#wcphx: What I took away from my first WordCamp

WordCamp Phoenix Logo

So, I’ve been waiting all day to write this blog! The last day of WordCamp Phoenix was awesome! I’d have to say the contributor sessions today were great and really brought home WordCamp for me!

Google Destination URL

I’ve also completed my goal of publishing a plugin during WordCamp Phoenix. You can now use Google Destination URL by installing from the WordPress.org repository. I tried to use as many things I learned at WCPHX while developing it. You can see more about the process from the GitHub commits.

Google Destination URL will allow you to add link in the WordPress editor by searching Google for the link. Check it out.

But! The other part I wanted to blog about was, “What did I learn at WordCamp Phoenix?” I’m going to cover the stuff I’ve retained; the stuff that really stuck out. Let’s start with…

Day 1

The first day was, obviously, my first time at a WordCamp. But, right away I was learning new things! I really think most people owe it to themselves (as a developer) to learn things from going to WordCamp.

During day 1 I learned more about the things that I didn’t know much about before, or didn’t use as much. It was the most informal day for me. The best part was when Konstantin Obenland and Michael Cain did “Cain and Obenland in the Morning” talk-show like event. But it was also awesome to learn some cool stuff from Brad Parbs and Cliff Seal.

Where to always use filters: return;

Brad Parbs told me this one.

The first thing I learned was something that felt like something I should have considered or thought of before. When you’re returning a value from a function, you can automatically give other developers an automatic advantage by allowing someone to hook into the values you are returning. Now I can use filters easily.

I kind-of show how you can do this in this example:

[gist]https://gist.github.com/aubreypwd/8513348[/gist]

Send PHP data to JS using  wp_localize_script

How I’ve usually accomplished this is by embedding an inline script to set a JS variable with values in it. Turns out WordPress already does this quite well.

In these examples you can see how I setup a JS var called google_destination_url_js on the PHP side.

[gist id=d5dfe84dbcdc7dd68dc1]

[gist id=4f44061f41642a27f2fc]

Using Transients for Caching

Cliff Seal showed us this one.

I had known about transients before WCPHX, but I never really thought about how to use them. In the example below I show you how I cached Google Search results in my new plugin.

If you were to type aubrey, and then modify what you typed to aubrie, the search (on keyup) will return another result (the same result) for a, u, b, and r all over again, even though you already typed each of those chars less than a second ago (while typing).

You can see what I mean in the examples below. I cache each keyup result so that, if the delete button is hit and aub is typed twice in two different searches, we are bugging the Google API once for a, au, and aub.

[gist id=e69f898b656f38703816]

Day 2

Day 2 was one of those days when I just couldn’t decide what talk I wanted to attend. They were themed into 3 groups, one was client/beginner based, the next business based, and the last one developer based. I would get stuck trying to decide, WordPress Mobile App Development, or Managing Client Expectations from Start to Finish?

Some things I took away from Day 2…

Turn down work that isn’t for you or your company

It’s pretty self explanatory, but I heard this talked about and said so much on Day 2 that it became obvious that taking on work that doesn’t fit your style or company just spells disaster.

You can make Apps out of your WordPress sites

I always knew that there might be a way to do this, but one of the talks that day confirmed for me that, indeed, it can be done.

Look into AppPresser for more info.

I’m still not ready for Capistrano

Though the talk was really good, using Capistrano still frightens me haha! It was probably the only talk where I felt like it would be easier to just make the symlink myself.

Paul Clark Still uses MAMP, and that’s OK! (Varying Vagrant Vagrants)

Throughout the camp, people were raving about VVV (Varying Vagrant Vagrants). Now, it doesn’t frighten me as much as using Capistrano, but I’ve just always just trusted MAMP. But, like I said, Paul Clark said he still uses MAMP, and know what, so do I.

Varying Vagrant Vagrants is from the guys at 10up.

Day 3 (today)

Day 3 is probably my favorite day. I spend all day in a small room with a bunch of other WordPress loving people. The day wasn’t about making money off Websites, or how to use new API’s, etc, it was about the thing I love about WordPress: contributing.

And, the things I took away are:

WordPress people want YOU to get involved

The overall feeling I got from the people in this particular part of the camp was that they really really want people to get involved. It may look like the WordPress god’s in IRC or Make don’t really need your help, but you’d be wrong.

WordPress people are so welcoming to people who want to help, but you kind of got to get in there and let them know. I asked a few questions about how to really get in there and start working on things, and it turns out that if you just show up, you’re probably on the list! But, you need to…

Ask Questions or Get Help!

There were tons of WordPress people that said, “please, tweet me, I will help you out,” the whole time I was there. Brave up, ask questions, bug someone (but be nice).

I plan on bugging Mike Schroder on how to get involved in core…well…because he told me to.

