Send us your questions for the town hall with WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg

Matt Mullenweg, about to ask a question himself.

Matt loves to answer questions.

The event is only 3 days away and I just realized we never sent out our request for the questions you want us to ask Matt, the founder of WordPress and our celebrity guest at WordCamp Montréal. Here’s your chance!

Matt will be on stage on Sunday afternoon to answer questions from the audience as well as ones posted online. Here’s the talk profile on the talks page. We used the same format when Matt visited two years ago and it worked well. People asked all kinds of WordPress-related questions that gave Matt a chance to both answer and wax poetic on the principles, strategies and motivations behind the creation and development of WordPress.

So what do you want to know about WordPress? Are you curious about some aspect of the history of WP? Wondering why a given feature was never added? Confused about why the three letter word “GPL” starts so many barfights?

Send us your questions using the comment form on this post or use twitter to tweet us @wordcampmtl with your burning queries. If you are also going to be in the room then please mention that in your question so we can keep it ’till the end in case you want to ask it yourself!

See you this weekend!

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A word from our sponsor: Microsoft!

As a sponsor of WordCamp Montreal 2011 (remember the yummy ice cream Saturday afternoon?), Microsoft WebMatrix provides you a simple and lightweight IDE to work with HTML, PHP, WordPress and a lot more Web applications with a one-click install. With an integrated web server, SQL server and with an easy way to deploy locally a WordPress instance in less than 10 minutes and a couple of clicks, WebMatrix is more than an IDE, it’s a complete tool for Web Developers that want to empower their work.

In addition to providing you an awesome tool, we also work with the community to help you work more efficiently with WordPress and your server on the Cloud or on premise. Here is an example with one of the most-used cache plugin for WordPress, W3Total Cache.

The latest release of W3 Total Cache, the site performance framework for WordPress, now supports the entire Microsoft stack including: IIS Support, Azure Storage Support for Content Delivery, MS SQL and SQL Azure Server Support and also makes WordPress compatible with Azure Cloud Hosting.

IIS Support: W3 Total Cache increases the reliability of WordPress deploys on Windows, it’s no longer necessary to deploy Apache or Nginx on Windows, the power of IIS and it’s modules can be fully leverage directly in IIS with the Microsoft Web Platform Installer.

Microsoft SQL / SQL Azure Support: Until now MySQL was the standard database backend for WordPress, now with W3 Total Cache not only are the powerful Microsoft SQL Server or Scalable SQL Azure backends available, but the power of W3 Total Cache’s database caching provides even more scale to the robust capability of MS SQL.

Azure Storage Integration: Whether using the Azure cloud hosting or not, leverage Microsoft’s network to improve user experience on your WordPress site by enabling Azure Storage as a Content Delivery Network (CDN) method. The integration is transparent and seamless once settings are populated and your media is uploaded to the cloud using the simple export tools.

Azure Cloud Hosting Compatibility: Deploy WordPress directly into the Azure cloud and benefit from complete control of the application performance using the Azure cloud hosting platform and W3 Total Cache’s fine-tuned controls for WordPress and Browser Caching.

Interoperability is the keyword in this new release and Frederick Townes, the CTO Mashable.com understood it: “Adding support of Microsoft technologies to WordPress is vital to increase the reach of the tens of thousands of plugins and themes that exist in the ecosystem. WordPress has clearly established itself as the leading publishing platform and W3Total Cache has made it a great experience on Microsoft platforms.”

We hope you had as great a weekend of WordPress awesomeness as we did. If you have any questions about WordPress and the Microsoft stack, please feel free to connect with Frederic Harper at fredh@microsoft.com. See you at the next edition.

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Speaker Spotlight: Shannon Smith!

WordCamp Montreal is only two days away! This is the final post in our speaker spotlight series!

I’m happy to present our very own, Shannon Smith!

Shannon is the founder of Café Noir Design a boutique Montreal web design company specializing in bilingual web design. She supports web standards, semantic markup, microformats, open source products, and sustainable business practices. Shannon works with a number of PHP/MySQL content management systems to create clean, minimalist designs, that adhere to W3C standards. She holds graduate degrees in journalism and psychology. Also a foodie and mother of two. Find her on twitter.

Shannon will be giving a talk titled The Future Is Mobile as well as a joint-talk titled Beginner’s Guide to WordPress. She is also heading an unconference titled Where are the women? Où sont les femmes?.

