20 years of WordPress – My personal journey

I usually write a blog post on 20 June each year to celebrate the birthday of this blog. But today I want to celebrate #WP20 with you, the 20th birthday of our beloved open source software.

No longer a teenager

At 20 years old, WordPress is a grown up piece of software. It started quite small, weighing only around 250KB in size. Now it’s around 100 times heavier. But is also matured in many other ways.

I don’t want to talk too much about the history of the CMS. If you are interested in how it changed over the years, not only in size, then I can highly recommend the page DisplayWP I just found this week.

WordPress and me

So instead, I want to focus a bit on my personal journey with WordPress. The first version I have used was (most probably) version 2.7.3 back in June 2009. I was working in my first job after university and a colleague wanted to use it to present events with it. So even in back then, I was not using it as a classical blog. But since Custom Post Types were only introduced in version 2.9, I was using posts for the events.

As my colleague was searching for a functionality that was not in Core, I wrote my frist plugin, published it, and started blogging myself.

The community

In 2010, I’ve attended my first WordCamp here in Berlin. That’s when I first met other people using it and some of the “stars”, I was looking up to and from whom I’ve learned so much.

After the WordCamp in Cologne, the first German meetups were started. The closest one to me was in Potsdam, which I joined for their second meetup in December 2011.

As there was no WordCamp planned for 2012 in Germany, the Potsdam meetup group organized two WP Camp in 2012 and 2013.

The year 2013 marked my first contact to the international community, attending the very first WordCamp Europe in Leiden.

After this event, it was clear to me, that I wanted to do more with WordPress, so two years later, I switched jobs and joined VCAT, the company co-founded by one of the members (now organizer) of the Potsdam meetup group. So you could say I got my second job through the WordPress community. End of 2015 the Berlin meetup group (which I had been organizing since 2014) had it’s first “official” WordCamp.

Fast-forward to 2017, I’ve organized another WordCamp Berlin and joined the WordPress Europe organizing team at the same time. I can tell you that organizing two events at the same time, one as a Lead Organizer, is not a great idea ?

One reason to join the WCEU organizing team was always to bring WordCamp Europe to Germany, which we did in 2019.

Then the pandemic hit the community and changed the work life for many of us. It also showed me, that working from home and/or remote is something I can get used to. So last October I’ve joined Inpsyde, the company mainly responsible for organizing the first WordCamps in Germany and also highly involved in kicking off the German community back in 2004, just one year after WordPress was first released.

In about two weeks, I will finally give my first talk at a WordCamp Europe, where I will also meet many old and new friends.

How WordPress changed my life

After moving from my hometown to Berlin, I didn’t have many friends. But through the community, and my jobs for WordPress agencies, I’ve found many nice people. Some of them have become my best friends, even outside the WordPress events.

Attending WordCamps also gave me the opportunity to visit new places. These are the (international) places/countries, I have visited for the first time, just because I attended a WordCamp:

  • Prague
  • Norrköpping
  • Bilbao
  • Zürich
  • Milano
  • Brighton
  • Torino
  • Zagreb
  • Las Palmas
  • Helsinki
  • Philadelphia
  • Nashville
  • Leiden
  • Sofia
  • Seville
  • Belgrade
  • Porto
  • Bangkok

So my around 10 countries and one new continent I have first visited attending a WordCamp. And every time I met some people I already knew, but more importantly met new people, some of which I have talked to just online for many years.

Thank you, WordPress and happy birthday!

Without WordPress, I don’t know how my life would have been. I am thankful for the opportunities I got, and humbled at the same time, to consider myself part of a large global community.

I hope we have another 20 years (or more) to come, and I can’t wait to see how WordPress will look like, when it’s in its 40s, just like me ?

As I usually end my blog’s birthday blog posts with a video, I want to share with you a message from Mike Little, one of the two co-founders of WordPress, and one of the nicest people from the community I’ve met:

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Bernhard is a full time web developer who likes to write WordPress plugins in his free time and is an active member of the WP Meetups in Berlin and Potsdam.

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