We've just gotten back from WordCamp Europe 2017, held in Paris, and boy was it awesome!
Our entire team found the experience insightful and important. In just two concentrated days, we got to meet top WordPress figures, previously only communicated via email or Skype.
We also met various members of the WordPress community from all over the world, all earning a living through WordPress in one way or the other. We listened to a handful of riveting talks, including the inspiring closing interview with Matt Mullenweg.
Oh, and we visited Eiffel, obviously!
Having Fun at WordCamp
You can't write about WordCamp without addressing the generous swag handed by the contributing sponsored. This WC's notable merch included BlueHost spinners (thanks Nick), Yoast Lego minifigures and WPEngine Smartphone holders (which were handed with a guarantee it will change my life forever).
Another memorable part of WCEU were the parties. We couldn't attend all of them, but we did get to partake in Freemius & WPEngine's Friday party, held in a cozy underground cellar, which included free wine and free food. It provided the perfect surrounding to converse with other plugin developers and get to know them better.
Also worth a mention was the official WordCamp after-party, a great ending for a 48 hour intensive WordPress experience.
Finally Meeting WP-Friends & Colleagues
WordCamp Europe gave us the opportunity to meet some truly WordPress kings.
We finally met Syed Balkhi, of WPBeginner, Optin Monster, WPForms (and the list goes on) in person. The man and the legend! It was a pleasure to meet one of the most prominent people in the WordPress sphere. He's a giant in business, and kind of a giant in real life as well...
Another person we were happy to meet was Luca Fracassi of Addendio. He has an intriguing new business, about to be launched in collaboration with Plesk. It's a plugin recommendation dashboard meant to help new users set up their website, pre-populated with a handful of useful plugins.
We also met Ionut Neagu, the guy behind ThemeIsle and CodeinWP. This is one of the sharpest guys in the WordPress business, and we plan to continue to cooperate with him (we previously published a cross-tutorial about maintenance mode together).
Last but not least, Vova Feldman & Kobe Ben Itamar not only held the mother of all WC parties I mentioned before, but were also helpful enough to introduce us to their many acquaintances. Because Vova goes to A LOT of WordCamps, he knows pretty much everyone worth knowing in WordCamp.
Thinking of Our Readers
Even though WordCamp has been a fast paced event, we didn't forget about you readers. We kept our eyes opened for new innovative tools and plugins to help you enjoy WordPress better. We found a few nice plugin solutions we thought you may find interesting and worth a try.
Email Marketing & Automation
WordPress email marketing plugins seem to be all the rage now. Elementor recently added form integrations to MailChimp and MailPoet, and in this WordCamp, we found no less than two booths occupied by two separate WordPress email marketing sponsors: SendinBlue and Jackmail.
We found Both plugins interesting, but SendinBlue especially caught our attention. This is because of its visual automation features. With this feature, you can easily create multi-step, multi-channel campaigns, and run them from inside your WordPress. You can automatically re-target users according to their response to emails and also engage them differently. based on which page they visit or goal they reach.
Having the ability to create such automated campaigns from within the WordPress dashboard, triggered by the visitor's behavior, could prove a valuable tool. It could give SendinBlue a substantial advantage over email marketing solutions which are external to WordPress and requires integration.
The Automation feature is still in Beta, but my guess is the company will put more focus on this feature in the following year.
A shoutout goes to Amalia Bercot, SendinBlue's CMO, who was super-nice to us.
Versions & Backups
I attended Borek Bernard's lecture titled 'Git in 10 Minutes'. He gave a nice intro of how to start using Git in the most basic way possible.
While Borek's public speaking skills could use some work, he managed to present the complex subject of Git in a clear fashion.
Using Git is now standard practice for professional WordPress developers, and in his talk, Borek introduced the next step for implementing Git - getting your entire site managed through Git.
Borek's solution of VersionPress is quite an interesting one. From what I figured, VersionPress is git for your entire website. I think Borek called it 'The undo button for WordPress'.
As stated on their website, with VersionPress you can 'manage your WordPress site as any other software project. Push and pull from GitHub, create pull requests for new content changes, review them in a team, merge into production later, etc'.
