Steve Grunwell

Open-source contributor, speaker, and electronics tinkerer

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My First Keynote at WordCamp Dayton 2019!

I’m so incredibly proud to announce that this March, I’ll be giving my first ever keynote, Software: For the People, at WordCamp Dayton 2019!

You may recall that WordCamp Dayton is one of my can’t miss WordCamps — I’ve spoken at every WordCamp Dayton since 2015. Maybe it’s the great community, or maybe it’s because Dayton’s just about an hour and a half away. One thing I know for sure: the organizers keep accepting my talks, so I keep showing up to speak.

Software: For the People

Writing a keynote, as I’m learning, is very different from preparing a technical talk: you can’t simply pore over documentation and code samples to put together a deep-dive into an interesting topic. No, a keynote needs to grab the audience, no matter which track they’ll be spending the rest of the conference enjoying.

I’ve been enjoying Cal Evans’ “Cal Writes a Keynote” newsletter (which will eventually end up in his Spin a Good Yarn course), wherein he writes about his experiences preparing a new keynote in (semi-) real time. I’ve picked up a lot of good advice from Cal over the years, and I’m thrilled to give keynoting a try!

There’s a great feeling of satisfaction that comes from building a piece of software: using only our minds and a text editor, we’ve manipulated the machine, bending it to our will. Now and forever, we shall be recognized as the technical wizards who helped…sell more cheeseburgers?!

The sad truth is that a good portion of the software we build is — in the grand scope of things — absolutely meaningless. Countless hours, an obscene percentage of our lifetimes, spent building marketing sites to convince people to buy products they don’t need. Or building web apps to collect user data, which can then be sold to the highest bidder.

At some point in your career, you may find yourself at a crossroads: continue getting paid for work that ultimately leaves you unsatisfied, or take a step back and try to give your career purpose? This talk is about the latter: how to find meaning in the work that you do; after all, aren’t we supposed to be building software to help people?

Confidently Testing WordPress

Since it wouldn’t be a WordCamp for me without giving a technical talk, I’ll also be giving a brand new talk all about testing WordPress!

WordPress is a tightly-coupled system, representing over a decade and a half of ideas, decisions, technological shifts, and ideological struggles. There’s a lot of history to be parsed and often the simplest task can have unintended consequences.

Meanwhile, automated testing is one of the best ways to ensure software can be released regularly with high confidence and low risk of regressions. Sadly, the leap from “building WordPress plugins” to “building WordPress plugins with tests” is often viewed as a challenging hurdle. Luckily, there are tools to set up a test harness within an existing codebase with ease.

This talk introduces the fundamentals of automated testing, especially within the context of WordPress. After developing an understanding why automated testing is so critical, attendees will learn how to begin testing their plugins and themes, using features found both in PHPUnit and the WordPress core testing framework, to build and release quality software.

I can’t wait to share my hard work with everyone this March in Dayton!


Recordings from these talks are available on

Event details

WordCamp Dayton 2019
Dayton Metro Library
215 E. Third St.
Dayton OH 45402 March 2, 2019

Be excellent to each other.