The new way to build new things for core is build a plugin

I asked about how to get involved in building new features, and the experiment with MP6 is still on-going. There are people (and teams) who are devising plans to get new things into core today! They build a plugin, everyone checks it out, and walla it’s in core (or not).

But, if it doesn’t make it, hey it’s still a plugin…Beautiful!

The key is getting in touch with these teams. IRC is the sure way to get involved, and get involved today! Now is the time to do it (as of January). They are working on building teams for 3.9!

And, finally…

The overall thing I took away from the camp is that there is a community. From the far reaches of the inter-webs it may seem like there are a lot of hidden people working on WordPress that don’t need your help. Being my first WordCamp, I came from a place where I knew I could get involved, but (I don’t know how to explain it) there was just something missing…

…It was going to a WordCamp! You’re going to meet those people, put some faces on them, and get a renewed sense to get involved!

WordCamps are also a great place to learn the ropes. Sure you can read up on things, and like me learn through experience, but the “pros” at WordCamps will show you how to box with your gloves off. Plus it’s just an eye-opener. You’ll hear and see things you hadn’t before…promise.

Well, that’s pretty much it! The great people who made WordCamp Phoenix happen deserve more recognition that they probably get! I’ll be coming back next year, I might also be going to other one’s too, who knows!

What did you get out of it!?

Moving to Git

Among the many things I learned at #wcphx this weekend is that a lot of developers are on Git vs. Bitbucket, so starting with GDU (Google Destination URL), I’ll be moving my public repos to Git (that are now on BitBucket).

So, please note GDU is now on Git.

And, by the way, this was pretty awesome at converting a mercurial repo to Git.

Google Destination URL: Added Caching & Better Ajax Performance

So, it’s only Saturday and I think I’m ready to deploy this plugin to WordPress.org so I can accomplish my goal to launch a new plugin during #wcphx!

I re-worked a few things…

…and so, I think the plugin is ready to go. I’ve submitted a previous version to the WordPress.org Plugin team and am awaiting a pass/go to deploy the plugin up!

If you want to check it out you can download the tip at BitBucket.

WordCamp Phoenix, Day 1 + New Plugin #wcphx

For my first experience at a WordCamp, today was a success as expected! I got to learn all kinds of new stuff (I’ll outline below) from awesome people and even some Automatticians! My favorite part/talk had to be the “Cain and Obenland in the Morning (Afternoon)” where they sang there intro (sorry, no video) throughout the talk, plus I learned a lot more about the theme customizer.

It was interesting to see some Automatticians face-to-face and I met a few other people along the way that knew so much more than me. Registration was probably the most hectic part (done in one location), but after that it was pretty easy. I’m learning that a big part of “learning” WordPress comes from attending WordCamps, as I learned a lot of new kind-of “hidden” things going on in WordPress that I never knew about before. Plus, you get to learn a lot from the audience as well.

The First Plugin

As I mentioned before I wanted to write a plugin this weekend during WordCamp Pheonix. I had a few ideas, and I decided on Add link without having to go find the link, copy, and paste (via Google search). What this will look like is…

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 7.12.41 PM

I’ll be optimizing the area where you add a link. Usually I have to open a new tab, “Google” the URL, copy, paste over and over. What I plan to do is make the link textbox do an Ajax search from Google and give you some results to choose from. Nine times out of ten the first few will be your result, click, and you’ve added your link.

I’ll be developing over at BitBucket (about to do the new tab thing I won’t have to do anymore…), and I plan on adding support for WP Markdown (again), since I use that instead of the normal WordPress link-make-r-thingy.

I’m going to #wcphx

WordCamp Phoenix Logo

Well, I’m patiently awaiting for my first experience at WordCamp Phoenix! Early this year I made a point to get more involved in the things that make me happy, and one of them is WordPress! A big part of getting involved are WordCamps, and although I have been a WordPress madman for years, I have never been to one of these. As the night dies down my anxiety rises as I get more and more excited to experience a WordCamp.

I’ll be blogging

There are tons of talks I can’t wait to attend, like Writing Extensible Plugins, Cain & Obenland in the Morning, Managing Client Expectations from Start to Finish and many more throughout the camp. I’ll be attempting to blog as much as I can. Make sure and follow #wcphx on my blog.

Plans for a new plugin…

While I’m attending this WordCamp I’m going to try and release a new plugin. Still not sure what it’s going to be, but some ideas:

  • Install plugins from GitHub/BitBucket via the Plugin Installer (with automatic update?)
  • Add “stickers” to your site like you do your laptop
  • Add link without having to go find the link, copy, and paste (via Google search)
  • Follow other WordPress blogs and compile a feed in your dashboard for them (Goodbye RSS reader?)

Really depends on the time I have! But, time at Gangplank is sure to happen at some point, a perfect time to write some code and blog!

Make sure and follow #wcphx