GeeUp conference – Leiden 2016

After a year of intermission, we headed back to Leiden for the second GeeUp conference.

In 2014, 4 of us from work attended both the conference and the workshop. Back then, there was a big focus on Expression Engine (we follow the workshop on EE plugin development), bringing in mostly people from the EE scene. The conference itself covered much broader topics and it was definitely worthwhile for us.

Today, in 2016, the conference focused on Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine, drawing much of the same crowd as it did 2 years ago. And while we don’t actively build new projects with Expression Engine these days nor have we gotten into Craft, 2 of us from work, Wietse and myself,  wanted to attend the conference anyway. Getting to know other systems and taking inspiration from those is always valuable.

We left for Leiden on Wednesday evening by train, making a quick stop over in Rotterdam for burgers and drinks. We checked into our hotel, dropped of our stuff and went for another drink in town.

On Thursday we attended a full day workshop on Craft Commerce, the e-commerce add-on for Craft CMS that was released about 6 months ago. The day was led by Luke Holder, the lead-developer for Commerce over at Pixel & Tonic. We started off with general settings and principals and quickly got into some code after that: hooks, events and how plugins can use them. In the afternoon we went over a new plugin P&T is releasing this week: Digital Products for Craft Commerce. Think WordPress EDD but for Craft CMS. After some Q&A we called it a day but stuck around the venue to work out some ideas for plugins we could build for Craft CMS.

The day ended with a couple of beers in the sun at Annie’s, Thai food and then cocktails with the other GeeUp folks at Bon Vivant (that last one is worth checking out if you’re ever in Leiden, best whiskey sour I’ve ever had).

Friday morning we headed back to Scheltema for day 2, the conference itself. We had a cup (or 2) of coffee, chatted with some of the other attendees and then got settled in for the talks. Attendance seemed to be down from 2014, making it very small and intimate conference. That fitted the venue and the speakers perfectly and I quite liked the smaller group.

Talks this year ranged from inspirational on adaptive design, automated testing, technical debt, ethics in web development and how to survive doing customer support all day. Lots of interesting and engaging topics that left me asking questions and wondering how I/we can do things differently, both at the office and in my freelance work.


After the last talk we hung around for a drink and it was off to the station to catch the train home via Rotterdam (above) and Antwerp.

In his closing remarks, Low (from gotolow EE fame, he makes this conference happen) said that this was probably the last time he was going to organize. While I can certainly understand that (loads of work and staying break-even on such a small conference is very hard), it would be great to have the conference again next year or in a year or 2 🙂 Either way, I should plan a trip to Leiden sometime because I also really like the city.


HTTP/2: The Next Version of the Internet

Last week, at a local PHP User-Group in Leuven, I gave a first version of my presentation on HTTP/2. I still consider it a rough draft and it’ll be finetuned more. The plan is to let this presentation evolve as more data surrounding HTTP/2 (real life benchmarks, proven best practices, …) gets out. Here are […]

Source: New presentation: HTTP/2: The Next Version of the Internet

I attended the meetup where Mattias gave this talk and I really enjoyed it. Be sure to check it out and to follow his blog, there’s lots of goodies on there!

Lean UX London at The Guardian

Last week i saw a tweet scroll by on Twitter about a UX meetup that would be happening at The Guardian, on the Friday night when I’d be in London for WordCamp. The Guardian? Awesome. One of the speakers would be Anna Debenham, even more awesome. Good thing I rsvp’ed, because 15 minutes later the 75 available spots were gone.

So yesterday evening, after Contributor day, I headed over The Guardian.

The first talk was about the system they designed to show their readers breaking news and the process of how to got there

Next up was Anna, talking about style guides and pattern libraries. That’s something the front-end guys at work have been big on lately and it’s definitely something I, as a developer, believe in. (You should buy her book here!)

After the breaks (and the beer, cheers to that :)), Nick (UX lead at The Guardian) talked about the redesign of the website and the apps, the problems they bumped into and about the containers approach they ended up using.

It was a very interesting evening and it was awesome to see the time they spend focussing on UX.

Talking version control & worflows at WP Brussels

Last night I gave a talk about version control, workflows & deployments the Brussels WordPress meetup. I got the idea for this talk at the new year’s Q&A session of the WP Antwerp meetup, where was talking to someone about the automatic deployments we use at the office and a couple of people said they would be interested in hearing more about that.

You can find the slides here.

This was my first time speaking about something technical in front of an audience and I learned a lot from it. I tend to talk too fast when I’m nervous and the talk itself definitly needs some work: a better explaination of what version control is for non technical people in the audience, more specific WordPress examples and a better example of using git-flow. But as a great speaker I saw recently said:

I’ll be adding a bunch of things to these slides over the next couple of weeks and then I’ll hopefully be able to give the talk again at another meetup.

In closing, I want to thank Kristof and WP Brussels for giving a newbie like me a chance to speak 🙂

Sharing code snippets with your team in Sublime Text

For the last couple of projects at the office, we’ve been working with multiple developers on the same site (where as before that we’d each work on our own separate project). One of the biggest upsides to this is that our workflows for doing certain things in code, in the cms (Expression Engine in our case) and in the templates are being fine tuned all the time and we’re taking the chanc to experiment with things and iterating over them quickly.

When one of those experiments sticks and turns out to be a good idea, we keep it in our workflow.

One things we’ve been doing to facilitate this is sharing code snippets amongst each other. And for the people using Sublime Text, I’ve got a simple trick to do that for you today.

Quick example of what one of those snippets might look like.
Here we’re using CE Image to display an imagec from an entry and have set a couple of default values.

{exp:ce_img:pair src="{${1:image:url}}" max_width="${2:300}" max_height="${3:300}" save_type="${4:jpeg}" quality="${5:80}"}
<img src="{made}" width="{width}" height="{height}" alt="{title}" />

With this in my snippets folder, i can type ceimg + tab and ST will replace that with the snippet. Then I can tab through the arguments and change them where & when that’s needed.

Great, now how do we get this to the other members of our team and get them to add theirs? Easy, we use git.
Sublime Text stores these snippets in ~/Library/Application Support/Sublime Text 3/Packages/User/. There you make folder (eg: ‘ee-snippets’) and add our snippets to that. Then you add a git repository in that folder and push to your prefered git hosting service ( has free & private repositories if you just want to share this with your team and not with the world).

Whenever you add or change a snippet, you commit it and push it to the repo so the other developers on your team can pull down those changes and use the snippets on their own machine.

Short form blogging.


Traffic is irrelevant. Don’t even measure it.

Simplify, simplify. No comments. (Maybe G+ or Disqus later on?) Use Markdown and Draft to write. No pages, no requiring an image every post. No categories, tags, footnotes, special post styles, pages. Virtually no plugins. Default WordPress installation with the most stripped-down theme possible.

This is what I had in mind when building my (first) theme but the really simple, stripped down feel kinda got away from me in the end. Time to getting going on something new.