Tom McFarlin

Software, Engineering, Development, and WordPress

The Architecture Astronauts of WordPress

One of the things I read – and learned – early on in my career was the term Architecture Astronaut. It was coined by Joel Spolsky (as far as I know) and it goes something like this:

These are the people I call Architecture Astronauts. It’s very hard to get them to write code or design programs, because they won’t stop thinking about Architecture. They’re astronauts because they are above the oxygen level, I don’t know how they’re breathing. They tend to work for really big companies that can afford to have lots of unproductive people with really advanced degrees that don’t contribute to the bottom line.

Don’t Let Architecture Astronauts Scare You

I really liked the definition because then, just as I am now, I am surrounded by incredibly smart people from whom I can learn.

And for those of us in this field, it allows us all to:

  • learn great engineering techniques,
  • the reason why engineers write code a certain way,
  • and how to approach problem solving in a pragmatic way (pragmatic being the keyword here, but more on that in a moment).

But that’s not how it always is, is it? Not in other fields; not in WordPress. And the more segmented WordPress is becoming between frontend technologies and backend technologies, the more different these discussions are becoming.

For the purposes of this post, the whole architecture astronaut thing is something I hope all backend engineers pay attention to regardless of where they are in their career. (Let’s avoid architecture astronauts of WordPress.)

And here’s why.

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Thoughts on WordPress Certifications in 2023

I’m trying to branch out a bit with the stuff about which I write this year. And given the the rise in discussions on WordPress Certifications, I see an opportunity to do just that.

This isn’t much of a well-researched or academic article. Instead, it’s an op-ed by someone who’s been in the space for over a decade sharing his perspective on the idea of WordPress certifications in 2023.

If you’re not interested in reading the whole thing, I’ll save you some time and simply state: I’m not completely for it, I’m not completely against it. I think it purely depends on the goals of the person and the needs of any given company who is hiring the individual. Above all else, it needs to be collaborative.

If you run a search for “WordPress certifications,” you get quite a few results back. The thing about these programs is that I have no idea how to determine what makes for a good certification.

  • Who has vetted the curriculum (let alone who comes up with it)?
  • Who evaluates the end result of achieving certification?
  • Who determines what is a satisfactory certification in the program?

To that end, I’m opting to use the article posted on the Make WordPress Training site, Exploring WordPress Certifications.

Over the years, there have been a few discussions about creating formalised certifications for WordPress, most notably in 2013 as seen on Torque and WP Tavern. While those discussions are nearly 10 years old, they are still relevant and, now that an open learning platform for WordPress exists, this is a good time to revisit those conversations.

Hugh Lashbrooke
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Fix: 502 Bad Gateway with Valet

Periodically, I’ll be trying to load a development using Valet and I’ll end up getting 502 Bad Gateway error.

Whenever I’m faced with this problem, here are the following steps I do to restore functionality (without breaking any of my existing links or certificates):

  1. Run $ composer global update
  2. Run $ valet install
  3. Run $ valet restart

The last step isn’t always necessary but I’ve found there are times where I’ve had to use it.

For reference, check out the past articles related to the above content:

The Most Useful (Or Popular) Articles From 2022

I don’t normally do retrospectives for each year for products, posts, work, or anything.

Given that I didn’t write as much as I have in years passed, I thought I’d share what the most popular articles I’ve shared over the last year in hopes of both of surfacing some older content but also setting the tone for the coming year.

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A Backend Engineer Learns to Build Block Editor Blocks, Part 5

Now that we’ve got the basics of the block built, it’s time to introduce some of the features afforded to us by the WordPress API that allow us to make changes to the visuals of our block. Namely, we want to using block attributes for custom colors.

Sure, up to this point, we’ve bee building the blocks using the WordPress APIs for block creation, serialization, and displaying, but we’ve also hard-coded a lot of our our styling. And when it comes to building custom blocks, sometimes that’s exactly what we want to do.

But other times, we want the users to be able to change, say, the color of their text or the background of their blocks, or maybe both. And the APIs for the Block Editor make this possible. As with the rest of the content of this series, though, it’s not without understanding what’s available to us.

Since this series builds upon itself, I recommend reading and following the previous articles thus far especially if you’re just now stumbling across this content.

So far, these are the things we’ve discussed:

  1. Required Tools, Plugin Structure, Dependencies, Block Metadata
  2. The Backend, The Frontend, Functionality, Styles, a Working Demo
  3. Block Attributes, Editable Content, Components, Editor Styles
  4. Saving Data, Styling the Frontend

If you’re ready to continue, we’ll get started. Remember, now that we’re this far in the series, I’m working to keep the articles a bit shorter. This is because:

  • We’ve laid enough ground work so it’s easier to focus on one thing at a time,
  • I find it easier to digest one concept at a time especially when it comes to learning something new, like building blocks as a backend engineer 🙂.

So in this post, we’re going to focus on one new thing: Introducing color options for our block.

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