Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the first-ever WordCamp in Nashville, Tennessee. Nick Weaver and I took a quick seven hour road trip down to Nashville and, if I can speak for us both, had a great time.[ref]Nick, who you really should know from The Weekly Theme Show by now — shame on you if you don’t.[/ref]
The event was organized by John Housholder and members of his development shop Ah So Designs. They did a great job, pulling off a solid WordCamp in just nine weeks with what sounded like a budget on the lighter side. There were two tracks (one for beginners and intermediate users, another for developers) and eleven sessions. I stuck to the developer track sessions, though I missed out on Mitch Canter’s presentation in the morning (that’s what I get for relying on only one alarm) and was briefly distracted by an epic 34-level game of Jenga outside one of the rooms.
The highlight of the event
The highlight for me (aside from the after party, details of which are never, ever to be published of course) was the Otto and Nacin Show, wherein they went through and demonstrated the various features coming to WordPress in version 3.4. Although it was in the developer track, I’d say a majority of the session would have been interesting to any attendee there — particularly since a lot of it was focused on what’s coming in the near future.
I liveblogged a number of my choice favorite quotes from that session, but just in case you missed them:
Too much fun, really.
The discussion on child themes that Ryan Green led was well received, and he covered the essentials. I also enjoyed hearing about child themes from a user experience professional’s point of view. Though, I think the session itself might have served better in an intermediate or advanced user track. As the session went on the room seemed split: half were curious about framework options, and the other half already had a workflow in place they were happy with.
Russel Fair’s Less presentation generated some interest and fit in well with plenty of code examples to show off. On a personal level I’m still unconvinced LESS is really worth all the trouble, but I certainly understand the features it brings to the table better now than before.
I started a discussion in our forums on this topic, because I’m interested in what others have to say about it.
From the forum:
Housholder himself held a session that I wasn’t sure about until it was underway called The Future of WordPress in Nashville. Taking up both tracks as what could be considered the keynote session of the event (and also the first time I’ve seen Google Hangouts used to stream a session into another room to accommodate seating requirements) it turned out to be a nice way for Housholder to walk through the state of WordPress meetups in Nashville and how those attending could get more involved. It’s only fitting, I think, that all WordCamps have something akin to this to help get more members involved in their regular, smaller events.
He also introduced the group to WPNashville.com, a website he and his team are working on to offer a more ideal place to organize the group, citing problems relying on Meetup.com entirely as their motivation for putting something new together.
I selfishly look forward to seeing their development and what they put together at WPNashville so I can steal their ideas for updating and improving my own city’s WordPress meetup website.
You have to criticize something, right?
Really, my only criticism of the event would be what they recognized right at the beginning of the day: rooms were a bit overwhelmed with attendees (a good thing) and a larger venue will be needed in the future (also a good thing).
Oh, and I would also vote for two-sided nametags on badges in the future. No matter what you do, the laynyard always ends up twisted the wrong way. For your consideration:
Since the information you want to see is on the left, the side you’ll always see is on the right. It’s the Law of One-sided Conference Badges. But the schedule was on the badge, which is a definite plus.
Collection of presentations from speakers
There was a great group of speakers at Nashville, and though I couldn’t see them all in person I’ll be browsing their slide decks as they are posted. These were the speakers and their presentations, linked up if they’ve posted their slides:
- Kenneth White: Categories, Tags, and Custom Post Types! Oh my!
- Mitch Canter: The Blank Screen: Overcoming Your Fear of ‘Pressing From Scratch
- Joel R. Norris: A Beginner’s WordPress Bootcamp
- Ryan Green: Child Theme Frameworks Through the Lens of User Experience
- Rick Sanders and Tara M. Aaron: Copyright and Other Legal Basics for Bloggers (and Developers, too)
- Andrew Nacin and Samuel Wood: Otto and Nacin Show
- Brad McCarty: Making the Leap: From Hobbyist to Professional
- Michael Toppa: Dependency Injection for WordPress Plugin Development (and his post)
- John Housholder: The future of WordPress in Nashville
- Anna Belle Leiserson: Search Engine Optimize Your Site in Three Easy Steps
- Russell Fair: LESS, JS & WP (and demo theme on Github)
If you see other activity, or posts relevant to WordCamp Nashville, feel free to drop a link in the comments below.
I also maintained a liveblog here on WPCandy for the duration of the event, which I recommend checking out if you want to experience a bit of the day for yourself.
Recommended food and drink
What would a WordCamp weekend be without an awesome bar or two? Nick knew his way around Nashville better than me, so he gets kudos for the couple of spots we enjoyed.
- Patterson House is one of the coolest bars I’ve ever been in. Pricey, but the cocktails were worth it.
- Sitar: I’m not normally crazy about Indian food, but this was a nice little restaurant.
What did you think of WordCamp Nashville?
I enjoyed my time in the Music City, and look forward to heading back soon. My next visit might not be until there’s another WordCamp in town, but hey, I’m comfortable planning my travel around where WordCamps are happening any given weekend.
If you attended WordCamp in Nashville last weekend, share your thoughts on it in the comments below.