Learn key takeaways from my running a plugin business. Matt Gibbs goes over how to determine whether your plugin idea can sell, how to set the price, deciding on the business model, whether to self-host, and handling support.
More WordCamp videos
Learn key takeaways from my running a plugin business. Matt Gibbs goes over how to determine whether your plugin idea can sell, how to set the price, deciding on the business model, whether to self-host, and handling support.
More WordCamp videos
WordPress professionals have demonstrated a decent appetite when it comes to listening to and supporting podcasts on a wide variety of topics, including industry news, development, e-commerce, marketing, and startups. Cory Miller, founder of iThemes, and Matt Danner, the company’s COO, are adding a new business podcast to the mix with the launch of Leader.team.
The first episode introduces the hosts and the goals of the show and is now available on iTunes. Miller and Danner, who often have casual chats about business strategy, decided to start recording their conversations to share with others who might benefit from their mistakes and successes in entrepreneurship.
“We’re going to talk about values, beliefs, philosophies, tools, all kinds of things that we have learned over the years, either accidentally or on purpose, about how to lead and manage teams and grow a business,” Miller said in the opening episode.
Leader.team will feature a short (15-25 minute) episode twice a month on Thursdays with practical advice for leaders and managers. The second episode will be available tomorrow, and Miller and Danner have already outlined the topics for the next four episodes with questions that will guide the discussion on the show:
While Miller and Danner are not necessarily marketing the show as a WordPress-focused podcast, many of their shared experiences have come from growing one of the longest-running, successful product companies in the WordPress ecosystem. Upcoming episodes will feature big picture business topics that can be applied to many different types of industries. Leader.team episodes have been submitted to both iTunes and Google Play and will also be available on the show’s website.
Version 5.6 of the WordPress for Android app was released today with expanded features for WordPress.com sites. The previous release added user management capabilities under a new ‘People’ menu and 5.6 introduces the ability to invite new users.
This release also adds a related posts section to posts found in the Reader. It appears directly underneath likes on posts and pulls in three related articles from the WordPress.com community of sites.
Version 5.6 adds the ability to customize the notification sound for new activity from the WordPress app. A handful of other small changes are also included in 5.6, as detailed in the release post:
If you use the app to manage both WordPress.com and self-hosted sites, you will notice a growing discrepancy between the site management screens and options available for each. Self-hosted site owners still cannot use the app to manage themes or users, and the gap is widening for each release. Version 5.6 expands features for WordPress.com users, while the capabilities for self-hosted sites fall further behind. We have requested a comment from Automattic’s mobile engineers regarding the roadmap for managing self-hosted sites and will update when we receive a response.
Earlier this year, the WordPress plugin directory review team reminded developers that frameworks are not allowed in the directory. WordPress core doesn’t have a built-in way to support plugin dependencies which creates extra hassle for users.
Seeing an opportunity, Vova Feldman, founder of Freemius, created IncludeWP, a directory specifically catered to listing WordPress theme and plugin frameworks.IncludeWP Front Page Displaying Theme and Plugin Frameworks
Frameworks are listed using their public GitHub repositories. Visitors can sort frameworks by stars, forks, issues, or name. Selecting a framework displays information including, how many sites it’s on and the number of plugins and themes hosted on the official directory that are using it.IncludeWP Framework Single Page View
To identify which plugins and themes are used by frameworks, Feldman collaborated with Luca Fracassi of Addendio. “We realized that we can leverage the WordPress.org APIs and SVN to automatically identify plugins and themes associated with frameworks on WordPress.org,” Feldman said. “So we decided to join forces.”
Fracassi developed a framework identification system and ran it against WordPress.org. The data was exposed via a custom API endpoint that allowed Feldman to display it on IncludeWP. “We leveraged Fracassi’s endpoint to fetch the plugins and themes data from WordPress.org and present it under the framework’s page,” Feldman said.
Like the frameworks listed on IncludeWP, the code powering the site is open source and available on GitHub. “I’m preaching about code reusability,” Feldman said.
“The least I can do is provide the option for other developers to reuse our code for their projects. By reusing this code base, everyone can easily create a similar category type listing mini-site for GitHub repos.”
Developers interested in having their frameworks listed need to fork the IncludeWP repository on GitHub, add the framework as a .php in the src/frameworks folder, and submit a Pull Request. However, in order to be listed, frameworks must meet the following guidelines.
Feldman says he doesn’t plan on generating revenue through the site and considers IncludeWP as one of many contributions back to the WordPress community.
IncludeWP is a great resource for developers whose frameworks are spread across GitHub who are looking for ways to generate more exposure. It’s also an excellent way to see what’s available in the WordPress ecosystem. Take a look around IncludeWP and let us know what you think in the comments.
I suppose I’ve always had the “entrepreneurial spirit.” My first taste of being in business likely occurred prior to this, but the first time I *remember* really enjoying building my own business was in the fifth grade.
For Christmas, I had gotten a new handheld electronic game. I suspect that most readers here will not remember these, but the one I had gotten was the race car game. It was a game with a button that slid only left and right, the goal to be to dodge the oncoming LEDs with the LED you controlled with the slider. It was a simple game but fun. I brought it to school and started charging people .25 per game to play. I averaged $9.00 a day. That’s a lot to a fifth grader. I learned about profit and expenses (batteries do, after all, cost money). I learned about friendly competition when a friend of mine and classmate brought his electronic handheld football game to school and charged .50 per game. I learned about volume sales (my game would last about a minute or two whereas the football game lasted substantially longer). I also learned about charging what the market would bear (I couldn’t get .50 per game but I could do .25 all day long). And lastly, I learned about “The Man” and how something that is going so well can go away in the blink of an eye when the school, after about a month of my enterprise, decided that these games were too much of a distraction to “real learning” and shut both myself and my competitor down.
Little did the school know that I learned more with my business experience in that short time than I did my whole fifth grade year
(it was my worst experience in elementary school, yet one of my most formative). When all was said and done, though, I had made a couple hundred dollars from a game that cost about $40 (which I hadn’t even paid for). Not a bad return.
In High School economics class, we learned how the stock market worked. We split the class into several groups and formed “corporations.” The members of these corporations then bought stock with real money. This money went to buy product that we would sell to the student body over a period of a couple weeks. I had been asked to be a member of the one corporation due to a previous simulation in which I had almost successfully beaten another team by coordinating an uprising against them (the other team was far more powerful) by secretly putting several of the smaller, less powerful teams together to try to take out the big team. It almost worked. Almost.
This team asked me to be part of this new corporation because they were impressed. We decided that the thing we were going to sell to the student body was going to be candy. I invested $9.00 into the company. Of the members of this newly formed team, I invested the most. We talked about what types of candy to buy. It mostly involved peanut butter cups and skittles as I recall.
I don’t remember what the other corporations sold. It didn’t matter. It was not true competition because we each were exclusive with our products. During breaks, lunch, and after school, we all had our tables set up in the quad and sold our goods. Our corporation slaughtered all the others. It wasn’t even close.
At the end of it all, we determined the stock value based on costs of goods sold and profit left over. We sold our stocks for what they were worth. My $9.00 had turned into about $75.00 in the two weeks. I made, far and away, more money than anyone else in the class (and according to the teacher, more than anyone ever had in that simulation). Making money was easy, and it was what I was meant to do. Or so I thought.
Back to Fifth Grade. At the time, my best friend, Jack, had introduced me to Basic programming. My dad worked at a local University and as a result, the head of the Math & Computing Department granted me a student account on the mainframe (their department was right across from my dad’s “Modern Languages” Department). It was here that I learned that a simple Basic statement such as “10 goto 10” could actually take down a campus-wide system as these mainframes were really not built to do multi-tasking. The joy of an endless loop. I hate to admit that there were times that I would laugh maniacally as other students in the lab would start literally banging their keyboards because nothing was happening. To all of you, I most humbly and heartily apologize. I was a jerk. I blame Jack.
None the less, I had been bitten by the programming bug.
I expanded my knowledge beyond causing others brain damage for fun and actually started to program useful things. My dad hired me at .50 an hour (which I’m pretty sure came out of his own pocket) and I worked on programs that would quiz his students. It’s also probable that he did it to keep me out of trouble.
My brain wrapped itself around programming rather quickly and, as a general rule, every day after school, you’d find me back up in one of the University labs hacking away. It wasn’t a bad life. I liked it a lot. My favorite lab was the one right outside the server room. I got to know the students who kept the systems up. I remember when they got some new storage. I want to say it was a drive that could store 20 megabytes. It was literally as big (and heavy) as a washing machine. Oh. . . the good ol’ days.
I believe it was during the summer between Eighth Grade and Ninth Grade (circa 1980-81) that a representative from a company called Commodore came and demonstrated this great new personal computer. It was better than a TRS80 and far more affordable than the Apple ][. It had color and a whopping 5 KB of RAM. That is pretty impressive. All you needed to do was hook it up to your TV. I don’t remember what I paid for it, but I knew this was the machine for me, so I ponied up with my hard-earned money for the computer that looked like nothing more than a keyboard and a tape drive. Before I knew it (well . . . four to six weeks later), I was a programming fool from the comfort of my own home. I could get used to this. It was a few months later that I had saved up enough for a 300 baud modem (If you don’t know what 300 baud is, let me explain: It’s SLOW) and learned how I could hook up to my account at the college. It was my first taste of remote work and I knew that, one day, it was going to be the life I’d be living. The world would just have to catch up (ya, I was just a scosche cocky back then).
A year later, I upgraded to a Commodore 64 and purchased my first Commodore 1541 5.25” floppy drive. I learned about sprite graphics and created a game based on the Saturday Night Live character, “Mr. Bill.” The game totally sucked, but suffice it to say, Mr. Bill died a LOT at the hands of Sluggo. A LOT.
Between my Junior and Senior years of high school, I was going to take a trip to Europe. I knew that Europe was no place to take my computers, and what I really needed was to make memories. I had always envied my sister’s camera and decided that it was time for me to dive into 35mm photography, so I sold my whole computer setup and purchased my first 35mm camera; a Canon AE1-Program with a couple of lenses and some books and accessories. I quickly learned how to actually use the thing and gained a basic understanding of the math behind the exposure you want. During that trip, I shot as many rolls of film as I could afford and discovered that maybe a life in photography was what I really wanted.
I came back, my senior year, where I was the head photographer for the yearbook. I was rather proud of that yearbook and I put a lot of time and effort into it. So much so, that the yearbook staff felt obligated to give me an award. As mentioned earlier, in my younger years, I was sort of a jerk, so I cannot remember what the award was. At the time it meant a lot to me, though.
I loved photography and I loved technology. If only there was some way to combine photography with technology. . . Maybe one day.
After high school, I went to about one semester of College. I say, “about,” because I think the only class I regularly attended was the photography class I was taking. I really enjoyed the class and the teacher. But most of all, I enjoyed the full access to the dark room where I was the head know-it-all and all the other students came to me for assistance. My ego was riding pretty high around that time.
After deciding to drop out of college (much to the chagrin of my dad – did I mention he was a University Professor?), I knew I needed to make money. I applied for (and got) a job with a company called Lifetouch National School Studios. Many of you might be familiar with this company. They specialize in school photography. I worked there for two school years, the first being an assistant and general runner and then the next year I did a lot of darkroom work. I was in my zone. I got to be good friends with a guy named Gene who was the world’s biggest Raiders fan and even got me a press pass a couple years later to shoot from the sidelines.
During that game, I met people like Howie Long, Bo Jackson and Bob Golic.
I also met James Garner who got to stand by the bench because, well, he was James Garner. Incidentally, he was exactly what you’d have expected him to be. Gene also introduced me to the world of Santa Claus mall photography; possibly the worst job I ever had. No, I was not the Santa. I was the photographer. The problem was never the kids. It was always the parents. You try telling parents that their kid is hysterical, will never calm down, and will never smile for Santa because he or she is scared to death of the man with the beard. Or, maybe, try to find something to clean up the pee on the floor because some parent made their kid wait in line for two hours while he had to go to the bathroom (usually the two hours was because of a number of the aforementioned parents living in their dreamland of a smiling child). Or, having a parent make you tell their child that Santa has gone home for the day (because the parents waited until after the mall closed before they decided to get in line). All true stories. Ya – I only did it one Christmas. Ironically, I lasted longer than most.
I quickly realized that I needed to be making more money and that commissioned sales was where I needed to be. I applied for (and got) a job at a company called Circuit City. They sold electronics of all sorts. I originally wanted to work in their Camera Department, only to discover that they didn’t have one. So, it was Small Electronics for me, where I quickly became Assistant Manager of the department.
After cutting my teeth in electronics, I figured out that where I really wanted to be was in the Video Department. It’s where the money was. So I put in for a transfer and that’s where I got to be good friends with Gregg Franklin. Gregg and I forged a strong friendship and discovered that neither one of us ever really had a desire to work for “The Man,” so we decided to look for business opportunities. This was around 1987 or 1988.
In 1989, Gregg and I decided to venture off from Circuit City and we bought a little camera store for $10,000.00. It had been around for a while and, honestly, neither one of us did much due diligence. Had we done so, we would have discovered the reputation the owner of the store had. We spent the next two years working on re-branding, building up a local reputation of supporting schools and professional photographers in the area, and eventually became a reputable business in town. The local photographers would come and chat for hours on end with us and we became friends with many who remain our friends to this day. During this time, we built a darkroom and did a lot of custom work.
Additionally, a friend from school had started his own company in which he built custom PCs. It was time for me to return to the world of computing, where, after purchasing an XT PC running MS-DOS 2.0 (I believe), and a piece of database software called Q&A, I developed a fully operational Point of Sale system. It was my first foray into data mining. I had finally figured out a way to combine my love of photography with my love for computing. It wasn’t what I initially imagined, but it would do.
During the time of the camera store, I also started my own WWIV BBS called “The Dragon’s Tavern”, a precursor to the Internet. It had software and games (can you say, “Global Thermal Nuclear War?). At one point, I was the only one in the area with a BBS and ONE GIG of storage space. Modem tech had advanced and I got myself a USRobotics 14.4 Courier HST modem. I was the king of the local BBS world. WWIV was an open source BBS platform and I spent a lot of time writing mods for it in Turbo C++. I met people from all over the world and spent hours on the phone with some of them as we worked through programming issues and ideas. It was my first experience with remote collaboration.
The camera store lasted a couple of years, but we suffered a bit from trying to do too much too fast, along with a failing economy, and we realized that our model was not really sustainable. Rather than getting buried under a mountain of debt, we made the choice to shut the place down.
From there Gregg and I tried our hands at a few things, the most significant being a sign company (we had actually been running it as a side business from the camera story for some time, to help bolster our income). To be honest, I didn’t like that job that much. Gregg got to have all the fun doing the creative work, then he, our alcoholic partner who showed us the ropes, and myself would go and install them. Vinyl cutting was fun and the tech behind it still fascinates me, but it didn’t take long for us to learn that we were not the right fit with the third partner, so Gregg and I split from him.
Fast forward a couple years. Gregg and I had been doing our own things separately for a while, trying to find our place in life. Owning and shutting down a couple of businesses does make you realize that you’re not as perfect as you think you are and may even be a bit of cause for some soul searching. I cannot speak for Gregg, but I know that for myself, that was the case.
I was burnt out on photography.
Doing something for a couple of years for others and none for yourself sort of takes the passion out of it.
Running a free BBS was not exactly a business model that worked. I think it was around 1995 that I discovered Netcom. It was one of the first real internet providers. I bit. I was hooked. It was *like* a BBS but SO much more! The world had opened up to me and I saw my vision of one day becoming a remote worker come that much closer. Before long, a feeling had returned that I had not had in awhile: the desire to learn something new in technology. I wanted to gain an understanding of how the back end of this wondrous new tool worked. I knew it was the future, and it was within my grasp. It had been a while since I had been that excited about anything.