Why WordPress?

Shannon Smith

WordPress is just such a great system. I set up my first WordPress blog about 7 years ago and since then it’s just amazing how many people have contributed to the project. I’m a big fan of open source in general, but I think that WordPress is one of the better examples of a healthy open source ecosystem. The project attracts great talent, whether it’s by contributing code, time, support or just enthusiasm. And as a freelance developer, I also know it’s great for clients. It’s really easy to use and it’s also really easy to modify as a Web site grows and evolves. I really like that flexibility. ANd I like being able to give my clients Web sites that they can manage largely on their own.

Why did you decide to speak at WordCamp Montreal?

The long answer: It’s a great way to give back to the community. I’ve learned a lot attending WordCamps and I hope I’m thrilled to be able to bring some things that I’ve learned to the table. And it’s especially nice to be able to do this in Montreal. We have such a great tech community and there are so many people contributing to opens source projects here. There’s a really great cross-pollinization effect where what one person contributes to one project, gets applied to another, just because there is so much great communication. Events like WordCamp definitely contribute to that.

The short answer: It’s a lot of fun.

What is your talk going to be about?

I’m going to be talking about how to get your site ready for the future – specifically for the mobile web. The number of people using mobile devices to access the Web is growing so fast. But I see a lot of Web sites that just aren’t working for mobile. If you run a non-profit or a business, that means that one of your most important marketing tools isn’t working for a growing segment of your audience. I’m going to present some easy solutions, but also talk about how you can build beautiful, functional sites that take advantage of the new mobile Web.

What are you most looking forward to at WordCamp Montreal?

The people. WordCamp Montreal attracts a great crowd of interesting, dynamic people who are involved in such a diverse range of the tech community. There are hard-core programmers, mommy bloggers, educational institutions, non-profits. It’s the WordPress community under a microscope. I think it’s amazing that such a diverse audience is attracted to the event.

What is the one thing you want people to walk away with from your talk?

I hope that people will see that it is quite easy to get started with mobile development. And I hope it encourages people to improve their Web sites so that there are more functional, attractive Web sites out there.

What is your favourite WordPress plugin, and why?

That’s a tough one. WordPress SEO is great. I’ve also been use WP Super Cache and WP Smush.it a lot lately.

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Speaker Spotlight: Joachim Kudish!

WordCamp Montreal is only a week away! We’re as excited as ever about this event. We’ve prepared a speaker spotlight series that will show off some of our speakers at this years event!

I’m happy to present our next spotlight, Joachim Kudish!

Joachim created his first website at the age of 11. Ever since, he’s been passionate about all things web and has given himself the technical know-how to develop websites. In 2008, he tried out WordPress, and fell in love with the platform, and is happy to have seen it grow to where it is today. Referred to as the “WordPress guru” in the office, Joachim is now one of the lead developers at stresslimit, as well as a WordPress freelance developer. Find him on twitter.

Joachim will be giving a joint talk titled WordPress Custom Post Types In-Depth with Colin Vernon.

Why WordPress?

Joachim Kudish

WordPress is single handedly the best CMS out there. It’s grown so much over the past few years, and it’s finally at a stage where it’s the right platform for 99% of projects.

Why did you decide to speak at WordCamp Montreal?

I attended WordCamp Montreal last year and loved my experience. Why WordCamp? Having worked almost exclusively with WordPress for the past 2 years, I am now at a place where I feel comfortable talking about it and sharing my knowledge with others. Why Montreal? Well it is my hometown (though I am moving to Vancouver the day after WordCamp).

What is your talk going to be about?

Colin and I are going to talk about Custom Post Types. We’ll quickly (re)explain what they are, introduce various plugins used to create them, and give an overview of the different approaches to them. We’ll give our recommendations and show you how to expand them, and why they take WordPress that much further.

What are you most looking forward to at WordCamp Montreal?

Networking and connecting with other people. I made friends at #wcmtl last year, and I plan to make more this year :)

What is the one thing you want people to walk away with from your talk?

If you are a developer, that you understand the drawbacks of a GUI approach to custom post types. If you are not a developer, that you talk to your developer about using custom post types.

What is your favourite WordPress plugin, and why?

That’s a though one, it really varies from client to client and site to site, as everyone’s needs are obviously different. That being said, there’s a few plugins that I use on almost every site. One of my favourite and very useful ones is WordPress SEO by Yoast. As far as SEO goes, you shouldn’t install anything else.

