Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Takeaway From WordCamp Dallas Part 1

I was fortunate enough to get to attend WordCamp Dallas, which was a great experience. Living in the Dallas area doesn't afford me Wordcamp Dallas 2008a lot of opportunities to go to many web related events so this was really nice. I went with zero expectations of what I would get out of it. I just wanted to meet like minded people and see what WordPress is all about since I haven't used it before. It turned out to be a really enjoyable two days, and I'll cover some of what I took away from it.  I originally planned to have this all as one post, but it seemed significantly longer than I normally like so I decided to split it into two parts.  This one will cover things that I'm going to start using because of WordCamp, and in my next one I'll go over tips/advice I picked up, and which sessions I really enjoyed.

I've never used WordPress. When I first started my site, I did everything myself. All of the coding and whatnot I setup on my own. I even built a rudimentary comment system. To update I had a little form I made in PHP what would update my database. I was pretty proud of myself for doing everything on my own. The problem, though, is that it's a lot of work do maintain that way. I was doing a lot of things manually, and decided that I could either invest time in writing things to automate some stuff and make scaling easier, or I could use a blogging tool. I decided that lazy was the way to go, so I set out to find a tool. The choice wasn't really that hard, though, since Google owns Blogger, and if you know me you know that Google also owns me. I use all of their other services so I saw no reason to not also use their blogging platform. Eventually I started using Live Writer so I never even visit the Blogger page anymore. Despite my using it for about a year now, I've never been 100% sold on Blogger. I especially feel this way after seeing WordPress 2.5 in action. As such, I'm going to be migrating my site over the the WordPress platform. I already have it setup and am currently running it parallel to my Blogger so that I can make sure it's all working and can just be switched over. I'm working on getting a design that I like put together before I go live with WP. I'm hoping to do that this week, but my schedule may not allow for anything to happen before this weekend. Get excited, though, because it's coming.

WordPress wasn't the only thing that got talked up that I've decided to start using. Feedburner was also touted by a few people. I visit gobs of sites that use Feedburner, but I never really bothered to set it up. After hearing the praise given to it, though, I've decided to give it a go. I don't know how many people are actually subscribing to my feed as it is now, but I'm pretty sure it's not many. It's because I'm guessing that number is so low that I've not bothered using anything special. I'll give it a try, though, and see what it's like.

What may be the coolest thing out of WordCamp Dallas is the new stat tracking service Woopra. Woopra Logo This tool is amazing. There is a desktop client that provides real time tracking and shows live usage data. You can actually see what pages are being viewed by which visitor as they are viewing them. That's just the whiz-bang awesomeness, it also provides a plethora of detailed stats. I'll try to play with it some more and write up something in more detail later. Check out the coverage at GeekBrief.TV, Mashable, and TechCrunch. Everyone present at WordCamp was lucky enough to get a beta invite and I started playing with it instantly. It really is amazing. You can try for a chance to win an invite for yourself over at Culturefeast, or request one from the Woopra website.

That wraps up part one of what I got out of WordCamp.  I can't recommend playing with Woopra enough.  It is an incredibly awesome app, you you really should check it out.  I'll have to use Feedburner and WordPress more before I can give real thoughts on them.  From what I've seen, though, WordPress will be great.  I already see it as being a great tool for me, and one that should improve my blogging experience.  I'll probably have part 2 up sometime tomorrow, so check back.

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