It was then that Gregg and I reconnected. Gregg had told me that some other mutual friends of ours were about to embark on starting a regional Internet Service Provider, servicing schools and running a digital technology called ISDN. They had invested in the equipment but needed someone to run it. They had asked Gregg, and when I expressed interest, we formed a partnership and got to work. During this time, I learned about routers, IP traffic, DNS, collaboration with people on a global level, scalability, building departments and efficiently servicing customers through no more than email and a telephone connection. I learned about the value of good documentation and I learned how to deal with big, huge companies and their lawyers. I learned all of these things and yet, I wouldn’t say that any of those shaped my future and my life and business operating philosophy more than the epiphany I had once I hired our first employee.
Until this point, I had always been about making money and a name for myself. It was ALWAYS about the money for me. Always. But I remember that moment like it was yesterday. That moment I looked at the empty desk of our first employee and realized that we were embarking on something great. We were building a company that would help sustain the lives of others and their families. If all went well, it wouldn’t be just a few. It would be many.
In the blink of an eye, it went from being about me and what I could take home, to being about them.
To being about us. All of us. That one moment changed everything for me.
In 2003, my wife and I decided to move to Wisconsin from sunny Southern California. I was going to continue to work remotely with the ISP we had built up to over 40 employees and my wife Jessica was going to also work remotely with the Electronic Funds Transfer company she had worked to build up while in California (she was their first employee). Wisconsin was a nice break from the rat race of Southern California. We bought a house, set up our office and before I knew it, I discovered that the people back home at the ISP didn’t understand the concept of remote work. I was a shareholder of a company that had no use for me sitting a couple thousand miles away. Sure, from time to time they’d call me, but overall, out of sight meant out of mind where I was concerned.
We moved to a pretty small town where we were happy to have high speed internet, but there was not a lot of demand for a network engineer or software programmer. I had, once again, found myself somewhat without a professional purpose.
Soon after our first year there, we found out that Jessica was pregnant. Our main purpose in moving to Wisconsin was to start a family, but Jessica had always had issues carrying a pregnancy to full term. It was heartbreaking to deal with multiple miscarriages, but we had found a doctor in Green Bay (2.5 hours away) who thought he might be able to narrow down the issue. He was right, and nine months (and two weeks) later, we were introduced to our son, Eli. Hard to believe it’s been 11 years. And while I was struggling to find my place professionally, there was no doubt that I knew my place personally, as a father.
I was 38 and suddenly felt it was what I was meant to do.
I attempted to work for a local computer place during this time, but that simply didn’t take. I had, for a long time, said that employment may not be for me and certainly, in that situation, I was proven right. I am not, and never have been, a “Yes” man, I would tell people. I needed to reinvent myself and I needed to figure out my place.
This time put a lot of strain on my marriage to Jessica. She was the main bread winner and while she was appreciative of the fact that I was really good with taking care of Eli and doing things around the house, she felt the pressures of being responsible for the family’s financial well-being. “Just find something – anything,” she’d say. She wanted me to find something that made me happy. She knew that while I loved being a father, I also felt the pressure to contribute to our stability. I struggled. A lot.
During the short time that I worked for the computer company, we moved again. This time, we bought the home of one of the city’s founders. It was on the river and while the place needed work, it was on about 3 acres of land and was a pretty nice place. I had my eye on the house next to it which was a big Victorian (and at one point, part of the same property). It was owned by a couple of empty-nesters and I knew that owning the house we had just purchased would put us in a prime position to buy it when it became available. It was my five year plan.
Two years later, I was approached by our neighbor. We bought the house and moved in. We still had not been able to sell the first house that we bought and it was sitting empty. We were about to have two empty houses. I had been doing tech work as I could, but still was without a purpose. Fortunately, Jessica was still plugging away. Throughout it all, she was supportive of my desire to find something. I admit, there were those moments where I was just happy to be a dad (that’s my way of saying I might have gotten a little lazy looking for an income).
In the new house for a bit, I was talking to one of my friends back in California. He was going through some pretty major life changes and was looking for his own purpose. I remember asking him what he’d like to do and he said that he enjoyed going to motorcycle swap meets, buying parts and then selling them on Ebay. And just like that, a business was born. He needed a new start. I needed something to do – a way to make money. And I knew Ebay and tech really well. It seemed like a match made in heaven.We moved him into the empty first house that we had and ran the business out of that house for a while. We made contacts and started buying larger and larger lots, liquidating them almost as fast as we were getting them. We were starting to make a little bit of money, but we kept turning that money into bigger lots, which meant we needed more storage, which meant it was time to get office space. Our specialty was Harley Davidson parts and it only took a short time for me to go from only knowing that most Harleys had two wheels to being able to identify the part, year and bike it came from; to know its value; and to have an idea on its demand. I became a tougher negotiator and walked away from a deal or two that just didn’t feel right. The biker world was definitely a world I never imagined myself within, but I certainly, for the first time in my professional life, actually felt like I was part of a community.
Soon after we started that company, though, the company Jessica had been working for shut its doors, literally overnight. She was not making money, in an industry where there was no local demand, and I was trying to grow a company. For those wondering, that is not a sustainable personal financial model. The housing market crashed, and I was spending nights doing database patient record merging at the local hospital.
Before we knew it, we were flat broke. We literally lost almost everything.
The two empty houses were taken by the banks and we were just fighting to keep the house we were in. It was also about this time that Jessica announced that she was pregnant with Brenna. It was the only good news we had at the time. I was 42 and, for the first time in my adult life, had to actually go to my parents and ask for help. I honestly don’t know where I’d be today if I didn’t have them.
The company we had was starting to see dwindling sales. When the economy crashes, people suddenly learn to live with that little ding in their gas tank or that other non-critical noise their bike may be making. Ebay started raising their fees and our business model became unsustainable.
With money quickly dwindling away in our bank account, I suddenly had this wonderful idea to start making money off of our competitors on Ebay. They had an affiliate program and I needed to figure out a way to leverage that. But how?
It was then that I discovered WordPress.
Like many, I had always thought of it as a blogging platform and nothing more. But then I discovered a plugin that would read in a feed from Ebay and worked within WordPress. It took me about an hour to set up a WordPress site and another minute to figure out how to install the plugin. The next two days was spent populating categories, and a little over a month later, I got my first direct deposit from Ebay. This could work. But even more importantly, for the first time, I saw that WordPress could be so much more than a blogging platform.
It wasn’t much longer before I was starting to develop websites for others. My design skills have always lacked, so to start, it was mostly out of the box themes, but as I got more seasoned, I learned more and more about the power of WordPress.
Eventually, we closed down the motorcycle liquidation business.
We tried our hand at running a Renaissance Faire booth (along with touring the country), but that, too, was not really sustainable.
I even drove a truck with staging equipment for Fox Sports a couple of times. Anything to pay the bills.
During one of my driving trips, I had been talking to Gregg. Turns out he had been doing WordPress development for a while and he was looking for some help. I was not a good designer, and I had barely dipped my feet into being a developer, but Gregg was willing to teach me everything he knew. Every morning, I’d wake up, Gregg and I would get on a call and he’d explain really cool ways to customize WordPress. We’d strip a theme down to the bones and build it up. We’d find frameworks and build them out. We’d bang our heads over CSS (something, I think, neither of us ever really were able to wrap our minds around), and we had work. Lots of work.
Though financially ruined, Jessica and I were finally starting to see some light.
I had finally found something I really liked and she had finally found herself with a position working for another company. We had lost all our homes except the one in which we lived and had depleted all our bank accounts and college funds, yet we were hopeful. We had our two kids, a roof over our heads and work which generated income.
Most of the work Gregg and I did was working with agencies. We liked it that way. Neither of us really enjoyed pounding pavement, so it was nice to have people who specialized in sales do that part of the lifting. But despite the fact that we were getting busier, we knew that we needed to work on passive income possibilities.
In 2012, Gregg brought up the idea of me going to WordCamp San Diego. Now, I hate conferences and conventions. This sounded to me about as far from fun as I could get. He offered to pay for the badge if I paid for my plane ticket. Not knowing *really* what a WordCamp was, I figured it was a fair deal. It was only after I spoke with Jessica about going that I realized the cost of the ticket. I tell people that I still feel like I got the better end of the deal.
That trip to WordCamp San Diego changed everything for me.
I had always believed that businesses could succeed while also being part of a community that supported and built each other up. For the first time in my adult life, I got to witness it first hand. I had a blast! WordCamp was not a conference, it was a sharing of ideas. It was not a convention, it was a place to build actual relationships. It was a business event, educational event, and social event all in one package. I knew I was in the right place (finally).
44 years old and I finally found my place.
But how could I actively participate? Part of being in a community is that desire and need to give back. I was green and hardly knew anything.
One of the people I met while in San Diego in 2012 was Stephen Carroll. He had developed this really cool tool called DesktopServer; a tool Gregg and I used almost every day during our development days. Gregg was having an issue with a site we were building and Stephen offered to help us figure it out. I was blown away that someone would give up their time so freely with no interest in remuneration. He just wanted to help. Stephen and I spoke a little bit, but he mostly focused on helping Gregg get through the issue he had. He was kind and generous, and I liked him immediately.
In 2013 Gregg and I were working together on a project and, as often happened, the conversation turned back to what we could do for some passive income. He and I came up with an idea for a theme we wanted to build. It would be unlike anything anyone had seen. Robust, clean code, efficient. In other words, it was a theme that was above our skill levels, over our heads, and somewhat out of reach. We needed a developer with a skill that far exceeded our own. Gregg said it: “We need someone like Stephen.”
I totally agreed with Gregg and so the call was placed. Gregg was to get in touch with Steve and see if he’d be interested in helping us out. It was a good plan.
An hour later, Gregg called me back to let me know the result of the conversation. Steve was, indeed, anxious to work with us (if pressed slightly, I think he would tell you that he was anxious to work with Gregg since he only really knew me through Facebook). But what he wanted was for US to help HIM at ServerPress. He wanted to simply code while we handled the rest. I contacted him directly to ask him some questions, set up a path for the company under the new structure and the rest, as they say, is history.
This past June marked three years since we re-formed the company and it’s been a thrill ride to say the least. Since then, we’ve grown the company by over 400%, I’ve had the opportunity to travel the country and speak at several WordCamps (2014 saw me at over 20) and I actually look forward to Mondays every bit as much as I look forward to weekends. ServerPress, LLC is a company that’s respected within the WordPress Community, and it has afforded me the ability to help financially sustain my family.
In 2013 Jessica, Eli, Brenna, and I moved to Milwaukee where we bought an older home (117 years) with the purpose of restoring it, building it out (and up), and fostering to adopt sibling groups (you can read about it on my blog, http://twotofive.us).
We currently have six foster kids which puts us at a family of 10.
None of this would have been possible without all the little things, a couple of big things, and WordPress (the most important of which, is its Community).
While we’re still digging ourselves out of the mess of a few years ago, that light is getting brighter every day.
The post 16 Little Things That Grew Into Big Things (My Life in a Bunch of Words) appeared first on HeroPress.
Hello WordPress users! Version 5.6 of the WordPress for Android app is now available in the Google Play Store.
Discover relevant work from the WordPress community. A section of related posts will now appear just underneath Likes on a post:
You’ve got activity! With 5.6, you’ll be able to customize your notification sound:
A cordial invitation. Invite users to your site from the People management screen, designate their roles, and customize a message to send to them:
Version 5.6 also comes with a few other changes and fixes:
You can track our development progress for the next release by visiting our 5.7 milestone on GitHub.
Do you like keeping up with what’s new in the app? Do you enjoy testing new stuff before anyone else? Our testers have access to beta versions with updates shipped directly through Google Play. The beta versions may have new features, new fixes — and possibly new bugs! Testers make it possible for us to improve the overall app experience, and offer us invaluable development feedback.
Want to become a tester? Opt-in!
WordPress strikes a good balance by offering users the ability to publish dynamic content via posts and static content via pages. However, if you’d like to use WordPress primarily as a static content management system without the features related to blogging, check out a new plugin developed by Fact Maven Corp. and Ethan Jinks O’Sullivan called Disable Blogging.
Disable Blogging hides a number of features including:
To really get a sense for what it’s like to use WordPress without its blogging capabilities, I activated the plugin on a fresh install.Disable Blogging Enabled on a Fresh Install
There are two things that immediately stand out during testing. The first is that logging in takes users to their profile page instead of the Dashboard. Second, the Dashboard and the link to it are gone.
I found the removal of the Dashboard creates a jarring experience that’s different from what users might expect. It’s usefulness to display widgets with site specific information, even for sites based on pages, is a huge benefit and therefore, its removal should be reconsidered.
The nice thing about Disable Blogging is that it doesn’t permanently remove features or data. Regaining access to WordPress’ blogging capabilities is as simple as deactivating the plugin.
Browsing, using, and navigating WordPress with the blogging features hidden is an interesting experience that I encourage you to try for yourself. I tested Disable Blogging on a fresh install of WordPress 4.5.3 and didn’t encounter any problems. The next time you or a client wants an easy way to disable WordPress’ blogging capabilities, give this plugin a shot.
TechCrunch is the latest victim in OurMine’s summer hacking rampage. The site, which is powered by WordPress and hosted via WordPress.com VIP, was hacked this morning and defaced with a message from the attackers who identify themselves as an “elite hacker group.”
TechCrunch’s news ticker was updated to display: “Hello guys it’s OurMine Team, we are just testing TechCrunch Security, don’t worry we never change your passwords. Please contact us.” OurMine gained access to a contributor account and posted a similar message.
According to a report from Engadget, TechCrunch’s sister site, the hackers gained access via a contributor’s weak password, not by exploiting a vulnerability in WordPress or the site’s plugins. TechCrunch was able to regain control of the site within minutes and delete the content created by the attackers in the admin.
OurMine is the same group that hacked Mark Zuckerberg’s Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn accounts after he used the same password for multiple sites. Bad password security can make even the most secure websites vulnerable to these types of attacks. Although OurMine is primarily targeting high profile individuals and publications, WordPress sites are constantly the target of brute force attacks.
Security plugins like Wordfence, iThemes Security, and Jetpack’s Brute Protect module can help deter brute force attacks, but it’s virtually impossible to eliminate the human factor in poor password selection or the practice of using the same password for multiple online services. WordPress site owners, especially those who run publications that have many users with permissions, are especially vulnerable to attacks that target bad password security.
Although WordPress warns users about weak passwords, it doesn’t force them to create a strong one. Site owners who want to make this a requirement can use a plugin like Force Strong Passwords for extra security.
WooCommerce, which powers more than 37% of all online stores, announced today that the plugin now integrates with the millions of offline stores that use Square for payment processing. The new Square for WooCommerce extension tracks and syncs payments and inventory for products sold via online and offline stores.
Before agreeing to work with Square on building an integration for WooCommerce inventory management, the Woo team verified customer demand via its ideas board where the feature received more than 900 votes. Prior to today’s extension release, those who managed stores in online and offline environments had to perform manual updates to ensure accuracy of the current inventory. Manually tracking inventory between stores is a tedious, never-ending task, especially for larger operations. This is why Square integration was the most-requested feature in WooCommerce history.
After store owners connect a Square account to WooCommerce, they can perform a manual sync from WooCommerce to Square or back the other way. This will sync SKU’s, categories, details, and images for products that have been set up on either platform.
The ability to accept payments with WooCommerce using Square means store owners need only update products once and push changes to either store when ready to sell online or offline.
“WooCommerce and Square have a close working relationship around this integration, where we’re working together to on-board new merchants, receive their feedback, and adjust the integration to make sure the initial version is the best it can be,” said Matt Cohen, product lead for WooCommerce.
When asked if Automattic gets a percentage of Square’s fee based on the volume of sales it drives through its payment system, Cohen said that the companies have an agreement in place to promote the extension on WooCommerce.com and in Square’s catalog. He would not elaborate on the terms of the agreement. However, with WooCommerce powering more than a third of all online stores, it would be surprising if Automattic did not secure a custom volume rate.
Square customers who want to automatically connect their online and offline stores can find the new Square for WooCommerce extension on WooCommerce.com. Current Square customers can use their existing account details to configure their stores to accept payments with Square and start syncing inventory.
React contains a patent clause that allows Facebook to revoke the license if certain conditions are met. The clause has raised concerns that Automattic could have its license revoked for Calypso if it competes directly with Facebook.