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Speaker Spotlight: Tom Auger!

WordCamp Montreal is only a week away! We’re as excited as ever about this event. We’ve prepared a speaker spotlight series that will show off some of our speakers at this years event!

I’m happy to present our next spotlight, Tom Auger!

Tom is a designer, developer and educator who has himself recently made the shift to WordPress coder. Having found the process to be challenging, despite his decades of development experience, he is passionate about filling the gaps that The Codex and the multitude of online tutorials seems to be missing. Tom teaches in the Graphic Design and Web programs at Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Toronto, Ontario, and is a Senior Partner at Zeitguys, inc, a downtown Toronto digital agency where he leads their WordPress development practice.

Tom will be giving a talk titled WordPress Development Paradigms, Idiosyncrasies and Other Big Words.

Why WordPress?

Tom Auger

From an end-user perspective, WordPress is easy to use, consistent, stable, well supported, free and easy to customize; from a developer’s perspective, once you embrace the framework, you will find a coherent, and highly usable API built on best practices with a great community of support at all levels.

Why did you decide to speak at WordCamp Montreal?

I have gotten a lot of support from the community throughout my own learning curve and it was time to take my experiences, that are still fairly fresh in my mind, and share them with others who are starting from the same place I started when I began my WordPress journey.

What is your talk going to be about?

In a nutshell, I’m going to be covering WordPress best practices, which is synonymous with understanding and embracing the paradigm that the framework imposes. A lot of home-grown developers with years of development experience will naturally gravitate toward working with the raw materials at a low level – direct database access, JavaScript injection, editing core files etc. But WordPress exposes a lot of high-level abstractions that make your code more robust, feature-rich, portable and sustainable. The key, of course, is knowing where to look. My talk will try to shave off that initial and frustrating part of the learning curve for people with a development background who are new to WordPress.

What are you most looking forward to at WordCamp Montreal?

Geeking out with a bunch of people who are seriously passionnate about something I spend every working day with!

What is the one thing you want people to walk away with from your talk?

A shopping list of terms and concepts that they can then use to kickstart their own research into the WordPress framework.

What is your favourite WordPress plugin, and why?

MailPress, for all its issues and quirks, is pretty essential on a lot of the sites that my team works on so I’d have to pick that one.

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Speaker Spotlight: Al Davis!

WordCamp Montreal is only a few weeks away! We’re as excited as ever about this event. We’ve prepared a speaker spotlight series that will show off some of our speakers at this years event!

I’m happy to present our next spotlight, Al Davis!

Al Davis is the Shared hosting Product manager at TELUS and has been developing web sites and web strategies for more than 15 years and has worked with thousands of website owners, communicators, and online strategists in the course of his career.

Al will be giving a talk titled Shared Hosting and WordPress.

Why WordPress?

Al Davis from TELUS hosting

Al Davis

I have been using WordPress off and on since the b2 days, and, while having test driven most of the other self-publishing platforms in my day job (Shared Hosting Product Manager), I have always come back to WordPress. The interface has evolved and matured nicely, and it really is simple to use whether you’re a seasoned WordPress veteran or absolutely new to the platform.

Why did you decide to speak at WordCamp Montreal?

WordCamp Montreal has a great reputation and the opportunity to speak there was one that I couldn’t possibly pass up.

What is your talk going to be about?

Shared Hosting and WordPress…what to look for from a hosting provider, some tips and tricks for dealing with providers, how to set up WordPress in a Shared Hosting environment, and how to migrate a WordPress site from one provider to another.

What are you most looking forward to at WordCamp Montreal?

It’s Montreal in the summer and a WordPress conference to boot; what is there not to look forward to!

That and Brendan’s next chapter on building a community around your blog.

What is the one thing you want people to walk away with from your talk?

In all of my years as a Product Manager, I cant even begin to count the number of times I have spoken to a customer who was intimidated by the idea of uploading files to their space and setting up things like a database. Hopefully, after my talk, a few people will walk away with the confidence to tackle what is really a simple process.

What is your favourite WordPress plugin, and why?

I am a big fan of Backup Buddy for installing, migrating and backing up WordPress sites. It’s like three plugins in one!

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Speaker Spotlight: Ron & Andrea Rennick!

