WP Mainline Episode 5 – Contributing and Developing for WordPress Is Not as Easy as It Used to Be

In this episode, John James Jacoby and I are joined by Chris Wiegman as we discuss the complexities of developing for and contributing to WordPress these days. JavaScript has a lot to do with it but it’s more than that. The lack of documentation was cited as one of the reasons as was the overwhelming amount of libraries, testing suites, packages, and other tools that developers need to keep up with just to stay afloat.

Later in the show, John described his experience thus far with the four-day workweek experiment taking place at Sandhills Development. To sum things up, it’s working out quite nicely. One of the nicest perks of the experiment is not having to make up the eight hours during the other four days of the week. Last but not least, we give our takes on the proposed guideline changes that WordCamps would need to follow in 2022.

Stories Discussed:

View Transcript:

Speaker 1 00:00:19 Welcome everybody to episode five of WP mainline for Thursday, July 29th, 2021. I’m your host, Jeff challenged joined by John, actually reunited with John James Jacoby. Talk about the news of the week and yes, we are doing this on a Thursday because my cohost boy, he’s real special. Now he works at Sandhill developments and they have four day work weeks. So one Fridays, sorry,
Speaker 2 00:00:52 Just don’t want to, don’t want to work on the day off. Sorry about that. Jesus. Come on, man. Uh,
Speaker 1 00:01:02 Sit back, sir. It’s, it’s glad to hear your voice and, and uh, a lot of people are going to be glad to hear us both back on the show. I
Speaker 2 00:01:10 Will speak on behalf of all of our listeners that everyone’s happy to hear you back. Lots of feedback on those on the internet and the Twitter. Isn’t it. Everyone misses you. So, uh, it’s good to see you back behind the microphone, Jack. Thanks for having
Speaker 1 00:01:27 Me. That is so kind of you, sir. And, uh, you know, I don’t actually actually we’ll get into it a little bit later in the show, but, um, so we’re going to dive right deep into it right off the bat here. And in fact, so we’re going to talk about a tweet. That’s beginning a lot of conversation in the WordPress world, a tweet that you responded to, and even your tweet, your response is getting a lot of, a lot of feedback on Twitter. And the gentlemen who actually tweeted this out is actually on the show today, Chris Wigman, Hey Chris, welcome to the show. Hey Jeff. Well, this makes you two for two and being mentioned on WP line, which puts you almost at cohost category.
Speaker 3 00:02:10 Oh God. If it was three, is this a three strikes and I’m out system? No three strikes.
Speaker 1 00:02:19 Uh, but uh, for those who don’t know Chris wingman, um, boy, way back in the day he created the, uh, I think, or I w what was the name of the security plugin before is I think security
Speaker 3 00:02:31 Be a piece of gear,
Speaker 1 00:02:32 Better WB security. Then it turned an I-Team security and that got acquired by themes. And you’ve been working with, uh, uh, WP engine and you’re, uh, uh, pretty much give us a little bit of background on what you do on a daily basis.
Speaker 3 00:02:46 Sure. Um, I actually just switched teams about a month ago. I had been on the e-commerce team, which was, I was originally hired for dev kit, which was our local development until we brought, bought flywheel. So once they bought flywheel that canceled kit and I went over to the e-commerce team and
Speaker 1 00:03:01 This is for WP engine, right. You’re employed by the engine.
Speaker 3 00:03:04 Okay. Yeah, exactly. And then about a month ago, I switched over to the Atlas team, which is our headless product. So I’m working on a plugin called Atlas content model modeler, which is something that can very similar to a early stage of like an ACF type product. Very, very heavily geared toward headless users.
Speaker 1 00:03:22 And headless is like one of the topics that’s been talked about here recently. And within the past year, I don’t know if it’s a trend or if it’s just one of those new fangled things that people are in love with. I mean, my understanding of headless is that you can, it’s a, I guess it’s what, uh, no WordPress in the back and we’re pressing the front, or how does that work
Speaker 2 00:03:46 If you just described the, the word, the mullet of WordPress?
Speaker 1 00:03:53 Yeah. Yeah. I was thinking of that because it’s in the front party, in the bachelor party, in the front of business. I don’t know. That’s what I was doing with that. Exactly.
Speaker 3 00:04:03 I love it. Uh, I mean, you’re right. It’s JavaScript on the front. It’s I, I look at it as Atwood’s law personified in WordPress, but there is a lot of use case for, are you familiar? Have both of you heard what’s law? Describe it for our listeners. Sure. Edward’s law says anything that can be built in JavaScript will eventually be built in JavaScript.
Speaker 2 00:04:25 Oh, that’s perfect. Very funny. Totally accurate. So,
Speaker 1 00:04:31 So the tweet that you said, it’s beginning a lot of play on Twitter and I’ll read this offices, the deeper I get with modern WordPress dev, the more I understand why newer devs don’t like to work on it. This is not the same project as it was in the past. The learning curve is not extremely high, regardless of past experience. And so far, you’ve gotten a lot of responses through a variety of people on the suite, including John and by and large, from what I’ve seen, it looks like a lot of people are in agreement with your sentiment. Now there’s a couple of cases in here from some folks saying that actually it’s a little bit easier because they’re just getting started or maybe they were coming to grips with how Gutenberg works and the blacks and Java script. Uh, but before we dive into this, I want to, I want to mention that it was about six years ago that Matt Mullenweg gave the WordPress ecosystem a homework assignment, and it was three words learn JavaScript deeply.
Speaker 1 00:05:34 And that was because from that point on what we knew with Gutenberg and how it was going to be based on Java script and how the future of WordPress was pretty much going to be mostly JavaScript, not so much a PHP and CSS as it used to be. Um, uh, we, we knew back in the day when this news came out, that the barriers entry, this is one of the concerns that was expressed years ago for WordPress, that it was going to create barriers of it’s going to be a lot more difficult for people to attribute to WordPress, especially through Travis script. And it seems like, you know, in this transitional phase that we’re presses in still a lot of developers are having problems. It’s difficult for them to contribute to WordPress or even work or build things in JavaScript on top of WordPress. So Chris, you’re the one that tweeted this out. Give us the background information. You can expand upon your tweet.
