WordCamp Europe 2023: some notes from Athens

WordCamp Europe 2023 is over. Almost 100 speakers, 12 workshops, 3 tracks… a lot of content. As in previous years, the organizing team did a great job in providing a width selection of themes. Of course AI is a trend from the last 6 months, and, of course, we had to have it covered in a few talks.

Sara Galantini

I got to see three lightning talks reflecting on different aspects of AI use. The most well prepared was Sara Galantini’s, about the use of AI to assure that we have a fully acessible website. In some countries, as Sara remembered, it’s absolutely mandatory to have an acessible website. And AI can help to find and fix our flaws.

Two other talks that were not new to me, Fellyph Cintra’s about CSS, and Viola Gruner’s about testing instead of guessing. The former was an update of the one he presented during WordCamp Lisboa 2023 a few weeks ago, and it did a great job of focusing on handy solutions modern CSS can offer that save a lot of work, compatible with more or less browser versions. Viola Gruner also presented the same talk in Lisbon, but now she had 40 minutes instead of the 15 of the lightning talk. Which is a privilege, as Viola is truly brilliant. If you missed it, don’t miss the WordPress.tv version.

Other talks I found relevant were Patrick Posner’s about Static WordPress: this quick introduction to running a static WordPress website really makes me want to try it out; followed by a Tomorrow’s generation’s perspective on WordPress, by Tycho de Valk. This was especially relevant, not only because Tycho at 16 was the youngest speaker in a WCEU talk but, above all, because he brought the vision of the youngest and pointed out a series of really serious questions about what WordPress is today and how it is perceived by new users, giving , at the same time, some clues about what can be changed to meet the new generations and ensure that the platform does not run out with the use of more recent applications.

Amy Kamala’s You say you support women in tech was also a talk that stirred many emotions. Drawing on her personal experience as a woman and mother in a context of technology, an area dominated by males, given the difficulties and asymmetries created at the management level, she reveals that how more diverse an organization infrastructure is, the more innovative and successful the business.

Workshops: not so hands-on as predicted

I enrolled in three workshops, because it was the maximum allowed for each attendee. I could have done more, if I had the chance, or pass on one or two of those I attended.

The one that I really enjoyed was about building a theme from scratch with the full site editor (FSE). Using the Create Block Theme and Gutenberg plugins, we’re able to learn about a not yet perfect flow to build themes without a line of code. Carolina Nymark did a fine job presenting all the steps and putting us to work hands-on to build a theme.

It’s not her fault that the whole flow is still quite flawed. I’m not sure how (or even if) it can be improved to the level of efficiency a professional user needs. The UI/UX of the FSE is cumbersome. It has to do too much, with too many options, paths, concepts, and moves. I understand why it is like it is, the concepts, and the moves to edit specific settings. But the interface is still very confusing: an end user will struggle to find the right place to edit. I’m not sure documentation can fix this gap. Tutorials with the basic questions and how-tos may be a better help.

As a conclusion, this workshop was very positive, despite the FSE issues.

Maestro Stevens’ icebreaker theme song

On the other hand, the other two were a bit limited. Maestro Stevens – which is indeed a great performer – animated a session about templates. I didn’t expect it to be about templates in general, and not the page templates of WordPress FSE. Interesting nevertheless, the short workshop was more of a talk. Maestro did show some moves regarding the use of form templates and video player settings to build features and content more easily. But it were limited, as the duration of this session.

Jamie Madden animated a session on automation. Another too small of a session, that let a lot to be answered. The use of n8n, now that the desktop app is discontinued, is not easy to understand. And I couldn’t try it out during the workshop. I was expecting it to be possible to install but that was not the case. At least I still don’t know how to do it. I’ll probably have to get back to the speaker to find out a solution.

Automation is a great way to bring more efficiency to a WordPress website, and more possibilities to site owners, marketers, or editors. “Work smart, not hard” was the motto. I can relate to that. Over the last years I found some tools that, through automation, made my work easier. So, I have a special interest in knowing what else I can do. Jamie Madden showed us a glimpse. But this, as the former one, was more of a presentation then a workshop.

In one hour, it would probably make more sense to concentrate in making the tools work for everyone, show how to install n8n, for example, and less examples of its use.

I would probably have enjoyed Adam Silverstein’ Stop blocking my thread workshop.

OK, this were just some quick notes about WCEU 2023. Don’t miss all the great photos on Flickr.

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