WCEU 2019 in Review

All the talks and panels at WCEU were planned and executed well, but there were a few standouts we’ll highlight, in case you weren’t able to watch the entire livestream.

Friday Highlights

  • Jenny Beaumont’s “Doing It Wrong” was an encouraging talk that set a good mood for the whole conference. Jenny’s interview with Torque at WCEU is worth a listen too. 🌞
  • John Jacoby’s talk on “Advanced Database Management For Plugins” explored the pain of dealing with databases when you’re writing plugins. He also announced a stand-alone open source library for better WordPress database management that will be released in July.
  • Josepha Haden‘s talk entitled “Change your socks, change your mind: A no-fuss primer on change management” focused on the things group and community leaders should attend to most during periods of significant change. That’s a timely subject, given the events of the past year, and Josepha’s points apply to many parts of the WordPress community. 🧦

Matt’s talk after lunch on Friday was more of an update on Gutenberg. Matt presented some Gutenberg stats and then put the spotlight on some new block editor plugins and experiments. Matt reminded everyone that Gutenberg is in phase two, “where we are working with widgets (old school blocks), customization, and menus.”

Matt’s Session

  • Matt showed off the Grid block plugin from Evolve that generates any layout style with a slick UI. You have to see it in action.
  • Gutenberg is now available for Drupal.
  • There are about 150k posts published each day with Gutenberg. That’s about two every second, and ta rate is increasing.
  • Gutenberg will soon have:
    • A block directory that’s accessible from the “top-level navigation” on the .org site.
    • Footnotes and improved “micro” animations.
    • Special attention placed on the mobile experience. Matt noted that “Gutenberg for mobile is live, and the ability [to use its features] is increased now in the mobile apps.” He also mentioned they “had to write the codebase separately for this experience.”

The initial questions Matt got from the audience were somewhat aggressive and prolonged, so the moderators found it a challenge to keep things moving. At one point, a moderator broke in to say, “This isn’t a question; it’s a blog post.” I’m wondering if in the future at WCEU (or the upcoming WordCamp US) if a different moderation process might be considered.

If I had to choose one question of note, it would be the one asked about Matt’s (and WordPress’s) commitment to accessibility. Matt replied, “Accessibility is hard. We will get there. I believe we can make every release of WordPress better, but it’s challenging with Gutenberg because there might not be previous examples to work from.” He acknowledged the excellent work that WPCampus recently did with its accessibility audit.

Saturday Highlights:

Saturday’s talks, like Friday’s, were well done, although the panel on Gutenberg might have had more diversity in its composition, as a few people noted on Twitter.

Two especially notable talks:

  • Brian Teeman, one of the Joomla co-founders, defined what counts as truly free software. (Slides) If you have begun to wonder how cloud services and Jetpack challenge the concept of “free,” check out Brian’s talk. Brian also has a recent post on his blog with some good advice for conference goers: attend sessions randomly or pick ones with unfamiliar topics if you want to learn the most.
  • Marcel Bootsman gave an inspiring account of his 700km walk to Berlin to attend the conference. It tied in well with Ines Van Essen’s talk later that afternoon about bringing peophttps://2019.europe.wordcamp.org/session/bringing-people-to-wordcamps/le to WordCamps and how much it typically costs for someone to attend.

The conclusion of WCEU came with the usual display of conference statistics:

  • 3,260 tickets were sold. (800 more than last year!) 🎟
  • 2,734 attendees. (610 for contributor day!)
  • 1,722 or 56% were attending WCEU for the first time.
  • 11,700 meals were served. 🍽
  • 60 speakers gave talks.
  • 60 interviews took place.
  • 60 sponsors — and 150 micro-sponsors helped make it all possible.
  • 2k photos / 1m Tweets — YOU ARE WELCOME! 😊
  • 97 countries were represented by attendees. 🌍
  • 166 square meters of printed banners and materials were produced this year, which will be repurposed by being made into bags. ♻

Since I was not physically attending WCEU, I asked people who were there in Berlin what they most appreciated — especially if it wasn’t observable through the livestream.

I got some good answers on Twitter from Topher, JJJ, mor10, Matt Cromwell, Pierre Mobian, and Yvette Sonneveld, among others.

The WP Cafe was a new feature for WCEU that provided “space for our attendees to meet, connect, and chat about a range of topics.” It’s an evolution of the previous year’s “Tribe Meetups.”

After the event, the WordCamp Europe team addressed some issues that came up at the afterparty — around the entertainment that was provided, and in regard to water availability.

WCEU 2020

WordCamp Europe is always held in a different city in Europe every year, and it was announced at the end of the event that the 2020 conference would be held in Porto, Portugal. (There’s a trailer.)

Porto seems to be a popular destination, and WCEU reported that just 24 hours after opening the #WCEU 2020 Call for Organisers, over 30 applications were already received.

Photo credit @WCEurope