Speaker 3 00:06:33 Sure. I mean, I go back to my own experience. I got into WordPress loaders because the barrier of entry was very low. I was a student. I wanted something to put on my resume. I had a need for plugin features where I was working in my own sites. So I started building that security plugin. This was 10 or 15 years ago. And you used to hear a lot of stories like this CYA bulky was trying to learn English. So we started building with WordPress on WP. I always get WTB Ginter and one-on-one backwards. So if I get it wrong, I apologize, beginner. And, um, you know, how he had built that PIP and with, you know, started just building plugins and stuff like that. And now there’s Sandhills dev all kinds of folks that had gotten into it, largely because the, you know, something we could fiddle with fiddle more with, and eventually just became a business today.
Speaker 3 00:07:23 When I talked to folks, you know, whether it be word camps or some of the talks, I still get online or meet ups online, the perception is very different. At least from a dev point of view. It’s not the thing that you just pick up and fiddle with and start building a product. That’s going to hit 2 million people in a couple of years. It’s more, you know, if you have, if you’re at a company you may be paid to learn it, but there’s a lot more to learn these days. And that’s really what I was getting at with it. It’s not, as, it’s not something that you can just pick up tweak and be successful with very quickly. It’s something that’s going to take a lot of time. And, you know, the people I’m seeing more successful are often the ones that are already senior level in development and engineering, more so than the folks that are just picking up. You’re just learning to code for the first time. It’s a very different paradigm than it was before the transition split. However, you want to look at it.
Speaker 1 00:08:20 And, and one of the responses was like from Chris Howard and he says, WordPress used to be a wonderful entering the coding. You could start small and grow. And he says many started with simple content display extensions. Now with this very high level of entry learning react and NPM package management, the block editor killed off so many would be new WordPress devs. And Matiaz Ventura who spent a lot of work is one of the main developers on Gutenberg chimed in on this Twitter thread. And this conversation, his response to that was quote respectfully. I think this misses the fact the barrier to tinker is lowered in some regards with things like patterns and black themes, a user can discover how posts of WordPress work, but playing with the query block and then sharing a composition in the patterns, directory and quote. So I think what he’s trying to say is there is, is you can create these, uh, black patterns and Gutenberg doubt, and you can submit them to the there’s a black pen and directory that’s available, and you can kind of do all this without really touching code. You do it all within like the black editor and whatnot. So in some ways, I guess that makes it easier for people to contribute to WordPress, but I I’ve, I’ve been reading your, the responses. And it seems like a lot of people who have at least tried to build static blocks have found out that it’s been a real pain in the rear, that it seems like everybody has switched to dynamic blocks.
Speaker 3 00:09:47 Well, I mean, that’s a whole, we could do a whole episode, right? The techno technology and where Gutenberg picked off and we’re necessarily were hired. I want to say we’re the PHP side that the content management of what we’re creating and goop bird never kept up. Elaine was going on it today on a thread, following my posts, where they were really going into the weeds with that, that, but that’s a technical problem. Really all I was, I mean, there, we could go on deck thread. It did go in a hundred different directions. I’m sorry, I’m trying to, I’m trying to find the right way to put this all back together. And really what I was just trying to get at is it’s, it’s a fundamental difference in how WordPress was, you know, when I first started Debbie and I was actually our main site, the university was dribble and I had built a couple of Drupal plugs or modules, sorry, it’s been a long time@thattimeandtriedtosubmitthemtothedrupal.org and the amount of pushback you’d get.
Speaker 3 00:10:50 You didn’t do this for, you know, this blog was, was insane only to be hit in. Had I gotten those through every major version of Drupal, you have to rebuild your product because every major version of Drupal, at least up through eight was a completely new content management system for all practical purposes, WordPress. It was like, oh, I can build this. I can keep iterating on it. And yes, there are problems associated with that. Technically that the bad reputation WordPress gets for security. The, you know, our first in-person meeting with your, a derogatory word because I was a hell of a lot less. I did crush. A lot of websites was a hell of a lot less experienced with it. Eight. When was that? Eight years ago? I think that would have been 2013, I guess, but, uh, it’s you don’t have that avenue to come up through things.
Speaker 3 00:11:40 Now, everything has to be, it takes a senior dev to really be proficient. These plugin houses that we’re seeing know being bought up by hopes in that the folks that are building them costs a lot more money for these companies to maintain. So it’s really just an interesting paradigm on how less developer friendly for that type of development. Now I get the WordPress automatic. It’s easier to create content that seems to be, you know, I look at blue commerce, well, we don’t intend it for large stores. And I’m looking, I look at the arguments around Gutenberg, but we don’t intend it for this or that. That’s great, but it’s also been the strength of WordPress. That that’s where we started seeing things like EDD get built. We started seeing things like Wordfence get built. We started seeing things like learn dash, get built. The list goes on and to build a product of EDD quality, learn dash quality. Uh, Wordfence they’ll, you know, any of these large products is a hell of a lot bigger endeavor than it was 10 years ago. And there’s a lot of reasons for it. But just to know, the technical stack is a big barrier to prevent somebody from trying these days.
Speaker 1 00:12:57 And John, you responded to his tweet by saying, it sucks big time. It’s not fun. It’s not better, easier, more accessible. It’s a hostile takeover via friendly fire, and I’m really, really depressed about it. And I was so excited to hear about your, about how depressed you are about
Speaker 2 00:13:13 It today. I know it makes you, it fuels your fire is you have to hear how, how sad and depressed that I am in my life. And I’m grateful to have you as a, as a supportive friend that you are really, really warm as my ice cold heart.
