeln (i.e., nine-pin bowling), games and much more.
Because of the bad cold that I was (and still am) having for about two weeks now, and that still doesn’t let go of me, I called it a day rather early. That said, I also had (and wanted) to be fit for duty next day, being one of the speakers in the very first slot.
Friday: WordCamp Day 1
On Star Wars day, the first actual day of the conference started with nice weather already, and some people having their breakfast outside in the morning sun.
Welcome & Introduction
Organizers Carole, Sven and Detlef kicked off WordCamp Retreat with some words about how it came to be, and what to expect during the next three days.
#WCRetreat being opened by @CaroleOlinger, @SvenWagener und @iDet pic.twitter.com/TDDrTNfmvF
— Remkus de Vries (@remkusdevries) May 4, 2018
We also got to know the background of the WCRetreat Wapuu: Heide, the Heidschnucke. It is so lovely!
Wapuu Heide 💜 #wcretreat pic.twitter.com/PpgPWANONg
— Sergey Biryukov (@SergeyBiryukov) May 4, 2018
It followed a BarCamp-like round of introductions. My hashtags for the event were
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the WordPress Coding Standards
Well, then it was already time for me to get on stage and give my talk about the WordPress Coding Standards.
A few hours ago @beeldplein attented a talk from @thorstenfrommen. He only forgot his towel 🧐#HitchhikersGuide #WCRetreat pic.twitter.com/2ScLJ59CHY
— Savvii (@savvii) May 4, 2018
In this—somewaht nerdy—talk, I first explained coding standards in general, and why they are a thing. After a short anecdote off my personal life, I stated that rules should exist where they make sense, but that, at the same time, there should almost always be room for exceptions. And this is also true for coding rules or whole standards.
Erste Session mit @thorstenfrommen zu WordPress Coding Standards. 🎉 #wcretreat pic.twitter.com/pOtx5ccBF7
— Matthias Kittsteiner (@MatzeKitt) May 4, 2018
Then I moved on to WordPress-specific coding standards, and also the tools to make use of them. These are primarily PHP_CodeSniffer and ESLint, while there are lots of other things one can utilize, for example, an
.editorconfig file, or stylelint, or Prettier, to only name a few.
The slides of my #WCRetreat talk about the #WordPress Coding Standards – quite nerdy this time 😉 – are online already:
Also, fancy fixing some CS violations in WordPressCore?
Find me tomorrow during the Contributing time. 💪
// cc @WCRetreat
— Thorsten Frommen (@thorstenfrommen) May 4, 2018
Similar to WordCamp Antwerp and WordCamp London—where I gave slightly different versions of this talk before—the overall feedback was really positive. People liked the talk, and, even more importantly, they learned something new and also got interested in this whole coding standards thing.
My slides are available online, …and even the video recording is already available at WordPress.tv. WTF!? 😀
Thorsten Frommen @thorstenfrommen: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the WordPress Coding Standards #WCRetreat https://t.co/VqNK36glMm
— WordPressTV (@WordPressTV) May 6, 2018
WordPress.org – Under the Hood
Next up was Sergey Biryukov, one of the Core Committers. He provided a full overview of what all exists in the WordPress.org infrastructure. And that is a lot, by the way.
Right now at #WCRetreat: @Yoast's @SergeyBiryukov is divulging how the #WordPress project's .org site works under the hood. pic.twitter.com/4Njaq21Ztk
— Alain Schlesser (@schlessera) May 4, 2018
At the end, I asked whether or not it was a goal to make all of the meta infrastructure open source. Lots of it already is, but not everything, for example, the profiles area. Good news is that it is indeed the plan. No estimates on when that might happen, though.
A tasty lunch buffet invited us all to fill up on energy, have nice conversations, and enjoy the sun.
Mittagessen bei schönstem Wetter auf der Terrasse des #WCRetreat #hach 🌞 pic.twitter.com/pITr0NtaAZ
— 00Sleepy (T.Bruehl) (@00Sleepy) May 4, 2018
WordPress Breaks Time (and How to Fix It)
After lunch, it was time to hear Andrey “Rarst” Savchenko talk about broken time (in WordPress).
There's lots of non-technical information to learn from @Rarst! Awesome and interesting! Time-traveling experience at #WCRetreat. pic.twitter.com/kUUoNKQ01q
— Thorsten Frommen (@thorstenfrommen) May 4, 2018
No kidding, I really do think this was the overall best talk that I attended so far at all my WordCamps. It was informative, funny, scary, something to think about, and overall at a great quality.
Got scared by @Rarst’s talk? Great, you should be! Here are some takeaways.
Want it properly fixed? Let’s move WP’s minimum required PHP version to PHP5.5+ so that we can use PHP’s DateTime and start fixing this properly. 🤔 #WCRetreat pic.twitter.com/vF8VXvBzlV
— Taco Verdo at #WCAsia (@TacoVerdo) May 4, 2018
This is a must-see for almost anyone, so watch it on WordPress.tv. You will not regret it.