Paul Sieminski, General Legal Counsel for Automattic, responded to the ticket explaining why the company will continue to use React in its products.
“Automattic looked at the legal issues with Facebook’s patent license on React,” Sieminski said. “The termination provisions of the patent license aren’t ideal, but are not a blocker to using React as part of Calypso.”
“The termination provisions don’t apply to the right to use the code – just the license included in the ‘PATENTS’ file. This license gives React users permission to use Facebook’s patents on React. Facebook’s intentions in including this additional license are admirable. As they say here – ‘[t]his grant was designed to ensure that developers can use our projects with confidence.'”
According to Sieminski, “The companies with the greatest concern are those that have large patent portfolios and engage in offensive patent litigation, especially against Facebook.”
“Automattic isn’t in that boat, and has no plans to be, so we’re comfortable using React under its current license,” he said.
Considering how complex patent laws are, developers using React are encouraged to seek legal advice from a reputable lawyer to determine if your use case violates Facebook’s patent clause.
Has the clause kept you from using React in your projects? Let us know in the comments.
When I first started HeroPress I assumed we’d get at least 1000 page views per day. How many WordPress developers are there in the world? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? What about bloggers? Users? Millions of them? Surely even a tiny tiny fraction of that would make for thousands of page views, right?
I’m writing this on a warm Sunday afternoon in July. HeroPress operates on GMT, so we’re about 20 hours into the day. Want to know how many page views we’ve had so far today?
And that’s pretty average for a Sunday. Only once in the history of HeroPress have we had a 1000+ page view day. It was very exciting.
There was a time when the (apparently) low traffic on HeroPress.com bothered me. I even thought about shutting it down a few times. Why bother if so few people read?
The reason it bothered me is that I was measuring success by numbers. Page views, repeat visitors, even number of concurrent readers on a Wednesday . It was all about the numbers. How many people pull up the site in the browser? That’s what I wanted.
My perspective first started to shift when I went to WordCamp Pune. A young woman came up to me with tears in her eyes, shook my hand, whispered “Thank you” and slipped back into the crowd. I didn’t see her again, but I’ll never forget her.
People introduced themselves and told me their story with shining eyes, full of excitement.
That trip was a huge boost for my spirits, but I still watched the numbers.
Typically I seek out HeroPress contributors. People rarely think their own story is interesting, I usually have to show them. In the months that followed Pune however, several people came to me and said “I have a story, and I really need to share it, can I share it on HeroPress?” So far I’ve accepted all of those, so you’ve read them.
Their stories burned in their hearts, and they needed other people to know. To know there are people out there who want to help them learn, grow, and have a better life. That there are second, third, and fourth chances.
Comments from people both on the site and in person let me know that it worked. People find hope in the essays. Not just happy feel-good, but actual hope, that maybe there’s something better out there for them too.
I recently visited WordCamp Europe in Vienna. I was truly surprised by how many people had heard of HeroPress, and even knew my name. Story after story came to me from a dozen different cultures about how HeroPress stories give people confidence to try new things, talk to people outside their culture, or try to use WordPress to make a better life.
It was humbling to me to hear those individual stories. People whose lives had been been changed by their contact with our community, inspired by HeroPress essays.
I still define success by numbers, but it’s not page views anymore. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s a little about stats, because countries matter to me. A wide net matters to me.
The numbers I really watch these days are the number of people who tell me HeroPress means something to them. I don’t keep an actual tally, but as long as I keep hearing from even one person that they’ve been made better by what’s on this site I consider it a success.
I don’t know if we’ll ever get huge readership, and at this point I’m not sure I care. What has HeroPress meant to you? I’d love to hear in the comments.
How do you define success in what you do? Is it number of sales? Number of support tickets answered? Page views?
I’d like to suggest that you’ll be happiest when you define success by the number of lives you touch for the better. Sure, that might be measured by a stat somewhere, but always remember the real value is in the sparkle in their eyes, and the joy in their hearts.
I’ve always been a geek. When I was in the third grade, I wanted to grow up to be an Egyptologist (or maybe a Marine Biologist; I changed my mind often). My dad built custom computers for a living, and early on, he taught me how to build and wire a computer from spare components.
As I learned more and more about the web, I was hooked. I started learning about PHP, and realized I could make header and footer files, so that I didn’t have to edit every web page on my site when I added a new page.
And then, about 12 years ago, I installed WordPress for the first time. Blogging was this brand new thing that lots of other geeks were doing, and so I jumped on the bandwagon. I was 19 years old, living with my mom, working a low-paying job at a book store, and going to school part time. Ya know, basically living the dream.
WordPress was just about a year old at this point. There were no plugins or themes; you hacked core if you wanted to change the look of your blog. It was like the Wild West.
And I loved it.
Really, I enjoyed the process of changing the layout of my blog, editing the “theme” to make it look how I wanted. I got more of a kick out of that, than I did actually writing about myself.
Fast forward a few years; I left the book store I’d been working at behind, and started working as a Pharmacy Technician. I loved that job, but it was stressful. I got yelled at by patients when their doctor didn’t call in their prescription, and somehow it was my fault their copay went up when their insurance changed in the new year.
Blogging became sort of a catharsis; a way to vent when I got home about everything that stressed me out during the day.
It also helped me find community. I followed and commented on a ton of other pharmacy blogs. The pharmacy blogging community was, and still is, a really tight-knit group. I made friends in the WordPress Forums. I made friends from all over the world and all walks of life.
In 2009, I moved here to New York, from where I’d grown up, in the Washington, DC area. I’d only been to New York a couple of times before; once on a school field trip, and once to see a comedy film at the Staten Island film festival.
But I needed a change of scenery from the non-stop politics of the DC beltway, and after that trip to New York, I had decided that I wanted to move here.
Fairly soon after I got to New York, I learned that there was going to be this event called “WordCamp,” where you could spend two whole days learning about WordPress and meeting other people from the WordPress community. And tickets were only $40, including a t-shirt and lunch on both days!
Now, I’d just moved to New York. I was working in a retail job, and I was renting a room in an apartment in Washington Heights (the upper end of Manhattan).
There were nights I ate popcorn for dinner because I didn’t get paid until Friday. I was lucky if I had ramen.
So, as you might imagine, even $40 for something like this was hard to come by.
And then, I heard that if you volunteered at WordCamp, you could get a free ticket! For anybody who knows me, it’ll come as no great shock that I spent most of the weekend volunteering. I’d only signed up to help with folding t-shirts the night before, and to help with registration on both mornings.
But I ended up spending most of the event walking from room to room, making sure everything was running on time.
By the end of Saturday, I was exhausted, but I was hooked.
I’m an introvert; socializing doesn’t come easy for me. But volunteering at WordCamp gave me a purpose in talking to people. My common interest with other attendees made it easy to strike up conversation.
After lunch on Sunday, my feet had finally given out, and I’d collapsed in a chair in our registration area.
And finally, Sunday afternoon, as WordCamp was ending, and everybody was coming down from the high generated by all of the weekend’s excitement, I found out that there was going to be another WordCamp in Boston a couple of months later.
For those two months, I scrimped and saved, begged and borrowed, every penny I could, and just barely managed to come up with enough to take the bus up to Boston for the weekend. I made even more friends, from even more places. They didn’t need any more volunteers, so I actually spent the weekend attending sessions!
Over the course of that weekend, I found myself talking with people in the hallways a lot. And I guess I sounded like I knew what I was talking about, because a lot of those conversations involved me giving advice about people’s sites, what plugin to use to solve a problem, stuff like that.
And I realized a couple of things:
A. I knew way more about WordPress than I realized, and
B. I really loved being able to help people.
Over the next couple of years, I went to half a dozen WordCamps, in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, New York again.
I became hooked on traveling. Every few months, I visited a new city for the first time. I used WordCamp as an excuse to visit my older brothers in Minneapolis. I volunteered or spoke at almost every WordCamp I went to. And I ended up becoming one of the lead organizers for WordCamp NYC in 2012 and 2014.
By that time, I’d also moved on from working in a pharmacy to working at the Apple Store. I eventually moved to the Genius Bar, where, even though it wasn’t WordPress, I got to help people solve tech problems.
It was a job I enjoyed a lot more, one that payed a decent amount better, and made it easier to travel to far off places–which at this point, I already knew I couldn’t get enough of.
I wanted to travel the world.
It became an obsession, really. I spent hours online reading stories about people traveling around, working odd jobs here and there to make their way from country to country. And then, I found out, since I was under 30, I was eligible for something called a “Working Holiday” visa in Australia. Basically, it lets you move there for up to a year and work to pay your way, with the only caveat being you could only work for the same company for up to 6 months.
So again, I scrimped and I saved, and planned for over a year. The visa itself cost almost $500, but that was nothing compared to the total cost of picking up roots and moving halfway around the world. It certainly wasn’t cheap, but I was lucky enough to be in a position in life that allowed me to do it. For that whole year, I didn’t go out to the movies. I rarely ate out, even at fast food. Foolishly or not, I took some money out of my 401k, so that I’d have enough money to get me through until I could get set up down under.
And when I had enough money, I bought a one way ticket from New York to Australia.
My finger hovered over that “purchase” button for what seemed like hours, but was probably just a few minutes. After I clicked, a wave of emotion hit me like a tsunami:I worked at the iconic glass cube on Fifth Avenue in New York (we often called it the Fruit Stand). This was taken on my last morning of work before setting off for the great unknown.
“Wow, I’m really doing this!”
“Wait, am I really doing this?”
“Oh, crap, I’m really doing this.”
A few months later, I said goodbye to my job at the Apple Store. I’d worked there for nearly 4 years, and some of my coworkers were my closest friends. My last day was the iPhone 6 launch.
Apple has a tradition of “clapping out” employees on their last day, and at the end of my final shift, I was no exception. My coworkers gathered in the hallway outside the backroom, cheered for me, hugged me–I was in tears. It really hadn’t hit me until this moment that I was leaving almost everything and everyone I knew behind.
I did have a few stops on my way out of the country. I wanted to visit my family in Minnesota one more time before leaving. Also, WordCamp San Francisco, which I’d been asked to help run volunteers for, was happening a couple of weeks before I was due to leave. So I decided to spend a few weeks in California.
Most of the people who ran WordCamp San Francisco worked at Automattic, the company that runs WordPress.com, Jetpack, Akismet, and more. And I’d been wanting to work for Automattic ever since my very first WordCamp, when I first met people who worked there.I was too busy making sure everything was in place for volunteers at WCSF, but I did manage to take one photo during lunch.
I arrived in San Francisco about a week before WordCamp, and spent the week working out of Automattic’s offices there, making sure everything was in place for the weekend. I got to talk to even more Automatticians, and since I was in charge of volunteers for the weekend, I got to boss a lot of them around.
I had a rare opportunity to spend a lot of time with the people who worked there. An experience made even more rare by the fact that, since pretty much everybody at the company works from home–wherever that may be–it’s not very often that that many employees are in one place.
By the end of the weekend, more than one of them encouraged me to submit an application to work for Automattic.
And I could feel in my bones that it was where I was supposed to be. So that very night, I polished up my resume, and sent it in by email.
But the application process takes time–WordCamp ended, and I had a plane to catch.
Before I left the US altogether, I visited a few friends in San Diego, and even attended one last WordCamp–the smallest one to date, with only about 50 attendees–WordCamp Ventura. It was one last opportunity to see and make friends before leaving a continent behind.
I boarded a plane at LAX at about 9:00 on a Tuesday night. I should have been exhausted, but I was so excited, I had energy to burn. Sitting there on the tarmac, waiting for takeoff, I reflected on how far I’d come, and how far I was about to go, and even though I had a 12-hour overnight flight ahead of me, I didn’t sleep a wink.
As luck would have it, the best flight deal I could find from the US to Australia had a layover in Fiji, for just under 24 hours. When I booked the flight, I checked, and it turned out making the layover 5 days instead of one only added about $100 to the cost of the flight. I found accommodation at a hostel right on the beach for about $8/night, and that included a free ride to and from the airport.
I was like “$150 side trip to Fiji for 5 days? Sign me up!”
I got to the hostel about 6:00 in the morning, long before my bed was ready; check-in was normally at 1pm, I was told.
The view from the hammock I slept in while waiting for my bed to be ready.
Being awake for 36 hours finally had caught up to me, so I collapsed in a hammock outside in the shade, and finally went to sleep.
They managed to get my bed ready a couple hours early, and so at 11:00, I dragged my feet and my suitcase over to the building I’d be sleeping in for the next few days, and slept until just after dusk.
I spent the next few days lounging in hammocks, taking swims in the ocean, and exploring the tiny town of Nandi just outside of the airport. I took day tours, and spent an afternoon relaxing in mud baths, then getting a deep tissue massage that seemed to go on forever. One day, a bunch of people from the hostel took a bus all the way across the island–about a 2 hour journey–to watch a Rugby tournament that some of the hostel’s staff members were playing in. Our team didn’t win, but it was fun to watch, so we didn’t care.
We spent the nights sitting around a fire, singing songs, and drinking Kava–a somewhat intoxicating drink that tasted like dirt, but made you happy and carefree.
Those five days seemed like a lifetime, but they did finally end, and I had another plane to catch.
So, after one last flight, this one, mercifully only about 5 hours, I finally landed in Australia, Sydney to be exact. As corny as it sounds, I’d fallen in love with the city after watching Finding Nemo.
I had spent so much time planning the “getting to Australia,” part of my journey, that I didn’t really have any solid plans for what to do after I got there.
The first order of business was finding a long-term place to stay, and the second was finding a job.
I had originally planned to transfer to an Apple Store in Sydney. But, as happens in large companies, I got caught in a quagmire of bureaucracy, and didn’t actually have a job waiting for me when I got to Australia. I met with managers at the store, and they were excited to have me come aboard, but there was a lot of red tape to get through.
And so a couple of months went by, and my savings were rapidly depleting.
For a couple of weeks, just to pay my rent and buy some food, I spent hours every day as a street performer in one of the popular shopping areas in Sydney.
I’d gone to the Aussie equivalent of Best Buy, bought an amp and a microphone, and connected it all to my phone playing some Karaoke tracks.
It was summertime, and just before Christmas, so there were lots of shoppers out and about, and in a giving mood. The Saturday before Christmas, I took in $300 in about 4 hours. It was really fun, and I made a lot of friends in other buskers, and some of our regular fans, but I couldn’t keep it up forever.
Just as my savings were about to run out, and it looked like I might have to borrow money to head back to the States, I heard back from Apple. They wanted me to start working at the store in a couple of weeks. On that very same day, I got an email from Automattic. Over the previous few weeks, I’d interviewed with a hiring manager, and done a small project, and that day, they asked me to start a 6 week trial as a Happiness Engineer.
I’d gone from having no jobs, singing on the street just so I wouldn’t be living on the street, to having two full time jobs at the same time, and raking in the dough.
And so, I would wake up early in the morning, and spend a couple hours answering WordPress support tickets, then walk to the Apple Store and work a full 8 hour shift, and still come home and spend a few more hours working on tickets. I didn’t take a day off for over a month.
But, six weeks into my trial, I found out I was going to be passed on to Automattic’s CEO– a guy you might have heard of, named Matt Mullenweg–for the final interview. I had to ping him every day to ask if he was available, and after about a week, we chatted for hours-six long, but engaging hours, about everything from Karaoke, to what books I liked, to my traveling around the world.
And at the end of the chat, Matt offered me the job. I would start full time at Automattic in a couple of weeks.
And so, I gave my notice at Apple, and to celebrate, in the long weekend I had before starting at Automattic, I took a trip to the Great Barrier Reef.The kangaroos at the sanctuary were quite friendly! As long as you had food to offer them, anyway.
I had to fly up to Brisbane, then take an all day tour bus to a town hear the coast. We stopped at tourist traps along the way, including a sanctuary for kangaroos, koalas, emus, and more. That evening, we finally got to a small coastal town, with a population of maybe a few hundred.
The next day, the winds were too high on the seas for us to safely take a boat out. Instead, our tour guide took us to the top of a cliff overlooking the beach that night.
