Post Event Report: WordCamp Chicago

Sessions, Structure, and Support

by Allison Tarr

Frontend developer, webdevstudios, WDS, WordPress devs, WordPress developers, wordpress designers, web development help, WordPress experts, WordPress maintenance
Allison Tarr, Frontend Developer

Aaron D. Campbell’s “Being a Good Citizen in the WordPress Community

For me, one of my favourite aspects about attending WordCamps is the reminder of being part of a larger WordPress (and developer) ecosystem. It is sometimes all too easy to lose myself in code and client-based work. I appreciate that Aaron’s WordCamp Chicago discussion focused on what it means to be a good citizen, which can also be more widely applied to the world at large than just in the WordPress community.

There is often concern expressed surrounding how technology has the ability to create disconnect amongst us, but I strongly believe there is a flip side to that. It is nurtured by the reminder that sitting at the end of all these computers and wires are people. Remembering that (hopefully) enables us to continue to treat people with the respect that all people deserve.

I thought it was also a great reminder that no matter what your level of experience or area of interest, chances are there’s an area of WordPress that you can help contribute to! This is something that I’m hoping to focus on more in 2017 and feel encouraged by the prospects available.

Mike Hale’s “Building a Developer Friendly WordPress Plugin

Mike brought up several points of interest during his talk. One was centered around code linting and standardization of how your code is written. It only reinforced how having a set structure to write code within has helped strengthen my work, especially when working amongst a team.

Be The Loop You Want To See In The World

And, of course, there was my own talk on loops. As a card-carrying introvert, public speaking is not generally on my Top 10 list. However, I’m just loopy enough (see what I did there?) to believe this would be a lovely way to share some of the knowledge I’ve picked up over the past few years.

My motivation during the topic brainstorming process was to explore areas that ‘Allison-from-the-past’ would have benefited from with more clarity or explanation. I also wanted people to walk away being able to reference some ‘real life’ examples of how they can harness the power of custom queries.

I was lucky enough to have two familiar faces and supportive gems in the audience to ease (some of) my nerves. And afterwards, it was great to hear what parts people liked about my talk from attendees, as well as connecting further through the power of Twitter.


WordPress Developers Are Like Jazz Musicians

by Carrie Forde

Carrie Forde, Senior Frontend Developer

WordCamp Chicago is holds a very special place in my heart. Last year, two California friends and I trekked to Chicago to hang out in a different city and bond over WordPress, which is what brought us together in the first place. This year was super special for me, because I was able to cheer for my frontend dev bestie, Allison, who gave her first WordCamp talk ever, which she slayed. Not only did I get to cheer for Allison, but we also got to connect with WordPress friends old and new.

And while WordCamp for me is all about the human connections, I also enjoy attending the talks and sessions. This year, two sessions stuck out in my mind.

John James Jacoby’s “The Time I Broke”

JJJ’s talk was more like story time rather than a talk. He talked about how his rural Wisconsin upbringing influenced his development career path and how his development career path has impacted his life outside of work.

JJJ serves as a trustee for the Village of East Troy, and he drew comparisons between working for the village and open source. Not unlike in open source, most village business is conducted in public, and anyone is free to participate.

My favorite analogy from JJJ’s talk, however, was the one he drew between jazz musicians jamming out, and what it’s like to jam out when collaborating on an open-source project, like a plugin, a realization that JJJ reached after working directly with Matt Mullenweg at Automattic.

Michelle Schulp’s “Pixel Imperfect: A Practical Approach to Responsive Design”

Michelle’s talk was design-focused, and she ended up talking about one of my favorite subjects: Atomic Design. The gist is that instead of focusing on delivering pixel-perfect mock-ups during the design phase of a web development project, it makes more sense to focus on establishing a visual design language and establishing site components.

“We don’t need to think about pages, but designing systems.”
– Michelle Schulp

By establishing a design system with different UI components, we reuse and re-purpose design elements. This not only makes it easier for us as designers and developers to work through a project, but the consistency helps end-users better navigate our clients’ sites.

Lessons like these just solidify the importance of WordCamp. The experiences I gain from attending them is immeasurable. I learn, grow, and bond with other professionals in ways that greatly impact my life and career. Plus, I get to meet up with old friends and make new ones.

WordCamps are chock full of education, but they also offers brilliant opportunities for networking and fun times. Have I convinced you to attend a WordCamp, yet? Visit the WordCamp Central website to find one near you.



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