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WordCamp Portsmouth UK 2011

Just back from this year’s WordCamp in Portsmouth. Had a great time—met some interesting people, learned loads of new stuff, and verily soaked up the ongoing good vibes in the WordPress community.

I did my first WordCamp talk, ‘Beyond the 5-minute Install’, which was aimed at beginners who wanted to know the non-standard but nigh essential things to do when installing WordPress to make things secure and hunky dory. There were also tips to make things easier for developers. It went down pretty well—thanks to everyone who bothered to say hi and give me feedback! I’ve posted the slides here on SlideShare. There’s not much text there, and I don’t think the talk was recorded. I might get round to writing an accompanying tutorial, but don’t hold your breath! Hopefully it’ll be of some use for people who weren’t there, as well as a good reminder for those who were. To grab the code snippets, copy from the SlideShare transcription, but beware of the syntax and any funny characters—grab the code from there, but check against the slides. Let me know if you’ve any problems with the code.

There were a bunch of great talks, though the really good stuff was in the panel discussions, the “site doctor” session, and down the pub. Rather than do a run-through of the actual talks, I’m just going to rattle through the highlights of what I learned:

  • Responsive web design. I really need to get my shit together and learn this stuff properly! I suspect how soon this happens will be dictated by how soon I work on a project that has a significant mobile audience. Let’s see.
  • SEO is dead. Well, of course it’s not dead. We still need to do the basics. But those basics, which have served people who know them so well so far, are pretty much common knowledge now. The edge is in generating organic conversations about your stuff. My guess is this makes it harder for this stuff to be “forced”—but those giving it a go will be more and more insidious.
  • LinkedIn. Apparently this is a hot place for business networking. I’ve always just had a profile there because I may as well. If I was looking for business contacts, given what people in the know were saying, I would definitely be working my profile more.
  • schema.org is big news. Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! have put differences aside for this specification for structured data for search engines. Bearing in mind some caveats, this is really interesting.
  • WordPress menus have a description field! Who knew? Robert O’Rourke did. All you have to do is fold out the Screen Options when you’re on the menus page, and switch on the description. Great!

I guess the large amount of non-WordPress-specific stuff in the above list reflects my growing knowledge of all things WordPress. But I also think it’s to do with WordPress’s growing maturity. There’s always things to discover about it; but the platform is settling down a bit, with much core “full CMS” functionality now in place, and people are thinking more about what they are doing with the platform, rather than the platform itself.

But hey, there’s always space at a WordCamp to find out about some juicy plugins you’ve not heard of before! Here’s my discoveries:

  • Jigoshop: “A WordPress eCommerce plugin that works.” Not tried it, but it looks interesting.
  • EG Attachments: I’ve got a bit of code that does this—lists files attached to a post. But this looks good, I might use it.
  • Front End Editor: Wow. Crikey. This is interesting. It’s a front end editor. Lets you edit, WYSIWYG style, on the front end. I’d be wary of something like this, but it’s written by some guys who know their WordPress stuff. One to watch.
  • Very Simple Post Images: Only on github for now, this was being developed at WordCamp, and is a very promising improvement to the WordPress images / gallery management interface.
  • WP Document Revisions: Also still in development, also very promising.

Many thanks to all the organisers for pulling of another brilliant weekend, and thanks to Richard Boakes for getting it all sorted in Portsmouth. See you next year!

Coming up, there’s more WordPress London Meetups a one day WordPress & business event in Brighton on 23rd September. Hopefully see you there, too.