Last weekend we participated in the Grace Hopper…

Last weekend we participated in the Grace Hopper Women in Computing Conference‘s Open Source Day in Minneapolis. I, Alison Barrett, and Carolyn Sonnek attended as workshop teachers for the people who signed up for the WordPress section.

Alison led the group interested in working on how to contribute to coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress.. They went through the setup process with svn, and worked on a javascriptJavaScript JavaScript or JS is an object-oriented computer programming language commonly used to create interactive effects within web browsers. WordPress makes extensive use of JS for a better user experience. While PHP is executed on the server, JS executes within a user’s browser. patch that was submitted on tracTrac Trac is the place where contributors create issues for bugs or feature requests much like GitHub. I pinged Helen and Andrew Ozz to review the ticket so the participants could get an idea for how feedback gets delivered. After lunch, Alison’s group continued to learn about wp core (they mostly had js experience, no php).

Carolyn and I each led a small group in the morning that was focused on setting up a local installLocal Install A local install of WordPress is a way to create a staging environment by installing a LAMP or LEMP stack on your local computer. and learning how to use WordPress (they mostly had no experience with it, coming from programming backgrounds rather than content management). After lunch our two groups combined and we taught them how themes work and how to build a child themeChild theme A Child Theme is a customized theme based upon a Parent Theme. It’s considered best practice to create a child theme if you want to modify the CSS of your theme.

At the end of the day we had to get up and show a demo of what our group had worked on, so we threw together some quick posts on a test site I had (because we couldn’t have multiple people contributing to a local install simultaneously) describing some of the activity, and one of the students’ child theme was used. It won’t be representative of the class after next week, but if anyone wants to see what was shown, you can see it here until October 16, 2013 (after which I’ll remove the link and it goes back to being a test site for me).

What we learned:

  • Most of the computer science majors/professionals we met had heard of WordPress but not used it, and didn’t work with PHPPHP PHP (recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is a widely-used open source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for web development and can be embedded into HTML.
  • Because of our user/developer dual audience, it’s very difficult to ensure that a targeted workshop will reach the right audience without fairly strict pre-screening. We thought our group would be all people wanting to contribute to core, but 2/3 just wanted to learn how to use WP for the first time.
  • Having mamp and the most recent version of wp on a thumb drive is always very handy.
  • We could have jumped right into using WP if we hadn’t needed to dither with database connection errors etc in mamp/wamp for the first 20-30 minutes. That said, with this audience, they liked setting up the development environment, even if they weren’t going to do anything hardcore.
  • The workshop was the day after the conference proper ended, so some people had to leave after lunch because they were checking out of hotels, catching flights, etc. This is something we see when we do tack-ons after WordCamps also.
  • We really really need to kick it into gear with building curriculums and getting them online so we can start doing trainings of all stripes.

#conferences, #diversity, #grace-hopper, #training, #women, #workshops