Coding: The Grammar, and the Theory
There were three components to the conference: general talks, topics specific to developers, and a training track for people starting out. Since I’m taking a course in the WordPress software this fall and am an aspiring developer, I went to a couple of the more advanced developer talks. The first was Debugging CSS by Stephanie Hobson of Mozilla. As I’m also taking a course in CSS (Cascading Style Sheets, which affect the presentation of a website) it was good to have a refresher. Programming languages are a bit like spoken languages, except that it is absolutely crucial not to make any grammar mistakes, something that is quite challenging.
The next talk was Robot Object-Oriented Programming by Andrew Woods. At the end of the talk he said, “if your minds are completely fried, then I’ve done my job.” I can’t find the slides online so it’s going to be difficult to summarize this one. [UPDATE: The slides are online and he’s written a recap.] However, he had some creative ways of describing object-oriented coding using cartoons, which was cool. He also introduced the topic of SOLID object-oriented principles:
What these principles mean basically is that programmers should write clear, effective code that is easy to leave open-source so that other people can read and edit it. This is aligned with the principles of WordPress which is also formed by open-source code by a vast team of people. This creates a more democratic web, as opposed to one that is top-down and controlled.
Content Management and Analytics
After that talk, it was back to the general talks for me. The next presentation was called Content-First Content Management by Mandi Wise. As a writer I like the idea of putting content first, although for many it is difficult to do; it is much easier to prioritize the “hard” sciences like coding. As she stated, content takes time to organize, which is expensive, is political in that it deals with how a company wants to be represented. Once it is there, it is hard to change. In tech this also encompasses what is known as Information Architecture.
She introduced a three-step approach: wrangling, adapting and governing. Wrangling is the process of working with a client and analyzing their data in terms of quality and quantity. The adapting phase is where the web developer or content manager creates a plan to migrate all of the data and design how the new site will look. She had recently spent a year redoing the website for Small Business BCand if you take a look you can see a good example of a WordPress-built site that encompasses many of the traits of web development today: streamlined, clear, vertical, lots of white space and icons, clear and easy to navigate.
The next talk was called Google Analytics for Objective SEO and Diagnostics by
Alycia Mitchell of Sucuri. Analytics is new to me, but it’s huge business–just ask Vancouver’s largest tech company, Hootsuite. It’s often difficult to figure out how to utilize key words for optimal Search Engine Optimization as algorithms are constantly changing. Ultimately, quality content is the most important, though it’s useful if key words are also included and that the website is regularly updated. Maybe one day I’ll be able to figure out some of the stuff on Sucuri’s blog, which is more specific to security.
Who’s Who at WordPress
The final talk was an introduction by a top WordPress developer, Drew Jaynes, about who the main people working at WordPress are and what some of the different projects they are working on. There wasn’t time to talk about everyone as there are many different teams like design, mobile, accessibility, support, translation, themes, training, plugins and WordPressTV among others.
I finished the day exhausted but enthusiastic. Earlier I wrote about how it’s been a little difficult to figure out where and how to apply my skills and what to focus on. This sort of conference and community was very useful in terms of both meeting with many different professionals in the field and seeing how there are places where I can get experience.