I finally decided to do this posts after the events from the last two weeks. But first allow me to tell you about my history with WordPress.
I’ve been using WordPress for personal blogs for several years now. It got my full attention with the release of version 1.5 Strayhorn. Which allowed for custom themes and although I might have used the default Kubrick theme for years, I really loved how easily customizable everything was. But this was me using WordPress personally, professionally I used different CMSs ranging from Drupal to an entirely self-build and maintained CMS called Advantage ( not associated with CMSAdvantage ). Years went by and several CMS preferences later I ended up using Drupal for my freelance projects and using CodeBlue for everything I developed at my day job. CodeBlue was entirely developed and maintained in-house and, although I was not the original developer, I did most of the work on it. The problem with using a self developed CMS really is that if your usergroup is not big enough that you’ll never get enough valuable feedback or bug reports to make it a truly good product. Another problem was that my employer didn’t think that constant development was a necessity which caused CodeBlue to be constantly chasing the competition.
Personally / Freelance
During one of my Drupal projects in the summer of 2009 I really got sick and tired of the constant discussion and name calling that seemed to be going on in the Drupal community. Several plugins weren’t developed any further due to it, other plugins got forked and taken apart but never seemed finished. It was a real mess. By the time WordPress was still considered a blogging tool instead of a ‘real’ CMS but I decided to give it a try. Within 48 hours I completely rebuild the project I was working on from a Drupal website to a WordPress website. Most of this time was invested in rebuilding the theme but something that really made a difference was the large quantity of plugins available. It was really easy to find an alternative to basically every plugin I used in the Drupal installation. Credit is given where credit is due, this was really due to the WordPress community which ( in most cases ) takes great joy in creating amazing and functional plugins. Another thing that really made a difference to me was the user interface, WordPress looked so incredibly smooth and easy-to-use compared to Drupal. After this I still did some Drupal projects but I’ve converted most of them to WordPress by now.
My employer at the time really loved the in-house developed CodeBlue, luckily the team I was working in at the time ( consisting of me, Luuk Wilms and Wilbert Claessens ) managed to convince him of the power of WordPress and it’s community. We could make more competitive quotes for our clients resulting in more work, WordPress is managed by a large community which basically got rid of our continued development costs and because there is so much information available on WordPress it really saved time for us when it came to training the clients to use WordPress.
Since the switch to WordPress I’ve developed several plugins for it and released some of them to the WordPress plugin directory, the most popular being my iDeal implementation for WP e-Commerce, LDB WP e-Commerce iDeal. Sadly I’ve been unable to make them all available to the community because of restrictions from the client or because they were way too specific to the client’s situation ( calls to private APIs etc. ). But what I want to point out is the effect of giving back to the community. Since I released LDB WP e-Commerce in the WordPress plugin directory I’ve gotten dozens of requests for plugin development or installation help. Of course I’ve made some money off of it ( the plugin development ) but in most cases I just helped people out which raised my community standing, or at least, that’s how it feels to me.
During my Florida stay this year I was able to visit WordCamp Miami where I once again was lucky enough to attend a talk by Andrew Nacin and Mark Jaquith. And to me these guys have an unbelievable way to get their message, their passion for WordPress, across. It was this talk that inspired me to go from “don’t hack the core” to “hack the core” and start to actively partake in the discussions on WordPress Trac, and to write WordPress patches. I love WordPress and it’s community so much that I no longer want to be on the receiving end of it. I want to get my hands dirty and help to make it even better!
For me the logical next step is setting up local WordPress meetups to ‘spread the evangelism’ and help people out who might have WordPress related questions or have problems getting started. My goal is to set up a local WordPress usergroup which meets regularly, connecting with peers who all love my favorite open source project.