My fellows from Pixelgrade and I attended WordCamp Europe 2017 in Paris, and I must admit it was a blast. Again. Luckily, I haven’t lost anything this year. Yaaay!

This was my first time in Paris, but visiting a vastly cultural city didn’t overcome my expectations as the event itself did. I admit that I’m not such a great fan of Paris. Instead, I truly enjoyed the beauty of WordCamp and the warm of people from 79 countries all over the world.

In this article, I want to share with you some specific thoughts about my journey: the talks that I enjoyed most, the people who changed my perspective, the WordPress mates who shared useful stuff.

Before the WordCamp

We landed in Paris pretty early (on Monday), so we had plenty of time to visit the city before WordCamp. Also, enough time to experiment some restaurants with tasty food and outstanding wines. Well done on this one, Paris!

In the first days, I was lucky enough to be invited by the Pantheon team to their enjoyable, pre-WordCamp dinner with WordPress lovers. I must admit that I wasn’t expecting for such a great gathering. In fact, I thought I would deal with a bunch of people talking business, advertising or everything in between.

Well, I was quite impressed to see that people came just came to enjoy a dinner, have a friendly chat and a good time. I’m glad that I was there, made some great connections and some bonus points for catching the first row at the photo table.

Day #1: Contributors Day

This WordCamp started with a Contributors Day and I choose the JavaScript path with no regrets.

1) The first workshop was lead by Zac Gordon in the beginnings of JavaScript Vanilla. I’m not a JS amateur anymore, but from the start of the day, I wanted to learn how the masters teach their students and sure Zac is a great source of inspiration in that sense. #teachseption is the new keyword. Code source of the workshop here.

2) And why not strike the iron while it’s hot? Adam Silverstein shared an engaging history lesson about the evolution of JavaScript within WordPress. I’ve learned that a good javascript framework doesn’t need to be cool to do its job well. On top of that, backbone.js was always that nice buddy who maintained the models and collections in a performant and consistent way. Code source of the workshop here.

Here are my two cents on this matter:

We can debate all day long about the React vs VueJS, but these frameworks are meant to create nice interfaces and render the content fast and clean. How we deliver data to those frameworks will still be a JavaScript problem, a data processing concern, and backbone.js is still damn good at data handling.

In a Workshops day, Talks are like a breath of fresh air.

3) David Aguilera made a strong point about the fact that the WordPress themes and plugins directories could use some analytics data. All the big marketplaces like Playstore or Apple Store have good analytics served by default, why not have this kind of data for our toys? After all, we just want to make them better, so we need more information to relate to.

I know that there were a few people in the room who linked with this concept, but I find this topic very interesting, and I’m sure that if we get over the privacy paranoia we can achieve even more.

4) This particular point was rephrased by John Maeda in his talk as well, along with Mark Uraine and Cate Huston. The only difference is the phrase they used: “We need to know our clients to understand their problems”. Slides are right here, (btw, this was about the REST API data), but shouldn’t be also about analytics?

Moreover, K. Adam White iterated on this matter too and highlighted the fact that good software needs relevant data and that data needs a good visualization.

Day #2: WordCamp Europe, bring it on!

1) I started my day with Alain Schlesser and his speech about the loading process in WordPress. I need to admit that I studied how WordPress loads on several occasions, but I never got it as fast as he made me do it.

2) Next, the schedule challenged me to take a tough decision: a good community talk with Caspar Hübinger or a good developer talk with Otto Kekäläinen?

I went with Otto’s talk about PHP profiling, speed, performance and lots of good tips. The slides are here and I highly encourage you to take a look over, but the speech itself is hard to equal.

3) John Maeda comes on stage and he strikes again with his overall attitude. Funny, witty, with a very inspirational talk, full of motivation and good vibes.

Overall it was a great day, I’ve met a lot of new people, re-connect with older folks and I felt the network started to grow. Thumbs up!

Day 3: time to dig deeper!

1) The second day starts with Andrew Nacin. I still remember his awesome quote: Developers solve issues too.

By now I picked my favorite talk for this episode of WordCamp. Andrew inspired and motivated me to go over my fears about decision making and concentrate on the problem solving not on the code itself.

I’m glad that he broke a piece of this paradigm in which designers are presented as the rulers of this world.

2) Improv Lessons

“Slack is great to pass an image from a computer to another, but that’s it. The real communication is face to face when you can see your partner reactions.” – Dwayne McDaniel

A delicious speech, funny and eye opening. I enjoyed it in every word even thought it means (for me personally) to get out of my comfort zone, drop the never-ending NO, and learn how to handle my conversations with my team in a better way. Resource about this talk on his blog

3) Rian Rietveld reminded me about some great Accessibility rules that I kind of forgot. She is kind enough and already made these tips public on her blog. I was lucky enough to meet her on my way home, in the metro, and had the chance to thank her for the wonderful speech.

4) Over-heap time

Before the lunch, I though I would clash or something because I really felt overwhelmed and wanted to get some distance and sleep on what I heard during the days.

It was a lot of new information to me, a bunch of new people, new names, new programming tips, so so many things to remember and I felt like I really needed a break. I detached from all the people, even from my teammates, and just watched them. Nothing to say, nothing to remark, it was just a moment of “please free some memory from RAM so I can go back to Talks.”

The short meditation moment went well, the lunch was nutritious, so I was back in business.

5) The moment of Matt’s Interview. Since are plenty of ideas and lots of feedback about it, I just want to add that I strongly agree with his vision, and I’m eager to embrace new challenges.

6) John Blackbourn roles and capabilities. Nothing fancy to talk about here, but from a technical point of view, this speech taught me that I’m not even close when we talk about roles and capabilities. I have some hooks and technics in my mind, and I feel I have a better clue about how to use them. All in all, here are the slides.

7)K. Adam White – Data Visualization with the REST API.

It couldn’t end better than this. Adam gave us such a new perspective about the RESTfull API and how we could make the most out of it. And this comes from a guy (me) who tried to give new purposes to this system since it was a beta plugin.

Au revoir, Paris

Even if Paris wasn’t as beautiful as expected, I cannot complain. Caspar wrote an article after WCEU, and he taught me with his story that empathy is a big thing, and there are people with bigger problems than how beautiful and clean is a city or not.

Before this WordCamp started, I was lucky to talk with Bridget Willard. At some point, she said that “WordCamp is about the people” and she is right for many reasons. It’s not about the place; it’s not about the code, it’s not about the products, not even about the strategies or visions. It is only about the people, their problems and the way we can learn to solve them.

Dream big and see you in Belgrade … or maybe in Iași at some point?

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