WordCamp Orange County 2017

June 10th and 11th were the dates for WordCamp Orange County 2017. It also marked the 8th year that Pixel Jar has been involved with the event. We are proud to have started in 2010. Robert Nienhuis from Nien Studios joined with us in 2011 and has been a part of it ever since. While we’re still involved on the organizing team, this year the lead organizing reins passed to Steve Zehngut of Zeek Interactive. Steve’s a driving force for our local meetup and this year he executed a wonderful WordCamp and we were happy to be there for support.

Event Highlights for WordCamp Orange County 2017

This year we had two tracks of sessions, one track of workshops, and one discussion track all day on Saturday. On Sunday one of our session tracks became the business track and then Plugin-a-Palooza in the afternoon. Whenever we’re putting our tracks together we try to schedule them so you’re progressing down a line of successive learning. In addition, we try to balance the tracks against one another so that if there’s a developer talk it’s not up against another developer talk. We’re not always successful but, we do make an effort.

This year our workshops ended up being a little more development focused with a big emphasis on Javascript. Zac Gordon, Jacob Arriola, and Jason Bahl gave us great feedback on the order that their sessions should be scheduled. We had many great speakers on topics as diverse as community building, load testing, and accessibility. We had a speaker who was injured and Roy Sivan stepped up for us with a presentation on beginning a career as a developer. Our discussion sessions ranged from Chris Ford’s talk about adapting to a changing career to Aaron Holbrook’s refactoring talk.

All of our sessions should be available on WordPress.tv in a week or two. We purposely don’t film our workshops or discussions to give value to the attendees of the event. Since these two tracks are reliant on participation more than the average session, we chose to keep them off camera.

Business Track and Plugin-a-Palooza

The Business track was once again hosted by Jeff Turner who brought some great details out of our four panelists, David Payette, Karim Marucchi, Samantha McCoy and Colin Dowling. This was the third annual Plugin-a-Palooza event and we had six amazing contestants; Russell Aaron, Robert Gilmer, Jacob Arriola, Thomas Patrick Levy, Natalie MacLees, and Nathan Tyler; three impressive judges; Scott Bolinger, Chris Ford, and Jason Cosper (all three of whom pulled double duty as speakers as well); and Chris Lema as the M.C. Natalie MacLees’ Simple Event Listing was the winning entry this year but all of the plugins are available for download from the WordPress repository.

The Venue and Extras

This year returned us to The Cove at UC Irvine. This is an amazing space with a suite of technology that is humbling. The staff and interns at The Cove have been amazing partners for the event for the last two years. Just stepping into the Beach with all of the WordCamp signage on display gives us goosebumps. Our after party on Saturday night was once again held at Durty Nelly’s, home of amazing karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights – this has become a second home for many of us. One new event that we tried this year was the Sunday Social. This closing event was held just across from the Cove at The Vine in UCI. We had tacos and an ice cream bar and it was nice way to eat together and discuss the weekend before heading home.

Working for U.S.

One of the things that Steve discussed in his opening remarks is his desire to try to bring WordCamp U.S. to Orange County in 2019. WordCamp U.S. is a much larger event with upwards of 3,000 attendees. We’ve started gathering testimonials and are applying to host that event. It’s an ambitious move and we will definitely be involved if we’re given the opportunity. Regardless, we look forward to the future of WordCamp Orange County and hope to show off our local WordPress community to the whole ecosystem.

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