There were no cities for miles around, and I saw the entirety of the Milky Way in the sky for the first time in my life. That had a profound effect on me; it really hit home just how insignificant we really are in the universe.
The next day, we took a boat out to the reef, and I got to snorkel for a few hours. I did what Finding Nemo had made me want to do; watch see turtles play and look for “annemenenennones.”
And I found Nemo!
Once I got back to Sydney, it was time to buckle down, and get to work. I had to buy, then set up my new computer. I went through some more training, settled into a routine, and attended my team’s weekly chats, which were at midnight, thanks to the time zone difference.
That didn’t stop me from exploring, though.40,000 feet over the Australian outback, on my way to Bali, it seemed like I was over an alien planet.
Easter weekend, I took a side trip to Bali, Indonesia; flying there was actually cheaper than most destinations within Australia!
I traveled inland to a small town near the center of the island named Ubud. And while I was there, I stayed in a treehouse (albeit, a treehouse with wifi and air conditioning).
Every night, I got a full body oil massage for about $15 USD. I went to a monkey forest reserve, and spent hours playing with the monkeys. One even climbed up on my shoulder to grab a piece of fruit I was offering it.
A month or so later, I went to a WordCamp in Brisbane. Since I could work from anywhere, I rented an AirBNB for the month there, and had an apartment all to myself, for the first time in my life.
It’s funny how living in a place by yourself is a completely different mentality from sharing one with family or roommates.
What I didn’t know was just how much it would affect me.
You see, I’d been struggling with something all my life; something I’d kept hidden from everybody around me, sometimes even from myself.
Growing up, I always knew I was different somehow. It wasn’t until my teenage years that I was able to put a name to it, though.
All my life, I was told I was a boy, by family, by friends, by society. I believed it, too. After all, if everyone calls you something for long enough, you tend to end up believing it’s true.
But, in my heart, I knew I was different. I was really a girl.
I’d find out later that this was called being transgender.
Looking back, I can see signs that I wasn’t what everyone thought I was from my earliest memories, but it wasn’t until puberty hit that everything really started feeling wrong. My body wasn’t growing the way it was supposed to.
The teen years are known for being a pressure-filled, anxiety-ridden period in anybody’s life.
Mine was that way for the same reasons as most teenagers, but also because I had to hide who I really was. At the time, all I knew about trans people was what you saw on Maury and Jerry Springer, and the occasional transphobic jokes in TV shows and movies.
I didn’t want to be one of those caricatures, so I buried my feelings deep down into myself, so that eventually, even I believed they weren’t real.
But, every once in a while, they’d resurface. And I’d bury them back down because I was afraid. I was afraid that roommates would see me for the impostor that I felt like. Or that they’d be disgusted. I could never let my guard down.
When I moved into that first apartment of my own, though, a couple of things happened:
First, I was able to let my guard down. There was nobody around to worry about seeing me.
More importantly, though, I came across a Facebook post of a former coworker who had transitioned earlier in the year.
She’d originally made a big post on Facebook announcing that she was transitioning, but it happened during a time when I wasn’t really looking at Facebook, and by the time I was looking again, I had missed the post, and she had changed her name and profile image, so that I didn’t put two and two together.
But in June, for the first time since transitioning (that I saw anyway), she posted a picture of herself. I practically did that double-take that they show in cartoons: “Is that who I think it is?”
And so, I spent that evening reading back through all of her posts from the last six months. She talked about the feelings she’d had since she was a kid, and how she came to terms with them.
I sat there for hours, until the sun came up. At some point–I don’t know when–I started sobbing. Everything she was saying punched me in the gut like a prize-fighter.
These were the same feelings I’d suppressed all of these years–to a tee.
I’ve heard before that when you’re transgender, before you can accept yourself and start to transition, two things need to happen:
First, you need to realize you can do it.
Then, you need to realize that you can do it.
I already knew that it was possible to transition. Back when I worked in the pharmacy, I filled lots of hormone prescriptions for trans women.
But reading my friend’s posts helped me realize that transitioning was something I could do. That I needed to do.
I was in crisis mode. I was half a world away from everyone I knew, my family, my friends.
I was scared. I wanted to go home, but I still had about four months to go until I came back to the US.
I wanted to go home early. Several times, I’d gone to booking sites, and held my finger over the purchase button with a different kind of trepidation than I’d had when I originally bought my ticket to Australia.
But I’d already agreed to speak at a WordCamp in Pune, India in September, so if I went home early, it would mean cancelling that (and letting down one of my coworkers who’d worked hard to get me invited and approved to go in the first place).
So, I carried on. I found a therapist that would talk with me online, to help me through all of the anxiety and depression I was going through. By the time we finished a couple of sessions, I was absolutely certain that transitioning was right for me.
I muddled through the rest of my time abroad. I didn’t really go out much and explore the cities I had left to visit, though I did some. I’d started chatting with my friend whose posts had led to my own epiphany. Both she and the therapist I was talking to helped me through the worst of the homesickness.
I kept working, and eventually, the trip to India came. I had a weekend in Pune, a month in Mumbai, then back home to the US. I enjoyed India a lot. I met a lot of people at WordCamp, who treated me like a rockstar for working at Automattic. And oh yeah, Topher (ya know, the guy who runs this site?) was there, too.
After those final few weeks in India, September 30th finally came, and I was glad to be heading back home to the US. I’d spent the last few months making plans, and one of them was to tell my family.The view from the plane over Greenland, as I was finally on my way back home.
After two 9.5 hour flights from Mumbai to Paris, then Paris to Minneapolis, I was home. I wanted to tell my family (who I knew would be supportive) right away.
But every time I tried, my throat closed up and my eyes started to well up with tears.
Once I told them, there would be (in my mind, anyway) no going back. It took a few days, but I ended up telling them one at a time–via text message, so that I could say everything I wanted to say without stumbling.
Of course, my family accepted me for who I was, like I knew they would. But I still had to tell the rest of the world. So many people at work and in the WordPress community knew me already, so doing it under the radar wasn’t going to happen. And really, I’d spent my whole life hiding this part of me, and I didn’t want to hide anything any longer than I had to.
So, I made another plan to tell my coworkers, my WordPress friends, then everybody else.
As it turned out, WordCamp US was coming up in December, just about a week before my birthday. I thought that would be the perfect opportunity to tell a small group of people, just so they would have my back in case anybody acted like a jerk when I later posted online that I’d be changing my name.
I’d already worked with my HR at work to come up with the right language for a blog post on our internal updates blog. And I would later use almost the same text when I posted to Facebook and my blog.
So WordCamp came, and I pulled over the few people that I wanted to talk to, and started telling people.
I told that small group of 5 during the community summit before WordCamp. Every single one of them told me they were happy for me, and thanked me for trusting them enough to tell them first.
And so, that was that. I’d already scheduled the blog posts (both internal at work and my own blog) and the Facebook post to go out a few days after WordCamp.
Or so I thought.
What I didn’t realize is just how much I’d missed my friends from the WordPress community.
I made new WP friends while traveling in Australia and India, for sure, but most of my friends were in Europe and the US, so WordCamp US was my first opportunity to see most of them.
I saw people I hadn’t seen in over a year, sometimes longer, and I didn’t want to pretend with them anymore. And so, I started pulling them aside, one at a time.
Every single one of them pretty much had the same three responses:
“Congratulations on finally being able to be yourself,”
“If you need to talk to someone, let me know,” and
“If anybody gives you trouble, I’ll punch them.” (Thankfully that one didn’t become necessary.)
Every time I told someone, and they reacted that way, I felt happier and happier. By the end of the weekend, when I’d planned to tell 5 people, I ended up telling several hundred; who knew I had that many WordPress friends?!
The community I’d surrounded myself made me feel loved, and I knew what I was doing was right.
A few days later, the blog and Facebook posts went out, and all of my friends and coworkers who weren’t at WordCamp finally knew.
And I felt free.
Discovering WordPress opened up a whole new world for me. It started me on a whirlwind journey that nobody could’ve known where it would eventually take me.
I look back at myself–when I started using WordPress–and I’m amazed. It’s hard to imagine that I was once that 19 year old kid, with a low paying job, living at home with a single parent, struggling to make ends meet, and just going through the motions of life without really living.
Now, I’ve got an amazing job, friends and family that love me for who I am, and I can finally live my life without pretending to be someone I’m not.
Twelve years ago, I could never have imagined that I’d end up working for a company, and part of a community, that was full of so many accepting people. A community that placed a priority on making sure that all were welcome.
It’s fair to say that without the support of the WordPress community, I wouldn’t be the person I am today–literally.
And to think it’s all because I started a blog over a decade ago.
All photos in this post were taken by Amy Lane, and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
The post How WordPress (literally) turned me into a brand new person appeared first on HeroPress.
Okay, the headline might be a bit confusing, but bear with me. It all makes sense, I promise.
Let’s start somewhere else, though.
Hi, I’m Madalin Milea, and I am a technology professional based out of Rennes, France. I’m self-employed, a WordPress enthusiast, collaborating with CodeinWP (one of the top blogs about WordPress), and a member of the support team at ThemeIsle. I also maintain my own blog at M.Online, writing about a variety of topics such as blogging, WordPress and programming.
But I didn’t start like that. I studied Management and Economics for three years. It seemed like a sensible option, but while I knew I was gaining some useful skills, I also wanted more. I had a feeling I wasn’t yet on the right track.
So I went right back to square one and started out on a new path – programming; a field that had always had a magical allure for me, something I’d always dreamed of doing but never thought possible.
I obviously needed to learn a lot about WordPress, programming, and all things related before I could collaborate with companies like ThemeIsle, or before anyone would even hire me as a freelancer, for that matter.
So how do you do that? How do you go from studying Economics and being a phone center technician (which I used to do), to a WordPress developer?
Well, WordPress and programming in general are very interesting fields. First off, the way “mastering those fields” works is unheard of when compared to other fields. For example, if you want to be a doctor, you have no way of obtaining the necessary education on your own, through blog posts or whatever. You need to go to school. With programming, you very well can be self-taught, right from the start, all the way to being an expert.
But maybe this is not the best path to take after all… Maybe you’re better off not learning everything all on your own? I mean, I found the amount of info available out there on the web rather overwhelming. There’s just soooo much stuff. Where does one start?
I, for instance, decided to look for some online courses that could help me learn in a more easy-to-grasp way. So, after several hours of searching, I stumbled upon some Udemy courses on sale over at Creative Bloq Deals.
At first, they seemed interesting, but after a few days, I felt quite discouraged. It all seemed too complicated, I thought I’d never manage to learn anything. For a moment, I worried that I would never become a programmer. But I’m certainly not the one to give up easily, so I asked around for other ideas.
Long story short, it turned out to be a brilliant decision, and looking back, perhaps one of the best career decisions I’ve ever made. After only two weeks, I was already fascinated by the courses and the team running them.
It was during this time that I found my enthusiasm for WordPress and developed my skills. The Treehouse course structure really made things easy to follow. I was really taken with the whole experience.
In hindsight, I could have started with random free info that’s available on countless websites, but it wouldn’t have given me a natural step-by-step progression that a structured course does.
So my message is this:
Even if you set out to learn a new skill on your own, you don’t actually need to be on your own the whole time.
Get guidance from someone or someplace that really knows what they’re doing!
And please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Udemy courses aren’t any good, but in my case, Treehouse has just turned out to be perfect, considering my newbie level. I want to thank the team (especially Zac Gordon and Nick Pettit, my favorite teachers) for their wonderful work.
You might be at that point when you just can’t decide what you want to do with your life, or maybe all your previous ideas or your parents’ ideas don’t seem all that exciting anymore.
You can always pivot. Change really isn’t as hard as you might think if you’re motivated and hard working. There’s nothing that will spur you on more in life than following your dream. Whether you’d love to be a web developer, write mobile apps, computer games or start your own award winning blog, you can do it.
There are so many resources out there, some you pay for, but many are free. You can easily find a wealth of knowledge or even just people willing to share their expertise.
Once you find the right route for you, like I did, you’ll be full of motivation, and it’s this motivation that will get you there. The thought of a new career doing what you love will inspire you to put in a couple of hours each evening after work mastering a new skill.
Over the years I’ve learned a lot. These days, my areas of expertise include WordPress development, team management, programming and SEO. It’s my desire to learn more that has always pushed me forward. Every day, I expand my knowledge and hone my skills as a problem solver and effective developer.
You always have to remember that nothing is easy, but when you overcome obstacles, you get a huge sense of achievement. For me, it’s so frustrating when I just can’t understand something. It would be easy to give up and think it’s simply beyond me, but if you persevere, the sense of achievement when you have that “A-ha!” moment is incredible. Just in the last year, I gained a set of skills that seemed pretty much impossible to me before.
So again, whatever skill you want to master, don’t set out to do it on your own. Find quality sources of information, and don’t stop until you stumble upon something that fits.
What’s your dream career? Have you taken the first steps to make it a reality?
The post How to Learn WordPress Without Doing It on Your Own appeared first on HeroPress.
It’s not uncommon for me to ask someone to write a HeroPress essay and have them respond with “Why me? I’m not really on the periphery of anything. WordPress didn’t really help me overcome any hardship”. Almost every time I help them realize what an impact WordPress has made on their life, and how it has enabled them.
It took me quite a while to walk that path myself. I was a web developer for 15 years before I started working with WordPress, and if I hadn’t found WordPress I’d still be a web developer, and making a good happy living.
While WordPress as a technology made my career more pleasant, and certainly easier, the thing that has changed my life, and the life of my family, is unquestionably the WordPress community.
Another common requirement for writing a HeroPress essay is that you need to write to an audience. Who is this message for? This essay is for people like me. Read on and see if you’re like me.
People call me Topher, and for the new folks, I manage this little site. I’ve often said that everyone is on the periphery of something. I don’t feel like I’m on the periphery of anything. I’m an educated white American man. That right there puts me smack in the middle of most things. But if I had to pick something a little different I’d have to say it’s the way I was brought up.The shed we started in is in the top right, then we stayed in that trailer for a summer. The largest thing is the foundation of the house.
In 1979 my parents sold almost everything they had and moved 100 miles north. They bought a little plot of forest in the middle of a very large plot of forest and put up a tent and we moved in. Then we built a little shed, and my dad, my uncle, and I moved into that while mom and my sisters moved back to the city for a few months. We cleared the land and started building a house.
When it came time to hook up to the electrical grid we were told it would be $20,000 for the hookup. That’s nearly $70,000 at today’s rate. My dad simply said no. We didn’t get connected to the electrical grid for another 15 years.
If you’d like to read more of that story I did a nice long series on my own blog.
I taught myself to type in high school because it was way better than writing all that stuff by hand. When I got to college and it came time to write a paper I found that the library had a typewriter I could use. It was an old IBM Selectric with a little motor that spun and hummed the end entire time.
One day a guy said to me “Why don’t you use The Computer?”.
“We have a computer?” I asked. He showed me where the IBM 286 with WordPerfect was and I spent about a week learning everything I could about it. Soon I was typing papers for other people at a penny a word. That’s about $2 a page.
Then one day someone donated a new computer to the college. It was a Microsoft Xenix server, with 5 dumb terminals. Five people could use it at the same time! It also had something called “email”. It wasn’t on any network, so we could only email people in that room. But we loved it. Everyone swapped emails.
Fast forward a couple years and I went to a different school which ALSO had a server. This one was a giant VAX/VMS system. The machine was about the size of an old Volkswagen bug. There were terminals all over campus. You could send an electronic message to someone who was almost a mile away! It was amazing, and I was enthralled.
In my 4th year of college I was told that we could soon be connected to The Internet. I’d never heard of that, so I started learning. I found out that it would be just like what we had, but we could send emails to other schools! And people all over the world. It was AMAZING.
To try to keep a long story short(er) I moved through telnet, Gopher, and finally the web.
One day a friend came to me and said “Hey, look what I made!”. It was a web page. With his own content on it! He said “It’s really easy, you should try it!” I told him no, it looked far too complicated. He said it really wasn’t, and showed me.
