WordCamp…, you never cease to amaze us! Attending the first ever WordCamp Johannesburg SA, our CODECABIN_ team representing our Johannesburg-born plugin WP Google Maps, arrived excitedly with the Gautrain with the golden sunrise, at the Bon Hotel in Midrand. With some already acquainted speakers from our last WordCamp held in Cape Town earlier this year, the line-up of guest speakers proved promising to the City of Gold. Our team was greeted with seasoned and volunteer Wordies with plenty #hugs. Stories about the new love found for WordCamp mascot Wapuu, and it’s guest appearances in creative WordCamp representation all over the world, was sweet to our introductory coffee. The GPL-licensed creature originated in Japan, and even has it’s own colouring in pages for free download, how very European!
Kicking off the event, and to name a few of the guest speakers on Day 1, Caxton Digital Manager Chris Louw gave an insightful talk about using WordPress as an inspirational tool to give a voice to the voiceless. Expressing digital media as a means of storytelling, Chris encouraged the audience to utilize WordPress, to create their own stories with. Our team realized the importance of storytelling as a WordPress user, with the use of new navigation technology as demonstrated with their accompaniments and how this is interacts with the tone and message of content to its evolving audience. Our team was creatively inspired to continue to be innovative, leading the WordPress community with technology trends.
Complementing Chris’ people-driven focus, Hugh Lashbrooke, a Community Sentinel at Automattic, demonstrated the various ways in which the WordPress community can be involved in contributing. Whatever your passion, there is a role for you. Whether it’s code in the Core, Documentation creation, Translating WordPress, or helping others in the Support forum. At WordCamp Central, events are unfolding globally for the community in mind. Find MeetUps nearest to you, where one can attend, or get involved as a guest speaker as well as event co-ordinating. Our team enjoys giving back to the WordPress community, in Johannesburg SA, this is known as ‘Ubuntu’ meaning together where you’re invited too!
Our tea break was followed by a light-hearted service delivery talk by Andrew Lima, owner of Arctek Technologies. The importance of splendid customer support was topic. Andrew also teams up with our CODECABIN_ Support Engineers, and understand this vital role we play to our customers. It is so vital, we decided to share all his tips for customers for smooth sailing support here.
Roselyn Lavery, Business Development Manager at PayFast, shared methodology behind this trusted payment system. Roselyn demonstrated preferred means of online payments to her audience, which supports merchants, their customers, and developers. Roselyn gave insight into system purchasing as well as engaging in e-commerce.
Lunch succeeded an interesting dive into the mechanics behind the WordPress GPL, also known as General Public License. In this talk, Jonathan Bossenger, who is a WordPress developer from Cape Town,captivated his audience, with understanding GPL when building with/ for WordPress in giving back with community spirit. This is open source code, which basically means that if you contribute code to the Core of WordPress in any way, that it is available to be re-used in building with it again, as it’s not patented to the contributor. Our team always enjoys seeing how the principles of share and modify open source, fits in with revolutionary industry development online within WordPress. Did you know that WordPress powers 26% of the internet? Jonathan’s talk safely guaranteed that everyone can contribute and utilise code in the WordPress community.
From our CODECABIN_ team, a big thank you to all the speakers for sharing hard-earned experiences with WordPress and industry. Johannesburg Brew owner, Brett Magill, who left us with the inspiring message of, ‘keep calm and start somewhere’ Brett encouraged his audience that time is now to start being Entrepreneurial, and to let your market niche find you and say who they are. That can be accomplished in partnering with WordPress. In closing, Brett shared his experiences in care with personal customer service on e-Commerce platforms. This rings true to how our team feel about our customers and service for WP Google Maps. Tweet to us your service experiences today!
Deserving of applause, WordCamp Johannesburg 2016 organizers treated us to lovely community event. Our team at CODECABIN_ is in anticipation for up & coming MeetUps and WordCamps in 2017, we can hardly wait!
INTERVIEW AT WORDCAMP CAPE TOWN 2016 with @jon_bossenger
In 2015, Jonathan attended his first WordCamp. The experience was so great that he decided to retire his day job as a Senior PHP Developer and focused his passion on developing in WordPress. He resides in Durbanville with his wife and two boys, where he makes a living selling extension plugins and child themes. Jonathan has spent the past 12 years working in open source web and mobile application development.
