Software, Development, and WordPress

Category: Articles (Page 1 of 237)

Personal opinions and how-to’s that I’ve written both here and as contributions to other blogs.

Know Your Strength, Hire Your Weakness

TL;DR: Though it’s obviously possible to be a full-stack WordPress developer (that is, someone who is capable of working on each level of the stack with complete competency), it’s more common to find people who are stronger in one area than in others.

And if you’re working on a project and know someone who’s stronger in an area than you, it’s often worth partnering with them to complete whatever it is on which you’re working.

But weaknesses aren’t always in the form of knowing a language or an aspect of the application.

😖 Hire Your Weakness

In the previous post, I wrote:

I started working with others that complimented my strengths (and vice versa).

Where to Start With WordPress Development?

And this has been true when working on side projects, when working for myself, and when working with various teams at work. But the thing about this advice is that it doesn’t seem like a bit of advice at all, does it?

  • Who wouldn’t work with someone who worked well with them?
  • Who wouldn’t work with someone who could add to their l ability to produce good work.

In my experience, both personal and when talking with other people about this, is that the challenge isn’t so much about finding people to help you but finding people who can fill in your blind spots.

brown steel chain
via @mael_balland

That is, in my case, I could find a number of backend developers easily. Those are the circles in which I tend to run. And it’s fun to hire friends (though this goes against a bit of conventional wisdom; I don’t fully agree with it but maybe I’ll discuss that in another post). But I wasn’t looking for backend developers. That’s the stuff I can do.

There are plenty of other things to consider, too:

  • Database management,
  • Continuous Integration and Deployment,
  • Front-end Development (be it templates and CSS or JavaScript and React),
  • REST API specializations,
  • Headless WordPress,
  • etc.

The point is that when you get a certain place in your work where you know where both your strength and weaknesses lie, you can find others to fill in the latter (or even to sharpen the former!)

Then you’re getting a team together to help form a more cohesive way to solve problems that help deliver a better product for the user.

👌🏻 But I Can Do What They Can Do!

Okay, so you can do what they can do. In fact, maybe you can do the whole thing. And maybe you want to do the whole thing.

But maybe you don’t.

It’s cliché but just because you can do everything doesn’t mean you should. Perhaps this will come at the cost of staying as focused as you can on another area. Or maybe it’ll delay the amount of time it will take to solve a problem for whoever has hired you.

Sometimes the blind spot isn’t so much in what you can’t do, but how long it takes you to do it. And in those cases, putting the ego aside is not a bad move.

Vet the people who you’re looking at hiring, determine if they’d be a good fit, and then bring them on for the project or for the future of your organization. It truly will help free up resources.

You’ll feel it.

💪🏻 They’ll Make You Better (And Vice Versa)

And another great thing about it? You’re likely to learn a good bit from them.

At the time of writing this post, I’ve been conversing with a friend of mine about finding wildcard domain paths in arrays using regular expressions and existing array functions in the PHP API. We’re both backend developers. We’ve worked together. But each of us can still help one another and we’re better for it.

So this whole idea doesn’t necessarily apply to filling in gaps of working with people who focus in areas you don’t.

🙋🏻‍♂️ So Hire For What Then?

I still say that the purpose of this article is to urge you to aim to hire your weakness so that you have a more cohesive team to complete a project for someone.

But even if the project involves work you already know how to do, don’t discount that your weakness may not be in terms of your ability but in terms of meeting a deadline or working within the requirements of a project or even your knowledge of what you do have.

Whatever the case, the customer or user is not going to care so much about who built it but that it’s built. You and your ego might care. But it’s likely no one else will.

Weaknesses aren’t always languages or areas of a stack that you don’t know. They can areas in which you do know but could be stronger or areas in which you can’t control, like time.

Play By The Rules and Be Careful What You Write

TL;DR: If you’re going to write about WordPress, it’s important to determine about which you primarily want to write. Is going to be less subjective material such as code or more opinionated material such as op-eds?

