WordCamp Miami 2011

As some of you might know I was lucky enough to be in Florida when WordCamp Miami 2011 took place and since this was my first not-European WordCamp I decided to do a small write-up on the event.

Kick-off

The conference started a bit more hectic than expected due to some unforeseen traffic issues causing a lot of the volunteers to be stuck on I-95. However this is what David Bisset told us, to the attendees this was barely noticable and the volunteers that got there in time gave 100% to make sure everything went according to plan.

Sessions and talks

The summary below will focus only on the talks given on the developers track since those are the only ones that I attended.

Ptah Dunbar – How to be a WordPress rockstar

Less about becoming a WordPress rockstar, more on how to become a good WordPress developer is how I would describe Ptah‘s talk. He explained all the basics you should know when you’re first starting with WordPress as a developer. Although this might have been a bit too ‘entry-level’ for some of the attendees, Ptah has certainly got one thing nailed down. He’s a true WordPress evangelist and his ability to transfer his enthousiasm over to the people in the room is amazing.

Stephen Gilboy – Making iOS / Android Apps with WordPress

Although I was really looking forward to this talk I was somewhat disappointed by it. Instead of actually making a mobile application with WordPress this was more of a commercial talk about a product by the company Stephen works for. Even though WordPress was involved, this talk could have been about every CMS with a XML-RPC interface.

Rey Bango – Filling the HTML5 Gaps with Polyfills and Shims

Rey‘s talk was very entertaining and was a good introduction on bringing HTML5 to older browser for people who have succumb to al the HTML5 FUD out there. Judging by the reactions in the room Rey’s talk was well received and well needed. My guess is that the US needs more people like Rey and in general more talks by people like Jeremy Keith, Paul Irish and Robert Nyman to convince them that we need to move forward and not get stuck in the past when it comes to developing.

Austin Passy – WordPress Widgets

Very cool talk and demonstration on WordPress widgets. Austin had some unfair competition in the room, Andrew Nacin and Mark Jaquith were live debugging his code, but that didn’t stop Austin from getting the message across. Also, Austin wins the award for best slideshow, hands down. Giving people a URL at the start of your talk where they can browse through your presentation while you speak is something that works even better than downloading it after a conference because you get a much better interaction with your audience. Austin’s presentation can be found here.

Toni Gemayel – WordPress Performance & Optimization

For me it was great to attend Toni‘s talk because I found out that Toni and I do exactly the same stuff when it comes to optimizing the websites of our clients. I’ve been living by YSlow and PageSpeed for a long time now and it’s always cool to hear from a peer that they’re doing exactly the same thing. Great talk and spot on!

Andrew Nacin and Mark Jaquith – Developer Q&A

Obviously this was the talk I was looking forward to the most. It’s always cool to see Andrew and Mark talk but having them in a developer Q&A offered a unique for the attendees of WordCamp Miami. After Andrew and Mark’s WordPress security presentations attendees fired all sorts of questions at them ranging from “What do you foresee for the future of WordPress?” and “What’s the favorite IDE for the core developers?”. All in all, a very cool session!

Andrew Nacin and Mark Jaquith working on WordPress during one of the talks

David Carr – Intro To Plugin Programming

Although David kept his talk very basic he lost a lot of attendees because he might have deviated to much from the WordPress path when he went deeper into PHP. In my opinion his talk would have been better if he had a clear goal in his presentation ( like Austin Passy ) and would’ve finished with an actual working plugin instead of showing people examples of code.

David Gewirtz – Migrating A Massive Legacy CMS To WordPress Without Losing Your Mind

Having recently migrated 3 Drupal 6 installations to WordPress 3 I was for sure that David was going to talk about migrating from Drupal, however David’s project was even worse, migrating from a 14 year old setup to WordPress. I’ve got nothing but respect for this guy, he’s done some amazing work on this migration even though he’s not fully there yet. His presentation was funny and featured a lot of stuff developers can relate to.

The wrap-up and after party

The give-away at the wrap-up might have been a bit problematic ( who named those things lanyards? ) but I think everybody agreed that it had been an excellent day. To top it all off we had a very nice after party at Bougainvillea’s where we got to talk to the speakers some more and jsut get together with peers whilst enjoying a nice drink.

With a total of 330+ attendees this year, WordCamp Miami, was a downright success. Especially if you take into mind that no advertising was done for it and that the event was only in their second year. I’m hoping to be lucky enough to be able to attend it again next year.

Author: Luc De Brouwer

Mild-mannered software engineer, Nine Inch Nails lover, gin drinker, cat person, and somewhat of a geek. Ron Swanson is my spirit animal.