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WordCamp Sacramento 2017 Recap

Pushing myself past my comfort zone.

I think that this was a pretty common theme for me at WordCamp Sacramento. I did so many things that I am not the most comfortable with, mostly involving speaking in front of people.

One of the sessions that I attended was not like anything else I had ever done. The session was a structured networking session led by Jennifer Bourn. She had us split up into groups of ten, and each person had 60 seconds to speak. Some examples of things to talk about were:

  • Why are you here?
  • What kind of result do you produce for your clients?
  • What could help you right now?

I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the general idea. After the tenth person in your group has spoken, you are free to exchange business cards.

This was my first time speaking at a conference. My talk was titled “The Benefits of Vanilla JavaScript (for the jQuery Developer)”. I honestly do not think that my actual talk could have gone much better. This experience definitely makes me want to do something like this again.

There were so many amazing sessions, but like any WordCamp, I was not able to attend every single session that interested me. Some of the incredible sessions were Treighton Mauldin speaking on how his agency is using WordPress as a headless CMS, Aaron D. Campbell talking about the importance of the open and free web, and Justin Busa talking about the considerations of building a plugin that over half a million people use.

I want to thank ServerPress, the company behind DesktopServer for lodging and the best breakfast I have had in the state of California (I was born and raised in Missouri, home to some amazing breakfast spots) and also to AnHonestHost for a delicious steak dinner.

Test Driving Pantheon

Up until this point, my personal website has been hosted on shared hosting. It has always served well for the purpose, but I just knew that I wanted a boost.

I am pretty familiar with WP Engine managed WordPress hosting, and it is a joy to use, so I knew that Managed WordPress was the way I wanted to go. However, for the lower tier plan, Pantheon had a sweeter deal for me. For $25/month I get everything I need for this site and then some. I get free SSL certificates, free global CDN, free New Relic, and so much more. Something that I noticed in the pricing between WP Engine and Pantheon is that when you get up to the $100/mo plans, Pantheon is $100 for one site and WP Engine is $100 for up to ten installs. Something to note when comparing. I enjoy using both platforms, but Pantheon just made more sense for this particular website.

Getting set up took me a while, since I was new to the workflow. I had already set up Git for a local site, but I found that it would have been much easier to set up a development site on Pantheon and then clone that repo locally before beginning work on it.

Pantheon has a very unique wp-config setup that I actually really appreciated. Unlike other managed WordPress hosting companies, you have access to change this file, but all of the sensitive credentials are set as environment variables. Your local site will then use a file called wp-config-local.php. It let me force https via wp-config very easily, and should I ever need to change something else in wp-config, I have full control.

The Pantheon workflow consists of three environments, Dev, Test, and Live. This could come in handy for sites with a ton of content or e-commerce sites. Dev is your standard staging server, but Test is unique. It combines new code (from Dev) with existing content (database) from Live. This should make sure less mistakes are pushed to the live site (fingers crossed).

Another great feature of Pantheon is their software called Terminus. It allows you to access your server via your own command line (no ssh) and run commands. This made using wp-cli a breeze.

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New Site and Keeping it Simple

I have let my thirst of wanting to know more, learn new technologies, and becoming a better developer become an obstacle for my personal website. Well, that will no longer be the case.

My personal website has not had a lot of attention because I honestly can’t stand the sight of it any more. Yes, it looks fine and it works, but I know that I can do better. I have progressed significantly as a developer since that site was built, and I now don’t even enjoy updating it.

I have had some crazy ideas for this website, including making it a flashy single-page-app with lots of cool animations, but I have to get better with that technology before I embark on something that ambitious. That is why this website will be using the Twenty Sixteen theme for a while with minimal plugins. I am going to focus on creating content, and not letting other things get in the way.