Speaking Twice at WordCamp Kent 2018

I’ve long considered WordCamp Kent (formerly WordCamp Northeast Ohio, and WordCamp North Canton before that) to be the premier WordCamp in Ohio. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun in Cincinnati last year, WordCamp Dayton always puts on a good show, and Columbus will always be my first (and hometown) ‘Camp, but WordCamp Kent has been the highlight of my Ohio WordCamp experience for the last few years.

WordCamp NEO (2016) marked the first time the conference was held in Kent, Ohio, along with the first time I got to formally meet Chris Lema (my current boss); I’d be lying if I said the session I spent sitting into the hall talking to Chris didn’t in some way lead to my current position at Liquid Web today. That year, I spent the after-party having a great conversation with podcaster, educator, and generally funny (lookin’) Adam Silver. Last year, I got to know WordPress educator and freelancer Carrie Dils along with SEO expert Rebecca Gill (who wasn’t even speaking, she just wanted to take in the fun).

WordCamp Kent consistently pulls in big names for a moderately-sized ‘Camp, meaning you’re able to really get to know the speakers and attendees. Where else can you have Jeff Matson (RocketGenius) take a photo of you throwing shade at Jeff Chandler (WP Tavern) for enjoying a Zima (in 2017, no less!)?

I’m especially excited because the organizing team this year is being run by my good friend Megan Morsie (a.k.a. @megabyterose). A relative newcomer to the WordCamp circles (if I’m not mistaken, WordCamp NEO in 2016 was her first WordCamp), Morsie’s become a mainstay in the Midwestern WordCamp circuit, has taken over the Northeast Ohio WordPress meetup group, and is a solid developer in her own right.

Anyway, onto the talks:

Testing Like You’ve Never Tested Before (Because You Haven’t)

I’m really excited to finally be giving this talk, as I’ve been pitching it for the last three years or so without success. Automated testing has become a huge part of my day-to-day workflow in the last couple of years (to the point that I’m “the testing guy” on my team), so I’m pleased to get a chance to share those first steps with other developers:

Testing software in an automated fashion is one of the best ways to guarantee quality, reduce bugs, and prevent regressions in our code, and is a prerequisite to operating in a Continuous Integration environment. Unfortunately, the most difficult parts of testing come right at the beginning: scaffolding a test suite and writing our very first tests. For those who are new to automated testing, these hurdles can prove overwhelming.

This talk covers the fundamentals of testing, in a beginner-friendly way. We’ll discuss how testing makes software better, the various levels of the Automation Pyramid, how to scaffold some basic unit and integration tests, and discuss the characteristics of great tests.

Greener Pastures: Infrastructure from the Ground Up

This is a new talk this year, based on my short tenure as the Director of Technology at Growella:

In late 2016, I left my comfortable agency position as a Lead Web Engineer to join a small media startup as its first Director of Technology.

One of the major draws to the startup was its complete lack of technical debt: I’d be in charge of deciding everything we used, from hosting platforms, platforms, and office tools. The opportunity was perhaps the greenest of fields I had ever laid eyes upon.

While the company ended up not being the right fit for me, the lessons learned from researching, evaluating, and deploying the solutions have informed recommendations and decisions in my career post-startup.

Attendees will gain insight into the technology needs and available solutions for a small, web-based publisher, and the criteria that led to each decision.

I have really high hopes for WordCamp Kent this year, and I hope to see plenty of familiar and new faces there!