That afternoon I learned every HTML tag there was. All 40 of them. And I started making web pages. Page after page. I made lists of interesting websites, and connected them all together. I built an unofficial website for my college. I joined the local Freenet, even though I didn’t have a computer of my own, and started building pages for them, for my city. It became an obsession.
Eventually I talked the college into paying me to build them a real website. Here’s a screenshot:
After college I took a 6 month contract building an intranet website for Kellogg’s (the cereal people). It was their first internal website, and I had to make sure there was backward compatability for Netscape 1.0. It was still all plain HTML though. CSS hadn’t been invented yet. If there was back-end scripting to be done it was CGI in perl.
Fast forward to 1998 and I was working in my office with some co-workers and one of our designers came into the room. He said “I have a contract to build a site for a realtor, but I need someone who knows PHP”. No-one said anything, so I said “I’ll do it!”.
That night I went home and learned PHP.
I built the site and got paid. Let’s just say I’m glad it’s not around anymore.
I started taking more PHP jobs, getting better and better. A new thing became popular on the web called “web logging”, basically keeping a journal on the web. People soon shortened it to “blogging”, which confused all the old people.
I tried some blog software, but it was crazy hard to set up. One platform even required an Apache module of its own. I decided blogging wasn’t for me, and probably wouldn’t be going very far.
In 2003 I was working as a PHP/MySQL developer at a radio station attached to a college (the very same at which I started so long ago). I was teaching a class called Intro To Web Development. I’d recently heard about WordPress and tried it out. I wasn’t very impressed. I could build that. I required each student to have a project for the year, and I took one for myself. Build something better than WordPress.
What I came up with wasn’t better than WordPress, but it was good enough that I used it as my main blogging software for 10 years. Looking back, I really wish I had become involved in the community then. Where would I be now?
In 2010 I had been doing side work non-stop for several years. I did the math and realized that I was wasting a LOT of time and money going to my day job every day. Literally tens of thousands of dollars being lost by going there 5 days a week.
I went freelance and the work poured in. I took a contract that used WordPress and was pretty impressed by its blogging abilities. It was still a chore to make any other kind of site with it, but I was able to bend it to my will. I loved that WordPress took care of permissions and user management for me. I quickly found out that most of the “WordPress developers” out there didn’t really know PHP. I had a huge advantage.
I used WordPress occasionally until 3.0 came out. Everything changed.
Custom Post Types made practically anything possible! It was literally breathtaking. I hadn’t been so excited since the early days of web development, when a new browser version meant major new web technology.
Everything in my life began to change rapidly as well. I went from freelancing to being CTO in a startup to being a WordPress VIP developer at a major agency to trying something cool (HeroPress) to writing documentation. 5 different job changes in 6 years. It was pretty stressful for my family.
There was something consistent through most of the last 6 years though.
My first experience with The Community was when I went looking for a Theme Framework. I found Startbox, by a guy named Brian Richards. I found out he lived only a few miles from my house! He answered SO MANY QUESTIONS. I wouldn’t be the WordPress developer I am today without him.
We formed a local WordPress meetup, and one of the first things he said was “We need a WordCamp”. What’s a WordCamp? He told me all about it and said he wanted to pull one together in only 4 months. I thought he was CRAZY, but sure enough he did it, and WordCamp Grand Rapids was born.
I was hooked. I couldn’t wait until NEXT year when we could have another one!
Then I learned they happen all over the place! ALL THE TIME!
My first Away WordCamp was Austin in April 2014, and it felt like it changed everything. I mustered up the courage to approach Siobhan McKeown and ask her about writing docs. 15 minutes later (literally) I had admin rights to work on the Plugin Handbook. I spent the next 6 months finishing it.
I met Shayda Torabi, Chris Lema, Shawn and Kay Hesketh. I met for the first time my own co-workers at XWP.
And my father died.
My sister called on a quiet Sunday morning at sunrise and told me he was gone. My dear brother Luke Carbis cried with me. I’m crying now as I write this.
I was surprised to learn soon after that XWP wanted me to go to WordCamp Miami. I didn’t expect two WordCamps in one year! I met David Bisset, Karim Marucchi, Joe Hoyle, and dozens of other people who are now solid friends.
Then another, I found out I was going to WordCamp San Francisco! I met Rocio Valdivia, Julie Kuehl, Dave Rosen, Shane Pearlman, Jake Goldman, and more and more and more.
It was at that WordCamp that someone nominated me to be XWP’s WordCamp Outreach person. Dave Rosen looked at me with a sparkle in his eye and asked “Would you like that?”. That moment was the true beginning of HeroPress. That’s where he started thinking “What if?”
Until HeroPress WordPress was a tool to further my career. I’d made some dear dear friends, but maybe I would have made dear friends without WordPress. Dave Rosen came to me and told me he wanted me to do something great for WordPress. He told me it was my journey to discover. He wanted a business, a new product that would change everything.
He also sent me a picture.
It was a narrow alley in India. I don’t know what city. In the center of the alley was a small child, maybe 3 years old, getting a bath. His or her mother was pouring water to rinse.
“I want to help that child” Dave said. “I want to make a world where that child has the ability to make a good healthy living, without having to leave home.” The child was looking right at the camera.
Right at me.
Dave also made available to me a WordPress agency. “If you need to build anything, use them, I have them on retainer” he said. They were from Kolkata. I got to know one person there, a young man named Jeet. We spent months together trying to come up with something great to do for WordPress. I learned about his family, and he learned about mine. He got married in that time.
One day Jeet let go of some frustration. He was trying to get enough work for his agency to stick together. It was really a group of friends who had been freelancing, and they wanted to make it work as a team. But he couldn’t get good work. There was plenty of work for “cheap labor from India where they work for almost nothing”. But that doesn’t work for actual grown up developers feeding families. He asked me how to get good work.
I felt helpless. I’d never been to India. I wasn’t any good at business really. What do I know?
So I set out to find someone who DID know. Someone who’d made a successful WordPress business in India.
That’s where the core idea of HeroPress started. That’s why HeroPress essays now need an audience. It’s about connecting people to each other to share wisdom.
I lost track of Jeet not long after the HeroPress Kickstarter failed, and I’ve been looking for him ever since. If anyone knows where to find Soumyajit Saha, I’d love to know.
The Kickstarter failed. My job situation was uncertain. Jeet never got his advice. The kid in the alley would certainly never get a good job. That’s ridiculous of course, but I could still see those eyes.
Then people started saying things like “HeroPress is such a good idea, please don’t let it die.” People who couldn’t afford to give more than they had, or any at all. People said “I couldn’t afford to give any money, but I have time, if you need anything done, I’ll do it”. Dozens of them.
I started thinking about how I could make it work. If I gave up on video, and went with plain text, how hard could it be? What could it cost besides hosting? I decided to go for it.
I emailed Dave and asked permission but he didn’t write back. He was busy on something else at the time. I asked again. Nothing.
So I did it anyway.
I found Rarst and asked him if he’d do his presentation in text form, and he said yes. We published. It was breathtaking.
Then I thought “I should have another, right? Umm… next week?” So I tracked down Saurabh Shukla, who had given so much great advice on how to talk to people from other cultures. “Sure!” he said. Then I needed another. For about the first 3 months I got contributors merely days, sometimes hours before publish time.
Failure turned to success. Text is BETTER than video. It’s cheaper, faster, more accessible.
It’s not a viable business. No-one’s making their living from it. From the viewpoint of the original goal, it has been a failure. From the eyes of everyone who talks to me about it, I can see it’s a success.
In the spring of 2014 I went with my wife and two children to WordCamp Chicago. We all made new, wonderful friends. My children know people from all over the world, some of them that I don’t even know, because of WordPress. My wife now has dear friends she talks to all the time because of that WordCamp.
We were hooked. We decided to go to another WordCamp. Then another. We went to Chicago, Dayton, North Canton, Milwaukee, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Virginia Beach, St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbus, and WordCamp US.
Without my family I went to Pressnomics and WordCamp Pune.
At every one of these places we made more friends. More people with whom we still stay in touch and to whom we have become close. Some of them we saw over and over at WordCamps all year, and traded stories of travel and family and life.
The longer we’re a part of the WordPress community the more I realize we’re not making friends, we’re making family.
Family from India, Ukraine, England, Argentina, Nepal, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, and literally hundreds of other countries.
WordPress didn’t rescue me from anything. The code shaped my career sure, but what has changed me is you. The lives of myself and my family will forever be better because of you.
My grandparents used to have a photograph that showed me as a child, just old enough to start walking; and in it I was trying to climb onto this little cement horse sculpture they had in their yard.
For as long as I can recall I’ve always had an interest in horses, and it was always believed that my primary career path in life would somehow revolve around riding or training horses.
I had the first chance to work around horses when I was nine, my parents wouldn’t pay for riding lessons but I was given the green light to volunteer at a handicapped riding facility near our home. So I would go there a few times each week to lead the horses around and assist the riders. I was in heaven.
After some months of this my parents finally conceded to riding lessons, then buying a horse and things seemed to be on course for a career in horses for me.
When I was 14 years old, we had moved to our own little property where we could keep our own horses. I would have been entering the 9th grade that fall, but instead I proposed to my parents that I should drop out of school and start a horse business instead; and surprisingly they agreed.
For the next 6 years, I would spend a significant amount of time learning how to build, maintain and improve my own website for that business; it started with a basic WYSIWYG website builder but I quickly learned I needed to dig directly into the code to achieve what I wanted. I broke things and learned how to fix by poking at them with a stick, possibly the most ineffectual method of learning but this was before Google contained all the answers to all the questions..
Bear with me, I’m getting to that point! It’s now 2005 and I’m packing up my truck and horse trailer with a reasonable amount of belongings and one of my horses to drive 2000 miles from southern Wisconsin to the Seattle, Washington area. The next step in my journey will be as working-student for a year, which is just a fancy way of saying I’ll be doing hard physical labor for gruelingly long hours in exchange for a few hours of one-on-one instruction when the trainer has time.
I wanted to learn more about Classical Dressage, and with few options in my immediate location, began looking outside the Midwest until I found a small facility in the Pacific NorthWest that was teaching what I wanted to learn.
So where does WordPress fit in here? From the time I started working at the farm, I had to maintain an online blog and post to it daily. I chose WordPress as my blogging platform, possibly it was a choice of complete chance. But **that was my introduction to WordPress**, the requirement to maintain a simple online blog every day.
Every day, I blogged, and slowly I decided I wanted to do more with my blog. So I began exploring plugins and themes, and then how I could break and fix them to suit my own needs.
People I knew in the horse community would hire me from time to time to work on their site or build them one, and I was doing this in HTML and CSS until I got started with WordPress; and soon I was converting everyone I could to a WordPress site.
There were a lot of other things going on in my life at this time unrelated to WordPress and websites as I continued to search for what I really wanted to do with my life.
I returned from Washington and began giving riding lessons in my area. I wrote and published a book about working with horses, “Centered Self, Centered Horse.” Despite the outward successes I was having, my career path with training horses was really just reaching its peak before fizzling out.One of the last times I exhibited my horses, this was at a fundraiser for a therapeutic riding facility.
I began practicing Therapeutic Massage to help bring in additional income, sadly my arms would only hold out for a few years before severe chronic tendonitis forced me to quit altogether.
The economy in the gutter and I felt this might be a good time for me to pursue higher education, so I went to college for my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
School was a welcome distraction as my involvement with the horse community became less satisfying. I felt more at odds every day with the common methods used to train and ride horses until I decided I needed a full break from all-things-horses.
Even through all of this, I was still plugging away with WordPress, freelancing and slowly gaining more and more clients.
In 2013, a freelance client I had just started working with wanted to use a very specific WordPress theme – Marketer’s Delight.
It’s funny when you think back to something small that can completely change the course you’re on. But it was this tiny thing that I believe began a full-stop to the path I was travelling at that time and helped re-route me to where I am today.
Marketer’s Delight, at that time, was a skin for the Thesis framework. So as I was working with it I would pop into the forum support to ask a few questions about whether certain functionality was supported out of the box, and Alex was looking to hire someone to help with forum support.
On a lark, I sent him an email. I loved working with Marketer’s Delight and felt I’d enjoy helping others in the forum as they navigated their way through customizing the theme for their own site.
And that was it, I joined Kolakube and worked in the support forum for about 3 months.
After that opportunity I realized some very important things. 1) I love figuring things out and finding out what the cause of a problem is, and 2) I really love helping people.
I had continued to freelance while working in the support forum, but after that time I really wanted to work with another support team again.
I wasn’t yet actively looking at job openings or submitting resumes to any companies; but opened up Twitter and one of the few people I was following at the time had retweeted a link to a job opening for OptinMonster.
I worked with creating “optins” with OptinMonster on a few of my clients’ sites so was already somewhat familiar with the product and and really enjoyed using it.
Of course there was some immediate self-doubt about whether I was really qualified for the position because customer support wasn’t a field I had been pursuing for a long time or had a long history of experience in.
“Ah, the worst that can happen is they actually respond with a ‘no’.”Not a resume to be easily forgotten.
So I got to work putting together a resume to submit that I felt would convey both my personality and highlight my motivation.
I actually listed the following as a skill-set in my resume:
“Owner of unicorns,
slayer of dragons,
rider of lightning”
Long story short, I got the job!
It’s been a year and a half now that I’ve been working not only with OptinMonster, but also with Soliloquy and Envira Gallery plugins which are part of the same company (AwesomeMotive).
I work with the really great, diverse team of people, who feel more like family.
In the short time I’ve worked at AwesomeMotive, I’ve learned so much and grown a lot with respect to my knowledge and skills in development even. I gained confidence to begin writing my own plugins and have some published now in the WordPress Plugin Repository.
This last fall I was promoted to Head of Customer Happiness and have the honor to oversee support for thousands of customers.
Sometimes it’s difficult to look ahead and see clearly where your destination will be.
If you had asked me 10 years ago what I would be doing today, customer support or a career largely built on WordPress would not have been part of my answer.
But in all the little paths I’ve travelled that eventually got me here, what I’ve always been looking for was a place where I fit.
Since I first began writing a little daily blog in WordPress, to today working every day with this amazing team of incredibly skilled individuals, has been this comforting feeling that the world is right and my place in it correct.
The incredible thing about WordPress is the diversity of what you can pursue. WordPress is more than a blog, more than a website or online store.
WordPress is people coming together, sharing their own unique sets of skills and personalities to make something greater than could be achieved by any one person alone.
WordPress allows me to learn and grow as a person every day. It challenges me to think about problems from completely different perspectives as I work with individuals from around the world who share with me their experience and thoughts.
I doubt I would have a similar opportunity without WordPress; and really without each and every person who is using, extending and contributing to it. My gratitude for WordPress is really my gratitude for you, the person reading this story about my journey, because we are all helping support each others journey through WordPress.
The post WordPress, Where I Found What I Didn’t Know I Was Missing appeared first on HeroPress.
What do you want to do for living? Depending on where you stand in life, this question can either be the most easiest or an incredibly tough one to answer. When you are ten or fifteen this question is exciting and it has the power to open a whole box of wishes and dreams that seem to just be waiting to be realized.
Well, with 25 and a university degree in civil engineering in my pocket, that was probably the most unpleasant question you could have asked me. This was not like I imagined it to be. The feeling was wrong. Instead of being eager to finally put the acquired knowledge into practice, I somehow felt like I’ve just spent the last 6 years of my life for nothing. There was zero enthusiasm in picturing me working in civil engineering field…not now…not ever.
The year was 2009 and some big events are underway in my life. First, on April 4th I turned 25. OK, that doesn’t sound like much now, but for me, then, it surely was:). In May I got married to Marko. By the way, he is helping me write this and he won’t let me write epics about him, but otherwise I certainly would:). In June I finished my studies and in September I officially moved to Germany to live with my husband. Somehow, it still sounds strange when I say “my husband”, soo serious .
When I recall these events now I can see what a great year that was. Still, there was this big question mark hanging above my head; what am I going to do for living? Beside having a major in a field I had no intention of pursuing a career, I now had another barrier… german language. If you’ve ever heard German talking you probably know it doesn’t sound like a piece of cake thing to learn:).
