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WordCamp San Francisco Preview

Word Camp San Francisco PreviewWell, it’s WordCamp week, which means the WordPress community’s brightest minds, bloggers, developers and designers will congregate in San Francisco for the annual event to discuss and further evolve the popular open source publishing platform.

This year’s event, which will be held Aug. 12-14 at the Mission Bay Conference Center, has already sold out. Livestream and walk-up tickets may be available during the event, so stay tuned to 2011.sf.wordcamp.org and follow @wordcampsf and #wcsf on Twitter for additional details. New-user workshops are also scheduled to take place at the Automattic Lounge at Pier 38 throughout the weekend.

While smaller WordPress conferences and meet-ups are held all over the world, the San Francisco event is considered the granddaddy of all WordPress events. It’s also where founding developer Matt Mullenweg holds his annual “State of the Word” address, a presentation that’s a community favorite and is scheduled for Sunday at 11:10 a.m.

“The WordCamps are my favorite time of the year because meeting you guys is the most exciting thing,” Mullenweg told the crowd at last year’s WCSF. “Everyone has their own unique story about how WordPress has influenced them … how they’re using it, and how it’s changed their life in some way. There’s nothing I love more than hearing that.”

If you missed last year’s “State of the Word,” here’s a replay, courtesy WordPress.tv:

Mullenweg could go in a number of directions with this year’s address. Over the past couple years, WordPress has gone from a simple blogging platform to a full-blown CMS. And the WordPress family of projects continues to expand, with so many plugins and themes that relate to the different projects, it’s often tough to keep up with all the updates.

So Mullenweg will likely give an overview of the latest milestones for those major projects, recognize the core contributors and recent highlights from the community (like coming together to solve the TimThumb issue), and also give everyone on hand a glimpse into the next year for WordPress.

WordPress 3.3

There will also be plenty of talk about the next release of WordPress, 3.3, which is tentatively scheduled for mid-November, but don’t expect Mullenweg to commit to any release dates. He’s been doing this for too long to commit to dates, but the team would love to get the next major release out of the way before the holidays come along. Interested WordPress users can see the proposed scope for 3.3 as well as a rough timeline for the project on the WP Dev Blog.

The latest version, WordPress 3.2, has already been downloaded more than 4.5 million times, and more than 25 million people are using the platform overall, according to WordPress.org. What does that all mean? Well, among the top 1 million websites ranked by Alexa, 14% use WordPress, and that number continues to climb each year.

Despite that massive user base, and the endless bug reports and feature requests that come with it, the WordPress community is still able to churn out 2-3 major releases each year.

Core Contributors Presenting

Attendees at this year’s conference will get to hear from a number of WordPress’ core contributors, including Andrew Nacin, a relative newcomer to the team who was introduced at last year’s WordCamp.

This year, Nacin is scheduled to present twice, speaking about “Debugging in WordPress” to open Saturday’s schedule, and joining another popular contributor, Otto Wood, for “The Nacin & Otto Show” on Friday at 2:15 p.m. Many of Friday and Saturday’s sessions have been geared toward developers and designers.

On Friday, there is also a track for “decision makers, visionaries and less-technical pros.” Sunday has been designed as a content-focused day for bloggers and content creators. That’s when blogging and UX experts like Automattic’s Jane Wells, another one of the community’s most visible contributors, will take the stage and present on customizing themes and other content-related topics.

Talking Themes

Theme work will surely be a hot topic throughout the weekend. While the Thesis battle appears to be behind us, Mullenweg has pointed out there are a lot of folks with a “ bad taste in their mouths from the episode, since there was no apology or contrition shown.”

Long story short, commercial theme developers still have to respect the GPL and comply with the license. End of story.

It should be noted the core WordPress community isn’t against commercial themes. In fact, there’s a long list of commercial themes on WordPress.org from developers/designers who go above and beyond in terms of complying with the GPL, providing great support for users, and contributing to the community as a whole.

All of which will make Saturday’s four-person panel on “Making Money And Having Fun Selling WordPress Themes” that much more interesting. The presentation, slated for 11:15 a.m., will include David Cowgill (AppThemes), Drew Strojny (The Theme Foundry), Brian Gardner (StudioPress) and Lance Willett (Automattic), and should make for a great discussion and Q&A if time allows.

More Info.

For more information on presentations and the speakers at WordCamp San Francisco, check out the speakers page on the official site. There’s also a list of the 1,000+ attendees scheduled to make it out to the event.

We’ll see everyone in San Francisco!

Brian Milne is founder of the BlogHyped and BallHyped blog promotion communities. Follow him on Twitter @BMilneSLO and check out a Twitter-specific list of #WCSF’s attendees at @BMilneSLO/wordcamp-sf-2011.