Speaker 1 00:13:28 I was trying to get you to laugh, but you’re making me laugh. But, uh, so, so give us a little bit of background info about, you know, how you feel about his tweet and where Chris is coming from. Well,
Speaker 2 00:13:40 I mean, that was like, like Chris alluded to, uh, this, the problem as I see it anyways, isn’t very, Bolty faceted one. It is, of course it is a technical there of all of the technical problems that there are. Then there are the human problems. And then there is the perception of the project problem. And then there is all of the sort of backwards compatibility problems, accessibility problems, the usability problems, like, uh, it just is, and that’s not, and that’s not even developing for it really, truly. And so like when Chris tweeted it and it was sort of came at a time where like, I’ve, I’ve been trying to write a blog post, like for work for a while. And every time I have to open up like the post editor to try to write content and upload images and, and make a post, it, it actually like it.
Speaker 2 00:14:42 I can’t do it. Like I, and, and that like really freaks me out because normally I really enjoyed blogging and using WordPress and developing things for it. And it’s a very weird feeling to like open up the post editor that I’m supposed to, like, I guess, right. Like we’re, we’re supposed to be supportive and raw and like push the thing forward and, and believe the lie that like this, this is great. And, and, and, and I get that, like, there, there is a time and a place for that, and maybe that’s what we should all be doing. It’s just like zipping our lips and, and can, can keep it up with like, yeah, Gutenberg’s the future. And we’ve all got to just, just deal with it. But like, I really strongly dislike it. And it like actually negatively impacts by ability to write content in the thing that I have enjoyed contributing to for like the greater portion of like my adult career and where I feel like I’ve like found a second home. So like,
Speaker 1 00:15:55 So if you want it to make Gutenberg better, if you wanted to contribute to it, do you think with, I mean, I think you’re a pretty smart guy. You’ve been around the block. You’ve been around the Gutenberg block a few times, but how, how difficult do you think it would be for you to contribute? Let’s say, uh, you know, a JavaScript improvement to a Gutenberg library or to a block. Do you see, you could do
Speaker 2 00:16:18 It? No, I really, I honestly don’t think I’m qualified to do a frankly like the, wow, there there’s, there’s so, so much emotion and there are so many, I mean, I call them problems, but like, they, they may not be for other people, but like there, there are so many problems and the stack to me is, so it makes so little sense that like, like, I, I don’t know where to even kind of start to figure out what to do. And so, like, I think like the, the simplest way to put it, which Chris sort of alluded to, is that like the, the wonderful thing about WordPress, uh, in the early days of it and is that it was all just like, it wasn’t compiled, so you didn’t have to try and like use different sort of advanced ish tooling to try and decompile a bunch of PHP or like sort of bespoke, JavaScript files, uh, to figure out what was going on.
Speaker 2 00:17:32 Like, it was relatively simple to, to drill down or look at a theme or look at what was going on in WP admin, like search all the code base for the thing you’re looking for, find it and go like, oh, this is the problem with it. And like one of the four freedoms, uh, of the GPL that allow us to, uh, sort of, uh, change these files, it felt very free. Like, this is a file that I can edit because it is just a file sitting there. It hasn’t nothing special going on to it. But I feel like once we have, uh, brought in all of the sort of like modern JavaScript, uh, compilation tools, not just, WebKit not just react, not just the sort of general approach of all those things, but like all of it together, like, uh, on top of WordPress, I’ve been top of the multiple teams that are working on all the different components, Berg, and like the, the roadmaps sort of, not as super obvious or clear as I feel like it should be.
Speaker 2 00:18:35 And maybe this is all just cause I’m not trying or looking hard enough, but at the same time, I feel like I do know where to look and I don’t really find it. And so how will someone who does it know where to look, who doesn’t know how a WebKit works or how a Webpack works? Uh, how, like how do they open up Gutenberg, find the code, figure out where it lives in the JavaScript map, try and open up that one specific file, edit that file recompile web pack back down, and then get it uploaded or put it in a place where they can test it without like somewhat relatively proprietary development tools for doing it the right way that WordPress and Gutenberg both expect for it to be done. Because if you don’t do it the right way, whatever your pull request or your patch or whatever is going to be is not going to be right.
Speaker 2 00:19:29 And it has to be code formatted correctly, you have to sniff everything correctly. Everything has to be set up in a way that is like very difficult to contribute in each one of those problems is a problem. It is the barrier to contributing. And so unless you live in it all the time, all day, every day, it is the barrier to entry to getting like, like, like people, people talked about your time to first apply it on a website. And I feel like there’s an equivalent time to first edit when you’re contributing to open source. Like what, how quickly can I change this code and, and, and show that it’s better. And each one of these things that is in Gutenberg has put up like an extremely tall hurdle, that it takes a very high level of comprehension and experienced to jump over. And there are dozens of them.
Speaker 2 00:20:21 And so not like it’s one thing to just like consider yourself an experienced software engineer that is capable to do it. But what if you’re not an experienced engineer? What if you’re blind? What if you don’t have dexterity in your hands to navigate files easily and you have to try and navigate through 30 different files to find one JavaScript file that needs to be recompiled. Like each one of these things is needed. So incredibly difficult just to make an improvement that is unattractive and MIP. And I’m like, that’s the biggest problem is that WordPress was previously attractive to make changes to like people be like, yeah, I can just help make it better. And people sent my patch and I feel really good about it. But now, like trying to get anything changed in Gutenberg, unless you are like one of the cool kids, it is not, it does not work.
Speaker 2 00:21:13 It is not a good experience. And then even if like you are, and it does get accepted, it might be years before anything actually gets fixed. And so it’s all the same old problems of WordPress worse and all the stuff that made it awesome. Gone. And so like, because this happened with a bunch of other, like, like sort of a longtime contributors, employees of automatic led by Matt. Like it, it feels like a hostile takeover via friendly fire. Like these are people that are friends that were on the same team, like same team y’all same team, but like there are bullets flying and every single one of them like only hurts it. Like every single one of these barriers hurts. And so when I look at Gutenberg and I’m like, man, why does this menu click open? How do I close a menu? How do I, like, why is this tool tip, hovering above a button? And I can’t click the button cause a tool tip won’t go away. Like every thing that is in Gutenberg feels broken. And so like for me personally, like it it’s like having like, uh, it’s like having every single one of my teeth feel loose. Like it hurts. Cause I’m like, I don’t know what to do about all these problems. Like there is so much that I feel like is wrong. That it’s, it feels impossible to make.
