This article reproduced from my personal blog www.nickyveitch.net.
On 11-13 November 2016, I attended the 5th annual Joomla! World Conference (#JWC16), in Vancouver, Canada.
After a 17 year IT career and much playing with HTML/CSS, I started using Joomla! around 2005/2006, but never really had time to get involved in the community. I attended an Australian Joomla!Day in 2013, and the Melbourne JUG a few times, but that was about it.
I couldn't get to a JWC in previous years so I set my sights on #JWC16. I decided on 2 main goals - to network and meet some of the international community and learn a bit more about it (with a view to possibly becoming involved), and also attempt to gain the new Joomla! Administrator certification.
The first goal was simple - the #JWC16 crowd were a wonderful bunch of people who were very welcoming and keen to network. As an open source community, everybody is a volunteer and without question, everybody I met was happy to answer questions and explain their own involvement. It certainly made walking in without knowing a soul, far less scary than I'd anticipated.
The second goal was a little more difficult. The certification exam wasn't easy - it requires an 80% pass mark. So no matter how much you think you know - it requires study. I heard stories on the first 2 days that only 1 person passed the last time the exam was offered. I also heard there would be questions on implementing a multilingual site which, being an Aussie and living in a country with only one official language and no neighbours, is not something I've ever had to do before!
At the final keynote, we were encouraged to blog about our #JWC16 experience, and consider our biggest takeaway. I make the following observations:
- The #JWC16 had a nice balance of "business" and "technical" - I was mildly concerned it would be more technical than I was capable of / interested in but this was certainly not the case.
- There was a good range of sponsors supporting the event.
- The location, venue and food was fantastic (although I'm not sure I'll be able to face "breakfast potato" again anytime soon :/ ).
- The workshops I attended were all excellent, conducted by people clearly knowledgeable in more ways than just technical geekdom (and now all available on YouTube).
I guess my main takeaway is that I haven't really been very involved to date, and don't know many Joomlers from my part of the world. (To be fair, I've spent the last 6 years studying part-time, working part-time, and raising 2 kids so I've had other priorities). But now I've completed my degree and my kids are a bit older, I've signed up to attend the next Melbourne JUG meetup, and made contact via social media with some of the Sydney JUG. And I've spoken with a couple of people I met at #JWC16 about areas I could volunteer in, and signed up at Joomla's Volunteer Portal. Who knows where this will lead?!
I really enjoyed the whole #JWC16 experience and got a lot out of it, and will definitely be back for #JWC17 in Rome next year. If anybody reading this is on the fence about attending - just do it! And I'll see you there. :)