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The team at Uncanny Owl reflects on WordCamp Europe 2023 in Athens and gives a big,”Thank you!” to the WordPress community.
For three days in June, the Uncanny team descended on the ancient (and awe-inspiring) city of Athens, Greece for WordCamp Europe 2023. As enthusiastic members of the WordPress community, we were thrilled to meet with other WordPress developers and contributors—many of whom we had only ever had the pleasure of working with virtually.
WordCamp conferences are all about fostering partnerships and friendships to strengthen the community and, ultimately, to build better plugins for all of our users, the world over. And that’s exactly what we did at WCEU 2023!
Since our last appearance at a WordCamp Europe event, Uncanny Automator has grown leaps and bounds, adding ever more integrations (including AI), scaling up support and bolstering functionality. And all of our hard work, thanks to our users and contributors, paid off in spades in Athens! All throughout WCEU, many of our fellow developers recognized our U-Bot t-shirts and came up to us to tell us how much they loved the work we had put in. And we can say that, after such a warm response from the WordPress community, we’re only getting started!
The Uncanny team is now more excited and energized than ever before to continue improving our plugins and growing our already incredible community of users and partners. Scroll down to hear the main highlights and takeaways of WCEU 2023 from the Uncanny team. And make sure to read to the end for some sneak previews of what lies ahead!
Were you excited to return to WordCamp Europe? How did this year compare to previous years?
For one of our team members, Anastasia Kolomoytseva, Athens is about an hour drive from home. Having one of our own host us in her home city was a truly special experience and one that the whole team will never forget. However, as excited as we were, Nastia was brimming with pride to welcome us to her home—what we’ve taken to calling “The City Made of Marble”. We couldn’t help but share her excitement with our return to WordCamp: “I was VERY excited to return to WordCamp! The last time the team attended WordCamp Europe was 2019 in Berlin so it has been a long time and I’ve missed the community very much.”
What was your favourite part of WordCamp Europe 2023?
We asked our master-of-all-things UI-related, Agustin Barrientos, what he enjoyed most about WordCamp Europe this year. A little background on his answer; our team consists of people from all over the world. We come together in our love for creating the best plugins possible but we rarely come together in the same place physically. Agus’ answer resonated most with the team: “Without a doubt, the best part of the experience for me was spending time with the Uncanny Owl team. The team is formed of really good and positive people that make me feel proud of the work we do. Participating in the event, with the energy from the WordPress community, alongside such a team was an incredibly rewarding experience.”
Who was your favourite WCEU 2023 speaker and why?
Daniela Rodríguez Daza is one of our front-end developers and a whiz at creating solutions for our customers—not to mention, the rest of the team! She had some great takeaways from the conference and we can’t wait to see how she implements what she learned into Uncanny Automator. When we asked her who her favourite presenter was, we simply had to agree: “Lazar Bulatovic and his session titled ‘The Blind Guy Who Beat the Developer at His Own Game’. His talk was a true eye-opener, demonstrating the challenges that blind people face while navigating the internet. It motivated me to continue enhancing the accessibility of our website.”
Who had the best booth and swag giveaways at WordCamp Europe 2023?
WordCamp is always an opportunity for small contributors to get their name out there and for big contributors to show their appreciation. And what better way to spread the word and the love than with FREE giveaways! While networking and learning were our team’s top priorities, we also considered ourselves to be conference-swag connoisseurs. To be honest, everyone had some amazing giveaways. From freshly-printed custom tees to mouth-watering macarons, it was WordPress creativity at its finest. I think the team agreed with me when I said: “Do I have to pick one booth or giveaway?! The thought that went into the designs of the booths and the Athens-themed alterations to familiar logos really blew my mind! I also had a great time handing out our custom stickers—I know I’ll see U-Bot stickers adorning laptops at the next WordCamp, for sure!”
What did you learn about WordPress that you didn’t know before?
As a project manager (amongst his many other hats), there isn’t much that David Chambo doesn’t know. But when you get a room full of WordPress contributors, you’re guaranteed to learn something new. David’s takeaways from the conference echoed a lot of what the team thought with some keen insights of his own: “I learned a lot about how we still have a long way to go with improving accessibility. Also, there is a very large demand for multi-language support in the platform that does not rely on AI translations. So, the community still wants humans to lead the charge and drive innovation, using AI to implement solutions, not create them.”
What did you like most about WCEU’s host city of Athens, Greece? What could Athens teach us about WordPress and web development?
Anyone who has ever been to Athens knows that it is impossible to ignore the history that surrounds you. The Acropolis towers over the city and watches over the millions of tourists as they meander through the marble-paved streets. It’s easy to stumble upon the ruins of once-grand edifices such as Hadrian’s Library or the Ancient Agora. Even the subway stations contain fragments of ancient clay pots and vases. Our engineering manager and lead developer, Saad Siddique, summed up the impact that Athens had on the atmosphere of WordCamp Europe perfectly: “Athens is an ancient city, built by one of the most advanced civilizations; the Greeks! It was fascinating to see the 3,300+ year-old Acropolis and several other monuments that have stood the test of time; outliving waves of invasions and the brutal Grecian sun. One of the takeaways as a developer, is that the results of your work can be everlasting if you plan and execute correctly.”
If you had the opportunity, what presentation or workshop would you like to have given?
As a team, we were eager to close our mouths and open our ears to hear what the rest of the WordPress community had to say. Much to our surprise, however, countless contributors asked us how they could attend one of our workshops or in which conference room we’d be presenting. Of course, we were always happy to give an impromptu presentation to anyone who asked but the team agreed that it would have been great to participate in a more official capacity. Our dauntless director, Ryan Moore, had some great ideas on what topics an Uncanny team might present at another WordCamp conference: “Next time we’ll pitch a topic on automation—maybe a workshop on using AI in conjunction with automation to manage your website.”
With WordCamp Europe 2023 now in the rearview, what do you think the future of WordPress holds?
For the future of WordPress (and Automator) we return to our team’s hostess, Anastasia Kolomoytseva. Anastasia perfectly summarized the theme of WordCamp Europe 2023 when she said, “Athens teaches us about the importance of preserving tradition while embracing innovation.” And with such a profound appreciation of the past, she has a clear vision for the future: “After attending WCEU 2023, it became clear that WordPress is set for an exciting future. The platform is rapidly evolving with a focus on enhancing the Gutenberg editor, improving accessibility and embracing new technologies like integration with AI. The discussions and presentations at WCEU revealed a strong commitment to shaping the future of WordPress, making it a promising and dynamic platform for years to come.”
In the coming months, the Uncanny team will be hard at work implementing everything we’ve learned at WCEU 2023 to make Automator better. But before we put our heads down and our fingers to the keyboard, we would like to extend our deepest thanks to the WordCamp Europe organizers, sponsors, contributors and volunteers. We would also like to say a special thank you to our very own Anastasia Kolomoytseva, who was instrumental as an organizer in helping to make WordCamp memorable, productive and enjoyable. And, of course, we would like to thank the city of Athens for hosting WordCamp Europe.
With luck (and your continuing support and feedback), we hope to see more of you at future WordCamps! Until then, happy automating!