January 23, 2010: After a few illegal U-Turns and some confusing directions from my trusty GPS, I finally arrived at the Microsoft NERD (New England Research and Development) Center in Cambridge MA to fill my brain with as much new WordPress design and development information as possible.
Despite driving around the block seven times before I found the building, the event was great. With over 500 attendees, the full gamut of design and programming professionals from New England and beyond were well represented. It was particularly interesting monitoring and connecting with the attendees live via Twitter (you can review that activity by logging-in to your twitter account and searching for #wcbos). It was especially engaging to communicate with the other people I was at the event with while we were in different sessions and to keep tabs on what everyone else thought about the sessions they were in while it was happening. It added a completely new interactive dimension to the live event that I had previously only experienced in online webinars. This interaction provided me with a HUGE amount of relevant communication with other like minded professionals that I was able to add to my current Twitter network and make it more valuable to me and the people who follow and communicate with me.
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What I learned at Wordcamp Boston 2010:
- The true power and potential of the WordPress Loop: Took in a great presentation that detailed the various functionalities that can be created through the use of simple shortcodes. A shortcode is a syntax function for WordPress that allows you to insert custom functions directly into your posts and pages, increasing your ability to efficiently deliver dynamic data. As an example, say you wanted to pull a dynamic list of article links in a certain category, all you have to do is write the proper PHP syntax into your WordPress functions.php file and set up the shortcode and then insert the call into your page or post using brackets and publish your page. Presentation by Michael Erlewine.
- How seamless and powerful AJAX and JQuery can make your WordPress website: These are powerful frameworks that, as our presenter Jim Doran described, are so well organized and documented that it makes the process of adding dynamic functionality to a website almost feel like cheating! I can’t wait to start breaking down all the libraries and plugins available to keep improving our website designs. If you are looking for more info and details about the package development framework, please visit www.jquery.com.
- Security tips and plugins to keep your WordPress site safe: This session by Brad Williams, WordPress security guru and devoted Colts fan, delivered a valuable list of tips of how to secure your WordPress website installation from hackers. Some of the best plugins presented were:
- wp security scan: Scans your WordPress site for vulnerabilities and gives you prevention suggestions
- exploit-scanner: Searches your entire WordPress site for anything suspicious and reports them back
- wordpress-file-monitor: Sends you an email when critical core files of your WordPress site are edited and uploaded
- login-lockdown: locks out people logging into your WordPress site that have failed a few times in a row
- Parent / Children Theme Relationships create more seamless upgrade processes for large sites: If you are planning to build a bunch of sites off the same general theme and manage all those sites as a package, this is the most efficient way to manage the ongoing upgrade and design of ALL your websites. When you build a Child theme off of a Parent theme, you gain the ability to customize all aspects of the presentation of that theme while leaving the “core” of the package intact. All future WordPress releases and upgrades to that theme will work with all of your child themes regardless of how much you change the design delivery. Presentation was by Daisy Olsen.
- Getting seen on the web using Video: This was a great presentation by Steve Garfield discussing how easy and accessible it is to share your videos online and how much visibility it can gain your business when done well. One of the best things that Steve did was show off his mom’s blog (she is 84, one of the oldest living bloggers in the world), basically saying, if she can do this and make it interesting surely you can too! You should check out this YouTube video of her, very funny, and reminds me of my grandmother!
So many great tips, things like this: 20 WordPress Plugins You Have Never Heard Of, new data management techniques, security info, and ways to sell things online using WordPress. For the $30 I spent to attend this event, I definitely got a lot for my money. I will absolutely be on the lookout for the next Wordcamp in my area, and I would like to thank to all the hard working volunteers who put the event together and, of course, the wonderful staff who put on all the great sessions. Oh, and if you want more information, including video of all the sessions I attended, you can to find them On WordPress.TV in a few weeks, enjoy! Check back at the official Wordcamp Boston website for ongoing updates as well.
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