Speaker 1 00:22:37 Right. Okay. So I’ll, I’ll ask, oh, that’s Christus. How much of all of this? I mean, we’re presses in a transitional phase. We’re moving from the old days of CSS and PHP, which most mostly is what WordPress is, was comprised of in terms of contributions. Nowadays it’s a heck of a lot more JavaScript. How much of the sentiment or what’s going on? It’s just a bunch of old hat, WordPress developers, uh, uh, disliking change, just liking that they have to learn all these new fangled things to get involved or is it really, is it really that difficult?
Speaker 3 00:23:15 It’s both. Let me give you my own story. I fought Gutenberg hardwood. Uh, J Trump says it didn’t work. Literally I had, I gave away a computer. I had bought a little while before Gutenberg came out that I intentionally bought just for writing because it’s simply could not handle Gutenberg full-stop. So when it says it didn’t work, I mean, they’re just even the hardware requirements that was a $200 Chromebook. So it wasn’t a fancy computer. It really was expensive. On top of that, the big thing I see with the, with, with us folks who have been in it a while now, I have been typecast even at, uh, you know, I work for WP and it should, which is WP in the name. But WP development has not been a historical strong point with our engineering division. In fact, it’s often considered the number of people I have to say, oh, well, you can own your, you came from the WP world.
Speaker 3 00:24:10 You can only do. You’re a front end dev. And that’s all you you’re even remotely capable of. You’re not a real engineer. I’ve gotten that sentiment many times to the point where this current chat, I finally said, fuck it. I’m sorry. Pardon my French. But I switched into a team that’s building on WordPress again, simply because this will probably be my last true engineering role before I jumped into like, you know, I’ve been putting off the management type things ever since I lasted management in the universities because I enjoyed dev dev work and I’m hitting the point, Mike river, a management’s probably the next logical step anyway, on a historically been fairly good at it. But B I’m looking at this. I’m like, okay, I’ll learn this. And it’s not that horrible for me to learn, but I’m not the only person on my team coming into this.
Speaker 3 00:24:59 We have a new depths that were front end devs who learning the WordPress side of things. It’s ridiculous, you know, very dirty, difficult on this plugin or, but lean right now we have three tests, suites, PHP unit, just code section. We have two sniffers PHP and JavaScript. The list goes on. There’s a lot going on there to learn every one of those tools to the point where somebody understands them. You can see the difference with having an engineer for 10 years coming out of this team. I’m picking up things fairly quickly because of all that tooling versus some of the guys that are coming on the team that haven’t been an engineer that long and are like, whoa, this is a hell of a lot of things to learn. And you really can. It does take a more senior level person to be able to step back into WordPress at this stage. The technicals are a whole other story. I mean, I’d love to do an episode with y’all on just PHP is completely forgotten. And we’ve just decided that instead of managing content, let’s just shift everything into post content, leave it alone and let the client do everything. But that’s a whole, we probably do a whole series of episodes on that.
Speaker 3 00:26:08 Sorry, just is the very original question was, is this just our old farts being an old farts or is there really a barrier, a new barrier of entry? It’s a little bit of both for us old folks. We’re seeing technical problems that we can’t, that we can no longer help drive. And that does get terribly frustrating, but I didn’t want you to so many new people who can’t even get involved.
Speaker 2 00:26:29 All right. And I’m, and I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m clearly, uh, in the, in the same bucket of people like with Chris, where people are gonna point look at me and say like, I’m an old guy who spent two is who was in it from a long time ago. And I am just, I just don’t like the change and I just am, uh, being, uh, confrontational or I’m just sort of be in a dramatic about it and all those things like those are, uh, they are dismissive statements that, uh, are very easy for people who do not want to actually acknowledge the problem to say. And so the people who think that, like, I’m just like, I run beta on everything. Like I am an early adopter and I want to change. I, I like kind of prefer the newest best change. Like I run the Gutenberg plugin on my blog because I wanna know, I wanna see it.
Speaker 2 00:27:28 I wanna, I wanna watch it improve and I am hopeful. And, uh, and, and, and, but then I, uh, it, when it comes to Gutenberg, I am only disappointed and like, shocked that what is happening is, is actually really happening and like, and it, and it, it, it is hurtful to just be labeled an old crabby, not like change guy. It is hurtful to see all this attention going into a piece of software that is like anecdotally very frustrating. Uh, and like, I feel like this was an experiment and it has failed like that asked her to spend any releases in years. It is not a good one. Well, well,
Speaker 1 00:28:20 Well, in that realm and to kind of wrap it up on this topic, uh, we’re pressed past, we’re past the point of no return now. I mean, this, this Gutenberg is the way, uh, JavaScript is the way, uh, in fact, we just, you know, we’re press 5.8. We’ve now redone the widget management screen. It is now widgets on our blocks. Eventually we’re going to get the full site editing, or everything’s going to be a block and you’re going to be able to manage it. So we’re past the point of no return. I will say that there are like boiler plates out there, Gutenberg boiler plates that will set up an environment, set things up for you. That should make it easier to at least create blocks, maybe even contribute JavaScript or some fixes back into WordPress. But since we’re past the point of no return, and this seems to be the path that we’re on, what do you guys have in terms of suggestions or ideas on how these processes can be approved upon? Or are we just, or maybe we’re just stuck in a certain time period where we got to wait till everybody makes these boiler plates and these tutorials on how to contribute to WordPress and maybe 2, 3, 4 years from now, things are back to maybe where they used to be, where it’s it’s, it’s not that hard or difficult to contribute back to WordPress when it comes to JavaScript.
Speaker 2 00:29:38 I mean, I’ll start, but, uh, I’ll, I’ll try, make it quick is like the, the individuals, the contributors that have built up all of this tooling in WordPress need to write clear documentation on how to set up a development environment. Full-stop like, because none of the docs are updated. The tutorials that you find do not work. Uh, they are not platform agnostic, so they are different if you’re running on windows or something else. Uh, and, uh, like get all of those tools up to date with, you still have to use some weird old version of PHP unit, uh, interacts and support some version of, uh, of some other. I forget what all the problems are. It doesn’t matter. Like all of those individual tools are, uh, and then like the core development environment. Uh, it doesn’t, it doesn’t, it, I couldn’t get it working either.
