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WordCamp UK 2012 & The WP Retreat

WordCamp this year was held in Edinburgh, which is a fair drive from the midlands so we decided to relocate for the entire week.

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WP Retreat

We arrived in Edinburgh on Monday afternoon. 11[1] geeks[2], brought together by WordPress, to spend a week working from an apartment in Edinburgh; followed by WordCamp at the weekend. I should really have written this roundup post over a week ago, but I think I am only just fully recovered and over the mountain of work we returned to. It was a good week though. At times we worked hard, and at others it felt more like a stag do, but we had a great time, met some great people, and talked a whole lot of WordPress. There are lots of juicy details on 2012.wpretreat.org.uk

It was always meant to be a co-working trip and most of us had quite a bit of client work, and the week started with us actually doing quite a lot of work! On wednesday night however we had a small show and tell. We had brought a projector from our office (which we definitely did not use to play computer games on!) and did some short demonstrations of things we have worked on. Tom showed off the latest version of BackUpWordPress, Joe demoed his unreleased newly released TimeStack tool for tracing and profiling of WordPress plugins/themes. I talked about some ideas for high-res images in themes. Kimb finished up with his “How WordPress Won” he did at WordUp in Glasgow earlier this year. It probably worked even better in a small group over a few beers than it did at a conference and really got everyone talking. The discussion went on past past 3am and I think I dozed off mid-way through a debate on the subtleties of GPL Licences.  This is exactly the kind of thing we had come for!

Thursday saw the arrival of Noel (@noeltock). Despite working with us on happytables and various other projects, he opted not to stay with us at the retreat! Although after seeing their apartment I don’t blame them. Seriously – this place had a grand piano and some sort of waterfall shower that appeared to be carved out of the rock! That evening 15 of us (#wpretreat + @DeFries, @SiobhanPMcKeown, @karmatosed, @BoweFrankema) went out for a really nice meal at The Outsider (props to steve @stompweb for the recommendation! The food was amazing). I would link to them but they don’t have a website! I think they should get on happytables!

WordCamp

We were already pretty tired by the time WordCamp came around. This post is already getting quite long so I will just list the highlights (and lowlights)!

 Saturday

  • Tom, Joe and Steve all helped out on the happiness bar, sorting out everyones WordPress woes.
  • Noel – Customising the admin. We build sites for 2 people, the visitor, and the author. We often push WordPress to its limits, and whilst the admin interfaces for our new features make sense to us developers, its important to remember who we are building the sites for!
  • Kimb told the story of WonderThemes and where it all went wrong. It was a wonderfully honest account of how he tried to turn a side project into a business. I do think he was too hard on himself! The site was good, and think they achieved a lot in with fairly limited time and money (in business terms – Kimbs wife would probably have preferred that foreign holiday!) – but by the time they launched it was a very competitive and crowded market.
  • Caught half of John Adams account how he used WordPress to build a very personal site documenting his grandfather’s experiences as a soldier in Ireland and France during the Great War. I work with WordPress commercially every day, but its easy to forget that at its heart WordPress allows anybody to blog and publish their own story.
  • Dave Coveney’s lessons on running a business performed as a parody of Baz Lurhmans Wear Sunscreen, followed by a lego/twitter powered skittles dispenser!

Sunday

  • Finding Tony scott had slept on our sofa and was standing in the living room 10 minutes before he was due on stage to kick off the second day!
  • I was expecting something controversial from Kevinjohn Gallagher having seen him speak at digital barn, but his talk seemed more polished and he covered a lot of valid concerns. As a ‘Change Consultant’ rather than a developer and huge advocate of open source in the enterprise, he raised some interesting concerns around the WordPress development communities desire for progress, and the new, contrasted with the need for stability by the authors, or people that actually use what we build.
  • Joe was reluctantly on the panel of the Site Doctors. (Kimb volunteered him in the middle of the night after a few beers!)

Back to real life

And so now we’re all back at  work. We survived hangovers and hard drive failures. None of us did as much work as we had wanted, or saw as much of the city as we should have but it was a great week. One of great things about working at a small company like Human Made is the opportunity to work with other people. The opportunity to learn from them, see how they work and bounce ideas off each other. Yet even as a small company, we sometimes need to get out of rural Derbyshire and meet other people and companies working in the field. The industry has such a great online community yet nothing beats meeting in real life. We’ve come away from the whole thing with new ideas, potential future hires and business partnerships, excited about the possibilities WordPress offers.

  1. @tomwillmot, @joe_hoyle, me (@matth_eu), Theo (@tcrsavage), Owain (@tolackadaisical), Kimb (@mkjones), Simon (@wpsites), @AlexNolan, Steven (@stompweb). Liam (@gotpopdigital) arrived Wednesday, and @JonnyAUK was just there for the weekend.
  2. Steves roundup article features a full explanation of the term Geek.