Further, know that whatever it is you share online is up for grabs for conversation, and sometimes it can go in unexpected directions. Be prepared for this to happen regardless of your intent.

To some degree, you get to pick the game you want to play. But when you do that, know the rules, play by them, and be careful what you write.

In the last post, I stated the following:

Since I don’t think someone should go into writing about their experiences blindly (especially when it comes to the negative that may come from it), it seems only fair to also share what that looks like.

You Should Write About Your Work

And the reason I think this is deserving of its own post, perhaps now more than ever, is because whenever you publish anything regardless of its a blog post, video, podcast, there are obviously going to be people who are going to read and respond (even if they don’t do it directly to you).

After all, what’s the purpose of publishing things publicly if you don’t want people to hear them?

Years ago, I learned this the hard way. And I’d be disingenuous if I didn’t talk about the less flattering side of when you write about your work.

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You Should Write About Your Work

TL;DR: Despite the fact there are more resources that ever for learning how to accomplish what it is you want to accomplish within WordPress, it’s less common to find someone who is facing the same problem under the same constraints with the same voice you have.

Write about your work. Include the problems you’re solving, and the thought process that’s going into their solutions. Though you may be describing a common problem, you’ll be describing them from your perspective.

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Where to Start With WordPress Development?

TL;DR: WordPress has both an active economy and a large community. Often times, you’ll hear the phrase “WordPress community” to encompass both facets. A case can be made as to how this has given WordPress such a massive level of success over the past decade and a half.

But finding your niche can be tough and you shouldn’t expect it to happen quickly. So this raises the following question: Where to start with WordPress Development?

When I first started working in WordPress, it wasn’t in an official capacity. As I mentioned in the previous post, it was all about making minor tweaks to a site on which I was blogging while I was in college.

Even after that, despite having doing some course work in PHP, MySQL, and the usual front-end technologies at the time, this was not where I was headed in my career. Instead, I focused more on .NET and doing a lot of server-side work (with a fair amount of front-end work) for a few years.

When I wasn’t on the clock, though, I was still using WordPress to blog about my experience in working in the field of software development. But as I began to get more into web application development and using tools such as Ruby on Rails, PHP, and MySQL, I also began to see how WordPress could be used to do a lot of the same things I was doing with these technologies.

Even still, it took years before I finally started to make enough money to move into the WordPress economy.

Looking back, and considering where WordPress is now, what advice would I give to myself if I were starting out now. What advice would I give to others who are starting out now?

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WordPress Then, WordPress Now

TL;DR: The experience in writing for WordPress and developing for WordPress has become a much different experience in the last decade, let alone five years, so much so the difference between the two is so wide it feels like two completely different worlds.

In thinking about this, I started considering: What advice would I give to those who are new to the WordPress economy. What advice would I give my former self?

When I first started working with WordPress, it was generally an all-encompassing experience.

I was blogging almost daily – something I miss, but priorities and all that – and I was writing themes, plugins, and trying to make a case for how we could eventually build applications with WordPress. (No, I wasn’t the only one doing this but it was something that introduced me into a group of like-minded folks who all saw the potential – you know who you are 🙂.)

And, for the record, I did end up building some software on WordPress utilizing the REST API prior to the further de-coupling of the front-end such that what has become known as headless WordPress was a thing.

Anyway, all of that is to say:

  1. I was writing all of my content in WordPress,
  2. I was building all of my projects around WordPress.

These days, I still enjoy writing software for WordPress but it’s a very different experience. And I don’t know if I particularly like writing in WordPress despite giving the Block Editor a consistent go as much as I used to and despite the fact that I think I have a reasonably good idea as to where the project is ultimately headed.

As I was thinking about this, I started to wonder:

  • What does it look like to be a WordPress developer now?
  • What advice would I give my past-self?
  • What advice would I have or comments would I share with those in the next generation of developers coming up in the WordPress economy.
  • …and a few other things.

But before answering any of those things, I think it worth clarifying a few points.

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