Last weekend I attended WordCamp Phoenix 2012. I was immersed in three solid days of nothing but WordPress geekery and I couldn’t have been happier. I met some great people who love WordPress as much as we do, and learned some new tricks from some of the brightest minds and thought leaders in the WordPress community — all for only $35.
Here is my recap of WordCamp Phoenix 2012, held in downtown Chandler, Arizona, written at 30,000 feet on my way home:
This was my second WordCamp experience and now I think I may be an addict. I am already looking at my busy upcoming schedule to see how I can adjust it and move things around so I can attend another WordCamp! Unlike conferences I have attended, WordCamps are all about embracing the open source mantra of sharing, collaboration, and showing what is possible with software available for free to everyone. No selling form the stage and no sponsor vendors selling in the hallways; just sharing and learning.
The first day of WordCamp was held at Chandler’s City Hall and it was structured as 8 hour sessions for all types WordPress users from beginners to advanced developers. I attended the advanced developer session, where the focus was on the future of the web and the future of WordPress development; pushing the capabilities of WordPress through Responsive Design, CSS3, HTML5, jQuery, and other open source technologies.
The Friday session began with Responsive Design, the practice of creating websites that automatically scale in size regardless of browser size, operating system, or device (desktop, tablet, or smartphone). Responsive design is fairly new in the web development world and there are lots of considerations and variables to account for when going responsive with your site, but after Friday I am convinced that it soon will become a standard and not an optional luxury.
The second part of Friday’s session covered creating custom user interfaces for the WordPress backend using custom meta boxes, custom fields, custom content types, and more to take WordPress out of the box and create a theme specific backend to make WordPress into a true CMS that is easier for website owners to create and manage their content. This was my favorite part of all three days of WordCamp.
The final part of Friday’s session was all about integrating 3rd party APIs into WordPress and creating your own custom plugins. I haven’t dabbled much with API integration into WordPress, but many of our favorite web services have APIs and I am excited about the possibilities and already have a few ideas swimming around.
Saturday was the main event of WordCamp Phoenix with over 500 attendees. I met every kind of WordPress fan from people who had just discovered WordPress the week before and wanted to learn more about creating an online home for their business using WordPress, to members of the core WordPress development team who create and improve the core software that runs every WordPress site on the web.
Saturday’s sessions were typical conference style, about an hour each with three simultaneous tracts, each broken into three different styles:
- Think Tank for WordPress developers
- Jump start for people getting started with WordPress
- My WordPress that focused on how different industries are using WordPress.
I attended Think Tank and My WordPress sessions and all were great. The only bad thing was that they were only an hour or so and a there were a few I really wanted to attend but they conflicted with other sessions.
Sunday at WordCamp was a dev/hack day and was held at co-working space across from Chandler’s City Hall, and was very informal with scheduled speakers and an “unconference” in the back rooms where attendees suggested topics and voted on them to talk about collaboratively in private conference rooms. Totally freeform and unstructured. I spent half my day in the there and the other half listening to the scheduled speakers. Both were absolutely fantastic and makes me regret missing the last day of my last WordCamp.
Besides all of the nerdy WordPress stuff, like any conference, there were several networking events, pub crawls, after parties, and general mayhem throughout downtown Chandler. If you are just getting started with WordPress or are a seasoned WordPress fan like myself, I highly recommend attending a WordCamp. It will be the best investment you can make for only $35.