Sometime last year, things broke. Or rather, things had been breaking for several years. And it all came to a head. Finally.

I’ve been living in Sweden for a few months now. And things are definitely looking up. :)

Speaking of which, I am currently in Sofia for the 2nd WordCamp Europe. Looking forward to seeing old faces and meeting new ones. If you’re around, come say hi!

Putain ! WordCamp Paris was great!

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.

You can see some photos from the event on Flickr. You’ll also find more tweets, posts, and images at WordCamp Paris’ WPArmchair site.

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.

Final Thoughts on WordCamp Norway

Sometime between when I left the hotel in Oslo and when the plane landed in France, WordPress Tavern published an article about WordCamp Norway featuring yours truly and the fabulous Marko Heijnen. Talk about a nice surprise! I hadn’t expected it to be published so soon.

As promised, here is more of an actual recap than my previous post. If some of it seems familiar, it’s because I used what I submitted to WordPress Tavern as the basis on which to write this post. You’ll also find more tweets, posts, and images at WordCamp Norway’s WPArmchair site.

This was my first WordCamp Norway, and it was wonderful! I saw many familiar faces and met so many new people. I really have to thank Scott Basgaard, Nadia Aslam, and Arnstein Larsen both for organizing this great event and making me feel very welcome. I’m also so glad I stayed at the event venue, because it was so convenient: roll out of bed, get breakfast, meet and greet, attend a session!

Interesting Presentations

The schedule included two tracks, making it hard to see everything. I was satisfied with what I chose, but there were several others I would have liked to have attended. That said, the following sessions really stood out for me.

Ryan Hellyer‘s “My Experiences Learning WordPress Security” was the first one I attended. I really enjoyed it because Ryan shared personal and usually funny anecdotes concretely showing the importance of writing secure code in our themes and plugins. We know the guidelines and we know we should follow them, but hearing real-life evidence of why and what can happen if we don’t really helps reinforce that message.

I’m starting to develop my own plugins, so Barry Kooij‘s talk on “Plugin Development” was of particular interest. I can find most of the information presented scattered on the internet and offline in various forms, but Barry covered the different aspects of developing a plugin, from tools to WordPress core functions and hooks to coding standards to security, in one succinct presentation.

Finally, there’s a three-way tie between Brian Messenlehner‘s “Building Web Apps with WordPress”, Remkus De Vries‘ “You’re doing what with WordPress?!”, and Noel Tock‘s “Designing Web Applications“.  It was like a three-part series, each talk building on the other.

Brian spoke about all the things besides websites for which you can use WordPress. Remkus explored that idea but also focused on the developer/consultant/web producer/business owner/what have you. He mentioned synergies between design and development, soft skills, and professional (and personal) growth. He even got us thinking about what we want to learn this year to further our own endeavors.

If Brian talked about what you develop and Remkus talked about who is developing, then Noel completed the trinity by talking about for whom you are developing and turning a tool (WordPress) into a solution for them. He showed great examples of simplifying the WordPress admin to give them access to needed items only and modifying the text and layout to make it as easy and enjoyable to use as possible.

Contributor Day Fun with Snow

After a great conference day and a fun after party, I decided to attend my first contributor day. I was the only woman to do so. I really appreciated the conversation, guidance, and general hand-holding by the more and less experienced developers in attendance. I wasn’t able to do much because of a computer snafu though.

Afterwards, we headed to the metro for what I thought was just dinner but turned into an evening of sledding and sightseeing too.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I really loved this WordCamp. I also appreciated that almost every conference was in English, because it really helps those of us from outside of Norway understand and participate.

I can’t really speak about the entire Norwegian WordPress community, because my experience is limited to encounters with a small part of that community across two WordCamps (Europe and Norway). But what strikes me is its openness, the diversity of disciplines, and how international it is. The part of the community I met comprises several nationalities, and attendees included designers, developers, business owners, bloggers, etc.

Based on the attendance here, I would expect the larger Norwegian WordPress community to further reflect those characteristics. I also think that in the future, we may even see more WordCamp [city name] as opposed to one WordCamp Norway.

Whatever happens, I am definitely going back next year!

Oh and SNOW!!

WordCamp Norway: Snow! People! Good Times!

WordCamp Norway has come and gone. I am currently sitting in the hotel waiting to take the train to the airport for my return flight to France. After the wonderful weekend I had, filled with familiar faces and new ones, and an impromptu sightseeing journey last night, I decided to stay here, write some words, and relax by the warmth of the fire. It may also have something to do with the falling and flying snow outside coupled with the wind :) .

An actual recap would not do justice to the superb weekend I had here in Oslo. And no amount of describing it would convey the thrill of sledding downhill after having taken a train all the way up to go to a restaurant that was unexpectedly closed because of a private party! I will try to post a few pics if I get my hands on any.

Another, more detailed post about the event is coming, but I wanted to already give a huge shoutout to a few people.

The word ‘adorable’ in English means charming, attractive, lovable. We generally use it to describe something cute like a puppy or a kitten. The French have the same definition but take it further to also describe someone nice, gallant, gracious, honest, likable. You often hear something like: il est adorable. He is adorable. He is a lovely person. The people mentioned below, and too many others to mention (but you should know who you are), were and are for me completely adorable.

I first met Scott Basgaard and Nadia Aslam at WordCamp Europe in Leiden. Besides being really nice people, their passion for WordPress and the community really showed. As part of the organizing team for WordCamp Norway, they were responsible for making sure this event went off without any issues. From the outside, I thought everything went smoothly. They also extended the warmest of welcomes to me upon my arrival and made sure that I had the best time, both before, during, and after the event.

I also need to mention the entire Human Made team. I met Noel Tock previously in Leiden and saw him again at WordCamp Paris last weekend. Tom Willmot and his lovely wife, Leanne, accompanied Noel. Throughout the weekend in Paris, over dinners, cocktails, and general fun times, they were the nicest, friendliest people. The whole team came to WordCamp Norway before leaving for their company retreat in the northern part of the country. As during the previous weekend, they all made me feel very much a part of their team and were generally quite warm and welcoming.

Finally, I want to mention the pleasure it has been to meet and spend time with Marko Heijnen. We first ‘talked’ on Twitter, then we met when he was a speaker for WordCamp Paris last weekend. Our flights arrived around the same time in Oslo, so we met again at the airport. He had been to the previous Norway WordCamps, so he guided me to the hotel and over the course of the weekend, generally made sure all was good for me and that I didn’t feel alone. I regret missing his talk at this WordCamp, especially because it was a new subject and not a repeat of his Parisian talk. But during late-night development talks with him and others, he was so forthcoming with good advice and knowledge that I will be sure to use in my own projects. He really is the very definition of adorable.

So thanks all of you, and I am so looking forward to the next time we meet! Likewise to the ones I didn’t (yet) mention.

En Route to WordCamp Norway

After a great WordCamp Paris this past weekend, marred only by the theft of my mobile at the very end of the event. I am off to Oslo tomorrow morning to attend WordCamp Norway.  I had planned to go last year, but life happened.

Coming home from WordCamp Europe, I told my friend Jenny, who accompanied me to Leiden, that we would absolutely be going to Oslo. Unfortunately, neither Jenny nor any of the French WordPress community can make this one, so I’m going alone. Happily though, I will not be alone, because some of the people I met in Leiden and in Paris will be there as well.

I am looking less forward to the weather though. So far, with the exception of a few days here and there, Paris has had a very mild winter with more rain than anything. Don’t get me wrong, I do love winter and snow even. I just hope there won’t be that big of a shock when I arrive in Norway.

If you too are going, be sure to come say hi!