One Year Later – My Journey with the WordPress Community

One Year Later - My Journey with the WordPress Community

I haven’t blogged anything in almost two years now. Well, with one exception. About a year ago I posted about my experiences at my first WordCamp, WordCamp Europe 2015. Looking back, it totally made sense that, in a time of not blogging, I at least blogged exactly that – because it changed my life.

Not having done anything with the WordPress community before last WordCamp Europe, it has been an exciting year for me. Right now I’m sitting on the plane to Vienna where WordCamp Europe 2016 will take place this weekend. I feel like it’s time to process my experiences – and I feel like it’s finally time to start blogging again.

The Meetup

After the warm welcome I had received in Sevilla at WordCamp Europe 2015, I was pumped to do more for the community. A month after it I visited the local monthly WordPress Meetup in Cologne for the first time, and I’ve been attending it regularly since then. Thomas and Sven who I had met at WordCamp Europe were among the organizers, so it was great (and still is) to get to know them more. As of now, I have joined the organizing team for the meetup as well – I am personally not really the organizing guy, but I still felt like I should at least help organizing a meetup. By the way, I can’t express my thankfulness for all the people who put up all the WordCamps (there’s almost one per week!) and meetups (there’s probably dozens a week!) – without you there wouldn’t be a community as there is now, and I wouldn’t be the same I am now. You rock! <3

WordCampMania

So, when I learned that there’s a WordCamp in Berlin, I immediately got my ticket (good thing I did as they were gone within minutes!). WordCamp Berlin was in November 2015, it was (obviously) a much smaller one than WordCamp Europe, but I really liked the familiarity there – both kinds have their perks. It was great to see so many familiar faces from WordCamp Europe again while also meeting some new people, especially many of the Inpsyde family. It was kind of a surreal feeling there – maybe it sounds strange, but it somehow felt like coming home.

A while before I had purchased my ticket for WordCamp Berlin, it was announced that there would be another super-huge WordCamp soon – the first WordCamp US got planned for December 2015 in Philadelphia. Having a host family from a previous exchange in the US who I’m regularly in contact with, I knew what to do: go back to visit them again and also visit WordCamp US. I got my ticket, and just two days after WordCamp Berlin, I was on my way, first to my host family, and then to the WordCamp. It would be even bigger than WordCamp Europe – of course it had a completely different audience (there was no real German bubble this time, we were only 3 people), so again many new people to meet. It was really nice to meet Rocio, who is one of the people that does so much for the community, Francesca as well as Giustino and Giuseppe from the Italian community who we would spend a fun bowling game with at the After Party, and I also had a personal chat with Boone, who I have had (written) contact with during some Core contributions. And I actually had to fly to the US to get to know Torsten Landsiedel, a well-known member of the German community – the world has some weird ways sometimes. It’s always great to put a face to the name (“Oh, you’re that guy on Twitter!”).

Some months later, Sven and I made plans to do a little WordCamp Tour – first weekend of April should have the first WordCamp in Torino, Italy (the above Italians would organize it), then WordCamp London and WordCamp Nuremberg. Unfortunately, some personal events came in the way, so in the end I only attended the closest one, WordCamp Nuremberg – Sven however, as well as Bego, went on to complete all three WordCamps in a row – my respect (and envy). About WordCamp Nuremberg, I’m gonna quote a tweet from Michael – it really was like a class trip. I’m gonna leave it at that, although I have to mention that especially their After Party really was a blast.

At the beginning of June, so just three weeks ago, it was the first ever WordCamp in Belgium, taking place in Antwerp. It was a very local one (but of course not exclusively), and it was great to see that they were finally able to pull something like that off in a country as diverse as Belgium (3+ languages!). What was especially great about that WordCamp is that you could easily have a talk with like a third or even half of all the attendees – with around a 150 people, it had a very familiar atmosphere. Also, at WordCamp Antwerp my first speaker submission got accepted, so I had my first session there (on WordPress Multisite and Multinetwork) which was a great experience for me personally (hope to do it again and improve soon!). And they had beer – yeah, lots of it.

WordCamp Swag
Before WordCamp Europe my laptop looked like it had just been bought. Now it looks like this. My non-WordPress friends say I’m crazy and that it’s ugly, but honestly, I don’t see what they mean.