Jonathan’s talk at WordCamp Cape Town 2016 was inspiring; CODECABIN_ just had to chat more with this great one!
1. Jonathan, you were at WordCamp last year?
Jonathan: “That’s correct.”
2. And now you are suddenly a speaker? How did that happen? What inspired that?
Jonathan: “So, WordCamp, and I’ve said this to a few people, WordCamp changed my life. The position I was in at the time, the job that I was doing at the time because of, not the company and not because of the people, but because of the code that I was working in, it was something that was almost killing my passion for development. There were some issues that I had, and I can’t blame anybody, but it just wasn’t where I wanted to be. And I kind of didn’t know where I wanted to be, and I have a very unique situation that I’m not available for development five days a week for a full-time job.
“The company that I was working for was awesomely flexibly. To say “Well, we can take the time that you have and use it”. But, just the code base wasn’t working for me. So I came to WordCamp purely because we were starting to do things in WordPress and I was going to be the WordPress guy at the company. I thought it would be great opportunity to get involved in WordPress as a community member and understand what it’s all about.
“Sitting in WordCamp last year and watching some of the speakers and some of the workshops, made me realize that I didn’t want to be at a company building sites in WordPress, I wanted to be involved in WordPress. I wanted to start contributing to core, I wanted to start organizing meetups, I wanted to start, because the ‘open sourceness’ of not only the software but the community as well, is what drew me. I vividly remember Pippin Williamson talking about the commitment of backwards compatibility, I vividly remember Drew James talking about “it takes a village to build WordPress” and how things are structured. At the end of WordCamp, I made some promises to myself. One of those promises was that I would leave the job and I’m at, and commit myself 100% to developing for WordPress. Either building, developing or whatever.
“The other one was that I would speak at WordCamp next year, be it a small talk, a 10 minute, 5 minute, I would. I would do something. As much as I had received those two days I would want to give something back, and that’s where I made that decision. When the speaker applications came up I probably spammed them with about 7 different topics. My workshop was accepted for the intermediate track, I was very happy.
“Two weeks later Hugh contacted me and said that one of the lightning talk speakers had dropped-out and wasn’t able to speak, would I be keen doing a lightning talk as well, and I’m the kind of guy that just goes, “Sure, let me give it a bash”.
So that’s where I am today. I’ve given my workshop this morning. I’m doing a lightning talk tomorrow. My plan next year, is to be part of the volunteer team and eventually I want to organize my own WordCamp.”
3. As an entrepreneur for WordPress, what would you say are the most valuable lessons you have learnt in your success?
Jonathan: “The biggest lesson I learnt, very early on, and I learnt it the hard way was, just because it’s WordPress, doesn’t mean you can’t apply the knowledge that you already have within WordPress. So my mindset was one of “I have all this PHP experience but WordPress it its own framework, and it’s gonna take me “too long” to become an expert in WordPress, to develop for WordPress.”
“So my plan was to build websites in WordPress. I had no experience building websites in WordPress but I had less experience developing for WordPress. So I just thought it would be easier to get into. Then I realized that there’s so many people doing it.There’s Genesis theme, and Divi theme, making it so easy, that the market is kind of saturated, but there is still a space for developers building plugins. And I went “Well, that’s the route I have to take”. I just kind of, there was a little bit of luck involved a little bit of good timing, but I realized that my skillset was in PHP development I should just take that, spend the time to learn, and that’s where we ended up now.”
4. You wrote an article called “Please, copy my ideas”. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Jonathan: “This one could take a while. So before I can answer that question, you need to understand the background a bit. So part my progression this year was becoming involved in a theme by Elegant Themes, called the “Divi” theme. Now, for those of you who don’t know the Divi theme, it’s sort of well received by and not well received by sort of, polarized parts of the WordPress community.
“It’s one of those themes that is a builder theme. So it does everything for you. It advertises itself as “You’re able to build websites with amazing functionality”. Amazing Animation & Styling, all these kinds of things, without knowing a line of code. But, where the market is, where I’m involved, is that they are certain pieces of functionality that the Divi theme doesn’t do. And people are wanting those pieces of functionality. So the plugins that I develop for Divi enable them to do those things. There are a few people in the space who are doing it. They kind of all started together, and a website called Elegant Marketplace was formed.
