A LoopConf 2017 reflection, from a speaker

WordPress LoopConf
The WP Crowd

Roy Sivan

senior contributor
Published: February 9, 2017

For those who don’t know LoopConf is a WordPress conference focused on the developers. It runs mid week, and brings the best and brightest minds in the WordPress development community out.

It’s now 4:30am, I’m sitting in SLC (airport of Salt Lake City), and I am trying to reflect on what happened over the past few days. I arrived almost a week ago, knowing I had to prep and then give a 6 hour long workshop with my API counterpart, Josh Pollock.

WordPress Workshop Day

I think it is great that LoopConf has this as an attachment to their conference. A full day dedicated to 2 workshops so you can get immersed into something. This year the 2 were a WordPress customizer workshop, and a WordPress REST API with AngularJS workshop. These 2 offerings covered a wide variety of developers. From those who create websites for clients who want to find a better way to use WordPress customizer. The other workshop (our workshop) focused more on developers who need or want to build out custom applications with the REST API.

6 hours? Goes by quick

While Josh and I spent most of the day Sunday camped out in the Little America lobby getting prepared, we thought we wouldn’t have nearly enough content to cover 6 hours of time. We were combining our related talks, projects, and other assets together, knowing most talks we give are 30-60min. tops. How were we going to cover 6 hours?

As Workshop day started we felt confident we had enough content, but by the time we got to lunch we weren’t done with nearly enough of it! We split the day in half, 50% PHP, 50% JavaScript and by the time we got to our last example of an AngularJS application, we had 15 min. left to show it off.

WordPress REST API Josh Pollock

Side note: If you were part of our workshop or have seen the code, we know that the plugin dashboard example is broken, Josh was hoping to run through how to continue and finish it.. but we ran out of time.

Overall the workshop day was something I was excited to see and be a part of. I can’t wait till next year to where I can either do it again, or be part of the crowd! As teachers we had a great mix of developers from “over my head” to “I do this every day”, Josh and I had a goal to at least leave people with something to Google and learn afterwards, pretty sure we accomplished that.

2 days of amazing talks

I wasn’t at LoopConf in 2015 (although I was in Ft. Lauderdale!) but when I heard “developer conference” I figured it would be 2 days of code, code, and more code. I was happily mistaken, not that would have been a bad thing.

Every single talk about what you would expect to be code, was actually conceptual and high level. Yes there were code snippets, but no one walked through code during their talks. This is exactly what developers need, I appreciate that more than “this is how I code X”, I want to know why or what use case you had to code it.

 JJJ gave a talk about the UNIX way of coding WordPress plugins. I was half expecting it to be 90% code with a boilerplate he created, what I got was an amazing talk about UNIX fundamentals and how that applies to WordPress, and specifically the plugins we developers build.

“Do one thing and do it well” – JJJ

Ryan Mccue gave an amazing talk about the future of WordPress as a platform. His talk had 0 code, but laid out a great plan of action that could be implemented to really take WordPress and make it a developer focused platform, without losing the current focus on the end-users. This is a challenge that we have been tackling for a while, many of us discussing what we wish WordPress would be, for us developers.

The talk we needed right now

I’d like to really point out one talk that really stood out to everyone there, and it wasn’t even a developer talk.

 Andrew Norcross, who we know as the coffee guy, got up and gave an eye opening look into the WordPress community that we all hate to admit exists. He did not leave anything off the table, and was happy to share actual quotes from harassment, trolling, and misconduct said by people within our community. Most of the comments were public and those who said them were not ashamed to hide their names.

“If your community is full of assholes, it’s your fault.”

I’ve never been in a talk where the speaker intentional or not has the room completely silent. It was a surreal moment. Leaving Norcross’s talk everyone was still silent. I would like to assume everyone was taking reflection on their own actions, or thinking of ways to take action.

As I heard by other people by now, his talk needs to be taken and given at every single WordCamp or WordPress conference. The developers, big businesses, and influencers of the community have the most responsibility to not sit idly by and let the community we love turn into a community that doesn’t exist anymore.

The first flight back

I’m about to start boarding, and all I can think about is how much I have learned over the past few days. LoopConf wasn’t like any other WordCamp and everyone there knows it. I have given many WordCamp talks through the years and while I still get the small pings of imposter syndrome this brought it all back. When people you respect from the dev side of WordPress are there, you can’t help but fanboy and realize you aren’t worthy of their company.

I was walking back from the speaker dinner with Kadam White chit chatting about JavaScript frameworks, and it dawned on me the next day that he gave one of my favorite talks at WordCamp SF 2014. It took me way too long to realize who he was, but I was quick to tell him that his talk there inspired me and I still talk about his talk 3 years later. In fact I mentioned during our workshop on Monday!

New things

Caldera Learn

The last thing I will always remember fondly from this past few days is it is the also the time Josh P. and I launched CalderaLearn.

CalderaLearn is going to be where Josh and I teach about what we know, in an effort to help those developers who want to level up. It will be focused on 4-week live webinar series (which we will record), allowing you to get homework, learn, and ask us questions live while learning. We have a variety of topics already planned, make sure to sign up to get notified when our first webinar series starts!

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Robert WildeRoy SivanBrad ChandonnetPaul Oyler Recent comment authors

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Paul Oyler
Paul Oyler

Hi Roy! Thanks for the excellent wrap-up of LoopConf. I really would have liked to have heard the Norcross talk. Community is very important to me and in my review of WCUS I touched briefly on what it felt like to be openly rejected by part of the community.

Grace and peace,

Brad Chandonnet

Hi Roy! I wanted to thank you for doing the workshop on Monday. I really enjoyed it and the breakout session where we wrote some custom endpoints was a big help to me. I’m looking forward to building some cool projects in the coming year with Angular and the WP API.

Sorry our team had to leave early, but we had an important client site get hacked (UPDATE TO 4.7.2 NOW!) and it was “all hands on deck” to deal with it.

Robert Wilde

Really got to make this a “Must Attend” event next year. Been watching videos on YouTube all day, so good. Particularly loved the presentation by Jason Cohen from WP Engine, Zac Tollman’s talk on HTTP to HTTPS was also great and many more, still going 🙂