Open Source Coding

Of course I have been doing other things beside participating in the meetup or travelling to WordCamps – there’s only so much time and money. After my first Core contribution at the Contributor Day of WordCamp Europe 2015, I was looking forward to do more. Being a developer, it was important to me that, if I find a bug or an essential functionality in WordPress, I don’t just fix it in a plugin (if possible at all), but help out at the source. The “essential” is important here. At first I had to learn the hard way that what I consider essential might not necessarily be essential in the philosophy of WordPress Core. I opened some tickets and provided some patches occasionally some of which were accepted and some were rejected. A first thing I was kind of proud of was the introduction of the `WP_Term` class (merged in version 4.4) – kind of an easy thing, but I could say I have contributed a class to WordPress. 😛

Things went on like that a little further. I didn’t really do much with Core, but it never got out of sight. It was at WordCamp Nuremberg that I talked to Dominik (the 4.6 lead) about contributing a little more. This WordCamp freed some more energy in me to get back on trac (ha ha). After the WordCamp, I started contributing regularly, with a particular focus on the Multisite part of WordPress since I have been working with that for a while. As of now, I really enjoy helping out with WordPress Core, taking part in some of the regular chats.

Contributor Day at WordCamp Nuremberg
Discussing a ticket at the Contributor Day of WordCamp Nuremberg – © Detlef Heese

For me, it was a slowish process to get into Core development, to get the hang out of it, to fully understand the philosophies behind. In the end I have to say that (and I experience that with several WordPress developers) while some of the philosophies behind WordPress Core are hard to understand at first, I would agree with most of them now. Well, I didn’t really disagree with most of them before, but just had to figure them out more precisely. And while we don’t need to talk about the general code quality of Core, you can definitely learn something from contributing there. The expectations now are probably different from when a lot of the old code was written, you learn to be precise with your code and very particular about writing docs for everything. And, after all, you work on a project that is used by a quarter of the web. These past two months make me looking forward to WordCamp Europe this year even more, to meet some of the people I regularly chat with there (“Oh, you’re that guy on Slack!”).

I have also been working a lot more on plugins for wordpress.org. Before WordCamp Europe 2015 I had 2 in the repository, now it’s 8 – and I have about 4 almost ready in the pipeline. 🙂 Some of them were originally planned as plugins for wordpress.org while others just turned out to be some. When you’re building something useful for yourself, why not make it open-source and possibly let others benefit from it?

What’s next?

Yeah, what’s next? Of course WordCamp Europe comes first (it will be my sixth WordCamp). It’s gonna be the largest WordCamp so far, and I’m curious and excited who I’m gonna meet there. And the sessions on the schedule look amazing as well. I am also looking forward to the Contributor Day – a Contributor Day in the dimension of such a big WordCamp is really nice because you really have someone to talk to for any area of contributing to WordPress, and you can get many future-contributors started.

After WordCamp Europe, Sven and I are gonna get started with planning a new meetup in Dusseldorf which we have been talking about for two months now. It’s really close by where I live and it’s a big city – so it should have a meetup. Maybe we can already make it happen in August – we’ll see!

And then there’s the next WordCamps. I will have to step back a little since I need to work on my Bachelor thesis (college is just blah after getting started with the WordPress community, but I gotta finish what I have started). I will however definitely be attending WordCamp Frankfurt which is on the first weekend of September, and hopefully make it to WordCamp Netherlands in October as well. At the last weekend of October there will be a small 1-day WordCamp in BarCamp style in Cologne which I’m co-organizing with the rest of the meetup Cologne team, another new experience for me. And I’ll go back to Philadelphia in December to attend this year’s WordCamp US (and to visit my host family and friends again). That’ll probably be it for 2016 – but let’s see what it will bring along.

Did I already mention I can’t wait for WordCamp Europe? The plane is gonna be grounding soon (Vienna!), so I need to switch of my computer. What I’m definitely going to do as well is start blogging again, starting with this post. I can’t quite follow up with my German community friends’ “Project 52” (one post per week), but I really want to slowly get back to blogging more and maybe I’ll be able to join them next year. 🙂

One thought on “One Year Later – My Journey with the WordPress Community

  • Ich antworte mal in deutsch: Es ist doch klasse, dass Leute wie Du zur Community hinzustoßen. Mann bekommt soviel zurück den ganzen WordPress-verrückten. Toll dass Du dabei bist!

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