Review of WordCamp Jacksonville April 16 & 17th

Coming from New York and being a WordPress developer of 9 years, I wanted to attend WordCamp in a different part of the country, so I hopped on my 7:54 flight to Jacksonville on Friday, April 15 and got there early to enjoy the scenery and explore the area as it was my first time in Jacksonville. The city was beautiful, but my focus was just checking into my hotel and attending the speakers party at Unity Plaza that night. I was scheduled to speak on plugin development the next day.

Speakers pictured left to right: Kathy Drewien, Micah Wood, Jonathan Brinley, James Tryon, Bruce Chamoff, Gary Kovar, Robert Jolly, Trey Praytor,Zach Wills

This was my first WordCamp as both an attendee and speaker, so I was excited to meet others who are passionate about WordPress and business in the web development field. The speaker party was awesome as we all networked and got to know each other, but basically, I was the new kid on the block as both the other speakers and organizers had already formed a Florida-based community of WordCamp-goers as well as having both organized and spoken at previous WordCamps around the Sunshine State including Orlando and Miami. I almost made it to Miami last February, but that unfortunately did not happen, so it was a pleasure to make it to Jacksonville.

The next day started at Florida State College with some networking in the morning and Frank Corso‘s keynote speech which was short and brief and we were off the sessions. My session was not until 3:20 that day, so I enjoyed sessions by Introduction To the Rest API by David Bisset, The Modern JavaScript Developer’s Toolbox by Micah Wood and WordPress Dev for the Rockstar Professional by Kenny Harper, all good speakers that kept my attention with information that I needed. If you like hard rock, you needed to attend Kenny’s session as he referenced AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne and I believe Metallica. There were other sessions that I wanted to attend, but hey, you cannot be in more than one place.

Lunch was provided by Sonny’s BBQ and at lunch I was able to meet more people. The food was awesome. Kudos to the organizer who came up with that idea.

My session for Introduction to Plugin Development

After lunch, Robert Jolly ‘s session on Accessibility: Empathy in action was a wake-up call. I did not know how important accessibility is on the web and his information is very important for all web designers which makes sense why Robert’s session was the only one for that time slot. I also attended Aaron Reimann‘s Page Builder Showdown which is a session necessary by everyone who switches WordPress themes on a regular basis. My session Intro to Plugin Development by Bruce Chamoff started at 3:20 in the developer track room and I was happy to receive such a nice turnout. The engagement from my attendees was awesome. I actually built two plugins for the attendees in the session.

A few more sessions later and we were off to the party at Kickbacks Gastropub where we all filled up on appetizers. Robert Jolly had some really appetizing looking grilled fish!

The next day was just as awesome as I hung out at the happiness bar and had a very interesting conversation with Aaron about his business Sideways Eight. After I attended a much needed lecture on WP-CLI, WordPress Command Line Interface by  AJ Morris of Liquid Web and Git Workfl ow by Jonathan Brinley. I also caught the tail end of Moving up the Food Chain: Finding and landing 5 and 6-figure projects by Bill Gadless and he was inspiring. I should have came in earlier. Lunch followed and I had to leave to catch my flight back to the Northeast.

I am pictured with organizers pictured left to right: Karena Kreger, Frank Corso, Stephanie Brinley. Not pictured: Daniel Iser and Elizabeth Pampalone

My review of this event is that the organizers were awesome and as far as I could tell everything went smoothly. I picked up some amazing information and met some great people. I was invited back to speak at WordCamp Jax next year, so thank you to the organizers for inviting me. I should have done this sooner, but better late than never.


If I get so lucky again to speak at a 2016 WordCamp…

My plugin development session will include the development of a new plugin, a modern update of Hello Dolly called “The 2016 Presidential Predictor”. I am aiming to speak at these Wordcamp events:

  • Orlando
  • Boston
  • Lehigh Valley
  • Rhode Island
  • NYC
  • US (Philadephia)


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