WordCamp Montreal is only a few weeks away! We’re as excited as ever about this event. We’ve prepared a speaker spotlight series that will show off some of our speakers at this years event!

I’m happy to present our next spotlight, Ron & Andrea Rennick!

Ron & Andrea Rennick specialize in the network/multisite feature of WordPress, ranging from custom plugin development to commercial plugins and ebooks at wpebooks.com. Both are active in the core WordPress development and support communities and Ron has the rare honor of being a “core committer” to the WordPress project. Find Ron and Andrea on Twitter.

Ron & Andrea will be hosting a Q&A session titled Multisite basics and Q&A with the experts.

Why WordPress?

Andrea Rennick

Ron Rennick

That’s like asking why I decided to breath oxygen. It just is.

Why did you decide to speak at WordCamp Montreal?

We’re from New Brunswick, and this is the closet Canadian WordCamp to us. So we’re using “local” very broadly. :) And it’s a great city! We’re even heading up a couple days early to take in some sights.

What is your talk going to be about?

II’l be speaking with my husband and partner Ron about the most common multisite questions – with answers! We’ll go over the top ten or so questions we get and leave plenty of discussion time.

What are you most looking forward to at WordCamp Montreal?

I’m tempted to say bagels, but really it will be meeting up with familiar faces and seeing new ones. The people in the community are the best part.

What is the one thing you want people to walk away with from your talk?

I’d like people to walk away with a better understanding of how multisite works internally, what to use it for and when not to use it. At the very least, I’m going for “less scary”.

What is your favourite WordPress plugin, and why?

Hmm, that’s like asking which child of mine is my favorite! :D One plugin I like a lot, because it should be in core, is the snack bar plugin. It adds extra links to the admin bar for managing the subsites when using multisite.

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Speaker Spotlight: Brian Rotsztein!

WordCamp Montreal is only a few weeks away! We’re as excited as ever about this event. We’ve prepared a speaker spotlight series that will show off some of our speakers at this years event!

I’m happy to present our next spotlight, Brian Rotsztein!

With over 10 years of Internet marketing experience, Brian brings a seasoned approach to working with clients. As the head of two web design and Internet marketing companies (RedstoneX.com and Uniseo.com), he helps businesses gain a competitive advantage. He holds two Master’s degrees, has taught university courses, and provides training services for topics such as SEO and social media. He’s been a WordPress fan since he started using version 1.6 (in 2005!). Find him on Twitter.

Brian will be giving a talk titled SEO & Social Media for Business with WordPress.

Why WordPress?

Brian Rotsztein

This may sound funny but I started blogging before WordPress existed by literally updating an HTML page. I would write a date and enter my post below it. It made for a very long page! Back then, the concepts of blogging software and content management systems weren’t nearly as common as they are now so it’s no surprise that it took a while to come across WordPress for the first time. When I finally discovered it, I definitely had the “WOW! Factor” come over me. It instantly changed the way I managed websites and continues to do so for millions of users. It’s flexible and easy to learn which are two key reasons to use it.

Why did you decide to speak at WordCamp Montreal?

Based on the seemingly countless emails and calls that come into the office about Internet marketing, especially search engine optimization (SEO), I realized that there is a large need for quality education on these topics. More recently, questions have also been pouring in about social media marketing (e.g., the use of Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc). Many people still don’t realize how well-suited WordPress is for online marketing. You can’t just take university or CEGEP courses in these areas since classes on these topics don’t exist. It’s up to professionals working in the field to do the teaching. My company provides training workshops but I feel it’s an opportunity to give back to the community by offering complimentary introductory sessions to the local WordPress community.

What is your talk going to be about?

I am going to provide an overview of important aspects of WordPress that can be used to increase website visibility by way of SEO and interactivity via social media platforms

What are you most looking forward to at WordCamp Montreal?

I’ve been to some great WordCamps and really love the atmosphere. The event provides an excellent opportunity to meet people and share ideas. Individuals who work in our industry frequently do so in isolation and this is a fun way to come out and mingle, not to mention keep abreast of the latest trends. How else can we stay on the leading edge?! The fact that we’re all coming together as a community that loves this software is a testament to the strength of its supporters and the platform itself. If you aren’t sure whether you should come or not, trust me, it’s worth it. I have yet to meet anyone who felt that WordCamp was a waste of time.

What is the one thing you want people to walk away with from your talk?

I hope that attendees will walk away with a basic understanding of SEO and social media platforms, and how WordPress can be used for both purposes.

