Yes, yes, I know. These latest posts are a little out of order, because WordCamp Paris was held the weekend prior to WordCamp Norway. But I’ve been so busy and on the go quite a bit since the Thursday evening before the Paris event that I haven’t had time to write about what I thought.
There was a lot riding on this WordCamp, not just for me but also for the French WordPress community, of which I am lucky to consider myself a part.
I attended my first Parisian WordCamp in 2011. It was my first foray into the WordPress community in France. It was fine, if a little disorganized. There was one track, no lunch, no organized after event, no goodies, and only a tiny bit of interaction with other attendees.
My second one was much better, helped by the attendance of my friend Jenny. The venue was better, and there was at least a breakfast of croissants/pains au chocolat and hot drinks. Still no lunch and no goodies. We trekked to a brasserie for a sort of after party, but I had to leave really early because it started snowing, which eventually halted all the buses I could take to get home.
My first two WordCamps, and both left me wanting. Don’t get me wrong; part of this was my fault too because I had not been putting myself out there and so didn’t know anyone.
A lot can change in a year. Slowly, and with ever increasing fervor, I have witnessed and tried my best to contribute to the growth of the French WordPress community.
For me, it started with the worldwide celebrations of the ten-year anniversary of WordPress. I went to a small meetup organized in Paris and spent the evening meeting fellow WordPress developers/consultants/enthusiasts and talking shop.
Then came WordCamp Europe in October. I don’t remember when the dates and location were announced, but even before it was a concrete thing, I knew I would attend. A few weeks before we descended upon Leiden, there was another meetup for the “Frenchies” who would attend. Some faces were familiar, some new, but all made me feel welcome. I was also surprised to find that they had created a site dedicated to the event and the French delegation. After a successful WordCamp Europe, we continued to meet up when possible while gearing up for the next WordCamp Paris.
Two of our own were welcomed into the organizing team, and I was able to volunteer to help out at the welcome desk and the Happiness Bar. Yes, we finally had a Happiness Bar, organized by Automattician Alex Concha, and it was quite busy with questions and discussions ranging from the best plugins to use to website revampings and migrations to search engine optimization.
The biggest change this year was the welcome addition of presentations delivered in English, which meant that we were able to have the likes of Noel Tock from Switzerland, Sara Rosso from the US via Italy, Caspar Hübinger from Germany, and Marko Heijnen from the Netherlands via Germany speaking about such diverse subjects as the code history of WordPress, designing for users, multilingual website solutions, and agency best practices and tips for continued growth over the next several years. Special mention to Jenny, American also via Normandy, who did a workshop in French about using WPML, one of the premium plugins for multilingual websites.
My WordCamp started with drinks with a few members of the French community before heading to the pre-event dinner for speakers, organizers, and volunteers. Bright and early the next day, I helped welcome the over 260 attendees and speakers for the the first of the two-day program, which consisted of conferences on a single track. I spent the day both listening to presentations and manning the Happiness Bar.
This year, there was an actual organized after party. Unfortunately, the restaurant originally reserved as a private booking had closed unexpectedly, and the whole thing was moved elsewhere. While not private, we were still able to discuss our thoughts on the first day and socialize a bit.
The next day consisted of a conference track and a workshop track. I attended a few of each and helped out with the Happiness Bar again. This was followed by an impromptu after-event celebratory apéro full of bravos and quick debriefings.
It was a weekend filled with interesting talks and great people. My simple verdict is that it was well worth the wait, and I can’t wait to do it again. While not perfect, it was much better than previous editions. I can only believe, and it is certainly my hope, that the French WordPress community with continue to grow and get stronger in the years to come.