I’m excited to announce I’m giving a keynote address at php[tek] 2013. It’s a fantastic PHP conference put on by the folks behind php|architect. “The premier professional PHP conference with a community flair,” #tek13 has a rockstar speaker line-up, four tracks of content, and a day of training. I’m thrilled to be attending the conference — I also attended #tek11 — let alone speaking.
Last night I tested a few ideas at the DC PHP meetup and got some great feedback from the attendees. Some early reviews:
I’m continuing to conduct a lot of research for this talk. There’s a lot WordPress has learned over the years, so I’ve been searching through the codebase and old commit messages, as well as compiling a ton of data and statistics. If you have anything you think might help, please contact me. Here’s the full talk description:
WordPress is Everywhere: Extreme Portability as a Double-Edged Sword
WordPress has tens of millions of users worldwide and powers over a fifth of new sites. But such a large and diverse user base presents unique challenges, and as it approaches its tenth birthday, the WordPress codebase is showing its age. So why is it so ubiquitous?
The answer lies not in its UI, UX, ecosystem, or community, though those are certainly among its strengths. The answer lies instead in a core philosophy that holds the user above all else.
This user-centric design starts not with the interface, but rather with the code itself. Developers should approach software development with an unwavering promise they will deal with the nonsense instead of passing it off to the user.
Some WordPress positions might seem draconian and inflexible. Backwards compatibility is almost never broken. The technical requirements appeal to lowest common denominators. But because the project maintainers deal with all the pain — technical debt, difficulties with PHP, working on as many server configurations (and misconfigurations) as possible — its users don’t have to. Thanks to the WordPress project’s portability efforts, you can pick a web host or a PHP configuration at random and WordPress will run on it. Because of this, adoption has soared.
The way WordPress operates is not for everyone. But whether your projects are used by 10 users, or 10 million, it may help you to see your code in an entirely new light.
In WordPress 3.4, themes can now place page templates inside a subdirectory of their theme.
I’ve spent much of the 3.4 development cycle working on a new API called WP_Theme. But it’s not something you’ll find in the release announcement.
That’s because the vast majority of plugin and theme developers will never use it, nor should they. It’s an under-the-hood enhancement that was aimed at strengthening our internals, and it enabled us to improve quite a bit. For example, we were able to find huge performance improvements in both memory and speed. And it enhances the ability to localize themes. (More on these changes when I start working on the 3.4 field guide.)
It feels nice to be working with a modern, well-written API, even if I’m the only one using it. That’s okay, because look how easy it was to add support for page templates in a subdirectory. This is just the beginning.
Child themes can override these templates the same as before — the child theme will just need to create the same directory structure to do it. (So, /page-templates/one-column.php needs to be overridden with /page-templates/one-column.php, not /one-column.php.) And yes, we’re only looking one level down.
Updated… Caution: Renaming a page template — and that includes moving all of top-level page templates into a directory — will unassign that page template for all pages currently using it. This is a new tool in your toolbox, but use it wisely.
The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform launched a new site on WordPress today. This is really cool for a few reasons. Rep. Darrell Issa tweeted about it this morning, saying WordPress is “rare” for government and said it was “to support fast improvements in response to your feedback.”
Government moves at a pace best described as glacially, so for them to recognize that WordPress can help them react quicker, that’s just huge. I’ve learned in D.C. that ease of use and speed of development are very rare things for .gov sites, even those built on open source. Not to mention cost-effectiveness in an age where federal government IT procurement is being upended. Look, they even created cheesy WordPress-in-government infomercial:
The video takes a shot at bad government websites, and while the new site isn’t the prettiest thing in the world, I like the point they’re getting across: Government can excel on the web using the same free publishing software as many of their constituents. It won’t be rare for long.
Jitterbug Bakery: Eat. Drink. Blog. As I work full time on the WordPress project, I don’t do consulting. But! If you donate $100 to Jane’s Jitterbug Kickstarter project, I’ll do a code review and security audit your WordPress.org-hosted plugin. You’ll get a few hours of my time — quite the bang for your buck. Limited time offer. Other awesome people, including Pete Mall, Lisa Sabin-Wilson, Aaron Campbell, and Ptah Dunbar, are also fair game.