236 people from 9 countries. 35 speakers covering 3 tracks. 50 euro for a 2 day ticket. These are some of the numbers that made the first Wordcamp Ireland such a great event, but the real secret behind it was the fantastically friendly atmosphere that other conferences like this can so easily lack. Last Friday night saw Langtons in Kilkenny open its doors to a crowd of bloggers, techies and curious georges to talk WordPress for the following 48 hours, many of whom wouldn’t set foot outside the hotel until the event was over on Sunday afternoon. This was the first Wordcamp to be held in Ireland, all thanks to the trojan work of the wonderful Sabrina Dent and Katherine Nolan.
The conference had three tracks (an intro, bloggers and technical track), and apart from an occasional venture into the Set Theatre for some of the main talks, I set up camp in the tech stream for the two days. The diversity and quality of speakers was excellent but Joost de Valk‘s session on optimising websites was the highlight of the weekend. Joost (aka @yoast) is a lot of things (including a Theologian (believe it or not!), Open Source evangelist and genuinely nice chap) but he’s best known for his SEO expertise and has worked with a number of very large clients including TomTom and KLM. You can see Yoast’s WordCamp slides for yourself (and they’re pretty easy to understand without any notes). Well worth having a flick through.
There were a lot of familiar faces at the event but I met lots of great new people too. There was a pretty substantial Sligo contingent down for the weekend including fellow web developer Kevin Peyton, Polldaddy Lenny and a gang of final year students from the Web Development course in IT Sligo.
I did a presentation on WordPress Theme Frameworks, which was more of an introductory / awareness talk than anything but hopefully found useful by some people. In case you’re interested, Frameworks are very minimalist themes that are designed specifically for extended and personalising. If you’re someone who develops a lot of WordPress themes, using a Framework as your starting point is a great way of cutting down on the amount of time you spend coding.
I’ll post the slides here as soon as I get the finger out and strip out the animations, otherwise they’ll be unreadable. <-- edit: the Slides are available now at the bottom of this post, you'll need to read the narration in the notes tab to make any sense from them so you might be better off clicking on the title link which will bring you to the Slideshare site.
There was a huge amount of work put into this weekend by Sabrina and Katherine and they're already talking about WordCamp Ireland 2011. If it's even a fraction as good as the inaugural event, it'll be one of the finest events in next years diary — don't miss it.