The first year in Germany I spent learning the language and working some part time jobs in restaurants, hotels and even giving dancing lessons. It was fun, new country, new language, new people. I even applied for a couple of jobs related to civil engineering, but luckily didn’t get them due to insufficient German knowledge.
I guess this question might have crossed your mind at least once by now. To better describe the whole thing I need to give a bit more insight into my background and life prior to meeting Marko.
I was born in Kotor, Montenegro that was then a part of Yugoslavia. Kotor is a relaxed small town on the coast and in my memory it imprinted itself as a great place to be a child. Most people that heard of Kotor, probably visited it on board of one of one of the large cruising ships that stop there daily.
Unfortunately, in the beginning of 90’s terrible things started to happen all over Yugoslavia, the country started to fall apart and my family decided to move to Croatia that have just announced independence from Yugoslavia. We ended up on the small island Losinj, another tourist destination, where I lived with my parents until I was 18 and was time to go to college.
Although spending childhood in such beautiful small towns like Kotor and Losinj may seem like living in paradise for many people, there is always another side of the coin. For me that other side were missing options. It was like, there is a way how things work here and you have to get used to it. The sooner you forget about some unconventional ideas about your future the better . And I’ve had a lot of those. I was interested in playing piano, dancing, design and so on. It was all acceptable as a hobby, but no one really considered those to be a serious occupation option.
Well, with time, I forgot about many of them as I tried to fit in and as a result I ended up studying civil engineering for the sole reason that it is, among maybe 3-4 other studies, traditionally considered “a good choice” in this country.
As people say, “better ever than never”. I don’t know and don’t want to know what my life would be like if I’ve forced myself to follow the path I had in front of me at that time, but I guess forcing yourself to do anything long term is receipt for failure.
I figured out that “a good choice” doesn’t mean much if you’re not satisfied with it.
It is a common saying that there are always alternatives, but sometimes it is really hard to see them. Especially if you live in an environment that doesn’t want or is afraid to see them. Moving to Germany to live with Marko changed my views and I started to open myself to new opportunities.
Although Marko originally comes from the same small island my family moved to in the 90’s, we first met in 2006 when he was already living in Germany. His way of thinking is quite unconventional by Croatian standards and although he also tried to ignore his own urges for some time, he dropped out of “a good choice” college just before the finish line and went to Germany to work as a musician.
He inspired me to rethink my options and supported me from the day one no matter what choice I make. All at once my choice was clear.
I always wanted to do something creative and design was my wish for a long time although I’ve never done anything even remotely like it. Marko and I sat down, I told him what I’d want and he was like; great, take your time, start learning and sooner or later it will pay off.
So, I started browsing all over the net trying to find good sources that I can learn from. First I actually started creating logos, but very soon I was hooked on web design. I started learning HTML/CSS and even enrolled myself in the online based web design course that turned out to be a waste of time as the concepts that they taught were 10 years behind the times. However, persistence does pay off and within a year I was ready to try selling my first template.
Themeforest was an obvious choice, but the quality was not there yet. When I look at those first templates, they make me laugh, but you have to start somewhere:). Anyway, the templates got better, got accepted and I started to feel comfortable in what I was doing.
The year was 2012, I’ve had a couple of templates and a couple of small clients behind me, but with all these CMS solutions growing, HTML templates seemed like a dead end. In the meantime Marko and I decided to try to build a business selling only finished templates instead of developing custom websites for clients.
Our goal was to build a business that is independent of the place of living.
The way I got introduced to WordPress wasn’t very romantic and there is nothing really inspiring in that story. We were looking for a bigger market that could make our plan work and growing sales themes on Themeforest led us to one conclusion… WordPress.
I didn’t know anything about it and was quite reluctant to start learning it, but Marko can be quite stubborn:). He was like, “common it can’t be that hard”, although at that time he didn’t have any knowledge of it what so ever:) However, that kept me going and the more I learned about WordPress the more I liked the whole idea behind it.
From my very first steps with WordPress I was pleasantly surprised how helpful people in the WordPress community can be. Complete strangers were ready to take their precious time and help a beginner learn some basic concepts. This is something I’ve never experienced before and that is one of the greatest values of being a part of such a community.
In 2013 we launched our own site Anariel Design where we offered our HTML template as well as the first theme or two. Here again complete strangers, that run a very popular site Codrops, help us promote the site at the very beginning. In the meantime we got to know them in person so they are not strangers anymore :). Thank you Manoela and Pedro!
2014 was a turning point when, out of the blue, we got an email from Philip Arthur Moore ( work for Automattic at the time ) asking if we’d like to sell our themes on WordPress.com. It was such honor for me to be invited. It was like an ultimate confirmation that I’m doing something right an that was finally something I actually enjoyed doing. Thank you Philip!
2013 had its dark side as I was going through a series of panic attacks that seemed to start out of nothing. It was completely confusing as everything was going great in my life and then all of a sudden such a horror. I even ended up in a hospital for 2 days cause I felt as if I was having a heart attack so they kept me to do some tests.
Marko helped me analyze the situation and I discovered how much baggage I’ve been carrying around for a long long time. Things I’ve never talked about. Things I was ashamed or afraid of. Things I should have straighten out a long time ago, but didn’t. Opening up helped me a lot and it got better with time.
At the time the panic attacks started happening I got a gift, cute small teddy bear. It may sound funny or strange, but this teddy bear we named Bubi helped me calm down in my worst hours. Especially when Marko wasn’t at home. In the meantime Bubi became our lucky charm and he’s now with us where ever we go.
The last two years were really a joyride. We achieved our goal of running a business that doesn’t tide us to a certain location. In 2014 Marko took a long needed break from music to learn WordPress and beside doing the business side of things he became an awesome support agent:).
We are now working from a home office or from where ever we find ourselves at the moment. We like to attend WordCamps whenever we can and meet new people. There are so many interesting stories as most of these people lead unconventional lives.
No one knows what the future brings and how my life will be in a year or in five years.
However, WordPress showed me that everything is possible if you invest enough time and effort. It helped me grow confidence in myself and in other people. That is something that no one can take away and that is what I’m most thankful for.
With every project you, me or anyone else ever started there is always someone who knows something you don`t. Someone who can help you out when you get stuck, someone from whom you can always learn something new.
So, in this last part i’d like to thank all the people that helped me on my way:
I went from being an Electrical Engineer to a WordPress Journalist cum Researcher. I review products, provide WordPress support and handle technical documentations. Here’s my story.
October 27th, 2010 — The day my passion became my paycheck, and I was hopeful and excited about trying out something I always wanted to do i.e. to blog!
I was always a shy kid. But had a great inclination towards all the creative writing opportunities which were offered in the school. Be it contributing to the school’s annual magazine or joining the editorial team of the Buzz (the monthly newsletter), I always considered myself an amateur writer. I also remember how anxiously; I used to wait for the weekly edition of the US Magazine and used to pile up all its copies neatly in a big plastic folder bag. (I still have that big bundle stacked in my cupboard. )
Throughout my school, the laser focus on my career was to become a doctor and take up writing as a side profession. Even if I wanted to take writing as a full-time career at that time, my parents would not have allowed it (every parent wants their kids to be an engineer or a doctor — professions with less uncertainty).
So, I knew that just aiming to become a professional writer would only do more harm than good. Anywho, long story short, I ended up joining the Engineering field mostly because the profession ran in my blood. (Duh… my dad is an Engineer).
The general perception is that if you’re passionate about something, you’re more willing to take risks. But this wasn’t true for me. Honestly, I’m not a life-hacking kind of girl. Nor can I pretend to be one who has fully recovered from giving up on her passion. But somewhere in there I still wanted to write (as in professionally).
I was now on track to become an Electrical Engineer, which was not anywhere close to writing, except for that only Communications Skills course which included a few PPT presentations, technical writing and a 20-page report as a semester project. There was nothing creative about it since we were supposed to write like they write a research paper. There was more fuss about syntax than the content itself. It’s safe to assume that I didn’t enjoy that kind of writing.
Five years ago during my 4th semester at the university, I met an amazing team of entrepreneurs led by Ahmad Awais; it was a small team of passionate developers and bloggers. Better yet, they were looking to add one more resource to their team. I knew this was my chance to be a writer again.
For me, writing meant putting my voice out there and wanting it to matter even a tiny bit. After a few articles that I contributed, I was offered a part-time job, and I quickly jumped on it. I was like “Holly Smokes! It’s getting real”. I got started by writing on different niches like technology, design, food, fashion, hospitality, the web, etc.
Re-living my passion once again induced new hope and rejuvenated me a lot.
Whatever I wrote, came profoundly from my heart and this instinct made me believe I might have a chance to take a stab on writing once again. But writing for technology blogs wasn’t that simple as I had hoped.
Becoming a professional and sound copywriter is an intimidating struggle because there’s a lot of jargon. Unfortunately, you’re going to find some new mantra each time you browse this topic. So, I’m just writing what I found is necessary for one to become one such copywriter.
One needs to know at least the basics of these three bullet points listed above. So, that was my goal. Mostly, because I worked with a team of developers and being an engineer, development was not a remote concept either. I knew that having basic design and development skills will only allow me to push beyond the limits of a normal copywriter.
Ahmad had always been a big fan of WordPress, and all three of our blogs were built with WordPress. The CMS was entirely new to me but when I gave it a spin found it surprisingly easy to learn. We had internal workshops about WordPress almost every other week. I made a point to sit through these workshops and even went through project RFP’s and init meetings. During the next semesters, I had fallen for two things, writing and yes, you guessed it, WordPress.
Now the biggest challenge for me was to pace things up as quickly as possible so that by the time I graduate, I don’t end up working in a Grid Station in a remote area. (I mean no offense to the Electrical Engineers out there. But it wasn’t the thing for me.)
I started getting a firm grip over WordPress. I kicked off with video tutorials from Lynda and then started reading authentic web resources like WPBeginner, WP Tavern, etc. After toying around with the basic setup and configurations, the next step was to face my biggest fear i.e. coding.
Did I mention that initially I knew very little of code?
My first real interaction with the code was via C Programming in the first semester and believe me it was a deeply rooted bizarre.
I found the fact development jobs “are for men” ridiculous and therefore, continued to focus on progressing my career.
This was only possible if I would learn how to code.
With time, I started noticing an encouraging shift in my life. I knew I was up to something. My next step was to evolve with the local community and hence, I started attending design conferences and workshops. Why design? Because this would fulfill my third component to become a professional copywriter and it let me interact with people around me. Images play a vital role in making your content appealing, and a basic knowledge of Photoshop would be sufficient to achieve my goal.
My next step eventually hit the brick wall, and I started speaking at workshops too. I assisted the leading speakers at most of the workshops which made me gain experience that proved its worth just some time later.
By the time I graduated, I was leading the team of bloggers and had expanded my team to about 15 people. Believe me; it feels great to be working on what I want and when I want! Delegating to a team of emerging writers was an achievement itself. Obviously, it’s not an easy thing, but I enjoyed every single bit of it.
At that time, we thought of starting a new company focused on teaching people all things web. That also meant selling our blogging network. So, we have begun prepping for that and by the end of the year, we had have sold almost 80% of our blogs.
By now, I’ve realized that the only person who can get in the way of your career progress is YOU. One has to keep moving forward regardless of what you’re up against. The work you do may not bring drastic and immediate results, but your efforts will not go to waste. And I knew that the career path which I’ve opted for can directly impact the future of our next generation of women.
So, it just hit me that I should teach others how I did it, not much of a success story, but at least I could spread the word. Then I came up with the idea of a startup with my team. FinkTanks — as we called it was launched in 2013 and then again in 2014. I searched for my target audience and the perfect fit for this venture were the young girls just like me — fresh graduate looking to learn a few extra skill.
I surveyed a little and realized that a number of females were interested in working from home (mostly coz it is easier, flexible and no transportation mess). There could not be a better choice for them other than blogging & copywriting. I mean you don’t have to go for a job you just need to work hard wherever you are. All you need is a laptop and an uninterrupted internet connection which fortunately is available to almost all of us. So this was my biggest inspiration and hence I got started.
I conducted training sessions on a monthly basis where I taught how to be a blogger and how to be self-employed. I taught all the essential components which a blogger needs to know starting from WordPress to design, code, and of course copywriting.
So far, I’ve trained more than 700 women from almost every walk of life, and about 80% of them are now earning a living with WordPress.
All this was only possible because of WordPress. Had I not started early on with this open source script I had never been able to positively affect so many lives. WordPress had started to change my life.
When I started publishing content with WordPress, I knew little about its technical insights but gradually became aware of it. I started as a 360 writer who could pen down her thoughts on any niche, but soon I realized that instead of doing something of everything, I should learn everything of something. And that everything was WordPress.
Yes! WordPress is my new gluten and since 2013, this open source script has become a life-changing experience for me. I think that my passion for writing is the best fit to convey my thoughts and opinions on WordPress. Currently, I’m a part of WPTie and working as the Creative Director.
My day to day routine involves reading about WordPress (and boy I read a lot of it), slacking through WP Slack, improving documentation of our products, providing WordPress support and blogging about WordPress. I also try listening to the popular podcasts. I follow folks like Chris Lema, Tom McFarlin, and Matt Cromwell. Recently, I’ve also started a new venture with Ahmad Awais, i.e. a blog about stuff that couples well with WordPress WPCouple.com.
Working at WPTie has been amazing. It has provided me with an excellent opportunity to work with a talented lot of the community ranging from beginners all the way up to professional developers, bloggers, designers, and WordPress core contributors, etc. So, interacting with like-minded people who are heading towards the same career goals as me is fascinating.
I have turned my life around from being an Electrical Eng. to becoming a WordPress Journalist. By now, I have reviewed several plugins, themes, and frameworks, and now I’m heading towards a big goal. My team and I are working on a brand new online content agency through which we can offer copywriting services to the WordPress community.
One of my goals has to never be just a copywriter, and that’s what I am up to. I write on complex WordPress topics which help me experiment and learn how to develop with WordPress while following the coding standards set by the community.
If you think my story has a lot of WordPress in it, then you cannot be more right.
I believe that sharing more than 26% of the web; WordPress has empowered many ordinary people. I also find myself gearing for the same queue. My prime focus will be towards reviewing WordPress products as they are here to stay for sure. Likewise, I’m also brainstorming about my content agency.
With that said, I am planning to enter the services market, and one of my huge inspirations and motivations have been Jennifer Bourn. I truly admire the way she is maintaining a perfect blend of both personal and professional life. Because there always exists a big either for most of the women when it comes to choosing a professional career versus being a traditional housewife. Likewise, I’m planning to attend WordCamps next year and looking forward to meeting her.
I’ll conclude by stating the obvious ~ It’s hard to write about yourself. I don’t call myself a hero, hell I am no hero. On the contrary I am embarking on a journey to be better at what I do, and I cannot wait to see what is in store for me. Right now I’m happy and satisfied with what I do, I am surrounded by great people trying to accomplish great things and not many people can say that about their career. That’s because of WordPress and the community around it. So, Thank You, WordPress!
Topher really dropped it on me with this article. There I was happily mumbling away about philosophy and life lessons (with regards to our experience at PixelGrade) when he said: “I’d love a message from you to other Romanians about what a business around WordPress can do for them”. I kept on mumbling anyway (it’s a thing I am really good at ). “Sure, I can do that!”
But when it came to writing my “message”, damn. Talk about brain freeze. Should I write about this or that? Does this really relate to Romanians or it’s just something general? Are Romanians different in this respect? We have good coders here… but boy how lame we are when it comes to… There is talent here but… And on and on it went — procrastination 101.
I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I needed a solid reason. Something worthwhile. Something that I could get behind as being useful to others (Romanians included) from a new point of view (at least for me).
But you know what? I am going to mumble away about what I think kept us alive and kicking all these years and what is keeping others from joining the fun. WordPress, with it’s capital_P_dangit(), is an important part of it. Consider it an open letter to the Romanian community (and others in a similar situation), worthy of HeroPress, but most importantly helpful to some of you.
You start from yourself. The rest will come later, with time. Right now all you have is you: you the wannabe coder, designer, marketer, what have you.