Rubik’s Cube Workshop
After some networking and a quick coffee-and-cake break, I went to the first activity for me: Rubik’s cubes, and how to
Stelle dich deinem Feind.
Früher schmiss ich diese Dinger voller Frust in die Ecke.
Heute lerne ich, wie ICH sie beherrsche statt umgekehrt. #WCretreat pic.twitter.com/cCUBbCi4bk
— Phil Marx (@firstname.lastname@example.org) (@JustPhilMarx) May 4, 2018
It was so much fun, entertaining, but also frustrating, because I didn’t solve it. At least this was true for almost all the people too. But I got really obsessed.
Too bad that I didn’t get my own cube in time, though. It should have arrived this day, but it didn’t. 🙁
The dinner was, as usual, quite good, and I had interesting conversations with people from four different cities (and also two countries) about how they run their local meetup. As one of the organizers of the rather young local meetup in Aachen, Germany, I am really interested in input in this regard.
The last official activity was an interactive WordPress quiz, led by quiz master Hans-Helge. And it was great, great fun!
#WPquiz There‘s a 50% Chance i‘m winning tonight. I do – or I don‘t! 😂 Bring it on! #WCretreat pic.twitter.com/QshuSI6gUm
— Christina | Holistic Business Mentor (@christina_arntz) May 4, 2018
The quiz had a nice mixture of questions, ranging from development- or code-related ones, over to community questions, to ones requiring wild guessing.
@TacoVerdo just won the WP Quiz! We are so proud of him! #WCRetreat pic.twitter.com/KNECdZ4o8n
— Yoast (@yoast) May 4, 2018
To be honest, I was a little disappointed at the end, because throughout the game, you could always see the TOP5 players, but then on the last slide, only the best three were displayed, and won prizes. … I happened to end up in fourth place. 😉
To conclude the first conference day, quite a few people assembled at the bar for drinks and conversations.
Saturday: Contributing & BarCamp Day
The second conference day had both contributing and BarCamp action in its pockets. 😉
After a—for me quick—breakfast, we all assembled in the great hall for the opening of the contributing time. This was a first, because usually this is happening as a separate contributor day.
Ready for contributing! 😃🤗💻#WCRetreat #wordpress #wordcamp pic.twitter.com/z0zZY5Q6H6
— Sven Wagener @email@example.com (@SvenWagener) May 5, 2018
However, contributing time in the middle of the WordCamp worked quite well, actually. Throughout the first day, people new to this kind of thing could be talked into going there. 😀 And there were quite a few people who had not been to a WordCamp, and thus no contributor day, before.
I spent my time at the Gutenberg table. After a short round of introductions, we split into two or three groups. I was in the more developer-centric one, where we talked about the architecture of Gutenberg itself, but also about the make-up of Gutenblocks. We also discussed the impact of Gutenberg, and being still in some kind of a pre-alpha state, when maintaining and kicking off new client projects, respectively.
We ❤️open source! What drives us to contribute is the idea of a unified community – all great minds in one place – building together, supporting each other. You’ve got more eyes to save time and improve maintenance. Ultimately leading to better software for everyone. #WCRetreat pic.twitter.com/cVGj257Txh
— Plesk (@Plesk) May 5, 2018
We did not produce any visible results, but all of us learned quite a bit. And this is much more valuable, and may have a much more meaningful effect in the end, than just fixing one or two issues.
BarCamp Session Pitch
Then it was time for all willing attendees to pitch their ideas for possible talks, workshops, activities or whatever they had on their minds for the BarCamp time of the event.
Isn’t it uber cool when attendees at an event get to vote for what sessions they want to participate in – in real-time? That’s exactly what’s happening here at #WCRetreat today. Giving the people what they want. How can you translate this attitude into your work life come Monday? pic.twitter.com/wuuCN9KWim
— Plesk (@Plesk) May 5, 2018
There was quite some interest in sharing knowledge, so instead of only accepting as many talks as there were slots planned, the organizers just opened up new rooms. Three of them, which in the end meant six sessions more than initially scheduled. 🙂
First WordCamp, my sister @christina_arntz just pitched her BarCamp session and will be on stage this afternoon. Proud af. #WCRetreat
— Felix Arntz (@felixarntz) May 5, 2018
As mentioned earlier, I actually pitched my React beginner workshop, and there were quite a few people interested. So … I really had to prepare something. 😀
By coincidence, one workshop host had to leave the event early, so there was actually an open 90-minutes slot on Sunday. This gave me (much) more time to prepare. Phew!
I had my lunch in the summer sun with nice conversations about (organizing) WordCamps.
Multi-Network (Live Podcast Session)
The first BarCamp session I attended was one with an interesting format, which worked quite well for the in-room audience. Simon from the PressWerk podcast asked Felix to be his expert studio guest, and answer all sorts of questions about the (hidden) WordPress feature Multi-Network (aka Multi-Multisite).
