Wow, it’s been almost two weeks since Vancouver WordCamp 2012, the awesome one-day conference on all things WordPress. As last year, the event was divided into Design and Development tracks. And again as last year, I went back and forth between the two. Let’s face it, the line between design and development can pretty thin.
Calm and Simple Code With Purpose
Jeremy Felt from 10up.com gave the audience some pointers on calm, effective and mindful coding. Rushed code means bugs, and you may think you’ll go back and fix them later but there’s always another deadline! Better to do it right the first time. Invest the time to perfect your craft. Dig into the Codex*, read the code, understand how things work and why they work the way they do.
As well, developers need to know what tools are available, when to use them, and when not to. Libraries like jQuery are already there, no need to add it in your plugins! Use caching when you must.**
Finally, we need to be mindful of our audience: developers in our team, or even ourselves six months down the line. Document your code, make it readable, whether you’re solo or part of a team. And if you’re working solo, get involved in community projects!***
*And don’t complain if it’s crap. You’re totally free to improve things!
**Memo to myself: read up on the WordPress Transient API, because I have absolutely no experience in it.
***I totally need to do that.
John James Jacoby of Automattic came to talk about PHPDoc, a PHP documentation standard similar to JavaDoc. Documentation standards like that are about not wasting time and brainpower. It’s about (his words) not being an asshole, and not taking time away from other people or even your future self. Because you’ll be able to quickly get to what a particular bit of code is doing and why.*
JJJ also repeated Jeremy’s advice to get on the Codex and improve it if you’ve got something to say. It’s a great place to learn, because wordpress.org has lots of caretakers.
*The why is important. It’s easy to describe what is happening but why is the more interesting question.
S2Members—a membership plugin for WP
Rayhan Abdulmughnee of the Small Business Centre spoke about a S2Members. It was fairly narrow in its focus, which was a bit of a disappointment. Then again, I knew what I was getting into. The main reason I attended this presentation instead of one on a command-line-interface for WordPress, was that I was possibly about to start a WP project heavily dealing with user roles, and I thought this might give me some good ideas. I’m not sure if it did. That project ended up not happening, which was also a bit disappointing; I’ve never dealt with WordPress user management except in the most basic sense. Drupal, sure, I know it forward and back, but I would have liked a chance to dig into it on the WordPress side. Someday soon, I’m sure.
JQuery mistakes and how to avoid them
Back to the development track after lunch, to learn all about jQuery from Automattic’s Andy Peatling. This was an very intense presentation, dishing out all sorts of jQuery tips and tricks which I won’t list here (and honestly, some of which went over my head).
Caching in WordPress: Invalidation schemes
Oh, but the fun doesn’t stop there! Zack Tollman was up to tell us all about caching in WP, and schemes to refresh that cache when it gets obsolete. Cache versioning, transients, and again a lot of this was totally new to me.
How to make your WordPress site mobile-friendly
David Zille started out by giving some general tips on what a mobile theme needs: fast loading, visibility of the important elements, ease of navigation, and accessibility. Then he laid out various schemes to make your site mobile friendly:
- a third-party service
- a responsive theme
- a separate mobile theme
Separate mobile themes (which may come with plugins) avoid most of these pitfalls, but probably have issues of their own. It all comes down to your budget, skill sets, etc…
Food for thought, definitely.
The WordPress community
Vancouver’s own Christine Rondeau wrapped up the day to tell us about the WordPress community. And it’s real: it’s in the meetups and in the forums and the blogs and on IRC, and in events like this one. You participate to learn, to get referrals, make friends and say thanks. You know, Christine’s talk was another kick in the pants for me to get more involved. More than just going to meetups (which I do), I need to actually contribute something. There’s a theme I’ve been hacking away at on and off (based on my current blog theme, actually) I need to polish it up and submit it.
Oh, and I won a Code Poet t-shirt!
There was an afterparty, but I already had plans to ogle hot athletes in underwear at Celebrities, so I had to give that a miss.