Missed WordCamp Cape Town? Here’s a complete recap

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After lunch it was the turn of the propeller heads. Anthony Somerset from W3 EDGE, maker of the fantastically popular W3 Total Cache plugin gave an in-depth talk about optimising WordPress blogs by getting dirty with MySQL and PHP configurations. He said that most of the time, the database is the bottleneck.

He had plenty to say about MySQL engines MyISAM and InnoDB, recommended tools, configuration variables to target, web servers (Apache vs. Nginx), cleaning up old database data such as comments — he actually suggested outsourcing comments by using Disqus — trashed posts and revisions.

He touched on database replication (reading data from different servers and thereby spreading server load) through HyperDB and finished off with suggested settings for PHP. Be sure to check out his full presentation when it goes live on the WordCamp site.

Mark Slingsby co-founder RSAWEB continued in the geeky vein by talking about scaling growing WordPress sites through cloud services, content delivery networks (CDN), memcache, plugins such as W3 Total Cache and Minify, tuning MySQL as specified in Somerset’s talk and keeping third party plugins to a minimum.

The technical track of the day ended off with a talk by Byron Rode, co-founder of development agency, Tangram. He spoke about some of the quirks that can occur with caching plugins, despite their ease of use and dramatic impact — he revealed case studies in which response times drop from 8 to 2 seconds after initialling the Minify plugin for example.

Rode also suggested checking out Transients API for WordPress which can greatly reduce load and talked about the benefits of image spiriting.

Next up was a panel discussion in which business owners discussed their experiences with building a business around WordPress. They lauded WordPress for its zero capital requirements, its multinational reach and inherent global collaborative culture and spoke about how they managed to make a living from an Open Source platform through theming and consultancy businesses.

“Jeffikus” Pearce, a lead developer at WooThemes, kicked off the last track of the day. He touted the benefits of reusing code and using existing third party stubs. The benefits he mentioned included speeding up development times and perfecting budget fit.

His presentation was most notable for his list of favourite WordPress tools. They include development tools such as Debug Bar, Debug Bar Console, Theme Check and VIP Scanner.

He noted how WooThemes was hacked in April this year and included a list of security plugins such as Secure Scanner, WP File Monitor Plus, Limit Login Attempts and Force Strong Passwords.

His list of favourite backup tools included Vault Press, Backup Buddy, PressBackup and ManageWP.

He singled out “massive impact plugins” such as W3 Total Cache, WordPress SEO by Yoast, Members, Gravity forms, WPML and some of his company’s own plugins such as WooDojo, WooCommerce and WooSlider.

Other useful plugins that were mentioned include Event Espresso, the Facebook plugin, JetPack and Software as a Service (SaaS) services WPEngine, ZippyKid, Page.ly and his company’s WooHosting.

Winding down the day, lead developer at WooThemes and “WordPress evangelist”, Matty Cohen did a timeline presentation showing how WordPress changed from its original 0.71 Gold edition, to 1.0.1-miles, then version 2.0 and the Kubrick theme, 2.7.0 which showed a radical admin UI change, to WordPress 3 with its new 2010 theme, right up to present day with version 3.4.x and its “Zen Writer” mode, theme customiser and hosted service.

He believes WordPress will focus more on mobile in the future and adopt Object Oriented Programming (OOP). He finished by saying that WordPress is truly “democratising publishing.” We couldn’t agree more.

British musician, Matt Bush closed the day by showing how easy it is for musicians to establish powerful online presences with WordPress. He singled out plugins for SoundCloud, Twitter, Facebook, BandCamp, SongKick, Youtube and Instagram.

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