Yesterday I visited the city of Norrköping (Sweden’s tenth largest city), a mere two-hour drive from the city where I live. I started early in the morning and drove through beautiful Swedish forests, passed small lakes and enjoyed the morning sun (blocked from reaching my eyes with the help of a baseball camp). Then I hit traffic and it was all back to normal.
I have been in Norrköping several times before. I had a girlfriend there once and I spent a lot of days as well as nights in the forests around Norrköping back in the day (2001-2002). If you are visiting Sweden and is fed up with Stockholm, I recommend a train ride to Norrköping, or Örebro for that matter.
The reason for me being in Norrköping on April 25 was to attend WordCamp:
WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users like you. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other.
The event was orchestrated by Angry Creative, a WordPress web agency located in Norrköping. A couple of years ago they organized a WordPress meetup that I also attended. It is always fun to meet people you mostly communicate with through e-mail, phone and social media, and with Norrköping at the same distance as Stockholm minus the traffic jams, I bought a ticket for WordCamp as soon as I found out about the event.
The first session that I attended was held by Niklas Högefjord, famous (at least in Sweden and in South Africa) for building (mainly Sweden oriented) payment gateways for WooCommerce. I had expected a more technically oriented speak and not so much on why you should and how you can use WooCommerce. What I think Niklas did great was to explain how some tend to view WooCommerce (and WordPress) as simple and free, whereas working with e-commerce can be both difficult and troublesome unless you think of all the cave cats of running a business, things like how to set the correct VAT when selling to other countries than your own. Niklas also spoke briefly about the importance of using child themes, something that (still) is fairly uncommon and downright stupid not to use.
The second session was titled WordPress and the future of print media where Magnus Nystedt from Flowcom (and before that Pingdom) described a world where print media in Sweden, especially local news papers are spending millions on license fees, how the so called Death of Print Media is tackled not by giving the readers what they want but rather acting like introverts and not taking good care of the strong brand recognition that most local news papers enjoy today. Magnus also spoke about a WP Starter service that Flowcom is developing and a plugin in the making: Monitoring of various channels for inclusion in the WP work flow. Slides: http://www.flowcom.se/wordpress-future-print-media/
The third session was way beyond my skills. However, my goal at these events is to challenge myself and even if I lack the experience when it comes to debugging of WordPress I enjoyed listen to Mario. I met him in the hallway afterwards and we spoke briefly about the theme review process. Since I have been working a lot with ThemeForest themes the past year we also talked about on how ThemeForest will move toward a position where themes are reviewed similar to how the TRT works with themes that end up on WPorg? You can learn more about TF versus WordPress Theme Reviews by reading Justin Tadlock´s ThemeForest Experiment.
The fourth session was on the topic of theme development. A very nervous Mansoor Munib gave us as theme developers some insights on what to use and what not to use.
During the lunch break I pulled out my action camera and enjoyed the beautiful settings close to the location where WordCamp was being held. Notice the walkways that wrap around the houses that sit on the water front.
The next session was a presentation on how WordPress websites can be leased rather than sold. iGoMoon is a Stockholm based agency that have created a business model where web sites are treated the same as a product and sold in a way similar to how cable TV companies (market) and sell their digital services. When many web agencies and consultants, including myself, basically start off with a blank piece of paper iGoMoon has decided to work with a (limited) concept. An easy to describe the business model is to call it a subscription based web site server and I think that description is close what they are offering to their clients.
The last session that I attended was a presentation of a way to set up a development, test and production environment. The speaker was Andreas Ek, founder of Flowcom and he have used his extensive background as a web architect to created a service that help you set up a complete Vagrant development environment. This session was just as Mario´s debugging session something that is beyond how I work as a WordPress consultant. But it was very interesting to learn more of staging and listen to the discussions that followed the speach. Photos: http://www.flowcom.se/web-production-automation-presentation-photos/.