WordCamp Europe debuted its new official mobile app today, providing attendees with a quick way to access the event’s schedule, maps, and announcements. Several unofficial apps have popped up over the years, but this is the first one produced and supported by WCEU organizers.
The team opted for creating a PWA (Progressive Web App), which loads inside a mobile browser while offering an experience similar to native apps. It’s also far less complicated than supporting multiple platform-specific mobile apps. Users don’t have to download anything, since it is loaded via the browser, and the site can be accessed offline in case of network failure.
The app was built using React on the frontend and is hosted on a node server. It uses WordPress for content management on the backend, along with the WordPress PWA plugin and OneSignal Push Notifications .
“This first iteration isn’t scalable for the community, but we wanted to test the possibilities and have the opportunity to explore what it would take to eventually make this available for all WordCamps,” WCEU team leader Jenny Beaumont said. “It’s a lofty goal, and we’re not there yet, but we’ve learned a lot along the way and looking forward to pursuing the ambition.”
Attendees can expect to find any last minute schedule changes in the app and may also opt to receive push notifications for important updates. The Favorites feature lets users to bookmark all the sessions they plan to attend and toggle them into view.
WCEU’s official PWA is lightweight and re-usable – it can easily be updated to display content for future editions of the WordCamp.
“We’ll only need to update our feeds, since WordCamps are issued a new website every year, but the basic functionality will be in place and can be developed on as browsers offer better support and new team members join the team with their great ideas,” Beaumont said.
The current theme is open source and available on GitHub. It can be rebranded for future events to reflect the design for that year and city. Beaumont said the long term goal is to have a PWA generated directly from WordCamp sites.
New Tech for Badges Generates a Barcode for Sponsors to Scan
The technology for badge creation will be getting an overhaul as well this year. WCEU organizers are renting the materials from a Azavista, a Dutch event management company that provides badges, badge printers and scanning devices (iPhones). The new tech will make it more efficient for volunteers to process more than 2,000 attendees at registration.
The badge scanners also streamline attendee interaction with sponsors, replacing the signup sheets and tablets that sponsors usually have for collecting attendee information.
“It’s tied to attendees’ Attendee ID number, created when attendees register on our WordCamp site,” Beaumont said. “Say an attendee is visiting a sponsor booth and having a nice conversation, the sponsor can ask if they’d like to leave their name and email address to stay in touch. If the attendee agrees, then they show their badge to have it scanned by the sponsor using the closed-technology on devices provided by our vendor. “
After the event, WCEU organizers will send the names and email addresses of attendees to the sponsors based on the signups from scanned badges.
If attendee feedback is positive, Beaumont said organizers plan to implement the quick registration feature next year. This will allow attendees to receive a QR code via email and get it scanned in order to receive their badges. These tech improvements should relieve traffic bottlenecks at the registration desk and sponsor booths, freeing up more time for WCEU attendees to spend in sessions and networking activities.