My Journey at WordCamp Europe 2017

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?

Yep, this is me, this little fat white shirt.

Losing my Phone—the best thing before WordCamp Europe 2016

The unforgettable experience at WordCamp Europe

I have attended to WordCamp Europe 2016 with the entire PixelGrade crew. In my scenario, I must confess I lived an amazing experience. My mind is full of a bunch of things I’ve learned, things I figured out I was doing wrong or things where I may be pretty good at.
On top of that, I’ve met a lot of pleasant people, among them tons of Romanian compatriots who are doing great things in the field. Of course, I’ve met WordPress masters in person. I repeat, it was impressive.

Shitty things happen all the time. Some of them turn to be not that bad.

Last photo made with my old Phone
The last photo made with my Phone – RIP

Oh well, not everything was pink from top to toe. In fact, things went pretty nasty at some point.
We’ve prepared for our ride, we got fed, ran to the airport and there, big surprise! our flight was overbooked.

Long story short: 7 people of our team can’t fly directly from Iași to Vienna. The alternative was Iași-Bucharest-Vienna. Still good, right? Well, kind of. We’ve slept only 3 hours at an expensive hotel (this is the fly company paying for the mistake in the right image), miss the first two conferences at #WCEU and arrive there sleepless and frustrated.
But well, at least we were there.

And when there wasn’t enough heat and tiredness and sleepiness, here’s come a new adventure. I’ve checked my pockets to get my iPhone and see if the clock was self-adjusted by the network. Which iPhone? Surprise: my pocket was empty!

The great part of this soap opera was that finally, I got to my first WordCamp event. There was nothing in the world to stop me enjoy it.

Catching up with awesome people

While rolling around at WordCamp Europe, I began to see people that I already know in a way or another. Actually, I was surprised to catch up with Ovidiu Iacomi(@Morphyyy) , the mentor who thought me a bunch of things about web. However, he didn’t miss the chance to make fun of me regarding how would I survive without a phone. I felt the irony from top to toe, but I was pretty sure that two days without any gadgets around me would be a pleasant rehab.

How did I succeed to make the most out of WordCamp Europe?

I realized I would have a better experience at WordCamp this way, and I could focus my mind in a more productive way.

I was free from all the phone distractions: emails, tweets, calls, SMS, anything that can trigger a push notification. I even skipped the fear of “low battery” syndrome, and I was so relieved when someone’s iPhone was ringing and disturbing Matt’s t live interview.

This way I could felt Caspar’s (@glueckpress) caring sentiment, without trying to google his name on my phone while he was speaking about Thoughts on WordPress Plugin UI – a great talk if you ask me.

This way I could enjoy watching marvelous Helen (@helenhousandi) playing piano instead of trying to capture the moment on mp4. Btw folks, when the lights go off, and there is only one spotlight on the artist, it happens for a reason. The blitzes and the phones lights might not be in the show’s intentions. (I know haters will say that I couldn’t record that moment, and now I’m jealous).

This way I could catch the wonderful Ana Silver’s (@AnaFranciscaS) jokes between speeches about her accent like “Can I have a glass of wuathaa” xD. Dear Ana, I never thought I could laugh when someone’s repeating “wuathaa” about 12 times.

Considering the context, I could pay attention at Tomaz’s (@TomazZaman) speech. He convinced me (mostly through his smart humor) that I should charge more and get a new iPhone. I’m sure that I worth more than a toilet paper per hour.

Happy ending

I’m not gonna bitch myself against the technology and social media because I’m abusing it myself. But God damn it, we should force ourselves to detach from times to times. I mean how many chances do you have to watch Matt Mullenweg in person on a stage? Filming him with your phone should be the last thing to worry about.

Call me old fashion but
Call me old fashion but this

We do this in our life way too often. We are hanging at a beer, laugh, listen, tell a story and suddenly when someone is making a bad joke (this one is usually me) everyone at the table is grabbing a phone and check the “newest” story online on some whatever network, and the silence falls. The story may be under your nose in that glass of wine, on that delicious plate, at that specific moment with your friends and dear ones.

To the north, WordCamp Europe!

Since I’ve learned a lot of this event, I’m eager to attend the next WordCamp. It’s always worth to listen to the experienced ones and connect with witty people in a fun and engaging way. Sharing is caring, right? See you in Paris, or maybe in Bucharest (who knows?). Btw, I’m thinking seriously to leave my phone home.

And for those who think that I couldn’t take photos at this event, don’t worry. I’ve got this big photo by Florian Ziegler and I may use it as an avatar.

Yep, this is me, this little fat white shirt.