This is a great plugin for site owners. Your entire site is saved as versions, and you can even undo a specific change without affecting newer updates.
If you've been following this blog, you know we released our own Revision History a while back. This is another method to make sure you never lose your work, and always have a backup for your content.
Testing & Compatibility Tools
Robot Ninja is a plugin that solves a huge pain for store owners. You update your WooCommerce plugin and your store breaks. Scary, right?
Robot Ninja allows for code-free testing for WooCommerce shops, done on real products and with real payments.
The plugin is still in beta, but if it proves to live up to its promise can be helpful to potentially millions of WooCommerce store owners.
Securing websites from bugs that relate to plugin updates is becoming more and more important. Users want to avoid the hassle of their site breaking just because they updated their plugin.
Users sometimes avoid updating their plugins because they are afraid it will break their site. This is a huge problem, that plugins like Robot Ninja wants to solve. Matt also addressed this issue in his talk, stating the fact that a third of all WordPress websites use an outdated version of WordPress. According to Matt, this is one of the major holdbacks for WordPress's technological progress.
Our team at Elementor also take this matter of update-related bugs seriously. In the next version of Elementor, which will come out in about a week, we will be adding the ability to register to Beta releases inside the plugin settings. We will also feature a rollback option, so if something goes wrong with an update you'll be able to rollback to a previous version with a click.
Hosting & Serverless
I have to admit I didn't attend a whole lot of lectures, but I did attend Miriam Schwab's lecture on security, and I'm glad I did.
This was an amazing talk, and that's not just my opinion. A few people I talked to after the lecture mentioned that Miriam managed to take a bland subject that has already been done to death, and present it in a new, interesting and comprehensive way.
Strattic, Miriam's newly launched WordPress solution, was no less interesting than her talk. During her talk, Miriam mentioned the many security threats that inflict WordPress site. Strattic overcomes many of these issues by turning WordPress sites into lightweight, scalable and practically non-hackable static websites.
Using the Serverless technology, Strattic creates a static version of your site. Hackers can't hack your site with brute force using logins, and they can't hack your database. This is an intriguing solution, and I wonder how will it position itself amidst the already highly populated security market in WordPress.
There was a huge presence of multilingual solutions this WordCamp. These included WPML, Polylang, Webglot, and MultilingualPress.
The wide array of plugins hint of the importance translation holds in the European WordPress community. The need for improvements in WordPress localization became even more apparent after attending Yoav Farhi's talk about RTL language support in WordPress.
The difficulty in creating a multilingual website is still a major pain for many WordPress users. In his lecture, Yoav mentioned the fact that the number of Arabic WordPress websites are significantly lower than what you would expect from the sheer number of Arabic speaking countries and population. He pointed to the difficulty in creating RTL based WordPress sites as a possible cause.
From our own perspective, we are happy to be able to provide Elementor in many languages. Elementor has already been translated by various contributors into 15 languages, and also supports RTL languages.
This WordCamp strengthened our resolution to expand Elementor's language support even further. We believe it will help us broaden Elementor's reach. If you want to contribute and translate Elementor, I invite you to do so. There is no technical requirement. You log in and submit a translation to your language online.
The Future of WordPress
Matt Mullenweg's interview can easily be considered the peak of the entire event. Held on 3 PM Saturday, it was a compelling and insightful talk, the perfect way with which to close WordCamp 2017.
Besides the interview, Matt also presented the Gutenberg project, which is the new block editor that will replace the old visual editor in WordPress. Will this pose a competitive page builder solution to Elementor? It's too early to tell. It is currently built as an editor and not a page builder, much like Medium's editor. In any case we welcome any progress that makes WordPress a more accessible and competitive CMS.
WordCamp is an experience every WordPress enthusiast should go through. It personifies all the values of WordPress and the open web. We plan to attend more WordCamp events worldwide in the future, in order to connect with the WordPress community as well as our own Elementor community. Hope to see you there next time!
If you've also attended WordCamp Paris, we'd love to hear about your own experience in the comments below.