WordCamp Sydney 2016 Wrapup

The best part of any WordCamp is catching up with friends and colleagues IRL (In Real Life).

With that in mind and having strong Aussie roots within our company, when contacted earlier in the year to help with WordCamp Sydney, it was a no brainer for us to show our ❤️ for the local WordPress community and offer to sponsor the event’s After Party (the perfect time to unwind, have a few drinks, laugh, make new friends and catch up with old ones).

Fast forward several months – our Aussie based contingent (consisting of Matt, James and myself) arrived in beautiful Sydney on the Friday prior to the event eager to see some of the local sites before having an early night to recharge in preparation for day one.

Feeling fresh and rip roaring and ready to go we arrived at the venue (University of Technology Sydney) eager to give out some Prospress and Small Woorld swag and fuel up on coffee ready for a great day of presentations.

Prospress swag on the table at WordCamp Sydney

And the presentations did not disappoint…the event had a little something for everyone:

  • Beginner – sessions suitable for those without any programming or specific WordPress knowledge.
  • Business – sessions to help to you apply techniques and strategies to build better WordPress related businesses.
  • Technical – sessions suitable for those with good technical knowledge from a development or IT systems point of view.

As we were a crew of developers, we stuck with the more technical presentations over the weekend.

My personal highlights:

  • Noel Tock’s keynote presentation on Moving Forward in WordPress challenged us all to make more engaging experiences for our users by leveraging the REST API – a topic that what would become a recurring theme for the weekend.
  • Peter Wilson’s Contributing to WordPress Core gave everyone a run down on how to get up to speed quickly with a local WordPress development environment using MAMP and how to use Git/Github (as opposed to SVN) to submit a patch to core – making it clear that there are now no more excuses when it comes to contributing back to core.
  • Jeremy Kelaher spoke to us about How Companies Can Use WordPress Better and provided insight (based on his own experiences) into how big companies (like Fairfax) can use WordPress better. He provided examples of some his own approaches to certain problems including his method (by way of spreadsheet) for comparing hosting companies.
  • Japh Thomson talked us through a case study on how to use a Serverless Architecture For Augmenting WordPress. He demonstrated how Amazon Web Services can be used to save money by offloading WordPress image processing (on large sites) using the Tachyon plugin and AWS Lambda. I’m bit of a nerd when it comes to server/infrastructure stuff so this was really interesting.

Matt and James at the Sydney Opera House

  • Bronson Quick got everyone’s blood pumping prior to lunch on day one with an impromptu Mexican wave before talking us through Using WordPress As A Headless CMS giving us another taste of the REST API. It was particularly great to see some really interesting examples of sites Bronson had worked on using the API.
  • Luke Carbis opened up the discussion about What’s Next For Customizer. He began by walking us through what the typical new user experience is like (demonstrating just how confusing the dashboard can become by simply adding 5 of the most popular WordPress plugins ) before delving into the Customizer and demonstrating some plugins that he uses to help make the experience better.
  • Jack Skinner showed us how to Make The Web Fast With Jelly Snakes And Raspberry Twizzlers talking us through how some of the exciting new features in HTTP/2 are helping to make web a faster place. We’ve been HTTP/2 converts for a while now but it was particularly interesting and promising to hear about all the hosting providers now offering it as part of their services that customers can simply enable (or have enabled by default).

The after party on Saturday night was held at the Penny Lane Bar & Cafe. It was spacious, had good nibbles and plenty of drinks (thanks to the generous bar tab top-up by Matter Solutions once the initial tokens had ran out) AND, AND there were even a couple of very brave Pokemon (❤️ your work).

During the course of the night (and the weekend) it was awesome to catch up with some of the regulars like Aaron Rutley, Stephen Cronin and Stephen Edgar who are all doing really interesting things themselves within the community.

View of Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour

It was equally awesome to make some new connections. I enjoyed talking Mountain unicycling with Lukas Pecinka from Skink Design, discussing WooCommerce with Ricky Blacker and Robert Wilde (who also gave great presentations) and just generally meeting and/or sharing a drink with new people like Jesse Fisher from the Blue Mountains and Robey Lawrence from WP Bosses.

Overall I think a great weekend was had by all. Thanks once again to Wil and all the other organisers, volunteers and sponsors for putting on a great community event.

What were your highlights of WordCamp Sydney? Were they different to Jason’s? Did you score any sweet swag? Let us know in the comments.

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