The first edition of Wordcamp Montreal was organized this past weekend at la SAT (a nice change from the usual boring hotel venues!). I was excited to go along with two of my work colleagues, both of which are advanced and experienced WordPress users. My main goal going into this was to really see what kind of people are using WordPress in Montreal right now and see what could I learn from the people coming here from other cities and countries. I found it quite interesting to see what kinds of technical and marketing goals people had used the WordPress platform and how/if they were different depending on where they came from.
The Wordcamp was split into two rooms with a constant rotation of presentations and discussions over two days. Here’s what I got to see on the first day (unfortunately I missed day two due to some hardcore partying – What do you expect? I’m from Montreal!).
Lifestreaming: The New Future of Blogging by Erin Blaskie
Erin did quite an interesting presentation on how to manage your online social life using WordPress. As advanced online users, we always try to stay on top of the new social networking sites and tools to make sure our company or name is well represented but it’s become quite a puzzle nowadays! How do you make sure that your content stays fresh, interesting and not redundant?
Well, I think Erin has managed to give us some quite useful tools that can bring flows of information to your WordPress blog and also update the different websites that should know when a new blog post has been added.
The slides are available here including all the great plugins that can be used.
WP-MU 101: How to Install and Avoid Common Mistakes by CT Moore
CT Moore introduced the not-so-old WordPress MU platform and the right steps to follow in the installation of this more complex platform. WordPress MU basically lets you host unlimited WordPress blogs with the same admin account but different users on different blogs. I think it’s a great tool to use if your website plans on having multiple subjects of blogging on the same domain using sub-domains or sub-directories (which wasn’t recommended by CT Moore).
Q&A Session with Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress
Yes, we even got to meet THE creator! The Q&A session went well even if Matt seemed quite tired and as a result was more vague in his answers.
I think the most important question coming from our Montreal users was if a language tool will be added to the core of WordPress. Living in a bilingual city such as Montreal, developers would love to see this problem fixed so we could stop having to duplicate content. Matt wasn’t surprised by the question and actually told us that it was the main request all over the world. From what he said, I don’t think it will be added soon but he did mention a plugin that could do the job. The only thing is that he couldn’t remember the name! Matt said he would try to remember and blog about it. For now, there’s always qTranslate which I heard mentioned many times throughout WordCamp.
Another topic was whether P2 was going to be reworked to cover more options available in Basecamp. Well, I never had the opportunity to use any of those before but I think P2 is a pretty sweet tool to share at work if you don’t already have a task management system!
WordPress Security by Brad Williams
I was quite impressed and pleased by Brad’s presentation. The title made it sound like the presentation would be long and boring but I found myself unable to stop taking notes and feeling stupid for not having thought of many of the things he was throwing out!
He gave a lot of great tips on small things that can be changed or improved in the installation of WordPress which apparently made it quite a bit harder for hackers to get into the system and use the content to post spam that wouldn’t be directly viewable.
I highly recommend that you check out his slides here!
Cooking with BuddyPress by Andy Peatling
This is another great tool! What if I told you you could make your own personal version of Facebook on WordPress? BuddyPress is based on WordPress MU and basically turns your blog into a social platform including great features like status updates, profiles, private messaging and more. I think it’s a great tool for intranets or blogs that want their readers to have more presence on the site.
Caching and Optimization for WordPress: Keeping your site fast and stable by Jeremy Clarke
Jeremy, one of the organizers, gave us a great presentation on what makes a site slow or fast. Sure it sounds fun to add a million plugins to your WordPress (yes, there are some amazing plugins out there and I’ve never seen a framework with so much collaboration.) but you have to make sure that the browsing experience stays quick. Using tools such as WP Tuner (a WordPress plugin), Firebug (a Firefox plugin) or YSlow (a Firebug plugin), Jeremy leads you in the right direction.
Slides are available here.
Overall, I had an awesome time at the first edition of WordCamp Montreal and was quite impressed by how the event was organized considering it was only 30$ for both days! It was great to see the joy brought to people through a truly open-source framework which catered to users with a myriad of different backgrounds. I think that there are only going to be more great things coming our way in the future. All I want is more events like this to make sure everyone is able to stay on top of what’s out there and can find exact answers to their problems whether it be for a social network, a WordPress CMS or just a simple blog.