WordCamp Europe 2019, Berlin #WCEU

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I had the privilege of attending WordCamp Europe 2019 this past weekend, thanks to the team at Wordfence who flew me out there & paid for my ticket. I was very humbled to be able to take this opportunity and can’t express my gratitude enough to both Wordfence, and to the awesome WordCamp Europe team who did a fantastic job at organising the conference.

I’ve only attended a handful of WordCamps, and this one was certainly the biggest (and indeed, the biggest ever if the reported stats are correct). The conference spanned Thursday – Saturday at the Estrel Hotel in Berlin, with the usual contributor day on the Thursday and then three tracks & three workshop rooms across both core conference days. There were also numerous other areas to interact with, including the WP CafĂ© and Wellness Centre, which I unfortunately didn’t get the opportunity to use but was thrilled to hear about.

As I was still officially working while I was in Berlin I didn’t get chance to see as many talks as I’d wanted to, but those I did catch include:

Jenny Beaumont’s Doing it Wrong — this was a really insightful talk on some of the mistakes that she’d made over the course of her career so far, including how freelancing shaped her as a person and how work/life balance doesn’t really exist. I wouldn’t normally go to a more ‘personal’ talk like this but I had a feeling it would be interesting (and I wasn’t wrong).

John Jacoby’s Advanced database management for plugins — a talk on the legacy ways in which WordPress sets up and interacts with its core database tables, how this impacts upon plugin authors (smooshing everything in to the current WordPress database structure) and how we might move forward with this using Jacoby’s new database management code.

Juliette Reinders Folmer’s Modernising WordPress, plugins, and themes — this broke down some of the new functionality available to us in PHP7. This wasn’t quite what I’d anticipated; I had expected some more specific use-case examples of upgrading or modernising older plugins and themes. However, it did introduce me to a couple of PHP7 features that I’d not come across, so beneficial all the same.

As well as those ‘on the day’ talks, I have since caught up with a couple of other talks via the WCEU Livestream, which is a fantastic way of getting in on the WordCamp action without having to travel or pay out; absolutely love that this makes the shared knowledge more accessible to WordPress users who otherwise might not have the privilege of seeing these talks.

During the course of the conference I also had the pleasure of chatting with Mark Maunder, founder & CEO of Defiant (Wordfence) for the Wordfence podcast. We chatted about — surprise surprise — pipdig and their misbehaviour, which we simultaneously released information on back in March of this year. If you’re interested in watching our chat, keep an eye on twitter as I’ll push that link when it goes live.

In addition to the superb range of talks & my chat with Mark, I had the absolute pleasure of attending the WCEU after party, which has been heralded by many as one of the most successful WordCamp after parties of all time. The theme was “80s” and Gaz and I got very much into the swing of things in full costume.

I know that in the days following the party there has been some controversy over some of the content of the after party show, in particular some felt that the female dancers were unnecessarily sexualised/objectified. While I understand that these concerns are valid and heartfelt, I do feel that sometimes in our hurry to cover up something that might be offensive, we forget to check whether or not the people actually involved feel affected. If we cover everything “sexy” (arbitrary at best) we take away the choice from those who actually might enjoy performing in such a way and demonise their profession unnecessarily.

However, I also recognise that I spent the night dancing around in a see-through neon tutu, so might not be best placed to offer an unbiased take on this…

All in, a cracking WordCamp, and I’m looking forward to WordCamp 2020 in Porto, Portugal!

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

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