I just returned from beautiful, sunny Austria for three days of WordPress talks, networking and contributing at WordCamp Europe 2016. #WCEU took place in the heart of Vienna’s Museum Quartier, a large area of the city devoted to the arts.

Over 2000 people gathered from around the globe to make this year’s event the largest WordCamp ever! In stark similarity to last year’s event in Seville, weather in Vienna was blazing hot and sunny during the daytime, with heat extending well into the evening hours.

Attendees at WordCamp have in the past been friendly, supportive and welcoming and this year was no exception. One major difference this year at WordCamp Europe 2016 was the sheer amount of people, which more than doubled the number of last year’s participants. The Halle E+G and the surrounding lobby areas of the venue were impressively packed for most of the presentations throughout the two days of scheduled talks.

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Getting to Know WordPress

This year #WCEU had three different stages with many knowledge tracks geared towards developers, businesses and design. As expected, many of the talks were technical in nature with a good amount dedicated to community.

WordCamp Europe 2016 - Helen Hou-Sandí talks about how code is like poetry.
Helen Hou-Sandí talks about how code is like poetry.

There was an impressive number of talks based around motivation, growth and personal development as it relates to technology and careers in technology. As we’re coming to know WordCamps for their focus on accessibility, there was live captioning for all talks across the top of each room’s screen.

Every now and again a stroller or toddler would buzz by on their way to the onsite day care. For those who were seeking help on specific topics, there were happiness bars with expert volunteers from the WordPress community.

Session Highlights

There were a good amount of talks around business development with regards to agencies as well as growing your skills as a developer. One common thread throughout many talks was the mention of impostor syndrome. On the technology front, there was a lot of talk about using WordPress with the REST API as we’ve seen over the past year or so.

My Friend the Impostor Syndrome

Sonja Leix gave an inspiring talk on overcoming fears that you’re not good enough for your role. As IT professionals, it can be difficult to feel like you’re speaking with authority and conviction as there’s always someone in the industry who is smarter, more experienced or more knowledgeable.

That said, it is important to believe in yourself, find a supportive environment and know that it is OK to share your own story, no matter how much experience you have with WordPress, technology or anything else.

WordCamp Europe 2016 - Sonja Leix talks about how to overcome, or manage, imposter syndrome.
Sonja Leix talks about how to overcome, or manage, imposter syndrome.

Interview and Q&A with Matt Mullenweg

Matt’s Q&A was a great info session that shed some light on what the future of WordPress could be. Interviewer Brian Krogsgards’s witty personality along with Matt’s positivity was an entertaining combo and kept the Q&A session lively and interesting.

Some of the thought provoking ideas which evolved from the session were WordPress as an operating system for the open web as well as WordPress communication via JavaScript interfaces which talk to APIs.

Ultimate Rest API

Joe Hoyle took us on an adventure through time and spoke about how the REST API has progressed from an idea to its current incarnation. Joe’s talk was thought-provoking and left me with a better understanding on how apps and services can integrate with WordPress. Joe unveiled his Vienna Editor App for iPhone/Android, which uses the REST API to allow users to manage their WordPress installs via a touch based interface.

The Making of Calypso: A Team Perspective

Calypso is a hot topic responsible for stirring much buzz around JavaScript amongst developers in the WordPress community. Davide Casali walked us through the tools and techniques his team used in the 3.5 month timeline for developing the project. He gave us insight on how distributed employees can collaborate and truly create something huge!

You’re Too Cheap

You’re too cheap was a notable talk by Tomaz Zaman that faced a fear freelance developers are challenged with: Will business suffer if I raise the rates I charge customers?

With many development bidding sites around, developers can spiral into a race to the bottom as far as rates go when taking on new projects. It can be a big step to ask for the rate you want because there’s potential to not win projects. Raising your rates can help you gain respect from your customers and have room to grow your dev skills.

Theming in WordPress – Where Do I Start?

I was among the many presenters selected to speak at a session this year. This talk marked my 10th public speaking opportunity and I was more than happy to tell my story of how a one time Drupal developer saw the light and embraced WordPress as a platform for site development.

My talk entitled “Theming in WordPress – Where Do I Start” gave beginning developers a deep dive into theming options in WordPress. I offered advice on how to shorten development timelines by using starter themes, child themes and theme frameworks.

The WCEU Ball

What’s a WordCamp without an afterparty? #WCEUBALL was a grand networking and social event appealing to many different types of WordPressers. The party took place in the main event hall which was expanded to reveal a large dance floor behind where the stage was during the day.

This massive party space was also flexible enough to offer quiet zones for people to chill and talk. Just as the party was ending, we all knew that WordCamp Europe 2016 was coming to a close when the sky broke and rain started to pour down on Vienna.

Contributor Day

Contributor day was attended by nearly 500 developers and hosted at Vienna University. The scholarly environment kept me captive and focused on making a contribution to WordPress. I joined the Theme Review team and progressed to complete my review with some time left to hang in the beautiful, sun-light garden outside on the ground floor.

Something new for contributor day this year was the addition of the Plugin Review team. This team discussed the current state of plugin reviews and started exploring ideas on how to better get more people involved. There was also a large presence of people interested in marketing and design.

If you speak multiple languages you may consider contributing to the polyglots team. Polyglots killed it this time around by delivering an impressive thousands of translated strings. There were also workshops scheduled throughout the day for those interested in a deeper dive into their respective area of expertise or interest.

Summary

WordCamp Europe 2016 was an action-packed event filled with a plethora of WordPress knowledge for bloggers, developers and businesses. Networking at this rockstar weekend of who’s who in WordPress was epic and overwhelming at times (in a good way). I have high hopes for the next #WCEU which will take place in the summer 2017 in Paris, France. I am looking forward to seeing you all there next year!