“They can sell their plugins and themes to other Divi users. Then there was a rift within that group because some people didn’t like the way that it was run and they had an issue with the way things were done. So a bunch of them went one way, and a bunch of people that I am interacting with went the other way.
“What happened was, one of the admins said to me there’s “this piece of functionality would be really cool to have for Divi theme.” And I went “Okay cool, let me check it out”. I played with it, and it was something that was a little bit outside of my experience. I started researching and then another developer release a plugin that did what was required. So I went “Well that’s fine, they have done their thing, I’m not going to worry about it”. Then somewhere along the line, through one of my clients, I was working on their website and they were using this plugin. I was a little bit curious so I went “Let’s see what this plugin does and how it works”. And in my personal opinion, the way they implemented and the way they did it was poor. I knew that my plan to do it was better and I knew in my heart if I didn’t do it I would be doing a disservice to the rest of the community by not building a competitive plugin, that did things better. So I built it!
“It released in the beginning of July, and I was getting fairly good sales from it. It was early August. The competitor announced their version 2 was coming out and the owner of Elegant Marketplace said to me “well, they are advertising their product, let’s advertise yours at the same time. A little bit of a competitive market space, and it happened and so they did an article on the website, and promoting my plugin, and the backlash that I received from these people was horrendous. An article was published on, not their site, but somebody who I know their collaborating with and it was titled “Copying Niche Plugins, Are you kidding me?”. And I was basically accused of being unethical.
“Because I had copied a plugin idea. Not copied the code, because I’d written my own code. Not taking their code and forked it and updated it. But my idea for the plugin was the same. And so I received massive backlash around doing that and I thought “You guys clearly don’t understand what the term monopoly means, and competition means. And you don’t understand the competition breeds innovation.”
“We live in a country with certain electrical companies and certain telephone companies, who have monopoly and that is bad for us, and we understand that if a competitor came in it would be better for everybody. That’s why I wrote that article, because if somebody else has an idea for a plugin, and my plugin is being developed, I’ve told people my plugin is being developed. Why should I have the right to tell that person to not release their plugin. If that were the case, WooCommerce wouldn’t exist.
“You know WooCommerce would’ve gone, “Oh well, WP Ecommerce is there, GeoShop is there, we won’t bother.” But they did, and did it better, and they showed that they could do it better than disrupted the market, and I said in that post you know, the whole point of developing in an open source space is that ideas can be developed and at the end of the day, if your plugin is better than mine, great! Then I know that everybody’s getting a great product. If it’s not? Then, okay! I’ll carry on with my plugin, but don’t feel like your ideas have to be stifled because I’ve done it. Because that’s their mentality, their mentality is that I’ve come up with the idea, I’ve developed the plugin. Nobody else is allowed to!
“I have a big problem with that. The best part is that their argument for why I shouldn’t be developing my plugin, is that their community size is so small. I’m thinking, someone actually said it in one of the groups, someone actually said are you saying that a community of 3000 people, is only allowed to have one plugin? No! It can have two, and mechanics will just work out what makes them unique and the clients will choose where to go, and that’s kind of the mentality they have. It’s small community, and when I say small, I’m talking about 350 000 people. They’re saying there can only be one person that develops one kind of plugin? I have a problem with that.”
5. On your blog you mention that you come from a time where there wasn’t such a thing as the ‘Internet’ How did you actually get into what you are doing?
Jonathan: “That’s a funny story. I matriculated in ‘95, and the internet came about in 94. So when I matriculated, we’re talking 144k modems, we’re talking HTML pages. I remember building an HTML site for someone and them saying to me wouldn’t it be cool if I could update the HTML for you but you wouldn’t have to update it every time I was working in some way of generating a script to read and text files, something like that. That kind of fell away because, I needed to earn money. And at the time I was working in retail and I kind of forgot about it.
