WordCamp_2013-Branding_sm2-281x300I love the WordPress community and I particularly look forward to attending various WordCamps because it is like a fun family reunion. The WordPress community is spread out all over the globe, but at WordCamps people come from all around to meet together, network and share knowledge about WordPress. WordCamp Victoria was no exception to this rule. There was a fellow in attendance from the UK even! The following are a few of the highlights from throughout the day.

The morning started out pretty well. A few speakers met in the hotel lobby and headed to Starbucks to get a jumpstart on the day. When we arrived at the University of Victoria campus I decided to be smart and use the parking payment station on the other side of the parking lot that only had two people at it. On my walk over one guy said it was not working for his credit card. I figured I would try mine anyways. Stuck my card in and it declined, then stole the card!! Campus security had to come out and retrieve the card for me.

Joey Kudish ( @jkudish ), Code Wrangler for Automattic was in the first time slot and I was supposed to introduce him. Due to the drama in the parking lot I was seven minutes late. Luckily Christine Rondeau of Blue Lime Media ( @bluelimemedia ) stepped it up and introduced him. Thanks Christine!! Joey is on smart guy and gave a great overview of plugin development, covering everything from starting your first plugin to building in extensibility for other plugin developers to utilize your functionality. His slides are available at http://slides.jkudish.com

Morten Rand-Hendrikson ( @mor10 ) gave the keynote speech. Having been to many conferences and many WordCamps, Morten is and likely always will be one of my favorite speakers. He has a fun engaging style. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak do it. Even if you do not know anything about the subject I guarantee you will have a good time. Morten talked about what is WordPress and took us on a tour of our web past since 2003. It was a horrible blast to the past that concluded with me falling deeper in love with WordPress

I was privileged and honored to be on an “Expert Q&A Panel” with the greats Grant Landram ( @GrantLandram ), Morten Rand-Hendrikson ( @mor10 ) and Joey Kudish ( @jkudish ). The very first question set the tone for the session, it was a rather advanced question regarding scaling WordPress. From there the questions continued to get more advanced. It was a very fun experience being talking with these brilliant men. The hour went by very quickly and suddenly Joey was calling for the final question. We could have happily continued on for several more hours. I was taking notes as the session progressed at http://ben.lobaugh.net/blog/49291/notes-from-the-expert-panel-at-2013-wordcamp-victoria. Morten recorded audio of the session at ………..

Jon Jennings ( @jonjennings ) spoke on AJAX in a session titled “Making Your Plugins Sparkle with AJAX”. As a backend developer I love the built-in support for creating AJAX endpoints. Jon gave a very good overview of what AJAX can do and provided some awesome real life examples. He then popped into a live code demo, which I always enjoy, and showed us how to use the AJAX resources available in WordPress. His slides are available at http://www.topdownview.com/2013/01/adding-ajax-to-your-wordpress-plugins/

Search in WordPress is one of those things that everyone wants, but nobody likes the current implementation. As Flynn O’Connor said in his presentation, “Search in WordPress does not suck, it is just a blunt instrument”. Flynn did a great job of presenting an overview of how WordPress search works and ways to make it better. The real issue is that WordPress search does not support relevance, which is the most important part of any search result. There are plugins such as Relevanssi that have made some great leaps in search technology but much is still left to be done. This is an area that I hope the community will become more interested and engaged in this coming year.