Stepping Outside the Bubble

On August 15th, 2015, Vancouver hosted another WordCamp. This year was not developer-centric, although with two talks always running, the talks on the 8th floor were nearly all developer focused. It was a pleasure to see talks dealing with the upcoming ECMAScript 6, HHVM, the REST API + Angular.js, and load/stress testing your site.

One of the non-strictly developer-focused talks had to do with stepping outside the bubble. I was surprised but also very excited to be giving a talk dealing with why you need to get outside your comfort zone and see the bigger picture, outside of WordPress.

The talk dealt with how, in order to become an expert, we need to get to know something very well. However, to really become an expert in the field, we also need to know what other options we have, and how others are solving the same problems as we are, so that we don’t get stuck in only one way of thinking.

I went on to discuss a few areas where WordPress is doing things well as well as where improvements can be made, in comparison to the rest of the web development arena.

  • The Customizer is making steady progress towards becoming a full-featured front-end type editor. While it still has a long way to go, it’s definitely where the web and CMS’ in general are headed; I encouraged everyone to try it out, see what works, what doesn’t, compare it with how other’s are accomplishing this, and find out how it can be made better or how you can contribute to it.

  • Releases – WordPress makes fast updates comparatively to other applications, such as Drupal. And although WordPress doesn’t quite follow semantic versioning since every point release is deemed a major release, WordPress is able to release every 3-4 months with quite a few upgrades, and once in a while include major upgrades. I asked the question if WordPress should consider taking a bit more time per release? Or perhaps if it should break backwards compatibility a bit more

  • Modern Dev Practices – Understanding that WordPress is a 10 year old application, with an incredible and somewhat rigid stance on backwards compatibility, I jumped into areas that WordPress could improve. PHP minimum requirements, SVN and Trac vs Git and GitHub, and my personal favorite – lack of a templating engine (why escape all the things when this can be done automatically?).

This was all discussed in the context of WordPress itself, but it was also to find out what each of us individually can do. If we work on WordPress as a user or integrator, what other types of plugins might we want to install for a better user experience? As developers, how can we use more modern development techniques in our plugins and themes? How can we help push WordPress into the modern age?

When going over the resources, I also encouraged everyone to take a look at the Roots projects again if they have not in a little while. So much has changed, but in my opinion, all for the better.

At the end, I encouraged everyone not to get comfortable, no matter what their job description is. Don’t learn it then stick with it, continue to learn, continue to educate yourself, and continue to find new ways to solve problems. If you truly want to be an expert in your field, that means continuously learning.

Here’s the slides from the presentation:

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