Just like me and my brother George. When we’ve started, we were just two kids (he was really a kid in highschool; I was in university — but age doesn’t show on me ) wanting to do something NOW. Not tomorrow, not when we finished our formal education, not when the opportunity presented itself to us. NOW! This sense of urgency is important to seed early on and hang on to it.
We knew some HTML, CSS, coding on my part (but not PHP), and that was pretty much it. No business experience, no mentors, no friends that were already doing this, no internet acquaintances that would give us some work to start from. Just us, a computer and the internet (that is, Romania’s internet speed — lucky us).
So where to start? From the obvious place, of course. Freelancing marketplaces. After some looking around, we’ve settled for vWorker.com (mainly because it seemed more upper class than the likes of freelancer.com — it got bought by the latter in the meantime). We started with very small gigs and worked our way (in a couple of years) to larger projects.
This is the point where we were forcibly introduced to WordPress. At first small customizations for themes, then the classic by now PSD-to-WP. We were getting the hang of it and loving it. We were honing our skills, making more money than most around us (it pays to have low living standards), and making a good name for ourselves.
So stop making excuses and start doing something. Keep at it and good things will happen, with time.
Oh please! I know you want to be the best you can be, that you think learning that extra technique will make you even greater, that exploring that extra framework will widen your possibilities. No it won’t. It will only postpone the day when you actually do something and put it to the test of actual people. I know, it scares the shit out of you. It surely did scare us.
But that is the only way you will truly learn. You will hone your skills, but more importantly, you will learn what you actually need to know to get something done. That extra framework that you know will only drag you down. When faced with a problem you will have a hard time attacking it because you know so many “wonderful” ways it could be done. You will try to code for the sake of code.
Trust me. You don’t really want to be Michelangelo (I think neither did he). You want to be happy and satisfied with your end results. This is where WordPress comes into play once again.
It’s code base is not beautiful by any current standard. It’s not cutting edge, it’s not very “automagical”, part of it is truly out-dated, the templating is cumbersome bordering ancient in today’s landscape. You know it, I know it, and everybody else with some coding experience knows it. So what? Is it stopping you from crafting a sweet design and letting your customers enjoy it? Far from it.
Stop agonizing about what it can’t do for your coder ego, and focus on what it can do for your life and your customers.
Praise the internet gods for having such a low barrier of entry, for the gargantuan community, for the endless snippets of code laying around just ripe for copy-pasting. But above all else, thank each contributor that it hasn’t given up on “the user comes first”. It means your customers will also come first. What a great partner to have when starting out.
And don’t worry, you will get plenty of opportunities to focus on crafting clever code in your themes and/or plugins. Just not at the scale of Google. But then again, you are not Google. It’s healthy to keep a firm footing in reality.
Are you committed to this or not? Good! Then stop for a moment and think. Do you have to build everything yourself? Do you have to learn everything? How could you cut some corners without anyone noticing?
Welcome to the WordPress way (it could very well be the open-source way). The ones before you have literally put millions and millions worth of work on the table (that is dollars, not lei) for anyone to grab and use. You know CSS but not much PHP? Great, grab a starter theme. Or better yet, grab any free theme and hack it to your heart’s desire. And then sell it. Weird right?
You envision your design with some fancy (aka complicated) functionality? I am sure there is a WordPress plugin out there that does pretty much that. Recommended it, offer styling for it and you are good to go — bootstrapping 101.
One day, when you will afford it (and if really really makes sense), you can build your own bespoke solutions. But they better be damn good, ‘cuz otherwise few will notice the change.
When we build a new theme, we purposely try to match the design specs with what is available on WP.org or as a paid add-on to a certain “master” plugin (like WooCommerce). This way we make sure we leave enough time/resources on the table for the things we are really good at: fine tuning the front-end, ensuring a smooth customization experience on the back-end, crafting the copy to help make the complex less so, and so on. Even with 11 strong as we are today, we wouldn’t be able to get at those without leveraging open-source.
As you can see, the entire WordPress ecosystem is built on a can-do attitude. It’s fun being part of it. Don’t forget to give something back from time to time.
Sadly I still hear about this among developers. And I am sure it can be quite the deterrent for newcomers. I mean you don’t want to hang out with the wrong kind of people right from the start. You’ve got big, long term plans for you life. You could almost envision yourself interviewing for your dream job and being laughed upon for stating WordPress as your experience. It must suck, big time.
Unless… you realize early on that you simply want to be happy, and that no convoluted line of code will make you happy. Come to think of it, you could create your own dream job.
Choose your own team mates. Forge your own values.
Maybe even a huge WordPress logo outside the office (just to spite the non-believers — or that’s what WordCamps are for?).
The PixelGrade crew is filled with sinners from all walks of life. We bathe daily in less-than-perfect code, we shamelessly copy-paste code from StackOverflow (with proper attribution of course), we kick browser-compatibility’s butt with !importants… I should really stop. We are actually serious people — sort of.
Anyway, if you’ve peeked inside the WordPress world and you truly feel it would hold you back, despite all the advantages, leave right ahead. But don’t avoid it just because of misconceptions. You may be missing out.
I could go on mumbling for a long time (it’s a thing I am really good at :) — remember?). Better leave the rest for another time.
Now, you Romanian (or less so) WordPress enthusiasts (or less so), do let me know your thoughts about the above.
I might seem like a curious choice to write a post at HeroPress. I haven’t done any WP dev since around 2.0. I’ve done some work here and there setting up a couple WP installs since, but it’s been years since I was on a first-name basis with the code of WP.
After having written some fairly complex plugins, I was pretty cynical about it. Generally I felt that it was a pretty solid front-end, but the codebase was a mess. It may still be a mess, I dunno. I do remember being super disappointed that WP didn’t go all-in with PHP5 when it stabilized, like some other CMSes. I also spent a fair bit of time criticizing what I felt were technical shortcomings or the codebase. A quick glance at the current codebase tells me it hasn’t changed much in it’s approach, and were I to judge the project just based on it’s codebase, I’d say it was… problematic.
I was at php|tek 2013, and one of the keynotes was by Andrew Nacin. Andrew knew he was speaking to a room filled with a lot of folks who felt like I did — that WordPress was somehow an embarassment to PHP because it wasn’t following current best practices. Some people took this quite personally, and spent a lot of time on Twitter during his keynote expressing disagreement with his assertions.
I, however, found myself in wholesale agreement with Andrew. From the talk description:
Why is [WordPress] so ubiquitous? The answer lies … in a core philosophy that holds the user above all else.
The WordPress lead developers weren’t stupid, contrary to what so many people thought in that room. They just put the concerns of users over developers.
The purpose of the project is to empower users
The purpose is not to make developers’ lives easier.
That meant making hard choices about living with legacy code, and being very, very careful about breaking backwards compatibility. Several of Andrew’s slides showed how utilizing newer PHP libraries or extensions would make it impossible for hundreds of thousands — sometimes millions — of WP users to run it on their current hosting provider. API changes due to major code refactors would break popular plugins that users rely on, and likely splinter the WP add-on developer community beyond recognition.
“Fixing” WordPress would in fact make it useless to many, if not most, of the users.
Ultimately I believe that this is the correct approach. The purpose of creating software, web or otherwise is to empower people to do things that they’d otherwise find more difficult or impossible.
Web technologies are building blocks. We use them to build solutions to people’s problems. The point is not the thing we make, nor is the point how we make it. The point is to help the user.
Have we given them more time to do other things by making a task take less time?
Have we given them access to information they didn’t have before?
Have we empowered them to create something they could not?
Have we given them a voice they didn’t possess until now?
Those are the kinds of questions we have to ask. Anything that we choose to do must be in the service of those questions.
Harper Reed described technology as a force multiplier, and I think it’s important to consider it in that respect. The intent is the matter of the user; the things we create take the user’s intent and amplify it.
This is key to really being great at what we do — we empathize with the user, understand their intent, and create something to amplify their intent.
Sometimes they need a bit of help applying their intent in the most effective ways, but our technology and technique choices can only serve that intent. The work I’ve done in the past few years hasn’t led me to use WordPress, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a very powerful, very useful tool for many people.
The philosophy of the project continues to guide my thinking as a developer, a speaker at tech conferences, a school board member, and an advocate for mental wellness. In all of these, I have to find the intent, such as allowing a business owner to communicate more easily to customers, or to help others have satisfying careers, or to educate kids in the most effective way possible, or to help others who struggle with mental illness get the help they need.
Then I have to find what I am able to do that serves that intent. Sometimes it means making a web-based tool. Sometimes it means practicing my technique to be a better speaker. Sometimes it means writing a letter to a frustrated parent. Sometimes it means pushing myself to do things I’m afraid to do, because it will make a big difference for people who are hurting, and are to afraid to ask for help.
Ultimately what I find most satisfying in life is not the particular actions I’ve chosen, but the impact they have upon the people around me.
When I spoke at the Kalamazoo X conference this spring, I was tasked by the organizers to come up with a six-word memoir. It was an exercise that made me reflect on where I’ve been, where I hope I’m going, and how I want to be remembered. This is what I came up with:
“By helping others, I save myself.”
That’s what WordPress taught me.
Having coded on visual studio for quite a while an older fellow of mine got me more interested in web and developing for web by saying “developing for a desktop is not as fun and as challenging as developing for web, things can get very boring soon on desktop, on web you have more problems to solve and more things to learn” This was all enough to get me interested in programming for web. With a bit of Yahooing ( googling was not really common or even known back then) I learned about the simplest ui factors of web, CSS and HTML, so thought CSS is the first thing I would like to learn. You know I love colors, colors are attractive after all, specially compared to all the skeleton looking HTML which was never fun enough for me to learn about its font and color attributes.
CSS and the appetite to learn more got me to this lovely blog of Chris Coyier, namely css-tricks.com. Man you could find a lot in there and most interesting was the videos he did to teach new stuff every week or so. There was this converting photoshop mockup videos and designing for WordPress videos by him that brought me in touch with WordPress. Promise you won’t laugh and I will reveal a secret; before watching these WordPress templating video I was always mistaking WordPress logo for of that of Volkswagen, and was always really confused about the sentences on wordpress.org homepage and how they could relate to Volkswagen. Add to this my bad English, yea my English was even worse than what you see now in those days.
I was already making some little money developing in vb, but the exposure to WordPress brought an even more fun and well in demand skill-to-be to my plate. I was learning more and more about WordPress here and there, getting a few clients to create some kind of online catalogues for them while trying to bring a CMS out of this blogging platform. Back then without all the fancy custom post types and custom taxonomies and all the rest that came with them was not an easy thing to treat WordPress as a CMS.
In those days Joomla and Drupal were much more advanced than WordPress since WordPress hadn’t added the more advanced features we have today.
So as I was learning more about WordPress, Web, and PHP, WordPress was getting bigger and more advanced.
Perfect timing right? It was small when I had little knowledge but was getting bigger and more advanced while I was educating myself more about WordPress.
While other kids played with beanie babies I was hawking mine on eBay. I was always enamored with business and marketing. My family had a successful real estate business and at a young age I knew I wanted to go into business. I realized the importance of online marketing early on with my beanie baby business. Heck, I made two thousand dollars selling beanie babies when I was 13. I was not making that kind of money when I set up booths at collector shows. It’s all about the E-Commerce, baby!
When I was 19, I obtained my real estate license. College was never really in my “life” plan. My plan was to work for the family business, in real estate.
Unfortunately for me, I became a real estate agent in 2007. As you recall, the real estate market crashed in 2008 and it crashed hard. This is when I realized I had to change my career path because of the economy. I was heartbroken that I had to start over. Little did I know this was a blessing in disguise.
Fast forward to my college years. -Oh boy!
With an entrepreneurship spirit, a few of my friends and I joined forces to make the best t-shirt company ever. Our business model was flawless, well at least that’s what we had thought. The name of our company was 33.3 (I know, how cliché). We had a developer, graphic designer and a marketing/sales person.
While our developer used Dreamweaver, this was the first time I understood the importance of web development. Watching Diggnation and conjuring up our next business scheme, I began to understand more about development, different kinds of files, and the difference between serif and sans serif (everything I now take for granted). The t-shirt business failed but the lessons it taught me were priceless. This was the first time I knew I had to be a part of the web development process.
My family stumbled upon some land that was a great investment. It was a “no-brainer” to purchase because the price was too good to pass up. My sister and I decided it was time to learn how the building industry works. Trinity Home Builders emerged where I spent the next four years developing our marketing strategy and web presence.
After working with three different web developers, I was still not happy with the end result of our website. So, I became obsessed with web development. After the website was in a good place, I was no longer content at Trinity. The CRM and PPC campaigns were on autopilot. Purchasing lumber and dealing with draw sheets was not my forte. I separated myself from Trinity and went back to school to finish the remaining two classes I needed to graduate in Marketing.
Last summer I spend two nights a week learning the fundamentals of web development. I obtained a social media certificate after completing that course.
During the course, we were assigned the task of developing a WordPress website. I finally had my “ah-ha” moment – now everything I was trying to do for so long made sense.
Now, just because I can create a site on WordPress, this does not mean I’m a developer. It’s the organic SEO, GA, GSC, social media, and all other inbound marketing that drives me.
After a combination of my HTML class and WordCamp sessions, WordPress became my CMS of choice and I never looked back.
I was fortunate to be able to volunteer the first year I attended WordCamp Milwaukee. It was the beginning of my initiation into the WordCamp community. I met many talented individuals during the sessions, volunteering, snagging swag and at the social events. These individuals were not just acquaintances I met in passing, but they became friends and invaluable resources. It was and continues to be a wonderful experience.
During last year’s WordCamp at the speaker/sponsor after party, I had the privilege of meeting Topher. I shared my story with him and told him how WordPress had impacted my life for the better. He told me about HeroPress. He asked me if I would be interested in writing an essay about my WordPress journey thus far. And, here I am.
Currently, I work for Tuna Traffic as a Digital Marketing Technologist, and every day I am learning something new. I’m excited to see where my WordPress journey takes me next!
The post Groomed for Real Estate, Destined for Something Else . . . appeared first on HeroPress.
Over the years, WordPress has been developed so that users and site owners don’t need to have a lot of technical knowledge to install and maintain it. Andrey Savchenko believes that WordPress is causing technical irresponsibility due to site owners not having to know technical details like which PHP version their site is running.
Is not knowing good for you as a site owner?
Few good things ever happened by accident and ignorance.
Running your own site takes learning and effort. It is admirable of WordPress to make that easier. It is self–serving and insincere of it to pretend you don’t have to know anything.
You have to know. You are responsible.
The post generated a healthy discussion on Twitter that included Matt Mullenweg.
— Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt) July 19, 2016
Although it’s not happening at break neck speeds, there is an effort underway to increase WordPress’ recommended PHP version from 5.6 to 7.
In September of 2015, Aaron Jorbin published a post on the Make WordPress Core blog that explains what was accomplished in order for WordPress to officially support PHP 7. In the comments of the post, Rahul286 suggests that a warning be displayed that informs users they’re using an outdated version of PHP.
Samuel ‘Otto’ Wood succinctly explains why a notice wouldn’t do any good.
A notice by itself is massively pointless to show the end user, who likely neither knows nor cares how their hosting service runs.
However, it might be worth considering trying to detect the host in question, and providing valuable information for that specific host, such as links and other methods the end user can do to update themselves. Many hosts have a choice, somewhere, and if we know that, we can provide guidance.
Unlike WordPress’ Browse Happy notifications added in WordPress 3.2 that notifies users to update their browser, it appears WordPress is unlikely to perform a similar role with PHP versions.
Jorbin also commented on the article suggesting that developers reach out to their local user groups and inform users why they need to care about which version of PHP their site is using.
One thing everyone can do to help move these numbers is to talk to your local user group about why they need to care about the PHP version they run. Show them how they can upgrade, show them benchmarks of PHP 7 vs. earlier versions (especially vs 5.2).
Three months ago, Jorbin created a trac ticket with the suggestion that the PHP requirement for WordPress be increased from 5.6 to 7. Although many of the commenters agree with the move, Gary Pendergast says it’s best to wait. Dominik Schilling, WordPress 4.6 release lead, agrees.
