Looking forward to WordCamp London

It’s WordCamp time again and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s WordCamp London time again and I’m really really looking forward to it.

I’m leaving a day early so I can have an extra day of in London. The plan for tomorrow is:

  • Check out a couple of new coffee places (and a visit to Look Mom No Hands naturally).
  • Lunch or dinner with Kristof
  • Wander around town with the Fuji x100s that I borrowed from a friend
  • Work from the Google Hub for a couple of hours

Next up: the contributor day and 2 conference days with some interesting talks lined up (I already made a rough schedule). For the contributor day, I’ll probably be on the core team, working on tickets for the upcoming 4.2 release (I also hope to get #31467 out of the way).

It’s been crazy busy at work since the start of the year, finishing projects and pushing up against deadlines left and right, so it’s gonna do me good to be away for a couple of days. I know London quite well by now and even though it’s a giant and super busy city, I can relax and feel at home there.

London is always a good idea.

 

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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 🙂

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.

 

WCEU

Here it finally is, my big WordCamp Europe write up!

As you read here, I arrived in Sofia late Thursday evening. Smooth landing, picked up my luggage and jumped into a cab to my hotel. The room is quiet ok: a large double bed and a large bath tub. Nice.

On Friday morning I had breakfast at Starbucks (the hotel charged €10/day for breakfast and Sofia is so cheap you can get a lot more then breakfast for that) and wandered around town for a bit. It was raining quite hard and I quickly took shelter for some coffee. Through twitter I hooked up with Noel and the other guys from Human Made. We had a quick lunch before heading of to the pre-conference Paintball game that Noel had put together. I was on team UK for the afternoon and we played 3 matches plus a decider to determine our place in the final ranking. We had loads of fun and ended up in 3rd place (kicked was Swiss but though :)). After that we all got cabs back to the city and I went back to the hotel to shower and change. In the evening I had dinner & drinks with a Belgian and German friend I knew from last year at WordCamp London.

Saturday morning I was up bright and early, excited for the first conference day! I headed to my Starbucks-breakfast and went on the venue from there (which was just 200m away). The conference was held at the “National Palace of Culture” (or NDK ), built in 1981 and a ver impressive Sovjet looking building.

There were 2 halls where talks would take place: the main room on the 9th floor and small(er) room on the 7th. Sponsors, exhibitor and reception was on the 8th floor.

Remkus kicked things of in the main room with some announcements (wash your apples folks!) and then we were of! I’ll list some of the talks I attended and which I consider worth mentioning here.

Saturday

 

Beyond the Code – Noel Tock

Noel talked about how we get stuck in “completing tasks” mode day in day out and how that can stop us from reaching our goals and making cool stuff. He then shared some of the tools and techniques he uses to combat this day to day drag. One of the things I’ve adopted in the meantime is collecting my ideas and thought in Trello.

Why sometimes happiness requires effort: depression in IT – Yana Petrova
Checking your work email on Sunday morning (and afternoon and evening), working late, stressing out about that one project (or 2 or 3) at work… We’ve all been there and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of this. Yana’s talk was a very personal and touching one, that hit close to home with a lot of people in the audience. Depression is a real thing and it’s something we don’t talk about, and that is very very wrong. On a related side-note, check out Geek Mental Help Week.

 

WordPress: Bringing Ideas to Life – Siobhan McKeown

Siobhan gave a wonderful talk about how WordPress brings ideas to life and how it helps people express themselves. She also talked about the core values behind WordPress, the GPL and the values it stands for:

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.
  • The freedom to redistribute.
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others.

 

Inside Underscores – Konstantin Obenland

Last year at WordCamp London, I followed a workshop on the theme customiser by Konstantin and that was when I got into the whole themes thing. And I use _underscores as a base for all themes I (attempt to) build. Konstantin talked about why they (Automattic) created _underscores and where it’s going in the future. I really liked this talk, and it gave me a couple of ideas for new themes that I want to build in the coming months.