“Then after five years of trying retail, I realized that this retail thing, wasn’t for me and I reminded myself that I had been fiddling around with computers since I was probably around 12. I studied a diploma in Programming. The idea was that I was going to be a game developer. That was my plan, I was going to make money making games. That didn’t happen. Then I was developing in Visual Fox Pro for Windows environment. Building administration systems for clients. A client came in and said “I’ve got this product that you developed for me, which took MP3 files and converted them but I have clients internationally, and I want them to be able to upload the file and then we can download it on our side, and FTP is too difficult, they just want a file upload button”. So we were sitting in the Team Meeting and the boss said, “Does anyone feel like learning PHP” And again, I went “I’ll do it”. Because I’m that kind of guy. That’s how I got into PHP originally. I’ve been doing it ever since. So it took me 11 years to get into WordPress, which is kind of scary.”
INTERVIEW AT WORDCAMP CAPE TOWN 2016 with @seagyn
Seagyn Davis is the Director of Digital Leap and has a passion for creating themes in WordPress. Seagyn is a digital marketer, WordPress developer and manages the local WordPress Johannesburg meetup which takes place every month.
At WordCamp Cape Town 2016, Seagyn gave an enlightening talk about continuous integration with WordPress. Amazed at the amount of knowledge and skill Seagyn has, we asked him to participate in an exclusive interview with CODECABIN_
1. Tell us about your involvement with organizes the WordPress meetups in JHB, Seagyn?
Seagyn: “So last year, being a WordPress company, we decided that we want to get involved in the community quite a lot more and just started looking at what is happening in JHB. To my surprise, there were WordPress JHB or Woo Commerce JHB meetups happening every month. So I decided to get involved and as it turned out last year, Stefan, the previous organizer, headed to amsterdam, and that’s how I came to the position I am in.
“I enjoying running a community of people that love WordPress and use WordPress. From end-users all the way to developers who create plugins or themes. It’s been great, it’s really been cool to meet people who love WordPress.
2. What peaked your interest in development for WordPress?
Seagyn: “So, in high school I did computer science and dabbled in websites and creating things. Since a young age I have always like making things. Going into more digital stuff, like starting with websites. When I went into the business world, I realized I wanted to make platforms. I started using Joomla, don’t know if I can even say that. A guy said to me “Don’t use Joomla, WordPress is the next big thing”, and so I was like “I dunno, it’s a blogging platform”. It’s like 1.5. So you basically just got two things, pages and posts.
“So he said “No, it’s the future” and so as I got to know it and WordPress got to improving. I really saw the value in it, and it became very easy to setup. Just from back then to now, it’s become this amazing platform. That’s kind of what drove me into development, being able to create platforms very easily and WordPress was the best tool.”
3. You also had a digital marketing background?
4. How did that transition between marketing and development?
“But the transition was fairly easy, especially from a user perspective. WordPress is so easy to use and start creating for.”
5. Where do you see the future of WordPress heading?
Seagyn: “That’s quite a big question. I think from where WordPress was, like being just a blog platform to being now a publishing platform where you can create different things from like learner management systems, into forums, and online shopping carts with WooCommerce. I think there’s been a great move towards being able to use it as a central platform and I think that’s probably where it lies in the future. Instead of it just being the website or an e-commerce store, it’s going to become a central place where people can use it as a data source.
“I think like, if you want to build an app, instead of trying to build some sort of system to store your data, just build a WordPress site and use the API. Make it quick and easy for people to make these central data sources multiple/multitude of things. So people know the dashboard they are going to create, they are going to create products, they are going to create posts and pages.
“You can connect it to an app. You can connect it to Facebook. You can connect it to a whole lot of different things that can pull all this data from a central place, which is really what it’s about.”
6. Do you have any words of wisdom, for anyone who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Seagyn: “Yeah, I think for a long time I was very like isolated, trying to learn things myself, thinking that the way I was doing it was right, but as I got involved community I realized, the guys that are in the community have a wealth of knowledge and with WordPress being such a community-driven piece of software, people are more than willing to like help you and give you direction. I think that would be one of the the best things, to actually be involved in this community, and speak to people.
But the also learning the fundamentals of development (PHP, JS, HTML), it will put you in a good place to become a good WordPress developer.”
INTERVIEW AT WORDCAMP CAPE TOWN 2016 with @jeffikus
Jeff is a Theme Wrangler at Automattic.com where he leads development on the Canvas WordPress theme and Flexslider jQuery slider library. He is a Software developer specializing in web technologies, particularly in CMS systems such as WordPress and Joomla, with a focus on PHP as his main lingo.