Speaker 2 00:30:40 And so like even trying to follow the official instructions, they did not work. And so, like the days of just being able to sort of spin up your own stack are very, very gone and so contributing to Gutenberg or WordPress core, uh, there is no straightforward way to do any of that. And like that needs to be updated and brought up to speed before anything else can happen. Because right now the people that can patch core are the people who have always had overworking, updated, set up environment. But a lot of the folks that set up the, the tools of, uh, they’re not setting up tools anymore. So, um, from that on, uh, the, my, my, my closing statement is, uh, is, is it’s kind of not super great, uh, to be, uh, sort of labeled, right. Like to, uh, and so I get that.
Speaker 2 00:31:45 I said a lot of, probably not super nice things about how I feel about Gutenberg in this episode, but that, uh, they are not, they are not insults and they are not, uh, they are not intended to be, uh, uh, sort of a hurtful to any one or any, any, any specific people other than like, it, it’s not, it’s not working and like, it needs to work for anyone to make it better. And the only thing that I can do to bed, I thought of myself at this point is literally to do what I think other people have already done, which is like, record myself, trying to use it. Like I’m trying to write a blog post. This is what I’m clicking on. This is what I expect to happen. And this is what happens instead. And like, am I just using it wrong? Am I holding it wrong? Am I just a dumb old guy, maybe, but maybe I’m not. And maybe these are actual legitimate improvements that should be made. Uh, and so accept the feedback, try and, and, and, and, uh, just move all, all I can try and do now is move the ball a little bit forward because
Speaker 1 00:32:58 Man, the chicken is deal on Amazon on, uh, on, on old walking canes comes with the alarm.
Speaker 2 00:33:06 It’s good, good tennis balls on the bottom of it. My wrist doesn’t get sore. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, I know. That’s that’s all I know. That’s all I got. Go ahead. I’m sorry, Chris, put a bow on this. Yes.
Speaker 3 00:33:22 I’m not as hostile to it. The Gutenberg as a whole, frankly, I have no problem with the new editor. Yes. I had to get a new computer for, I don’t know if that would still be the case because it has improved performance wise. Two things I think to see one is, uh, you know, the only thing the court team seems that’s in front of their face at all, is new features for Gutenberg full stop. I think there’s a lot of folks that would like to solve problems. The technical problems in the backend, you know, data storage filtering. I mean, there’s a list a mile and a half long. Those are usually the older, the old farts because we came into it. A lot of us were more backend level developers. You know, when I was leaving WordPress, I want to go Golang. Instead of learning Java script, I love working on it, but there’s still a lot of, there’s a whole lot of other problems besides just brand new features for Gutenberg.
Speaker 3 00:34:19 And I see an awful lot of Fatee because things are proposed and just completely ignored or worse. Why would you ever want to consider something, fixing something that isn’t part of Gutenberg. So acknowledging that there are other things that can be contributed to besides just brand new features and Gutenberg, I think would go a long way to helping folks as well as encouraging. I don’t know how they’re going to do this. I frankly, I think that the core group needs to be broken up and change some for both of these, but encouraging the training, encouraging the documentation, putting more emphasis on things to help on the Gutenberg side. People get involved. Cause right now I’ve seen folks like Denver Edwards and neuro and others. Where’s the documentation. And some of the replies are, are just snarky. Like why would you expect us to document type things?
Speaker 3 00:35:13 And that’s been happening for a couple of years now. So a focus on the training and Courtney Robertson, Debra, there’s a whole lot of folks that would love to get more involved in that. And then to expand it. We’re the only thing, you know, we’re not just pushing new every release, but starting to acknowledge that, Hey, WordPress is still the content management system. Let’s try building up that base a little bit because there’s a lot of improvements that can be made that can make use of a whole lot of folks, both old and new to push things forward. As an editor itself, I fought it at first. Like I said, I was so mad when I bought a new computer. I switched my whole site. Did you go, you go to the static long shot. I remember that time, that lasted about a year. And then I switched with working for WP and show.
Speaker 3 00:36:03 Well, maybe this isn’t my best choice. So I came back to work for us. It works. I could run, I don’t mind. I actually kind of enjoy writing it. I can do so from my iPad or my computer, it works, but there’s a whole lot of things. I think the contributions can be accepted. And right now at anything, that’s not just brand new. If it’s not a front end Gutenberg idea, it doesn’t, it’s not worthy of anybody’s time. And then in core, it seems like we need to break up that, that mentality we need to get. I don’t know if that it’s going to take new, fresh blood. I don’t know what it’s going to take, but something has to give on that. I think to make it friendly to, to a range of folks. And that’s not just developers that’s users. I think that’ll improve that site admins as these large sites with large content, uh, large amounts of content. There’s a whole lot of things there that I think could benefit from an expansion other than all we, all we care about is the front end editor.
Speaker 1 00:37:06 Well, I guess we’ll see what happens. I’m no developer. I don’t tinker deep within WordPress, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens, Chris. I know you got a busy time. I had to get today. Thank you so much for coming on the show and expanding upon your tweet and, uh, uh, we’ll see what you say for this week and next week. Maybe we’ll get you back on.
Speaker 3 00:37:28 Sounds good. I’ll always love to chat with you too. I appreciate you having me today. Thank you.
Speaker 1 00:37:32 Awesome. Enjoy the rest of your day and stay alive down there in Florida. Watch out for Florida, man. So getting back to a little bit about the beginning of the show, John, I wanted to, I was actually curious about this. So Sandhills development, uh, the beginning of the summer, uh, started up a, an experiment to see how it go a four-day work week. So I wanted to know, tell us, how was that four day work week? Is it four days, 10 hour shifts you get Fridays off. Um, what do you think about it and is it, what has, I I’ve seen some people say that there’s some great things about it and there’s some other things that take some getting used to you. So how has your experience been with it?
