For a tech-centric city it is amazing that Austin has never been home to a WordCamp until yesterday and considering the response to the event it was long overdue. While people came from all over Texas to attend, the speakers were all local to the greater Austin area. Tickets for WordCamp Austin were sold out in mid-October and every seat at CoSpace was filled when the day began.
The opening presentation, given by John Chandler, was titled “Before The Five Minute Install“. John had excellent advice for helping the communication between client and developer. One of his opening slides set the lighthearted and laid-back tone that would carry throughout the day:
Bill Erickson was up next with his talk “WordPress Beyond Blogging“. He discussed the versatility of WordPress as a CMS. He highlighted how to use tools such as frameworks, custom post types, taxonomies and meta boxes to design a site that is beyond the usual WordPress design. Nick Batik continued the theme of using WordPress in unconventional ways with his presentation “Migrating Static Site (or “You Can’t Do That In WordPress…”)”. Nick showed everyone the steps he went through to take the electronic text of a published book and create a WordPress site in a week using the Pods CMS plugin.
To call WordCamp Austin a huge success doesn’t do it justice.
During a delicious BBQ lunch (this is Texas afterall!) a breakout session turned into a “break in session” as Devin Price and Ptah Dunbar gave a brief introduction and overview of child themes and frameworks.
After lunch Jared Atchison presented “Oops! Common WordPress Mistakes (and more)“. He gave lots of good advice and the clattering of keys could be heard as people looked at their sites during the talk to see how many of these mistakes they had made. Next Devin Price presented “Custom Post Types” and the different ways they can be used. One example that was popular was the use by The ATX Web Show for their Freelance-friendly Coffeeshops In Austin site.
Stephanie Leary introduced everyone to “Importing & Migrating” and highlighted her favorite tools (some of which she wrote) and how to use them. Her advice and expertise will prove invaluable to anyone facing this daunting task. Following Stepahnie was Jason Cohen, from WPEngine, was the last presenter with “Optimizing WordPress (or, How We Made http://balsamiq.com 7× Faster)”. He walked everyone through what WPEngine does to a site to make it run faster through caching plugins, caching services and optimizing graphics. The night concluded with all the speakers joining together for a Q&A session where the future and direction of WordPress among other topics were discussed.
To call WordCamp Austin a huge success doesn’t do it justice. There were amazing speakers who not only provided great information but did it with humor and enthusiasm. Additionally, every presenter made it a point to walk around and answer questions and even take a look at peoples sites to offer advice. The organizers should be very proud of themselves. The entire event ran smoothly and there was time set aside in between the presentations for people to talk and network (during one of these breaks I was able to meet with and talk to our ticket “winner” Ronald Huereca).
To those that couldn’t attend, the WordCamp Austin Blog has a post for each presention (a big thanks to Jackie Dana for doing that) with links to the presenter and their slides. Videos of each presentation should be available soon as well.
Here’s to a bigger and even better WordCamp Austin next year.