Jeff’s talk at WordCamp Cape Town 2016 regarded future innovation for the WordPress industry, as well as project and contributions soon to come. Needless to say, our interest was captured from the word go and by the end of his lightning talk, we could barely contain our excitement!
We felt honoured for the opportunity to interview Jeff.
1. Tell us about being the lead developer for the Canvas project, as well as the FlexSlider project, Jeff?
Jeff: “So yeah, I’m a theme wrangler at Automattic. I joined Automattic as part of the WooThemes Acquisition. I’d been at WooThemes for about 6 years prior to that. And part of my role at WooThemes, originally, was to work on the Woo Framework, and that just evolved into themes and then plugins and then I made the transition back to themes and to FlexSlider. So yeah, Canvas is the flagship theme for everything that’s not a store. FlexSlider is used in a bunch of themes and plugins.”
2. What sparked your interest in WordPress development?
Jeff: “Yeah so, prior to joining WooThemes, I studied at the university of Cape Town. I studied development, and I did Mostly “.NET” frameworks. So when I got my first job, I joined a web application agency.
“So my job there was PHP development and the first thing I did there, I was told to work the company blog, and the company was WordPress back then. I think WordPress multisite was still in beta. So it was a super early version of WordPress.
“I was working on very rough sites that we still had a custom CMS for. But I immediately saw “This is the future” . Then I did a study at the time, comparing Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress, and I said “We can’t use this now, but in a year we can use it”.
“Within a year, we started a WordPress division, doing client sites and I loved it.”
3. You’re pretty integrated with WordPress itself, you’re quite a big part of it. Where do you see yourself heading in the future?
4. Would you say there are any future programming languages we should be developing for WordPress?
Jeff: “It depends what for, I mean the rise of Angular and React will be interesting. Angular 2 is kind of…, undecided. A lot of people are raving about the performance benefits, but a lot of people are also saying it’s totally different to Angular 1, so should we pursue this? So that community is kind of ‘stalled’. So it will be interesting to see what happens there.
“Also, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens with hybrid-mobile development because a lot of those guys use either Angular or React. I think those are the ones to take a look at. There’s other ones like Ember, and other languages like “.NET” and even Microsoft. I mean Visual Studio code, the free editor, that’s kind of used by most hybrid mobile development. Not using any of Microsoft’s languages.”
“It’s also used by a lot of Node developers.”
5. You recently took a break from social media. What was the thought process behind that?
Jeff: “Just too much information. So at my job, all of our information goes through Slack. And through WordPress blogs (There’s a theme called ‘P2’). So that’s how we communicate, because my team is distributed. My team’s North America, Europe and Australia and then myself here. So it’s quite widely distributed. So to keep track of each other we have Slack messages, P2’s, and absorbing just your team’s information and Slack, and Automattic as a whole, it’s a lot to process during the day.
“So having that, plus my personal social media and the Whatsapp’s, SMS’s, and phone calls. It’s just too much. And I want to focus on spending time with my daughter and my wife. Doing real life. I just had enough. So, it was a good break. I think now I can do it in more bite-sized chunks. Even Facebook, I just go in and see what my friends are doing. “You’re still alive”. I think the most Facebook interaction I do now is through WordPress, where I publish a post and then it publicizes it.
“It’s good to take a break, I highly recommend it.”
6. Do you have any word of wisdom/encouragement for people who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Jeff: “Yeah, I’d say just back yourself up. When I applied at WooThemes, I originally saw the job posting and I wasn’t going to apply. I thought, “No, that’s not something I can do” and then I thought about it, and they actually had someone in mind that they were going to give the job to. Then I applied and I think Mark saw my CV, arranged an interview, offered me the job on the spot. And it happened from there. So, definitely back yourself up!
“Even if you think you can’t do it. Believe that you have the ability to learn to do it. That’s the main thing. Just try it! See what happens.”
INTERVIEW AT WORDCAMP CAPE TOWN 2016 with @hlashbrooke
Our visit to South Africa’s Mother City was both an exciting and educational experience! Endeavoring to make the most of our time, we interviewed one the most brilliant minds at WordPress Cape Town 2016. Hugh Lashbrooke, Community Sentinel at Automattic.
