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WordCamp Europe 2014 took place last weekend in Sofia, Bulgaria. It was a city I’ve been to before and the first time wasn’t that great, however this visit was a lot of fun, with a lot of learning and hanging with some great talent in the WordPress Community. I travelled alone, though never ate, drank or was alone, thanks to the wonderful community.

Whilst the weekend featured a great contributor day, an amazing “Paintball of Nations” (which saw the UK/Russia/Ukraine team finish a respectable third place), and a walking tour organised by my good self which – despite the weather – was great, this post focusses on the talks and what was learned in the conference. Unfortunately, “Jet Lag” meant I missed a few talks, but for the ones I attended, here are some notes.


Why sometimes happiness requires effort: depression in IT – Yana Petrova (@ypetrova)

One of the most interesting talks that I wanted to see was Yana Petrova talking about an important subject that is prevalent in IT – Depression. Depression – as Yana said – “killed more people than bad cooking”, and it was interesting that the talk at the end became like a help group. It was fascinating. Yana gave her tips on how to become aware of depression, and how to help overcome it, as most people experience depression once in their lifetime. Yana recommended two books – If You Meet Buddha on the Road, Kill Him & The Other Side of Sadness.


WordPress: Bringing Ideas to Live – Siobhan McKeown (@SiobhanPMcKeown)

The second talk I saw was Siobhan McKeown was talking about the philophies behind WordPress. The talk was about the power behind WordPress, who has it, and why. It was a fascinating insight into the code, and the reason why developers work to improve the users. Siobhan mentioned the Moveable Type change from a user led philosophy to a developer led philosophy which caused a mass migration to WordPress, and the concept behind WordPress was three ideals – freedom, power & simplicity.


 Inside Underscores – Konstantin Oberland (@obenland)

Konstantin’s talk focussed on the Underscores project, a project started at Automattic to help WordPress developers develop themes. The talk focussed on the growth of the project, and where it is going in the future.


Post-Modern WordPress – Andrew Nacin (@nacin)

Andrew Nacin’s talk was the first talk after lunch on the first day. He introduced the concept of Post-Modern WordPress, a concept that where will WordPress goes after becoming a CMS. The talk was all about removing the complexities from WordPress, to encourage more people to develop in WordPress. He explained some new things that are happening in WordPress, including Custom Term Meta Data and a a Rest API.


Rethinking Content Creation – Adrian Zumbrunnen (@azumbrunnen_)

This was quite an interesting presentation, that unfortunately I’m not going to due it justice. Adrian shared FrontKit, his front-end editor for WordPress. It is a sleek flow, and allows some great features, such as parallax imaging. I strongly suggest checking it out.


Developers, Get Curious About WordPress Core – Helen Hou-Sandí (@helenhousandi)

Helen’s talk (her first time in Europe – welcome!) centred around WordPress core, and how to use WordPress core to fix problems that you have. It was a much needed reminder as I do discover functions, actions and hooks in WordPress’ core on how to fix things, so rather than reinvent the wheel writing code, there could be something in core that helps you. All you need to do is check.


How to be a WordPress Freelance Consultant or Die Trying – Rocío Valdivia (@rociovaldi)

Rocío Valivia’s talk surrounding freelancing. Most developers end up freelancing at some point in their lives, either as a full time job or part time, either as a stop gap or a long time goal. Rocío talked about her time as her freelancer (as she now works for Mailpoet), and things that she learned from that time.


Running an Open Source Business – Simon Wheatley (@simonwheatley)

Simon’s talk was interesting, as he talked about how contributing to WordPress has lead to clients coming to them. By contributing to WordPress, Simon is effectively helping his clients, but still runs a successful business, as reputation is important. The internet is a giant copying machine, that allows sharing of information. We need to swim with the tide. Open Source has changed the business game, from looking at extracting as much from the market, to one that gives a lot more than it takes. In open source software, everybody gets the product. Companies compete to provide services.


Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt) & Om Malik (@om) Question and Answer Session

After lunch on the Sunday was the Matt Mullenweg Q + A session. He was joined on stage by Om Malik, for a question and answer session. Half the session was Om discussing with Matt some new features for WordPress, and where it is going (which seemed like feature requests from Om!), as well as some of the challenges of the last 11 years.


The Devastating Power of Defaults – Joost de Valk (@yoast)

Joost’s talk centred around defaults, and how plugins can improve usage for humans. This was due to the change in userbase of his WordPress SEO plugin from SEO’s to general users. This causes underutilisation of some features. For example: Open Graph (switched on by default) is enabled on 81.9% of tracked data, whereas Twitter Card data (switched off by default) is off for over 90% of all installations. Joost then talked about how to gameify, internationalise and dynamic defaults your plugins, and encouraged us to track all data. He has open sourced his tracking code.


Why Don’t You Do WordPress For Yourself – Kimb Jones (@mkjones)

Kimb Jones’ talk was a very personal talk on how he started freelancing, and all the mistakes he made along the way. He also focussed on what he was good at, as well as how he got the boot up the bum to do it. He also mentioned his pricing structures, for high value clients, standard clients and undesirable clients. It was a very inspiring talk and do encourage you to check it out.


Gestalt Design Principles for Developers – Davide Casali (@Folletto)

The final talk of the day was Davide Casali’s talk about design principles for developers. Creating a design is hard, but applying a design only needs to support a few things. As such, Davide talked us through the interfaces of various brands, that could help you create designs quickly and easily.

So there were my tips, what about yours? Leave yours below in the comments as well as your thoughts on what was an amazing weekend.



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