Workshopalooza at WordCamp Denver 2017

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This weekend I had the opportunity to attend WordCamp Denver, a great example of a well attended and run local camp.  The first day included two tracks of great talks.  The second day featured 13 different workshops (including one from me on JavaScript + WP REST API).

  • Site SEO Checkup
  • Flexbox
  • Defining, Mapping and (Sometimes) Automating Your Business Processes
  • 5 Things You Can Do to Get More Traffic to Your Blog
  • Making Your First WordPress Plugin
  • Let’s learn Git. No more excuses.
  • Take back the day with WP-CLI
  • Learn Vanilla JavaScript (& The WP REST API)
  • How to create an intro packet to streamline client screening and onboarding
  • Get Personal – Content Personalization with WordPress
  • Advanced WordPress Features for User / Bloggers
  • Building a Theme
  • How to Attract More Clients with Better Branding

 

13 Workshops in 1 Room, All at Once

Honestly, at first I did not think this idea was going to work.  All of the workshops took place in the same room.

Each workshop included 8 people around a round table (w a monitor rather than a projector).  Some workshops had two groups of tables.

I predicted mayhem.

Actually, this was a GREAT setup and I would actually recommend it to other WordCamps.

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Here are what I think are some Pros to this approach:

  • You can cover a lot of different topics
  • It is invigorating to have other workshops going on (folks did not seem as tired after 3hrs)

There are some downsides however:

  • Limited to ~8 people per workshop (other camps have workshops with 30-50 people)
  • Some folks had a hard time hearing with 2 tables and a presenter at the far end of one of the tables
  • Not directly related to this approach in general, but make sure everyone has power and presenters have a monitor with proper cables and adapters.

Although I would have liked to have been able to offer the workshop to more people, I think that this approach worked really well for WordCamp Denver.

 

3 Hours is a Good Length for a WordCamp Workshop

Most of the WordCamp workshops I have seen this year run 90 minutes or 2 hours.  I do not think this is enough time for attendees to practice on their own and cover enough content for people to walk away feeling like they really learned something.

 

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Three hours works well.  You can either move at a nice and relaxed pace and cover a single topic very well.  Or you can go faster and offer more ready made resources like exercise files, templates or example projects.  With this approach you can cover quite a lot of content in 3 hours, while still giving time for practice.

 

My Continually Evolving JavaScript Workshop

I did a lot of work between WordCamp DC and WordCamp Minneapolis modifying the JS for WP workshop I have been giving this year.

You can see the slide deck and example files for the WordCamp Denver version of the workshop here.

I took out a lot of things this time on the DOM (traversing, cloning, deleting), removed most examples that used webpack, and added in more on wp_localize_script and the Backbone API Client.

I also took out a section on JSON (w JSON.parse and JSON.stringify), instead relying on Axios, jQuery or the Backbone Client to get the JSON into a native JS object.  In hindsight this was a mistake.  I think it is valuable to learn if you are taking the approach of trying to learn how things work under the hood in JavaScript.

On the other hand, I could skip over JSON and AJAX completely if we are already inside of WordPress and just use the Backbone API Client.  In the past I have taught AJAX using Axios or jQuery and would really like to start pushing the Backbone Client as the recommended way to make JS WP API requests inside a theme or plugin.

 

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Even with taking a lot of things out of the workshop, it still has too much for a three hour workshop.  Really I think that this workshop should mostly (90%) focus on JavaScript (and less trying to cover different API implementations).  So an outline like this:

  • JS Basics
  • DOM selection, manipulation and creation
  • Events
  • JSON and AJAX (Then pull in WP REST API as the example)

Currently I am doing a lot more with enqueueing JavaScript in WordPress.  One approach could be to do the entire workshop inside of WordPress themes instead of stand alone JS and HTML files.  This may give it a more JavaScript for WordPress feel as opposed to more just a JavaScript workshop.  It will also ensure if we get cut short that this basic skill gets covered.

I will continue to work on giving and modifying this workshop through the end of this year.  Next week when I give this workshop at WordCamp San José and try out some different approaches mentioned here.

 

Hats Off to Leah Ashley (and other organizers)

Apparently, lead organizer, Leah Ashley, emailed each WordCamp attendee asking them what workshop they wanted to attend.  This resulted in pretty much all workshops completely full.  Great job Leah (and every one who helped and supported you).

If you are in the Denver area I would definitely suggest coming out to this camp in the future.  It was well run, fun and not too overwhelming.  Great job to all the volunteers and folks who made WordCamp Denver and Workshopalooza Denver 2017 possible.

If you want to learn more about JavaScript for WordPress, please check out some of my free JavaScript videos here.

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