Live-blogging WordCamp, or “A day at summercamp… for nerds”.

Wordcamp Savannah, Saturday August 21, 2010

Welcome to Wordcamp!

7:49 AM
Good morning! Up and atom! Hotel room coffee brewed, phone charged, camera ready, iPad packed up, ticket printed, and (in about 5 minutes) laptop packed and ready to go. Today is the full day of WordCamp in Savannah, and I’m getting ready to head downstairs for breakfast (yay breakfast!) and walk down the street to register. Today I’m planning on live-blogging all day from the conference. I’m going to blog about my thoughts, things I pick up, tips, tricks, and cool things as I come across them. So stay tuned, follow along, and come back often. It’s going to be a LONG day, and I hope to get a lot of it down on “paper”.

9:00 AM
All registered and ready to go. Crowd looks awesome and I’m really surprised at the number of designers in attendance. You know, it’s fairly easy to pick out the designers and the developers. I’m pretty sure the designers buy their glasses from the same place they get their ironic t-shirts. I do believe that the place next-door is where all the hip chicks get their sleeves. There’s also an interesting breakdown of audience by use. By a show of hands, half the people here are wordpress.com and half are wordpress.org. The other breakdown that got my attention was that approximately 75% of the attendees are using WordPress as a CMS. Yep. We’re not just blogging anymore, people.

Matt Mullenweg is our surprise speaker this morning for the opening, “WordPress Showcase” otherwise known as “Cool shit you can do with WordPress”. Fun talk to start things off. The presentation isn’t playing well, so Matt’s giving us a kind of “mini-history” of WordPress and pointing out highlights of different features that have been developed over the years. Here’s a fun fact: Both Kanye West and Jay-Z’s websites are WordPress sites? Yeah, I didn’t know that either.

9:46 AM
Cool presentation. Unfortunately the projector issues were never resolved and we didn’t get to actually see the sites that Matt was talking about, but there were enough laptops open nearby that, as he mentioned sites, you could scope them over shoulders. When I get some time, I’ll make sure and list the ones he called out, but they all came from the WordPress Showcase site. So head over there and take a look.

We’re downstairs now in Shayne Sanderson’s PHP and CSS for WordPress presentation. Should be fun.

10:10 AM
Well, that was a bit basic, but to be fair, it was called “Beginner PHP and CSS”. The good news, however, is that it  seems like my grasp of PHP is firmer than I would’ve thought, and when I compare my skill level with the questions that people around me are asking, my self confidence is defnitely a bit boosted. Still, it was a great presentation, and I’m glad I had Steve sitting next to me while he went through some live demos of CSS.

Mark Jaquith is stepping up to the podium now to school us on WordPress plugins. Now this is what I’m talkin’ about! We’re looking at a few of the WordPress APIs and digging into some of the low level WordPress functionality. Mark’s on the core development team, so it should be insightful.

10:45 AM
Sweet, Matt Thomas, the designer of “Twenty Ten” is up now. He’s going to give us some insight into how the new 3.0 default theme came about. He’s a great designer, so I’m looking forward to his presentation. (Here’s an immediate take-away: 16 pixel text on a web page is identical to 11 point printed type, so stop making your text tiny, use font-size: 100%!)

10:55 AM
Okay, I’m like, ten minutes into Matt’s presentation, and my head is already spinning. Hearing him discuss how Twenty Ten came about, and revealing insight into some of the great new CSS/Theme features of WordPress 3.0 is awesome. I might actually consider jumping on the Theme bandwagon after this.

Oh, and feature image as a custom header for each post? Kick ass. This is the one presentation that I’m going to take a LOT away from.

Here’s a link to Matt’s Presentation.

11:07 AM
Awesome, awesome presentation, that segued right into the next presentation, “Customizing Themes/Child Themes” by Sara Cannon. We’re actually ahead of schedule, so we’re going to take a few minute break, I’m going to go get some more coffee, and check out Matt’s slides.

1:00 PM
Lunch from Angel’s BBQ was fantastic. The BBQ pork, chicken and southern sides was delicious. Definitely the gastronomic highlight so far, exceeding my experience at Paula Deen’s last night by a mile. I’ve never had Collard Greens made with peanuts before, but I can guarantee you this isn’t the last time. That’s a recipe I’m taking back home and trying asap!

Sara Cannon’s Customizing Themes/Child Themes presentation was excellent. A link to her slides is available on her Twitter page. I highly recommend going to Slideshare and checking them out.

Following her presentation, before lunch, we were all ushered upstairs for Matt Mullenweg’s “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Your Themes” presentation, and it was also a great presentation. A lot of these presentations are really great for people who are still mucking their way through some of the changes that WordPress 3.0 brought to the table, and I’m no exception. The last three presentations have all given me a couple of great new take-aways that I either wasn’t fully aware of, or hadn’t fully explored, but will definitely make more of an effort to expose myself to as soon as I get home. Feature image use is a big one, and a lot of features of the built in Gallery functionality are at the top of my “must explore” list. I definitely have a lot of great blog topics coming up as I elucidate these new features.

Next up is Chris Cree’s “Functional Themes” presentation, followed by John James Jacoby’s “Adding BuddyPress to Your Site”. Two topics I’m really looking forward to hearing more about!

2:12 PM
Great presentation from Chris Cree that wound up being pretty serendipitous.  He was discussing “Functional Themes” and by the end of the discussion we were hip deep in the Genesis Theme Framework. For those of you following along at home, this site’s based on the Genesis Theme Framework, and I’ve been playing around with this Theme Framework now for a couple of weeks. The functionality of these themes is beyond cool. I was particularly blown away by the real estate functionality of one of the Genesis frameworks based on a Real Estate website. Property searches based on property features (bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, etc) with a built in real estate listing functionality. I hadn’t really played around with that theme, and was pleasantly surprised at the depth of functionality available, built right in.

In the middle of the BuddyPress presentation and if you’re looking to build your own social network (and really, who isn’t these days?) then this is most definitely the path I’d take. The depth of this plugin for WordPress is astonishing. If you wanna see it in action, they’ve set up a demo site that’s running just a vanilla, basic, install of BuddyPress over at http://bptest.org/. Discussion forums, user streams, groups… it’s all built right in. Very clean, very cool, and a terrific way to build your own little active community for your own specific needs. Color me impressed!

2:45 PM (Last Post of the Day…)
Daryl Koopersmith’s jQuery and WordPress presentation. We’re beginning with sort of an introduction to jQuery, with a bit of emphasis on how to implement jQuery in WordPress. Couple of cool little pointers. Great technical presentation.

This is my last liveblog entry. There really isn’t much more I’m interested in, and I’m gonna head back to the hotel and work on digesting this a bit. I’ve taken in quite a bit of information today and I’m looking forward to sorting all this out into some kind of actionable plan of attack. Obviously I’m going to put some work into this site to test out a lot of my ideas and code, so make sure you check back often to see how it plays out!

Hope you’ve enjoyed my liveblogging. I’ve had a great time here in Savannah, and I hope I’ve shared enough with you to get you interested in looking for more information on some of the topics that were covered over the weekend. Feel free to contact me, ask questions, comment, etc.

Thanks!

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