Notes from WordCamp Europe 2018

July 18, 2018

Cornershop co-founder Lesley had the good fortune to attend and volunteer at WordCamp Europe in Belgrade, Serbia in June. She came back brimming with news, ideas, and inspiration:

PWA FTW!

First of all, the event website was the best I’ve ever seen.

The WordCamp Europe created a great Progressive Web App, which worked much better than any event site I’ve ever interacted with. I could view the entire schedule, or just upcoming sessions, and flag the ones I was interested in attending (which put them in a handy list for future reference).

Best of all, I didn’t have to download some sketchy app from an App Store – I simply visited an event-specific URL and installed from there. The icon on my smartphone screen took me directly to the app-like website. See for yourself:

Gutenberg, Gutenberg, Gutenberg

This event might as well have been called WordCamp Gutenberg, because it was the overriding topic of conversation. And for good reason!

      • Why is WordPress disrupting everything with Gutenberg? To keep from being disrupted by outside forces (including not only newcomers, but also competitor CMSes already in the market). In the business world, there’s this notion of Technology Disruption: an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market-leading firms, products, and alliances.
      • Matt Mullenweg explained that the tech that WordPress is based on now has served us well for 15 years, but won’t serve us long-term.
      • Matt’s favorite new feature in Gutenberg is enhanced copy-and-paste, which makes it easy to bring in content from elsewhere with a single click (instead of Paste Special > select source > etc.). He also announced that selecting text and Ctrl-V to paste URL will automatically turn that text into a link. 😍
      • Matías Ventura, Technical Lead for Gutenberg at WordPress says his two favorite new feature are the columns (which WordPress is currently horrible at) and the templates, which kickstart good design for users by giving them a “paint by numbers” system: good design boundaries, within which they can express their creativity. Impressively, Matías’ was able to answer every pointed developer question with a “yes, we thought of that”.
      • Widgets and menus are becoming blocks: this is huge.
Schedule for Gutenberg
  • June: freeze feature set, encourage folks to start using, ask people on WP.com to start using, make mobile improvements
  • July: New WP release with a Dashboard message, encouraging people to start using; WP.com sites are opted in (with an option to opt out), bug fixes
  • August and beyond: Critical issues solved, integrate with Calypso, merge into core, create a mobile version (including block support on mobiles). WordPress 5.0 could come in August
  • Matt suggested that we should keep an eye out for releases 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3, as he expects them to be a big deal.
  • Matt’s recommendations:
    • Use Gutenberg Ramp, which allows you to turn Gut on and off for specific pages and post types
    • Learn Javascript, as it is the basis for everything that is happening and will happen in WordPress
    • Get excited: the features included in Gutenberg are the equivalent of five years of work on WordPress Core — that’s how much is changing
    • Leave feedback about Gutenberg at https://t.co/gsg1dQ7k7L

Distributed Teams

Among other things in his inspiring talk, World of WordPress, Paolo Belcastro mused about how to bring distributed teams together. Paolo knows a thing or two about remote work. He has been managing distributed teams since 1998, living and working remotely from Italy, France, and Switzerland and now leading the Automattic/WordPress.com Spectrum teams from Austria.

Paolo got me thinking about how we, as a distributed team, can do a better job of celebrating, mourning, and healing together.

It’s hard to celebrate the way brick-and-mortar companies celebrate: there’s no sharing of celebratory cake, no surprise birthday parties, no popping open a bottle of bubbly to celebrate a huge new customer. A launch celebration is reduced to a single specific project team sharing virtual high fives (and sighs of relief) in a chat room, and then getting recognized in the next team meeting. A bit anticlimactic, honestly. It’s even harder to mourn together when you’re distributed — bad news carries the same essential weight in a chat room as daily chitchat, and then everyone is back to work. How can we do better?

Paolo didn’t have clear answers, but I appreciated that he started the conversation.

Get Thee to a WordCamp

Speaking of distributed teams:

We, the WordPress community, are a distributed team. That’s why meeting real people in real life at these WordCamps is so important. It gives us a chance to extend beyond our home offices and coffee shops, to make real connections.

I encourage you to find a WordCamp in your community and attend! There’s content for every type of WordPress user, including hardcore devs, content creators, and newbies. Most importantly, WordCamps will remind you of the real heart of this community.

By Lesley Molecke

Lesley has been working on the web since she was in high school and ran her own small web design shop before she could drive. She has extensive experience performing user testing and usability studies, rewriting and improving complex language to appeal to a wide variety of audiences, and helping organizations adopt the right technologies to achieve their goals. Her heart really belongs to nonprofits and small businesses, where she can see the tangible benefits of a healthy web presence: donations, connections, engagements, and sales.