 

Sunday

Professional WordPress – Chris Lema

First session on Sunday morning after the afterparty the night before and it showed, not a lot of people showed up for this one. And they sure missed out because Chris’ talk great. He’s a very experencied speaker and the talk itself was right on the money: about how we have to treat ourselves as professionals if we want to create a professional environment to work in. If there’s one talk you watch from this list, make it this one.
WordPress Security – It Starts With Posture – Tony Perez

After Chris came Tony on security. Very in-your-face and very-loud but that’s part of the talk and of Tony’s persona.
Nobody cares about security until things go wrong and when it comes to security, WordPress often gets a bad rep. Tony lined up some best practices and standards with which you can keep your WordPress install secure and clean.

 

Next Generation WordPress Hosting Stack – Mark Jaquith

The heading of this section in my notes was “Server fun with Mark” and that’s exactly what it was. Mark talked about different ways to host WordPress and how to get the best performance out of it. Spoiler: HHVM all the way. Right up my alley.

 

Monday

On Monday some of us headed over to the Siteground offices for the contributor day. By 10 everyone was there and Nacin kicked things of by introducing the teams and the people leading them. My original plan was to join Theme Review but I ended up staying with the Core group. Nacin then gave a short introduction to contributing to core and adding patches to Trac. Then everyone dove into the open tickets and started working through them. I added patches for a couple of tickets, 2 of which have been added to WordPress 4.1 so yay for that! 🙂 In the evening we headed into town for a last dinner. Afterwards most of us were beat so we said our farewells and headed back to our respective hotels.

My flight back was at 5pm Tuesday afternoon so I had the better part of the day left in Sofia. I slept in, packed my bags, checked out and headed into town. After some wandering around I landed at a coffee bar for a couple of hours. I ended up sharing a cab to the airport with a fellow conference attendee through Twitter. The airport was really calm, check-in en security went smooth and so did the flight back home.

I’m finishing this write-up nearly 6 weeks after the conference (I’m bad at finishing things) and I look back at it with lots of fond memories. Sofia is a great city and I’ll definitly visit it again. The conference itself was superb (big thank you to Tina, Petya and the rest of the team for making this all happen), the venue was amazing and impressive. A special shout-out to Siteground for hosting the contributor day and for being a sponsor. The talks this year were not very technical but more on the development phylosophy/inspiration side and I really liked that.

 

See you at WordCamp London in March 🙂

Sofia in September (for WordCamp Europe)

When I attended WordCamp London last December, I heard lots of people talking about how great the first WordCamp Europe in Leiden (NL) had been. Come 2014, I kept an eye out for when and where this year’s WordCamp Europe would be held. The last weekend of September fits perfectly into my (work-)schedule and Sofia is a city I’ve never been before (I’ll admit I had to look it up on Google Maps to see where in Europe it’s situated). So WordCamp Europe 2014 it was.

As I’m typing this, it’s Thursday evening and I’m on Air Bulgaria flight FB405 from Brussels to Sofia. It’s 22u45 local time and we’ve got about hour to go before we land in Sofia International Airport.

The conference itself is on Saturday and Sunday, and there’s a Contributor day on Monday (where we all get together to work on WordPress). Tomorrow (Friday) I’ll explore the city a little bit, check out Betahouse for some co-working and in the afternoon we’re getting together with some of the conference go-ers to have a country-to-country paintball battle (Team Union Jack over here :)).

I’ll make a big write-up on the conference and contributor day next week, make sure you come back for that!

Add icon fonts to your WordPress menu

I wanted to integrate an icon font into a WordPress theme to use for sort of a “social” menu (links to the site owner’s Facebook/Twitter/etc profiles, represented by the icon of the respective service).

Adding the icon font isn’t the problem (drop in the font files, include the css and done) but adding the classes to the menu location? Turns out that’s easier than you might think 🙂

wp_nav_menu takes a number of parameters, 2 of which are link_before and link_after.

The icon font I was for this was the Symbol Set Social Regular. The icons are represented by a unicode string, a css class or a keyword (wrapped in a global css class).

 
wp_nav_menu(array( 
'theme_location' => 'secondary',
'menu_class' => 'nav-menu',
'container_id' => 'top-right-menu',
'fallback_cb' => false,
'link_before' => '<i class="ss-icon">',
'link_after' => '</i>'
 )); 

This wraps each menu item in the correct tags and it the text you put in the title field for that menu item matches the icon font (in this case the words “Facebook”, “Twitter”, “Instagram”, etc), it’ll render that menu item as an icon instead of text. Easy is pie. 🙂