A Developer’s Highlights from WordCamp NYC 2012

Continuing on my recent WordCamp tour, I was lucky enough to be in New York City two weekends ago. Marking my seventh Camp in nearly as many months, I was privileged to be chosen to speak in one of its twelve tracks. Thankfully, I was scheduled to speak in the first timeslot, which gave me the rest of the day to attend some excellent tracks. After presenting my talk, Moving Beyond the Codex: Learning WordPress From Itself, to an engaged, if groggy, group of developers, I wandered back and forth between the Developer and Advanced Developer tracks.

First was Helen Hou-Sandí’s Making Custom Content Management Disappear into the WordPress Admin, which explored approaches to customizing WP Admin that appear to be native parts of the interface. Helen included many practical examples, plus the relevant code, making her slides an invaluable resource for WordPress developers.

Next up was Oomph’s very own Ben Doherty talking about interacting with WordPress from the command line. Ben did an excellent job of walking unfamiliar users through the steps needed to begin command-line interaction, and did an equally good job fielding (sometimes complex) questions from attendees. It was clear that those developers who sat in on Ben’s talk found it quite valuable.

After an extended break for lunch, which provided an opportunity to say hello to some of the 800+ people at Baruch College for WordCamp NYC, I headed back to the Advanced Developers track for Mo Jangda’s discussion on debugging WordPress. Having worked with Mo for some time now as part of Oomph’s involvement with the WordPress.com VIP platform, it was excellent to finally meet him and gain some useful debugging tips from someone who sees a lot of code on a regular basis.

Sunday (after a late start, brunch, and some sightseeing) drew me back to Baruch for two new sessions. Due to the volume of attendees, much of Sunday’s schedule consisted of popular presentations from Saturday repeated, which provided an excellent opportunity to catch a missed talk from the day before. In addition to the repeats, two notable new presentations were delivered, one by Andrew Nacin, and the other by Daryl Koopersmith.

First up, Nacin delivered an excellent and much-needed talk on WP_Query, similar to his talk at WordCamp Netherlands 2012. He discussed basic usage of WP_Query, detailed how conditional tags behave and how to properly use them, and most importantly, explained why query_posts() is evil. The slides (and video, once available) are a must-see for any and every WordPress developer. His talk coming shortly before the release of WordPress 3.4, Nacin also highlighted some of the query performance improvements included in that latest release.

Wrapping up the weekend’s sessions was Daryl Koopersmith’s talk covering the new Theme Customizer included in WordPress 3.4. After introducing the scenario that led to its creation, Koop provided a detailed walkthrough of how the customizer functions and how developers can extend it to support their themes. Considering this functionality’s recent introduction, this talk provided invaluable information available in few other places at this point.

All in all, WordCamp NYC was a great experience for WordPress users at all levels. It’s great to see this event return to New York City after a brief hiatus, and turnout makes it clear that the WordPress community there is strong.