Speaker 2 00:38:15 I mean, my experience has been only positive. I’m not, so this is the concept of a four-day work week is like so hot right now. Right? Uh, we, uh, I forget who within the company last year, maybe two years ago, it’s, it’s started down the road of thinking about what a four day work week would look like. And, uh, it, it came up a lot and, uh, every summer, so we’d sort of have the discussion again, like, is this something we want to try and do? And, uh, and so all the partners, uh, came together and came to the conclusion that this summer, this American summer, uh, this Northern hemisphere summer that we would, uh, we would give it a try. And, uh, so we have some employees, uh, Lisa and Andrea that live in New Zealand who, uh, are experiencing four day work weeks during, uh, some of their less, less pleasant, seasonal weather.
Speaker 2 00:39:19 But, uh, for those of us, uh, experiencing summer, I think we’re all taking advantage of it, uh, pretty well. So the way we’re doing it is it is, it is essentially just a free day off. We are not expected to make up Fridays eight hours, um, on Monday through Thursday. And, uh, it is, it is intentionally the take the day off, like you have a mini vacation every week, three days in a row. So 32 hours a week, 32 hours a week. Uh, and, uh, as a, as a company, we also like together decided that we do value our time away from the computer for healthy, outdoor type endeavors going on walks Carrie. And I went camping for the first time. I mean, uh, in, you know, a long time. And so, uh, it’s one of those things we wouldn’t have been able to have done on a regular Saturday, Sunday weekend.
Speaker 2 00:40:19 We’d either that Friday to drive up to where we are going to get settled in and it’s the went on a weekend camping trip. And so it’s stuff like that, that like, um, you have employees that are, um, that, that are nomadic that live and work, uh, in a, uh, in a truck with, uh, a camper on the back of it and have tricked it out pretty cool. And other employees are, uh, putting together some container homes on their, on their property. And they’ve got an extra day in the week to work on the house. And so you share pictures of progress on what it is that you’re able to accomplish with your extra Friday. And like it’s all these quality of life, things that, uh, that, uh, that you don’t, you, you there’s literally no other way to make up the time and other than just taking the day off. And so we also have like a minimum vacation policy that, uh, we do try our best to, uh, politely influence folks to take time off and say, uh,
Speaker 1 00:41:17 No, I, I, out of the many vacation policies, I think that’s probably the most sensible that probably the best one is a minimum at the minimum. We expect you to take this much time off
Speaker 2 00:41:28 And the most recent change that, that the partners made, which is small one, I think is sort of, uh, uh, an important detail is that on our, we still have, uh, we used sugar calendar for our, our time off calendar. And you put in the request, uh, using the like front end submissions, add on that. We’ve got so as an employee, you go to the PTO calendar, you enter your time that you want to take off, and then, uh, you just enter it. And it it’s, it’s in there. And now everyone knows that you’ve got PTO. And so what we did is we just removed the description box from that PTO request. Like there’s no reason you don’t need to submit a reason to take time off, like it’s, whatever the reason is, you are just a trusted that it is time that you need to take and prioritize.
Speaker 2 00:42:19 Uh, and, uh, if it’s a mental health day, if it’s you appointments, if it’s, you just don’t want to work that day, whatever it is, you don’t have to put the reason in, you just submit your request. And unless there is something that is extremely urgent, then there’s sort of no real question about why you need the time off and whether or not there is value in taking it. So I think the hardest the team that has it, the hardest within Sandhills is the support team, but they have been, uh, taking it completely in stride. And so frankly have, uh, Sandhills as customers, uh, that with the support team has posted hours on each one of the projects that on the support pages that say when support is open from nine until five, Monday through Thursday, and, uh, put up a notice that says that we are out or close to Friday and Saturday and Sunday. And so they come, they come to work, they arrive on a Monday morning with a few more tickets in the queue because there’s a day that normally they would do tickets that they’re not anymore. And so it’s different for the support team because their workload never stops.
Speaker 1 00:43:31 No one’s pushing the development or production on Fridays cause everybody’s
Speaker 2 00:43:34 Off. Right, right. And so I think for the, for the creatives in the company, it is probably fairly easier to like turn your creative brain off for an extra day and sort of welcome. And developers, marketing designer is folks that are, that are, um, sort of have a set their own set, their own pace and, and their own expectations on deliverables, but support. It never stops. And so they knew that going in and, uh, the, the, uh, Carrie who is leads, the support team had a meeting with them and ask them how they felt like it would, it would, they would be the most comfortable. Some folks wanted to work on Friday. Some folks wanted to work on Mondays, but in the end, everyone just decided like, let’s all just take the same day off. Let’s just see what happens. It’s an, it’s an experiment. And if it goes wrong, we can always adapt and change. And so far it has been basically fine. It been totally okay.
Speaker 1 00:44:32 I think it’s awesome that you’re doing that. The, the part of the experiment is you’re working four days, but it’s 32 hours. You’re not anywhere else, anywhere else that offers three day weekends or four day work weeks, you’re going to have to make up those eight hours to get 40, right. So you’re doing four 10 hour days, which you’re going to need every little bit of those three days off to
Speaker 2 00:44:53 Recover. Right. And, and so I think that that is like the, the, the, the, the hope everyone is hopeful. And I think that it is working is that when you know that you have a limited time to get things done, like I only have four days this week where I can accomplish what I need to get done is that your quality of work improves during the periods of time, where limited period of time that you have to accomplish your goals. And so I always used to say that, like I got way more work done on an airplane than I did, like sitting at a contributor day because I contributor day, I’m having so many conversations with people at a word camp and talking about things and that is work and it is progress. But me on a plane with no internet, just like coding away, that solving problems felt like I had three hours to get something done.
