I just finished spending 6 days in Minneapolis and had a great time. There was soooo much WordPress related content to take in. It was really impressive. Here’s what my week looked like:
On Wednesday, Justin and I headed to CoCo, a coworking spot in downtown to work for the day. There they do WordPress Wednesdays. This usually entails a row of tables with people all working away on their WordPress projects. I mentioned a need I had for a client and it turns out one of the other guys at the table (Toby Cryns) had built a similar solution. He sent me his code and I was able to tweak it to my needs within about 15 minutes. We spoke more about the solution and we’ve agreed to collaborate on the plugin and end up releasing it to the community pretty soon.
They also do a weekly “Book Club.” This consists of reading a portion of the Professional WordPress: Design and Development book and then talking about it. We had a good conversation about some functions and Justin ended up agreeing to lead a further discussion on arrays in the coming weeks.
WordPress meetup Thursday
The 4th Thursday of every month they hold their monthly meetup at the Nerdery. Just another awesome venue for holding events. There was a really solid turnout for the event and I had a great time doing a short intro to Restrict Content Pro. My favorite part of my presentation was when a guy in the crowd mentioned that he had a live site with a very active RCP installation. I invited him on stage to take over my presentation and give us a tour of his site. I sadly can’t recall the name of his site, but hopefully he’ll see this and leave a comment.
Grant Landram gave a great presentation about customizing the WordPress admin panel before handing it off to clients. It really made me think about how we hand off projects to clients once we’re done. I think it’s time to sit down and take a serious look at revamping that process. Here’s Grant’s slides if you’d like to take a look.
Friday night was the speaker/sponsor dinner, which is always a nice opportunity to catch up with people I’ve met at other Camps across the country and to meet some new WordPress peeps, too.
Saturday was the big day. WordCamp MPLS. I don’t know what their actual attendee count was, but it was pretty decently attended. 3 tracks plus an overflow room and every session I attended was 3/4 full or more. Even the ones late in the day. I was tremendously impressed with the attendance and engagement. Great content, great questions from the crowd. An all around fantastic WordCamp.
Day two of WordCamp was centered entirely around BuddyPress. Vancouver and Miami have each held a BuddyCamp recently, making this the 3rd such event. I wasn’t really sure how well it would be attended. But, once again, Minneapolis proved they’re all about all-things-WordPress. There was a nice progression of speakers kicked off by Lisa Sabin-Wilson doing an introduction to BuddyPress and wrapping up with John James Jacoby opening it up for a nice long Q&A session. I did a talk with Justin about using BuddyPress as a directory where we talked about some client projects we’ve done in the past that use BuddyPress without using all the BuddyPress options. I had a blast giving the presentation and there were some great questions from the audience which I always enjoy.
One session that really stood out for me on Sunday was called Mind-Blowing Online Engagement by Tania Jones and Toby Cryns. Toby is the developer and Tania is the client. Together they walked through several before and after screenshots of MANY of the sections of BuddyPress that they customized along the way after listening to user feedback from both their staff and end-users. Toby would explain the technical side of the changes and Tania would then explain in what ways the change was vital to the success of their community engagement on the site. It was fascinating to hear from both sides of the project, developer and client, all in one session. I would absolutely love to see more sessions like this at WordCamps in the future.
So, yeah. WordPress has a strong community in Minneapolis and it was great to have the chance to take part in it for a few days. I’m already looking forward to heading back for WordCamp MPLS 2014.