What is your favourite WordPress plugin, and why?

The peculiar thing is that most of those who know me will assume it would be an SEO plugin. In fact, I have several favourites but the one I’d like to mention is the “More Fields” plugin. I really appreciate how WordPress users can benefit from it by adding functionality to a site without getting overly complex.

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Speaker Spotlight: Adam Ware!

WordCamp Montreal is only a few weeks away! We’re as excited as ever about this event. We’ve prepared a speaker spotlight series that will show off some of our speakers at this years event!

I’m happy to present our next spotlight, Adam Ware!

Adam is a self-declared “seasoned web veteran” with a rich web analytics background and extensive digital marketing experience and skills. He is now the CEO at SwellPath, an analytics consulting and digital marketing agency based in Portland. He has been a WordPress fanatic, and hardcore user since 2006. A developer in the early years of his career, he now codes just enough to distract himself for hours with analytics and WordPress. Find him on Twitter.

Adam will be giving a talk titled Measure Twice, Blog Once.

Why WordPress?

Adam Ware

It is simply the easiest and most flexible open source CMS to work with for bloggers, businesses, and whomever else.

Why did you decide to speak at WordCamp Montreal?

I wanted to visit the area, meet new folks in the WordPress community, and spread some analytics knowledge.

What is your talk going to be about?

Getting better data from your WordPress site, through web analytics tactics and tools.

What are you most looking forward to at WordCamp Montreal?

Meeting new people!

What is the one thing you want people to walk away with from your talk?

At least one thing they can implement to get more insight into how visitors are using their site.

What is your favourite WordPress plugin, and why?

Google Analytics for WordPressYoast is the best!

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Speaker Spotlight: Kathryn Presner!

WordCamp Montreal is only a few weeks away! We’re as excited as ever about this event. We’ve prepared a speaker spotlight series that will show off some of our speakers at this years event!

I’m happy to present our next spotlight, Kathryn Presner!

Coming from a communications background, Kathryn takes a holistic approach to web design and development, building unique sites that work well, look fabulous, and are easily found in search-engine results. She is passionate about helping people avoid common website pitfalls and enjoys speaking to entrepreneurs on the topic. Find her on Twitter.

Kathryn will be giving a talk titled Take Control of Your Templates with WordPress Conditionals as well as a joint-talk titled Beginner’s Guide to WordPress.

Why WordPress?

Kathryn Presner

As a professional web designer, I really value the ability to make a WordPress site look like anything I want. The software’s useful functionality can be integrated into my own custom design very easily so that each client’s site is unique. (I love to show really creative WordPress sites to people who think all WP sites look the same – their eyes bug out!) I also like supporting an open source project.

On the user side, my clients – even the less tech-savvy ones – find it intuitive and simple to use, and they appreciate being able to update their own sites so easily.

Why did you decide to speak at WordCamp Montreal?

I’m passionate about WordPress and it gives me great pleasure to share what I know and maybe even inspire others.

What is your talk going to be about?

I’m giving two talks this year. The first is a session on WordPress for beginners which Shannon Smith and I will do together. This presentation is meant to demystify the basics for people who are new to WordPress – from how it works on the technical side, to what the key lingo means, like widgets, plug-ins and themes. We’ll explain how the self-hosted version of WordPress differs from WordPress.com and log into the administration area and have a brief look around.

My solo talk, called Take Control of Your Templates with WordPress Conditionals, looks at how to use conditional tags to do some extremely handy things in your template files. If you’ve never used conditional tags before, prepare to fall in love with one of the most useful features WordPress offers for theme development.

What are you most looking forward to at WordCamp Montreal?

I’m really excited to meet a fellow WordPress support-forum moderator, Mika Epstein (aka Ipstenu), who’s flying in from Chicago. I also can’t wait to reunite with the Rennick clan from New Brunswick, including WordPress Multisite gurus Andrea and Ron and their talented designer-artist daughter Sarah.

What is the one thing you want people to walk away with from your talk?

WordPress is truly fun to work with once you get the hang of it and you shouldn’t be intimidated!

What is your favourite WordPress plugin, and why?

Tough question – there are so many really useful ones. I think every WordPress site should use a backup plug-in, in case of disaster. The one I install for all my clients is WP-DB-Backup and it works really well, sending you a copy of the database by email at whatever frequency you set.

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