Given that we have until the end of the year before we have to bump it, there’s no harm in holding off until major plugins are confirmed to work without notices or warnings. Until we can confirm that, I’m -1 on bumping the version for now.
This is remembering that we’re talking about the recommended PHP version. The recommended version should be providing an ideal experience for folks, we shouldn’t be bumping to a bigger number just because it’s there.
Given the PHP 5.6 support timeline, we’ll be bumping it by WordPress 4.8 at the latest, so it’d be nice to use those intervening months to ensure the UX for the wider WordPress ecosystem under PHP 7 is solid.
Major plugins like the WordPress Importer are not yet compatible with PHP 7. Developers are highly encouraged to use the time before PHP 5.6 reaches end of life to thoroughly test their plugins and themes for PHP 7 compatibility.
Mullenweg has made it clear that he will not use WordPress’ marketshare to force webhosting companies to upgrade to PHP 7 but rely on established relationships instead. In order to move the needle and get site owners to know and care about PHP versions, it’s going to take a continuous effort on the part of the WordPress community to educate them.
BuddyPress lead developers have decided to bump the minimum PHP requirement for version 2.8 of the plugin to 5.3+. The new guidelines for BuddyPress’ PHP version support, authored by Boone Gorges on behalf of the team, states that the plugin will offer full support for all stable versions of PHP officially supported by the PHP project (currently, 5.6.x and 7.0.x). Gorges outlined what “full support” means:
The BP leadership team agreed that the project will provide basic support for legacy versions of PHP “until the cost-benefit ratio for supporting a given version suggests that it should be dropped.” That is the case with 5.2, which is currently in use on 7.6% of WordPress sites. Gorges acquired additional statistics from WordPress.org that indicate only 3.23% of BuddyPress sites are running on PHP 5.2:
Unknown - 1.08%
5.2 - 3.23%
5.3 - 12.92%
5.4 - 34.44%
5.5 - 22.38%
5.6 - 23.02%
7.0 - 2.92%
Another factor in the team’s decision is the project’s recent shift in focus towards developers and site builders, prioritizing building out the BuddyPress REST API.
“Coupled with these numbers is the recognition that PHP 5.3 introduced features that have a meaningful effect on our ability to write a modern PHP application: namespaces, closures, guaranteed access to SPL, late static binding, and so on,” Gorges said. “As BuddyPress aims to build a major new feature – a REST API – it frees us up significantly to be able to take advantage of these and other features unavailable in PHP 5.2.”
Gorges also explained why BuddyPress isn’t bumping the minimum version all the way up to 5.6, which is the oldest version for which the PHP project is still issuing security updates. With roughly three quarters of BuddyPress sites running on PHP versions 5.5 or older, a major jump to 5.6 would break the majority of sites using the plugin.
“For many (most?) people running BuddyPress, updating PHP is emphatically not a simple task,” Gorges said. “As such, we would simply lose these users, or cause them to stay on old and unsupported versions of BuddyPress. We support WordPress’ ongoing, progressive efforts to work with webhosts to move sites off of old versions of PHP.”
These changes will go into effect as of BuddyPress 2.8. In the meantime, contributors are working on adding a notice when activating BuddyPress on a site that doesn’t meet system requirements as well as preventing the plugin from being updated when minimum requirements are not met.
Building on the success of its Q&A communities, Stack Overflow announced that its new Documentation product is now in beta. For the past eight years, the site has rewarded expert advice by floating high quality answers to the top and allowing users to earn reputation points. This formula has turned out to be more successful than traditional forums where it’s often difficult, if not impossible, to discern the quality of answers provided to questions.
Stack Overflow Documentation is curated by the community and focuses on providing code examples for developers. It offers versioning, collaborative authoring, and voting, which helps surface the best contributions. The documentation segment of the site has a new set of reputation badges and is open to contribution and feedback from anyone.
“Documentation gives a home to a lot of this good content that has been turned away, or very hard to ‘get right’ in the Q&A format. Namely, the canonical, general reference, instructional content,” Stack Overflow developer Kevin Montrose said in the announcement.
“It’s need-driven and self-healing,” Montrose said. “The best, most diligent technical writer out there still can’t beat thousands of actual users trying to learn a function or concept while writing real code. They’ll determine what topics or examples are needed most. And whenever something fails to explain something clearly, they can ask for it to be improved.”
The WordPress Stack Exchange is a thriving community and a WordPress documentation tag is already active on Stack Overflow with 10 topics, 12 topic requests, and 13 proposed. A sampling of topics so far include the Loop, registering custom post types, making network requests with HTTP API, and enqueuing scripts.
It would take many months, if not years, for the Stack Overflow WordPress Documentation to even come close to the quantity of official documentation on WordPress.org, but the site has the potential to become a valuable alternative resource. The fact that anyone can jump in and contribute using an existing Stack Overflow account makes the barrier to entry very low.
“From my experience with WP docs over years there is a significant issue with people using code snippets over and over again, while they become long outdated,” said Andrey Savchenko, a longtime WordPress Stack Exchange contributor and moderator.
“However, my first impression is that Documentation is considerably harder to use than the Q&A sites,” he said. “It will take some time to see if it will be easier to contribute to than say Codex and Devhub, as well as if it manages to gather a community of WP experts to consistently participate.”
For whatever reason, many developers are not fond of writing documentation, especially when it comes to documenting products that are not their own. Stack Overflow’s Documentation beta will show whether recognition in the form of badges and reputation can attract people who otherwise wouldn’t be inclined to contribute to documentation.
If Stack Overflow can motivate developers to write documentation with the same success as the Q&A sites, the company may potentially explore adding this feature to its Enterprise version, which is built to support private instances of 500 or more users.
Before the first inaugural WPCampus took place last weekend, the organizing team conducted a survey to learn how WordPress is used in higher education. A total of 486 people responded to the survey. Modern Tribe has not only made the survey results available to the public, they have also published an in-depth review of the data.
There are a couple of items that stand out to me. Misconceptions that have plagued WordPress for years are affecting people’s decision to use it.
For instance, 18% of respondents said scalability is a barrier to being accepted at their school. Meanwhile, 37% of respondents said that WordPress’ reputation of being just a blogging platform hindered its ability to be the platform of choice.
The WordPress showcase is filled with sites both large and small that prove WordPress’ scalability. It’s also filled with sites that show WordPress is used for far more than blogging.
As WordPress continues to evolve from being a blogging platform to something capable of doing much more, it’s disappointing that this misconception still exists. Is there any hope that people can discover and realize that blogging is something WordPress is great at, but at its core, provides people the ability to go above and beyond?
Another fascinating part of the survey is the security aspect where 42% of respondents reported that they do not have a list of vetted plugins for their network. In addition, 13% of respondents said their networks are not running the latest version of WordPress.
How survey questions are asked can be the difference between receiving actionable or unusable data. ModernTribe acknowledges that the questions in future versions of the survey can be worded better to increase the accuracy of data.
If you take a look at the multi-part question we used to help qualify the institutions represented in the survey, you’ll that it could have been written much better. Since the main part of the question was mandatory, the survey also made the subsection where you could input your URL mandatory as well.
Other areas we can improve include better categorization for multiple-choice questions, including an option for ‘n/a’ or ‘I don’t know’ in more questions, and fewer write-in responses.
If you’re interested in reviewing the survey results, you can access them via this spreadsheet on Google Docs.
For those that didn’t get a chance to attend WPCampus in person or watch it live, I highly encourage you to read this review from David Bisset, who has organized a number of large WordPress conferences. There’s also this review by Josh Pollock of CalderaWP. Last but not least, Adam Warner shares his experience on the SiteLock blog.
What do you think of the WPCampus survey results? Is there any data that surprises you? Let us know in the comments.
In this episode of WordPress Weekly, Marcus Couch and I are joined by Eric Meyer. Meyer is an American web design consultant and author. He is best known for his advocacy work on behalf of web standards, most notably Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which is a technique for managing how HTML is displayed.
We start off the show by discussing the technology of the 70s and 80s and how Meyer got involved with the CSS language. We then go in-depth on a number of topics covered in his WordCamp Northeast Ohio keynote presentation on Designing for Real Life. Near the end of the interview, we find out what the state of CSS is and some of the key developments to keep an eye on.
WooCommerce Order Delivery or Pickup with Date and Time is a plugin that allows customers to choose a desired delivery/pickup date and time for WooCommerce’s orders through a frontend widget. You can control number of days required to place an order, delivery hours to choose from, and the pickup hours available.
HAREMO Social Screenshots creates screenshots of Posts and Pages and uses the screen grabs as thumbnail images when the URL is shared on Facebook or Twitter.
Cf7 Messenger works with Contact Form 7 and immediately sends submissions to Facebook Messenger.
Next Episode: Wednesday, August 3rd 9:30 P.M. Eastern
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Last week the Ford Foundation published a white paper titled “Roads and Bridges: The Unseen Labor Behind Our Digital Infrastructure.” The foundation, established in 1936 by Edsel Ford, president of the Ford Motor Company, is currently working to challenge inequality and advance human welfare. This new document in the foundation’s library, written by Nadia Eghbal, addresses the challenges of sustaining our digital infrastructure:
Everybody relies on shared code to write software, including Fortune 500 companies, government, major software companies and startups. In a world driven by technology, we are putting increased demand on those who maintain our digital infrastructure. Yet because these communities are not highly visible, the rest of the world has been slow to notice.
Just like physical infrastructure, digital infrastructure needs regular upkeep and maintenance. But financial support for digital infrastructure is much harder to come by.
Eghbal, an amateur software developer who previously worked in venture capital, drew from her experience using open source code when preparing the 143-page report. She also interviewed many leaders and contributors in various open source software communities.
“After I left my job in venture capital last year, I set off to explore the paradox I couldn’t stop thinking about: that there were valuable software tools that couldn’t be supported by commercial models, and that they lacked any form of institutional support,” she said.
The unique thing about this extraordinary contribution from the Ford Foundation is that Eghbal wrote the document to help consumers and companies understand the toll open source software takes on its contributors and offers strategies for how they can be supportive of the world’s shared digital infrastructure. It bridges a critical gap in understanding between the open source software development community and the people who use the software every day.
“Most of us take opening a software application for granted, the way we take turning on the lights for granted,” Eghbal said. “We don’t think about the human capital necessary to make that happen.”
Eghbal compares the physical infrastructure of the transportation industry to that of the digital world. She contends that the decentralized nature of digital infrastructure makes it more difficult to maintain as a public good. Since the progress is driven by citizens working together, and not by any official governing body, it requires consumers and companies to be supportive of how software communities work if we hope to achieve long-term sustainability of the open source projects we depend on.
Eghbal introduces consumers to common ways that open source projects find financial support but also highlights how many widely used projects can fall through the cracks. The document opens with the example of OpenSSL and the Heartbleed vulnerability which was exposed in 2014.
“A 2015 study by the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil looked at 133 of the most actively used projects hosted on GitHub, across programming languages, and found that 64%, or nearly two-thirds, relied upon just one or two developers to survive,” Eghbal said. “Although there may be a long tail of casual or infrequent contributors, for many projects, the major responsibilities of project management fall on just a few people.”
In offering a brief history of open source software, Eghbal cites WordPress as a prime example (on page 34) of software that is flexible to customize thanks to the freedom its creators gave the project when licensing it under the GPL. Nevertheless, our community shares many of the struggles identified in the document, as maintainers of some of our most important development tools often cannot find financial support that will enable them to keep working on these projects.
The white paper covers many important topics that help non-technical consumers understand the critical need to support the creators of our digital infrastructure. A few example chapters include:
Eghbal advocates treating digital infrastructure as a necessary public good and working with existing software communities. She calls for a more holistic approach to project support, beyond just code and money.
Many of the topics in this white paper are completely new ideas for software consumers but Eghbal’s explanations make them easy for anyone to understand. She includes basic explanations for software terms like frameworks, libraries, and languages, and explains why certain types of open source projects have a more difficult time finding a means of financial support.
I highly recommend reading this document, whether you are an open source project maintainer, a company decision maker who contracts software development, or a consumer. The white paper doesn’t just explore the challenges but also offers constructive ways that people of all walks of life can work together to support our digital infrastructure. You can download the PDF for free from the Ford Foundation.
WP Engine customers on legacy Xen Linode host servers are being notified via email and the company’s status blog about impending downtime between July 21st and July 25th. According to an email forwarded to the Tavern from a WP Engine customer, Linode’s legacy Xen host servers contain a critical security vulnerability.
We are contacting you today regarding an upcoming emergency security maintenance being performed at one of our cloud infrastructure providers. The majority of cloud infrastructure providers across the world will be conducting maintenance due to this situation.
The details of the vulnerability are embargoed until July 26th giving Linode a limited amount of time to patch its systems. According to Linode, the company has no control over the disclosure date.
WP Engine expects the maintenance procedure to be conducted at some point on July 23rd. Downtime could last anywhere from 20-40 minutes during the migration.
This isn’t the first time both companies have been in the news due to security issues. Earlier this year, Linode confirmed that it experienced a data breach which resulted in resetting all of its customer’s passwords. The data breach was similar to one experienced by WP Engine where an attacker bypassed multiple layers of security to gain access to an administrative panel.
Linode is encouraging customers using its legacy Xen servers outside of hosting providers to review the following document to prepare for the reboot. WP Engine customers affected by this issue are encouraged to check the company’s status blog for further updates.
Summer of Pwnage, a Dutch community program for anyone interested in software security, is focusing on WordPress for its current open source security bug hunting event. The community program hosts meetups and workshops on the weekend where anyone from “enthusiastic beginners to the 1337est hackers” is welcome to share findings and demonstrate skills and exploits.
The goal of the community event is to contribute to the security of widely used open source software projects and participants are strongly encouraged to responsibly disclose vulnerabilities to the authors of the original code. WordPress and its thousands of plugins are the target for this month, which organizers call “a bug hunter’s paradise.”
Summer of Pwnage July 2016 findings includes dozens of vulnerabilities discovered in popular WordPress plugins. So far, 18 vulnerabilities have been fixed by the plugin authors and more than 40 others are currently in the reporting stage.
This week Ninja Forms, which has more than 600,000 active installs, issued a security release that fixed multiple Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities discovered by Summer of Pwnage participants. The bug hunters also discovered a XSS vulnerability in WooCommerce (active on over a million installs), which was subsequently patched.
Security updates are also available for other popular plugins as the result of the program’s efforts, including Paid Memberships Pro, WP Fastest Cache, Easy Forms for MailChimp, and others. The list of reported vulnerabilities includes links to describe each and is being updated frequently, as WordPress plugin authors release patches to their plugins.
Summer of Pwnage is hosted at Securify, a software security company. Organizers provide users with VMs and set them loose hunting bugs. The focus of the event is sharing knowledge and teaching others and has been highly beneficial to the WordPress community so far.
With WordPress plugin vulnerabilities so plentiful, even within the top professionally supported plugins, it would be great to see a niche conference or virtual event focused on security with a contributor day. WordPress needs more guardians spread across the community that can specialize in contributing back in this way. Educational events like Summer of Pwnage demonstrate how successful this kind of event can be for hunting down serious vulnerabilities in the software that millions of people use every day.
A Week of REST, a four-day conference devoted to the WordPress REST API that takes place September 4-9 in Darwin Lake, Matlock in the United Kingdom, has announced it is offering two full scholarships for students and under-represented groups in the tech industry.
“The WordPress REST API is transforming how people use WordPress, opening it up to new technologies and communities. We want to enable people from under-represented groups in technology to develop the skills they need to use the REST API and further their career,” said Siobhan McKeown, Events Director at Human Made.
The scholarships are worth £1500, and include all of the workshops, training, accommodation, meals, and transfer to Derby or Matlock station. To qualify for the scholarships, you must be employed or looking for work in the field of web development or design.
Those interested in applying have until July 29th, Midnight CET, to submit an application. Applicants will receive an email by August 5th with details on who received a scholarship.
This is an aggregation of blogs talking about WordPress from around the world. If you think your blog should be part of this site, send an email to Matt.
For official WordPress development news, check out the WordPress Core Blog.
July 29, 2016 03:45 PM
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