My Badge
My Badge

Another WordCamp is in the books for us, and we had another great time learning and networking with other businesses and developers in the WordPress community.

The opening remarks were given by the CEO of 10up John Eckman, who talked about the idea that everyone in that room is a creator of some kind and influenced us to live in a Do-ocracy. The mentality that the people who DO, drive the work, and drive the direction.

It was definitely busier than last year.
It was definitely busier than last year.

Then we broke out into our own separate groups, and I’ll speak to the sections that I went to, specifically.

First up was, “Writing (More) Secure Plugins” from John Havlik, the author of Breadcrumb Nav XT. This may have been my favorite technical presentation because he didn’t just go over the importance (of course) of making sure you write secure code, he showed us some best practices and how it’s best to get into the habit of using sanitization functions every time.

For the non-technical, sanitization is the filtering out of harmful or hacky code by running it through a series of filters. Here’s an article on Smashing Magazine that goes into greater detail.

Anyway, he went over the typical problems of plugins, whether it be and issue with CSRF (Cross Site Request Forgery) or just simple mistakes like using the is_admin() function to check if the user is an admin. NOTE: That’s not what it does. It verifies you’re on the admin dashboard and has nothing to do with user verification.

From there, I went to the presentation by Nikhil Vimal, a 15-year-old WP Expert of TechVoltz.com. He went over how important it is to take time to contribute to WordPress. It’s so crucial and there are only a handful of people whose full-time job is to look after it, so we need to be vigilant and ready to help where/when we can be useful. For more information, please head to http://make.wordpress.org.

At some point in this rat race, lunch was provided and it was an awesome pick-me-up halfway through the day.
At some point in this rat race, lunch was provided and it was an awesome pick-me-up halfway through the day.

A couple more lectures I went to were by Dan Biel and Matt Johnson of Alley Interactive out of New York. Dan spoke in length about going further than Advanced Custom Fields can take us right now by adding the custom meta data you want through code using their plugin, Fieldmanager, and thus having legacy backups of your content in GitHub or Bitbucket.

While it was a little more of a plug than I’d liked, I respected the way he went about saying, we know our plugin isn’t perfect and that a lot of people use ACF, but there are drawbacks, most of them being how all changes made in ACF are database related, and thus not really able to have a trail to follow with it.

wordcamp_accessibiltyMatt also brought up Fieldmanager in his talk, but he was more focused on content migration and WXR, or WordPress eXtended RSS. Basically, he spoke to the idea of reverse engineering old sites/systems to be able to bring over content into WordPress and make it manageable. Luckily, we don’t have to deal with this too much, but it was important information for if/when it comes up for me.

wordcamp_functionality_pluginJosh Leuze‘s presentation on functionality plugins was definitely something I want to implement when I have the time (but I never seem to). Instead of including code in the functions file over and over and over again, just create a plugin that can be enabled/disabled on a whim, create some toggles so you can turn on/off individual parts. Very intuitive, now the challenge is to take the time to work on it…

I’ll just quickly go over Kelly Dwan‘s talk on Jetpack for Developers. It has a lot of interesting features, but it’ll take some self exploration to find out how it’ll work best for us. She pointed out how everyone will look at Jetpack differently since it’s such an expansive tool, with many features.

wordcamp_accessibiltyThe session I saved is, in my opinion, the best for last. Joe Dolson gave a fantastic slide show entitled “Automating Accessibility“. He talked at length about how many people don’t get the same access to the web as most others, being they are hard of hearing, blind, or another disability that makes navigating the “traditional” web difficult. He stressed the importance of our responsibility to make information available to everyone and not just the majority of web users. Most of the work can be done fairly easily, and some of the testing can even be automated.

Some example automated tools were WAVE – Web Accessibility Evaluation and Tenon.io, Other invalid inspection tools were NVDA, an open-source screen reader for Firefox, Chrome Accessibility Inspector, and aViewer, an open-source API inspector.

Every big project at Werkpress gets their own custom skateboard deck made for their wall in their boardroom.
Every big project at Werkpress gets their own custom skateboard deck made for their wall in their boardroom.

Afterwords, we headed over to Werkpress to have some dinner, drinks, games, and socializing.  They have a great workspace built out of a re-purposed warehouse.  If you get a chance to tour, I recommend that you do.

On our way back the next day, we had the opportunity to have lunch at the new MASSIVE Surly Brewing Co. brewery in Minneapolis.

 

Surly Breweing
The brand new $20 million Surly Brewing Co.

It’s usually a blur, but I always come away from WordCamp with a greater understanding and appreciation for the WordPress Community.  Needless to say, I’m eagerly anticipating WordCamp MPLS 2016.

Jasper buried in swag.
Jasper buried in swag.

Oh, almost forgot!  A great big thank you goes out to our rep at WP Engine for hooking us up with a ridiculous amount of swag!