Our Own Experience: WordCamp Europe 2014 – Sofia in Review
888 visitors from 52 countries met up at the WordCamp Europe 2014 in Sofia, Bulgaria – a vibrant melting pot of cultures and languages. For three days, we listened to presentations, had fiery discussions, made new contacts and revisited old ones, worked on WordPress, and generally celebrated being part of a great international community.
Multilingual WordPress in Europe
We six Ipsyders arrived with MultilingualPress PRO as a Bronze sponsor. Yes, you read correctly: it was not MarketPress sponsoring the European WordPress event, it was our plugin for multilingual WordPress – a great match for the international diversity of the WordCamp.
It is obvious that the participants are very interested in a Multisite-based solution. Detailed demos and one-to-one meetings make one thing crystal clear: a clean, multilingual WordPress installation is a real challenge for many European professionals, agencies, and freelancers.
The feedback for MultilingualPress and its scalable approach is positive across the board – a fact we are immensely happy about. But we also know that the ceiling is far from reached in terms of the peripheral features of the plugin.
There were, for example, plenty of requests for an importer for WPML-based sites – quite obviously a popular add-on function, which we should be able to implement with an own plugin in the not too distant future. And people were looking for improved WooCommerce support – well, we didn’t really need the feedback to know that. The international demand at the camp for a clean, multilingual shop solution with WordPress once again impressed on us the urgency with which it is needed.
Presentations & Contributor Day
Of course we also attended plenty of sessions. Presentations are done in English, the lingua franca of the digital age – no translations available. The presentations, which were flagged by topic, were – or that was at least my personal impression – one and all truly excellent, and the speakers were easy to understand. (Here and there you could hear some German comments that Mr. Nacin should maybe speak a little slower. Dream on … ;-))
Typical for the multicultural spirit of the event: not everyone was “only” talking shop and WordPress.
- Noel Tock started the Saturday sessions with a report on his experiences being a digital nomad.
- Yana Petrova talked about the touchy subject of depression in the IT sector.
- Siobhan McKeown hosted a philosophy reading.
- Jenny Beaumont talked about the weird fact that the knife in her back bears her own fingerprints.
- Chris Lema‘s Sunday morning sermon was all about professionalism, using a pair of ballet shoes as an example.
- Davide Casali talked about the six basic principles of the gestalt theory.
Tip: Video recordings of the presentations are published on the WordCamp Europe on WordCamp.tv channel.
On Contributor Day, us Ipsyders and 200 other workaholics congregated at the offices of SiteGround. Teams were created: There were teams for core, GlotPress, documentation, theme review, and BuddyPress, just to name a few. There was much to get done, so we got busy hitting the keyboards. At the end of the day (for once a fitting expression), we had a number of patches and a considerably increased theme review team for WordPress.org.
Sofia was an exciting backdrop for those very energetic days. Just like in East Berlin of the 1990s, the city boasts the crass contrast of pompous communist architecture and the organically grown, centuries old districts.
The hospitality of the people of Sofia is truly heartwarming. The younger generations all speak English, and if you meet anyone who doesn’t, then you can still make yourself understood with gestures: After observing my obvious bafflement when faced with signposts with Cyrillic lettering, a nice lady at the main post office closed up her kiosk, and walked with me around five corners to get me to the correct counter – wordlessly, but with an angelic smile on her face.
Bulgarian hospitality: we encounter plenty of it during our almost entirely sunny days at the WordCamp Europe. Petya, Tina, Mario, and the entire team of organizers and volunteers did a fantastic job.
The three day event with just under 900 people went like clockwork, and their friendliness and helpfulness never ever faltered. There is coffee by the bucket load (and some stronger stuff later), and were already planning ahead for future WordCamps.
Thanks a million, WordCamp Europe 2014!
Other links to the WordCamp Europe 2014 in Sofia:
- Our photo gallery for the event (Google Plus)
- Buzz: Contributions and Slides
- Video: Matt Mullenweg and Om Malik Q&A
- Sketch Notes & Statistics for WCEU 2014
Image contribution: WordCamp Europe Website. Statistics Sketch: Kristin Kokkersvold. Photos: Alex Frison (Ipsyde)
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