Speaker 2 00:45:46 I wasn’t gonna be able to touch it again for awhile. I had to power through it. And so it’s sort of that feeling for me anyways, uh, just gets sort of layered on top of a regular Workday. And so I wake up and say like, I have a lot I have to do today. And so I’ve got to, I’ve got to plow through some stuff, or maybe I don’t have as much going on. And so I get to go back on some long-term projects, make a little bit of progress. And so, but the, the, the added day off, uh, if you’re thinking about doing it and somehow I’m the person that you’re going to listen to, you should absolutely strongly considered having a three-day work week, if you can do it. Cause it’s a four day work week, three days, three days off. Three days. Yes. Uh, yeah, the, uh, the, the three day, three day workweek is that’s the new, that’s the new four day work week. Next year. We’re going to be talking about three day work week. Uh, no, but it’s, uh, it’s awesome so far. So
Speaker 1 00:46:44 I guess we’ll have to see if the experiment is just for the summer or if this becomes an all year thing. Uh,
Speaker 2 00:46:49 That’s what we’re talking about right. Is it’s currently just for the summer, but I,
Speaker 1 00:46:54 It was a way you folks are gonna be like, oh boy, that was so
Speaker 2 00:46:57 Nice. Probably I hope it stays around. I hope it works. I hope everyone’s happy. I hope that we can, we have enough data to support
Speaker 1 00:47:06 Sandhills development can start a trend, and this is going to be the new cool thing. Nope. Cause it used to be, it used to be dumb, but people thought awesome. At the time vacation Hollywood, we have an unlimited vacation policy, which is BS. Nobody’s going to take an unlimited vacations because you’ll get fired like on your second week probably. But these minimum vacation policies I think is awesome. And then maybe more, more the, the bigger style agencies and WordPress companies can start implementing four day work weeks. That would be cool. That sounds like an awesome perk to me.
Speaker 2 00:47:40 Well, we took a pretty holistic approach. Like we looked at revenue, we looked at a number of employees. We looked at just general, who was checking in on what days and base camp and like, what, what were we shipping? And
Speaker 1 00:47:53 I think it’s nice how the whole company kind of got involved in this experiment. It sounds like
Speaker 2 00:47:57 Totally. Yeah. We, everyone put their feedback and input in and their, their concerns. And, uh, we, we really did try to document all of it and put it in a place so that, uh, when the experiment, when it’s, when it’s time to determine did this work or didn’t it, that we can look back at what we had thought and see whether we, what we hope to achieve, like milestones that we had set during the summer that we still, we still want to ship software. Uh, we still want to do marketing. We still want to do all a self projects we’re trying to ship. And so did we do them? Were we able to do them? Uh, we have, we have a ways to measure most of that stuff. And so hopefully it, uh, I think, uh, it’s just, uh, it’s, it feels good in every possible way. And so, um, it’s, uh, I hope, I hope we keep doing it and other companies consider doing it too.
Speaker 1 00:48:55 So word camp us. Guess what? They’re coming back there. Wasn’t a WordCamp us last year because of the pandemic, but they are coming back this year. Mike, your calendars October 1st, 2021, where camp us will be virtual will be online only. So which means it will be free. Uh, and there’s going to be a one day, it’ll be a one day event when networking opportunities, a speaker sessions workshops, and more, and within the next month, they’re going to make a call out for speakers. Sponsors. Volunteers are going to have some posts and some news and provide more information. So you can keep in touch with that at us, that word camp.org to find out what’s going on and what the syringe, July, August, September, oh, you know, within a few months here, they’re going to have to put everything together, but with it being a virtual conference one day event, I think it’ll be no problem.
Speaker 2 00:49:47 I think so too, coming up fast, WordCamp us even online, uh, is, uh, super fun. So I’m looking forward to it. So
Speaker 1 00:49:55 One of the topics that, uh, Malcolm and I talked about in one of the previous episodes of the podcast was kind of, uh, our thoughts on one will in-person or press events, specifically meetups and work camps happen. And if so, you know, are we excited to go to them? Will we go to them? And there has now been a, uh, proposal of some new guidelines that are out for discussion and conversation on how to return to safe in-person WordCamps. And you could see this, the make WordPress community site we’ll have links to all these posts in the show notes, but I thought it was a cool flow chart that they have, which a kind of indication on, do you meet this criteria, then do this. If you meet this criteria, then do that. Uh, but uh, some of the things that are in the proposal that are up for further discussion, uh, is, uh, things like food.
Speaker 1 00:50:52 There will be no buffets of food is provided. It will be an individual portions like box lunches, capacity limit in-person attendance or seating capacity to allow for physical distance scene or host smaller events and larger spaces based on your local regional health guidelines. Um, things like accessibility inclusion session should be uploaded to WordPress, that TV to be live streamed when financially possible. And speaking of financial, um, they mentioned that word camps in this transition period, we need to be prepared to cover 100% of their expenses in order to happen for. Uh, and then he talk about for greater context. The global sponsorship program in 2021 currently does not include work camps. And the team currently does not have expectations set for the future of the global sponsorship program. And to me, that that one kind of stuck out to me like, oh no, you know that now we’re camp organizers are really going to have to be on their game to make sure that they get the funds and sponsorships that they need to cover 100% of the cost.
Speaker 1 00:51:51 But then as I started thinking about it, um, throughs, and they sort of mentioned this, they they’re, they’re actually encouraging organizers to try new event formats. You know, for example, deliver word camp content entirely online, followed by an in-person social gathering activities, outdoor sessions, activities, and whatnot. I thought, well, if you combine innovation and basically what it comes down to is I, these work camps, it’s like a reset. The pandemic sucked 2020 sucked sucked for so many reasons, but a little bit of a silver lining when it comes to work camps is it actually provides like a hard reset where they could stop and say, this is what we’re camps were. And now we have an opportunity to change that around. So what organizers will be able to do now is experiment with different setups and different types of events. And we can co it all has to start back down at the meetup, the local levels again, and get people active and bring those people back and bring those in-person events back then you could start doing work camps and hopefully the, the, the, the work camps start off small and local. So we’re talking about a hundred people or less, and maybe depending on the city, depending on the momentum that, that, that, that community has. And I think it’s kind of exciting to see how this sort of moment in time transitions the entire work camp event or work camp concept and let, let’s see what, what happens because of this and how, uh, event organizers innovate.
