WordCamp Europe 2017

The past few days have been filled with a lot of friends, laughs, talks, ideas and yeah, a lot of beers as well. WordCamp Europe 2017 in Paris was a blast, but it’s not over for me until I blog about it (although I forgot to blog about WordCamp Europe 2014). So here goes… after last year it seems appropriate to, once again, start with a yawning selfie of me getting up way to early for the trip:

About a week before WCEU I announced that I was going freelance for a while, so this was the first WordCamp Europe I’ve attended as an independent. This meant talking to a whole lot of people which made this possibly the most social conference I’ve ever been at. Although WordCamp Nederland last October was a very hard one to beat, in the social sense.

The talks

Due to the socializing, I didn’t get to see that many talks. However; the ones I saw where very informative! There’s definitely been another bump in quality compared to previous WordCamps.

The three kinds of design - John Maeda

John Maeda is kind of a legend in the (digital) design world, so going here was -for me at least- a personal requirement.

Armed with a nice looking PDF opened in MacOs’ preview app, John started talking about what it means to do -what he called- computed design. An interesting specification that, by his own words, not a lot of designers understand yet. The big shift that is needed in our thinking is, acording to John, because we’ve never had to design anything with a shape-shifting canvas before. Now, with all the various screensizes, cultures, devices and types of connections, doing design requires a lot more know-how.

I loved the fact that he looked beyond the technical part of digital design and focussed his talk heavily on different cultures and different connection-types (celular, 4G, etc. )

Security is a Process - Mark Jaquith

It’s always smart to hear what Mark has to say. Although I was aware of a lot of the specific tools available in WordPress, the main message was a good kind of gut punch. Security isn’t a destination. It’s not an endpoint; it’s a constantly evolving process. It also requires a black state of mind to get into this process.

I’ve learned that I still need to be able to turn this non-trusting mind on or off. No idea how yet, but we’ll get there :)

CSS Grid Changes Everything - Morten Rand-Hendriksen

I submitted a talk this WordCamp about CSS Grid. It wasn’t selected in favor of this talk. I should be bitter, but I can’t overstate how happy I was I got bumped in favor of Morten. He’s a very talented speaker and explained CSS Grid in a fantastic way. Like audible-gasps-from-the-audience good. Best talk I saw this WordCamp, if I’m totally honest. I’m glad I ignored the hangover I had from the night before and was at the venue at 9am.

If you haven’t yet; please get to know CSS Grid by playing a game and check out Mortens blogpost on the topic

Accessibility In The Age Of The Headless CMS - Rian Rietveld

Accessibility is important. And it’s on the agenda at conferences like wceu in large part because of Rian. You can’t blame the organizers for inviting her again for a talk. And why should you? Because Rian showed us a very interesting -and utterly overshadowed- part of accesibility: Accessibility in combination with single-page web apps. Something WordPress has been inching towards the past couple of years.

I learned a ton of new stuff from this talk (like the aria-live attribute) but the main take-away was that learning fancy new tools like React might be cool for a developer, but first we need to get the basics right. So much of accessibility in single-page-app land is still going wrong by just using the wrong mark-up.

Conversations & People

I had a lot of great conversations, so talking about all of them would be impossible. I just want to highlight a few. On the second day of the conference I had a great talk with Omar and Anton from Yoast about a document- versus application-approach to development. It cleared a lot up for me (like the appeal for inline styling in React, which got the ball rolling conversation-wise). Had a cool discussion with Ramon of Managed WP, and I also liked talking to Jean and Alyona Galea from WP Mayor during the after-party.

Speaking of party; I loved hanging out with the fine-ass people of Level-level again and I hope they never lose that 010-swagger.

I was utterly humbled by discussions with Joost, Marieke and Michiel of Yoast, Rosanne of Buro Staal and Saskia. Thank you for your kind words. Also thanks to Marcel for some good advice ;-)


After that cascade of links, I just have to talk about the parties, because party-wise I think this was the best WordCamp Europe yet. On the first conference day, at about 4pm, a guy came up to us and told us about a pop-up bar the guys from Dekode had arranged. We had some nice beers and talked to some interesting people. It was exactly the pick-me-up I needed after a long (and hot) day of talks.

Later that night I went to the second party in Paris. It was held by Savvii and was aptly named “WordPint”. On the foot of the Sacre-Coeur, we enjoyed the view, the good company and a lot of nice beers. Apart from the occasional french jogger, the party was fantastic! Although we did mis out on a proposal over at the Go-Daddy party in the Paris Aquarium :)

Then there was the after-party organised by the event itself. The location was beautiful and the drinks were reasonably priced (for Paris). There was a lot of post-WordCamp stress unloading on the dance-floor :)

The only down-side (of the entire event, actually) was the food-situation at the party. But there has been a lot of discussion about that already, so no need to bring it up again.

Up next

In 2018 we’ll be having a ball in Belgrade! Servia’s capital was chosen as the official next host-city. I can’t wait for next year, because I’ve never been there and really love eastern europe, it’s cities, it’s people and it’s cultures. And also because of this.

Until next year! ;-)

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