Just about recovered from what was the biggest WordCamp Cape Town has hosted to date. You heard me, 12 hours. I was one of the first to arrive and left just before the after party hit, which makes me think, there’s a few people who would have been there for more than 12 hours. WordPress Geeks no doubt.
Congrats to Ashley Shaw and the team at light speed for pulling off a spectacular event. Many of the top designers & developers were there including some people I’ve only interacted with via the interwebs. I finally got to put a face to quite a few names and got to meet a few guys I’ve personally worked with on projects but never met in person. I was absolutely stunned at the amount of sponsors who came to the party.
If you wanted to overdose on WordPress enthusiasm WordCamp would have been your ideal opportunity.
The speaker schedule was quite varied with both a publisher(non dev) track & a dev track for the hardcore guys. I was slotted in on the last minute to stand in for a cancellation. That was 2 days before the event, so the run up to WordCamp for me had a couple of sleep deprived days on coffee overdose which left me in a semi twilight zone type state on the morning of the event.
I arrive around 7am, still not 100% done with my presentation and only second to one of light speed’s interns from the Netherlands, a newbie to WordPress, but like with many others grabbing onto it quickly.
The Lineup for the Day.
The WordCamp website was a really excellent piece of communication and I think the most outstanding part of it was the schedule, designed to put the spotlight on the main attraction, The Talks.
WordCamp Presentations I Attended
First up on the developer track was Jason Bagley of whitespace focusing on the ever popular topic of responsive web design. His slick slides are viewable on slideshare and he’s also put together a cool list of resources at http://responsive.jasonbagley.com
I watched jason’s presentation while finish off mine.
Next up was Byron Rode, a developer I’ve hired for some tricky customizations in the past and someone who openly speaks out against the overuse of plugins and unnecessary features. His Presentation was about only giving your clients what they need in their dashboard and ruthlessly stripping out everything else.
Byrone mentioned a plugin at his talk which helped with some admin customizations and has shared it here.
Dan’s présentation focused mainly on the growth of Instinct’s wp-ecommerce plugin, it’s growth from the very early days of being the first WordPress commerce plugin, of hacking the core to make it work, on the process of finally going GPL and the attention that brought to the project. I’ve used wp-ecommerce some time back to develop a software product site which earned my client 1 million Rand in it’s first 6 months in new product sales. Back then setting up a site using wp-ecommerce was a slight challenge, but the project has come a long way and with WordPress’ new custom post types Dan & his team have completely repurposed the plugin and made a really powerful yet easy to use and mostly Free product.
Dan also discuss some of their other projects form an Arcade style game builder running on WordPress to the drag & drop WordPress theme builder they’ve been delving into pushing WordPress to it’s limits to produce some really amazing solutions. Another proof for me that WordPress is truly a CMS, and in many cases it could even be used as a base Application Framework.
After Dan’s presentation I had to take a little break and escaped the presentation rooms until the lunch break, took a breather, did my mid day prayers and prepped myself for my own presentation. I had only just finished adding some bits and pieces to mine the morning of the event.
My Presentation – WordPress IS a CMS
There’s been a debate on the go for as long as I’ve been using WordPress about whether it’s a true Content Management System(CMS) or not. In fact at the last WordCamp in Cape Town which I believe was held 3 years ago the same issue was discussed.
Generally those who use WordPress have been satisfied that it is a true and in many cases superior CMS for the majority of today’s web needs, though some development die hards and other old-school non WordPress users still argue the point.
There’s also been a ton of articles, presentations & talks been given around the world on using WordPress “as” a CMS. I wanted to make a case for putting the final nail in the coffi.
Jeff Pearce – Using WordPress as a development framework
@jeffikus gave a very exciting, though somewhat technical presentation on the merits of using WordPress as an application development framework with an example of a Task Management App which completely bypasses the regular WordPress admin. We’ve seen the rise of quite a few application style implementations of WordPress and I believe this is only the beginning.
Most Memorable Presentation
The presentation which stood out the most for me was Adii’s WordPress Ecosystem. Not that Adii’s in need of any more ego boosting if you know what I mean, but really we have to give credit where it’s due.
Adii is a really interesting character, someone who can only be admired for what he has achieved in the last few years. It’s clear when you listen to him speak he’s got a business brain. I’ve seen Adii rise up through the WordPress ranks from the time he was selling his first theme and have to admit I sometimes feel really lousy about myself for not taking the same kind of chances and putting in place the same kind of strategies to achieve something more significant.
His dissection of the WordPress Ecosystem was such an apt metaphor for the way the WordPess community operates, which reminds me of a similar talk given at Heavy Chef on the New Media Eco-system. Same concept on a much wider scale.
Adii unpacked the various spheres where people are forging niches and tapping into the economy of WordPress, making a living or a killing in some cases.
Some of the Interesting People I chatted with at WordCamp
- Dan Milward – WP Ecommerce/Get Shopped
- Byron Rode – Tangram
- Matt Geri – wpgeeks.com
- Fred Roed – WorldWide Creative
- Justin Slack – @urbanrenewal
- Zaheed & Zugdi – Zedduo
- Angelique & Jamie (WordPress students of Mine from Last year)
- Handre (a WordPress student of mine from many years ago)
Sorry if I left anyone out. I know I did, not intentionally, there were just so many cool conversations.
Everyone seemed to be really inspired, not only by the technical workings on our favorite web publishing platform, but by the sense of community which resulted in such an exciting event. Others were just there to show their absolute obsession with their favorite publishing platform.
For me the presentations were secondary to the networking & connections. No doubt what was presented was inspiring and created lots of energy and ideas in many directions, but those connections made, putting faces to names, establishing potential partnerships was the most beneficial part of the whole thing.
A few moments stood out for me. I managed to catch up with some people I’d never met in person but have had some meaningful interactions with via the web.
1. I had a really good conversation with Fred Roed, someone who I’ve interacted with only via the web and twitter. We discussed our own challenges going forward in our businesses and social contributions towards improving society.
2. I finally got a chance to meet Dan Milward who I’ve known online for a few years and we had a coffee just after the event with some really good conversation both on issues of WordPress and community and outside of that. Justin Slack joined us for a bit. What was so interesting for me was, I was leaving to escape the after party as a non-drinker, when Dan caught me and asked me where I was going, suggesting we have a quite coffee. I really appreciated that gesture. We spoke about some potential working together on one of his projects. Dan is a really nice guy and very forward thinking.
3. Last but not least, Matt Geri(wpgeeks.com), who I’ve been working with online for a while now and who I’ve only ever spoken to via Skype was there and we got to speak in person and get to know each other a bit better. Matt’s gt some really great WordPress dev skills and
What I took out of it
We’ve come a long way. I went on a bit of a nostalgic hunt for some info on some of the very first WordPress meetups we had in Cape Town even before WordCamps hit our shores and found the following article I wrote on the success of the 3rd WordPress Meeting in Cape Town which I hosted back then.
You’ll see some of the same faces were attending back then, including Host of this WordCamp, Ashley Shaw who spoke about BuddyPress back then. We have to go back to the source and thank Callum Macdonald who came to Cape Town on his still continuous World tour with a bag full of WordPress and the clothes on his back quite a few years ago and instigated the very first WordPress Meetup.
A bit about that meet up here - http://www.nomad-one.com/2008/02/18/first-wordpress-meetup-post-mortem/
It just shows, with enough positive energy and enthusiasm and a community spirit, we can take things a lot further, and with people committed to making things happen, it benefits everyone around them. We’ve come a long way in Cape Town, and this year’s WordCamp is something we can all be proud of.
Once again thanks go out to Ashley & The team at Lightspeed.