Speaker 2 00:53:26 I agree. And some of this stuff seems obvious, but it is really important to put this into writing, like the no buffets for food. Like, of course you don’t want to face it for food. I saw even common time. If you comments about it personally, I’m not eating at a restaurant for at least another year or two conferences have a face style lunch, encourages people together in close proximity to each other, whereas box lunches or prepared meals could alleviate this concern. It’s like, yeah, of course, like that makes perfect sense. And I agree with the, uh, that innovation here is, is necessary. Like when we did word camp east Wisconsin, we had our 35 attendees. Uh, we did it outside. We have is we reversed the days so that we had sessions on Sunday and get to know what we want on Saturday. And, uh, we just tried stuff and, and, and try to see what worked and what felt right.
Speaker 2 00:54:16 And, uh, and like that is the sort of the, the best parts of Gutenberg are the experiments are the trying something that hasn’t been done before to see how it works and see, and then iterate on those things. And so, um, the iteration and the, the improvements of that, uh, uh, with, uh, bringing back the, uh, in, in person word camps are important. Like I’m looking forward to seeing so many, uh, people at a work camp in person, again, uh, that, uh, I really can’t wait to hang out with a bunch of folks. And the global sponsorship program, like you said, is one of those things that, uh, when it first became a thing, I was like, oh, that it never really crossed my mind that a word camp couldn’t pay for itself. Like, so I was like, oh, that’s, that’s pretty cool that there is even this like, option that you could go over your budget and, uh, not be on the hook for paying for, you know, whatever, whatever there
Speaker 1 00:55:26 Is. Yeah. The whole program was like, it was like a, like a kitty, like a pool, and then various work camps or sponsors could, could throw, pull their money in and pay for specific, um, like packages within the, within the sponsorship program. And then that, that, that, that committee, or that group of folks would then divvy out the funds as necessary to the various work camps.
Speaker 2 00:55:51 Exactly. But so, uh, going back to the original way is I think fine, it’s the probably probably easier and better for logistically for everyone. So, uh, that makes a lot of sense. So,
Speaker 1 00:56:06 So, so with the innovation of word camps and WordPress events, is there any type of event that you would like to see now that maybe that could take place now that maybe it would have been a little bit more difficult? Let’s say two years ago?
Speaker 2 00:56:19 Uh, kind of like the, uh, there’s like a lot of really cool ideas for events we have had throughout the years that, um, that like, uh, uh, one of them was like a train ride, which I think fits the, uh, right. Yeah, yeah. Everyone on a train from Chicago to Portland or something, and like, hang out for three days, uh, fully on the train. You’ve got everything you need. Uh, and you get to see really cool stuff and you get to hang out with people in a so unique environment. Um, I think it would be, it would be really fun. I think it would be, it’d be neat to do something like that. Uh, the idea of like a cruise ship seems terrifying to me, but, but that was also one of those ideas is like, yeah, to get everyone on a cruise ship and, uh, and, and hang out and have a good time.
Speaker 2 00:57:26 And have plenty of room and the comfort and great views of the ocean side, everything like, depending on where the ships go, you have cool stops and tourist stuff to do. Like, I dunno. It’s just like, um, the, the, the, the things that are possible in person, uh, yeah, it’s like endless school opportunities, but the, I think the, the one thing that I would really like to see that is technologically challenging, still even, uh, in a, in a, in a, a world that where we all primarily use zoom is like really solid support for hybrid attendance and participation, like actually having, if it’s zoom or any other video recording, compensating participation, middleware, like having it, having it be both like having, uh, all the in-person stuff go and, and be one thing, but have someone or a team of people whose jobs it is to monitor and moderate the, uh, remote, uh, audience that wants to participate and ask questions and, uh, and get sort of treated equally, uh, because we talk about remote working and distributed companies.
Speaker 2 00:58:46 And we always say that the people that work in person together always have a leg up, and it’s always, you always accomplish more and it feels better to be in person. And so we have together like a little bit of an opportunity to change or improve that. Uh, I think it would be interesting to put some energy towards, uh, that experience for folks that want, want to attend WordCamp Europe, but do not want to, uh, take the plane ride that direction. And, uh, and, and, uh, cause I, I went to the work camp Europe, the 2019 being on an airplane is not always my favorite experience. So, uh, I know you had all these, your favorite experience to be able to participate as an equal. Uh, I think it would be really high value for a lot of folks
Speaker 1 00:59:35 Out of, out of planes, trains and automobiles. I’m now down to just trains and automobiles.
Speaker 2 00:59:41 That’s right. That’s right. I’m not quite there yet, but I, I feel it in my heart.
Speaker 1 00:59:46 So for listeners out there, if you have any cool ideas on what you’d like to see in a, in a unique WordPress event, you know, give a shout out to me at WP mainline on Twitter and share your idea with me or, uh, WP mainline@gmail.com. And we’ll read the feedback. Um, next week’s episode, uh, there is one other topic I wanted to get into, but I’m, I’m kinda not feeling it. Um, I think it’s run its course. If you want to, if you want to read about it, it’s on WP mainline.com. I’ll just give you the headline that says air maximum number of white male WordPress podcast hosts exceeded. And if you just, just go there, read the posts and, and let me know your thoughts on it because I don’t, I don’t want to get into it here. I just don’t feel it maybe next week after, after I let it simmer for a little bit. I, I definitely think it’s something that has to be talked about discussed, but I’m just not feeling it today. Maybe I’m next week, next week’s episode. Uh, so that’s going to do it for this edition of WP mainline. You can find show notes for this episode and all other previous episodes. I’m WP mainline.com, just click the podcast link and be sure to follow WP mainline on Twitter at WP mainline and Jan, where are you at these days? You still on the Twitters,
Speaker 2 01:01:09 All the same boring places, Twitter and get other JJ and jj.blog where I have like four posts that are drafts that I can’t bring myself to write. So I guess I gotta find a way to suck it up and blog more JJ j.blog.
Speaker 1 01:01:28 So, so who, we’re going to take a poll by the end of this year, will John be on classic press? We’re taking bets. All right, so that’s going to do it. Everybody enjoy have a safe, enjoyable weekend. We’ll talk to you again next week. Say bye John. Bye. Bye

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