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Talking Joomla! at WordCamp?

Talking Joomla! at WordCamp?

For me, some of the more memorable moments of the 2013 Joomla! World Conference involved WordPress leaders being present at the event openly discussing both Joomla and WordPress and each project’s unique attributes. In my time contributing to the open source community, rarely had I seen “cross-talk” like this between projects, let alone those leading projects. After that event, my interest was peaked and one of my 2014 TODO’s was to not only attend a WordCamp, but also speak at it and share how our communities can learn from one another.

WordCamp Milwaukee

On the last weekend of July, I was lucky enough to be able to attend and speak at the WordCamp in Milwaukee. It seemed like an appropriate choice given how the area is home to a few well known Joomla (and open source) fanatics and my travel schedule finally had some flexibility in it. With a bit of encouragement from one of said local Joomla fanatics, I finally found the time to come up with a session I felt would be well received by the WordPress community and two months before the event, was one of the first speakers announced. Interesting way to generate some buzz, right?

Early Impressions

Once I arrived at the facility, I could tell immediately that the organizing team had put a lot of effort into making things run smoothly and that effort ultimately paid off; everything from the initial registration to the lunches to the technology setup was well taken care of and the glitches minimal (it’s a conference, there’s always a glitch somewhere). I could also tell that the plan was for a lot of fun to be had at the conference, evidenced by many of the organizers in some sort of costume going along with the theme of the event, and there was no shortage of cow jokes or cheese heads to be had.

Sessions & Social

Getting into the sessions that day, I took the chance to jump around quite a bit and sat in on sessions ranging from an advanced look at some of the newer APIs from lead developer Andrew Nacin, to showing how WordPress can be used as the backbone of an API driven application, and a couple of sessions generally usable regardless of open source software preferences with regards to server setup and site accessibility. Between sessions, I got the chance to chat with quite a few attendees on topics ranging from the to-be-expected “what’s a Joomla guy doing at WordCamp?” to helping debug JavaScript issues on an in-progress project to different impressions about the two projects and what drove the attendees to pick a certain platform, and yes there were a bunch of folks who still had Joomla clients in their portfolio and had good things to say about the current versions of the software. Overall, I was able to learn quite a bit about how companies are implementing WordPress, how their internal code is evolving, and have a few takeaways for myself with regards to ensuring the sites I work on can be optimized for those with disabilities and general server optimization tips.

Talking About Joomla!

Opening the day Sunday, I got the chance to talk about Joomla in my session, Taking a Look at Joomla! - Inspired by WordPress. My main goals with this session were to introduce Joomla to those who had never used it, catch folks up on Joomla related happenings in the last few years for those who had stopped using it, and talking about how open discussion between the project leads and being willing to learn from other open source projects helped guide the PLT as we revised our development strategy. I wasn’t chased out of the room, so in my mind the session went well, and the attendees had an open mind about the session and presented some great discussion questions at the end.

Overall Impressions

There truthfully isn’t anything bad I can say about the event. The team in Milwaukee did an amazing job setting up their WordCamp, and I’m personally impressed with their willingness to accept several sessions that weren’t geared specifically towards WordPress and welcome top names in the web and open source communities to the area. The staff at the facility did a great job taking care of the 300+ folks who popped their head in over the course of the weekend with well prepared meals, the absolutely delicious bacon bar, and of course ensuring a stable wi-fi network for all the geeks to stay busy on. If the opportunity arises, I could definitely see myself back in the area for next year’s event, I was just that impressed with how things went this year.



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