Another first at #WCRetreat: Live podcast session thingy with @krafit from @presswerk_cast, with (Multi-)Multisite expert @felixarntz! 🤓 And Heide. 😍
// cc @WCRetreat pic.twitter.com/8Egk2tjp23
— Thorsten Frommen (@thorstenfrommen) May 5, 2018
There was an additional microphone for potential questions from the audience, … so I asked one about what is possible with WP-CLI with regard to Multi-Network functionality. 🙂
Then I really took some time to just chill. And obviously a lot of the people did this (some time during the weekend). I mean, it is a retreat after all. 🙂
In the evening, we had a fantastic BBQ dinner.
#OMGWTFBBQ #WCRetreat pic.twitter.com/xjsSseQsxL
— J (@FluffyOhOH) May 5, 2018
I had lots of interesting conversations, but went to my room rather early. Because I had to prepare that workshop. You know. That stupid-idea-turned-real one. 😀
After I decided it was good (enough) for now, I picked up my Rubik’s Cube, which just arrived that day.
And finally, at around 2 AM, I beat the cube! 😀
Good night, @WP1x1 and @2ndKauBoy…! 😴😴😴 #WCRetreat #RubiksCube #Finally pic.twitter.com/vu8RSlhoCg
— Thorsten Frommen (@thorstenfrommen) May 6, 2018
Good night! Zzzz…
Sunday: WordCamp Day 2
Oh noes! Last day of this very special event ahead…
I only had a quick (because late) breakfast, with interesting conversations nevertheless.
The rest of the morning was spent on preparing the repository for my React workshop.
React Beginner Workshop
Then it was time for that very workshop. 🙂
Sonntag ist Ruhetag? Nein, wir sind auch heute fleißig! Vielen Dank an @thorstenfrommen für einen sehr lehrreichen #reactjs Workshop (: #Wordpress #wcretreat pic.twitter.com/X8CDyH6cHb
— PEGASUS (@fluegelpferd) May 6, 2018
There were a whopping 30-ish people, which was just awesome! And I think that some of these people actually liked what I had to share. 😉
@thorstenfrommen Vielen Dank für die tolle React Einführung! #WCRetreat
— Christian Rüggeberg 💙 (@arkonisus) May 6, 2018
After two of them, I can (and do!) say that workshops are the best experience! For everyone in the room, including me as instructor/host. That is one of the reasons why I am so much looking forward to WordCamp Europe, where I will be giving a three-hours workshop about unit testing. 🙂
The lunch time was a bit of eating, and most of the time working on getting slightly sunburned. 😀
And then it was all over. 🙁
A great #WCRetreat is finally coming to an end… I would still be up for a few more days! 😉 pic.twitter.com/kzXDspUMkM
— Alain Schlesser (@schlessera) May 6, 2018
Looking back at the last days, and the planning of the event, was quite emotional.
This was the best WordCamp ever. Sorry for the FOMO. But: It only was the best one till now. So please pick up this concept, WordCamp organizers around the world! #WCRetreat pic.twitter.com/wzdIRiwxFX
— Felix Arntz (@felixarntz) May 6, 2018
Almost everyone seemed to have really liked the event so much.
Good news is that the next German WordCamp is already planned. On September 22, 2018, WordCamp Würzburg will invite all of us—yep, that is you too!—to be part of a superhero event. 🙂
That weekend was awesome. No, that is not enough. I have to say that my English is not good enough to express my feelings about this WordCamp. The word “awesome” seems over-used, and doesn’t really work. It was much better, in every possible way!
I really was looking forward to this event. But I also really was sceptical about a few things, for example, having two two-hour blocks each day where there is no knowledge exchange planned. I absolutely love and value networking. And I really like freetime activities. But I also like to share and gain knowledge, about WordPress, and all the related things. So I simply went for the surprise open-armed. And I did not get disappointed. Not at all!
WordCamp and retreat absolutely does work well together! And yes, I really would love to go to another WordCamp Retreat. In Germany, or in another nearby country. Thinking about Germany specifically, though, I wouldn’t plan for (or want) the next edition of this WordCamp in 2019 already. 2020 is a lot better, for various reasons.
What about you? How did you like it? Do you have any specific questions about this event, or the format? Or anything else to share? Let me know in the comments.
See you in Belgrade!? 🙂
Thorsten – Thank you for your words!
I can not explain my feelings, the our basic idea: „All in on space“, „In the Green“ and „More relaxing“ worked so well. I am impressed by how quickly the people at WordCamp came to feel that we were in the planning as a basis. Just to go into the room to freshen up and not have to lug much luggage. You only went with the room card for breakfast, in the pool, hiking or in the evening in the bar. Nice to have time for each other. Nice that you liked it too, thank you for your words.
I got the WP-Blues
It was a great success, and nothing led me (or anyone, potentially) to believe that this was a first-time event. Well done, well done! But yeah, I understand that I took quiiite a bit of time, in the last one and a half years…!
Oh, I feel it too! 🙂