While Web Summer Camp skips a year, we remember some of its best moments

By Mateja Terek -

Since it’s still hard for us to accept that this year’s Web Summer Camp will not take place due to the COVID-19 situation, it’s only fair that we spend this week remembering some of the best moments from previous conferences; and mind you, the first conference took place in 2012, so the list of “best of’s” is long!

Organized to offer hands-on workshops held by world class speakers for web developers, designers and decision-makers, and exchanging experiences between various communities, we are proud that the Web Summer Camp is also recognized for its informal program, networking and recreational activities at some of the truly most enchanting locations in Croatia. During the past eight years, we had numerous lecturers and speakers who not only contributed to the program conference but were also fun to hang out with after the official part of the program. It is actually quite a challenge to name just a few most memorable moments, but here is a quick overview. 

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The first edition of the eZ Publish Summer Camp took part in 2012 at the island of Brač, with three eZ tracks - one for beginners and two for advanced developers. Among workshops held by experts in eZ, we gave the first opportunity to the eZ community to learn Symfony from Lukas Kahwe Smith. Just a few months before the event eZ Systems announced that the next major of eZ Publish will be based on Symfony framework, so we could not have had Lukas with us at a better time.

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In 2013, we held the second edition of the conference, gathering numerous speakers and thought leaders, such as Sebastian Bergmann, the mastermind of PHPUnit and other PHP related tools. It was quite amazing to work directly with Sebastian, as many companies and PHP developers had benefited from the tools he had written.  Throughout the years, we were always trying to offer hands-on workshops to our participants, so they can try out different tools and discuss them immediately.

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The following year was marked by moving the conference to Rovinj in the beautiful Istria peninsula where we added PHP Summer Camp with two additional tracks - for PHP and Symfony. Recognizing Sylius as an excellent platform for e-commerce, already six years ago, we brought in Sylius founder Paweł Jędrzejewski who has taught us how to build e-commerce apps with this open source solution. Around that time, we also started having speakers and participants from beyond Europe; US, Canada, Brazil, which surely enriched our conference with different perspectives and overall experiences. 

In 2015, we had an amazing set of lecturers, such as Bernhard SchussekJakub ZalasNicolas GrekasEnrico Zimuel and Derick Rethans. However, one name won over the audience, being voted for the best lecturer several times in a row. Considering his work at KNP University, today known as SymfonyCasts, Ryan Weaver set the new standards in terms of lecture quality. His way of presenting topics in a simple narrative way makes you learn through hearing an interesting story and hands-on experience. 

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Kicking off with a new non-developer track for Design, it was in 2016 that we had introduced, what we call today - Web Summer Camp - a joint event of what we had previously called eZ Publish Summer Camp and PHP Summer Camp. The Design track was introduced to bring in an even larger audience - everyone interested in web design, UX and content with an overview of latest developments in the field. Joe Leech gave us a practical, hands-on way to understand how the human brain works and how to apply that knowledge to User Experience and product design. That year, we also started a long term cooperation with Janus Boye, having his expert groups as integral part of WSC.

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The next Web Summer Camp in 2017 had another new track - Javascript, for which we were glad to have quite the team of experts with us, such as Princiya Marina SequiraMarijn Haverbeke and Jason Lengstorf. The UX track, previously known as Design, gathered some of the prominent names from UX agencies such as Clearleft and Frog

Some of us lost track of time in 2018 with Harry Roberts, being completely immersed in front-end performance and building faster websites, almost missing out on the free beers after the workshop. It turns out that the slot of 6 hours wasn’t enough so the session lasted two hours longer :) Jake DiMare, who flew in straight from LA, joined Janus Boye for a workshop in another new track dedicated to the business side of the web and intended for web project leaders and decision makers. 

Finally, last year’s edition of Web Summer Camp introduced another new track - dedicated to Project management, switching with previous year’s UX, intended for experienced practitioners in fields of software development, psychology and business consulting. 

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During the past eight years, we had an amazing opportunity to meet extraordinary people from all over the world, some of whom had travelled more than 30 hours, connecting four flights to come and join us! Much of our time was spent on recreational activities, such as diving, biking, hiking, quizzes, running and amazing dinners in wonderful seaside settings. We have always believed that our conference must offer adequate time for socializing, besides just acquiring the knowledge. We have witnessed not only business deals being made during the conference, but also new friendships. What makes us most proud is that a large number of participants attended WSC more than just once, often returning several times, bringing also their companions (for whom we have prepared Companions track) and sometimes even their children with them. 

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For all those who took part over the years, not much explanation is necessary when we mention LaConcha, greasy “bureks” long after midnight, loud singing during boat trips or bus drives. We look forward to many new such moments in 2021 and can’t wait to share them with you. 

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Take a walk down the memory lane on our Facebook page where you can find all photo galleries and workshop videos on YouTube. Finally, it is important to note that none of this would have been possible without the major organisational support of Sea Sun Salsa and Vladimir Semenčić. Thank you, Vlado, Dinka, Danijela, Dado! :)

Feel free to share some of your favourite memories with us. That way, we might fool ourselves thinking that we are where we all hoped we’d be this August - at Web Summer Camp :) 

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