Hugh has been working with WordPress for a good few years now and has totally fallen in love with it. At Automattic he works on the WordPress community team where he assists and supports WordPress. Hugh is a plugin developer who is thoroughly passionate about WordPress, the community and all that it stands for. He works at WooThemes and is heavily involved in the Cape Town WordPress community. At WooThemes, Hugh takes care of the team’s relationship with the WordPress community.
At WordCamp Cape Town 2016, Hugh gave a talk about democratizing the WordPress community and inspired many to become more involved with WordPress. Hugh illustrated how powerful and influential the WordPress community has become and invited individuals to do their part in contributing their much needed skills and involvement to WordPress.
1. Tell us about yourself Hugh?
Hugh: “I’m Hugh, I live in Cape Town. I work at Automattic on the WordPress community team, which means that myself and my teammates take care of and look after the WordPress community around the world. We organize meetups like this. We make sure that organizers have the tools they need to get the job done; so there’s a development side to it. We make sure that things are going well for them and look after them. It’s cool, I love it.”
2. What sparked your passion for WordPress?
Hugh: “Well, weirdly enough, I started with development stuff when I was in high school, building websites for my friend’s bands. Then I got into a development job at some point building PHP and I actually didn’t like the idea of any CMS or WordPress anything. WordPress was at about version 2.8 back then (or 2.7). Then suddenly WordPress 3 came out with custom post types and I was like, “that’s quite powerful, let’s try using it”. I just kind of fell in love with how easy it was to use and extend and to build, and use WordPress beyond a blog, basically.
It opened up this huge world of possibilities in my head, and I fell in love with the platform. As I started working with the platform more, I started getting involved in the project and the people, the community. I just love the community and the people in it. I love the open source mentality.”
3. When you embarked on your journey with WordPress, did you think you would be where you are today?
Hugh: “Not really. Like I said, I wasn’t even that keen on WordPress itself, or any CMS. Now I’m helping build the WordPress Project, and I didn’t expect it, no.”
4. Where do you see the future of WordPress heading?
Hugh: “Well, like I said, it’s far beyond a blogging platform, even though some people still think that. They obviously haven’t used it. It’s moving much more towards an app platform. People are building more than just business websites or a nice e-commerce store. We actually have a talk today about someone using WordPress and turning a WordPress site into a mobile app. But even beyond that, with the rest API becoming part of core, maybe going into core in 4.7, with the current release cycle. Or soon after that. It extends WordPress, enables WordPress to be so much more, in terms of functionality, how you can interact with it and what you can do.
I’m very excited to see where that goes.”
5. What are your thoughts on the importance of sharing knowledge?
Hugh: “I think sharing knowledge is important. Like I said, I like the open source mentality of the WordPress community. Similar to how WordPress is an open source project in terms of code, it’s also open source in terms of skills and knowledge. People are always happy to share what they know. That’s so important. Without that, we wouldn’t have something like WordCamp work so well. I think this year, I can’t remember the stats, but I think there’s about 160 WordCamps around the world this year. That’s more than we’ve had in previous years and it’s growing. So the fact that, that is even happening means people understand that they need to share knowledge. I mean if you’re not going to do that, what’s the point? If you don’t share with other people, how can they share with you? It’s part of growing together.”
6. Do you have a motto or a few words of wisdom that you could share with us?
Hugh: “A motto? No, not really. Well, I say not really, but actually not at all. I always struggle with questions like that because there’s so many things I believe to be important. Particularly when it comes to the WordPress world, open source, and giving back. But I think the number one thing in a world like this, in the WordPress community, is, “don’t be selfish”. Not just with sharing knowledge, with sharing skills, you should share with each other.”
“The WordPress world only works and goes forward like it does, because people help each other. If you are a WordPress developer and you struggle with anything, you google it quick. You will find a solution online. Almost immediately, you’ll definitely find some kind of solution for even the most obscure issue and that’s because someone’s posted something online to help someone else for free. No way they are getting money out of it and that’s pretty meaningful; that people would do that so often to help so many people. So don’t be selfish with knowledge.
“I’ve written a blog post two years ago. There’s one post in particular that I wrote and I still get people saying, “ah, this has helped me so much”. And it was a quick post that took me five minutes. So yeah, don’t be afraid to share your stuff and don’t be selfish with what you have.”