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Featured Reflections Web Development WordPress

I Am A Core Contributor

Impostor syndrome. It’s a bitch.

If you’re not familiar, impostor syndrome is used freely as the in-vogue way of describing the feeling that you’re an impostor. Somehow, someone made a mistake when they hired you, picked you to lead a project, promoted you, describe you as an “expert” or something else like that. If they really knew what was up, they’d never have chosen you because you don’t really know half of what they think you know.

Yesterday, r33589-core landed. It’s a minor changeset to core WordPress—updating contextual help for the tweaked comment notification bubble. It marks my 30th core commit, i.e. the 30th proposed patch that I made/contributed to that was accepted and running on 24%+ of the top ten million websites.

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Technology WordPress

Open Source Is Beautiful

Open source software is beautiful to me. Yes, anyone can take the code and do anything with it. Anyone can tinker with the code to make it do what they want, or to spin-off a completely new (and even competing) product.

What makes it beautiful to me is the community that surrounds it. While there are always warts, open source can bring together so different people using (and hacking) the software in so many ways and allow them to contribute in their own way.

Recently, WordPress moved to a “feature plugin” method of adding new features to core. Previously, new features were built directly against trunk from day 1 and, if they weren’t ready or something was fundamentally wrong with the approach, a lot of work had to happen to remove it from the codebase.

With feature plugins, a new or existing WordPress plugin would be developed with the plan of the feature being integrated into core for everyone to use. The plugin can develop at whatever speed and, when deemed ready, it would then be merged into core. No more was the expectation that a new feature would be built from scratch to deployment within one release cycle.

A great advantage is it adds another place folks can contribute. With small groups working on feature plugins, you can now ping the lead, say you want to help, and you’re part of the team. I was able to contribute via the Dash project for 3.8 in a way I doubt I would have if it all stayed in core.

Even my wife, Vanessa, joined the fun. I’m a mostly lurking member of the Front End Editor project. A large amount of the work in Javascript, which I’m not strong in, so haven’t done much. I put the feature plugin on Vanessa’s site for her to test drive and she kept getting frustrated at the lack of a way to return to the wp-admin editor except for canceling the front end edit, going to the Dashboard, then the Posts page, then back to the post itself.

Her usage of it and reporting the problem (to me across the living room, but reported nevertheless) contributed to the project. I wrote in a quick button, submitted the patch, and it’s now part of the feature plugin. The “Vanessa Button” is one of countless examples of how folks have contributed to open source software, even if they didn’t look at a piece of code. (There are a number of ways to get involved in the core WordPress project…)

On Twitter, anytime I’ve seen anyone with a WordPress question, there are a number of responses and folks chiming in with other tips and suggestions. The community builds each other up, helping each other become stronger in our craft. That’s incredible.

In Austin, the local Meetup.com group is strong and brings together often 50+ people together at a time to discuss WordPress-related topics and build local community. The meetup is now waitlisted with 125 attendees. Mind-blowing.

Like I said, open source is beautiful.

[photocredit: Me. It is a picture of the walkways at the Vancouver Classical Chinese Garden. Check out a few more pictures.]

Categories
Web Development

I’ve Made WordPress Better (And You Can Too!)

I did it.

WordPress, as many of you know, is an open-source project. The WordPress community maintains it. Anyone can report a bug directly into the development tracking tool (Trac), anyone can submit a patch. It’s great. I’ve been wanting to contribute to core (as the “core” WordPress software is known, as opposed to plugins, themes, etc) for a while now. For various reasons, I haven’t dug in, found/claimed an issue and solved it.

Until now.

I am the latest contributor to the WordPress core.

Contributors in the past has done great things.Koop made the new media manager happen. Nacin and Mark Jaquith have made WordPress do half of the things it does now, if not more. I don’t mean to brag or belittle their contributions; however, I think I top all of that.

Get ready to see the most important contribution to core in 2013 and likely for years to come:

Screenshot showing my amazing contribution to core that changes one character. The WordPress community needs everything!
I understand if you don’t understand something this complex.

Yes. I made my entrance into the fraternity of core contributors by changing the copyright date in a file that no one has likely read since it was edited in 2011.

So, I was being hyperbolic…

Obviously, I realize my contribution is extremely, extremely minor in the scheme of things, but that’s partly the point. The WordPress universe is wide enough that anyone who wants to become a contributing member of the WordPress community can do so. Whether it is something like helping out in the forums, reporting a bug against core, a plugin, or a theme, organizing a WordCamp or local MeetUp group, helping with unit tests on new code, writing a plugin, to contributing patches (of whatever size), or rising up to being the next Nacin, there is something that you, at any level, can do.

I’ve helped a little in the StudioPress and WordPress.org forums, I’ve written a plugin and helped with another, reported a couple of bugs (both weren’t bugs in the end, but not the point) and now made a tiny improvement to the codebase. For me, my next goal is to a make a more substantial contribution to the codebase within the next couple of releases. After that, there will be a new goal.

I’ve made the WordPress community better and so can you. What’s your goal in the community?