Matty Cohen – WordPress Developer

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WordPress is an open-source project which started out seven years ago as a blogging platform and has since grown in to a framework which can be used for blogs, content management system, social networking sites and so much more. The developers we will feature in this series are all contributors to the WordPress community and are all based in Africa.

To give you an idea of just how much WordPress is being used out there, currently there are about 10000+ plug-ins available for users to download, and these plug-ins have been downloaded over 100 million times so far. The latest version of WordPress (version 3.0) was downloaded just over one million times within the first week of its release.

If any of you are thinking of getting in to WordPress development or looking to have custom WordPress development done for you, weโ€™ll be catching up with some new as well as experienced WordPress developers, each Wednesday to give you insights on working with WordPress as we recognise the contributions each of these developers have made to the WordPress communityโ€ฆ

This week, I managed to catch up with Matty Cohen (twitter), a WordPress developer from Cape Town.

Matty blogs about WordPress, heโ€™s a major WordPress enthusiast, a web developer, an avid music lover and musician playing the guitar since he was eleven years old.

He took an interest in web development during his years at high school and branched in to WordPress development in late 2008. Besides using PHP, he mainly uses front-end scripting languages such as XHTML, CSS, Javascript and then MySQL for database interactions and is keen to learn Python.

Matty codes bespoke WordPress projects daily i.e. themes and plug-ins but has only just started releasing plugins to the WordPress repository. The plug-ins are features heโ€™s found to be useful in projects. His first plugin released is called WP Section Index plug-in which creates an automated table of contents for the current page or blog post the user is viewing.

Below are the personal / advice type interview questions I asked him:

Q: What is your most satisfying and rewarding experience while working as a WordPress developer?

A: The most rewarding part, for me, is the feeling after hours of coding, to see the finished product, polished and working as was intended.

Q: What drives your ideas and what inspires you most? Feel free to even mention your most productive working environment e.g. like working on the beach, or coffee shop, or locked up in a black box with headphones on

A: Inspiration, for me, comes in a range of different forms. Getting tasks done drives my output greatly, as well as a pleasant working environment and an exciting project.

Best working environment: a misty Sunday morning at around 7am. Yep, Sunday. Morning. Early.

Q: How much sleep do you honestly get?

A: I get a full night’s sleep. Definitely does wonders for the concentration span.

Q: What advice would you give (if any) to someone looking to enter the world of WordPress development?

A: Code often. The more you code, the more you will learn. You’ll discover new methods, conceive new ideas and learn.

In addition to practice, when coding for a platform such as WordPress, it is important to code in line with the best practices guide set out by the platform developers, as well as use the methodologies provided for plugin and theme developers to work with. The WordPress set of APIs are incredibly useful and make developing for WordPress a dream.

Read and research. The WordPress Codex, as well as many other community-driven websites and blogs, have a wealth of information on the best practices for coding with WordPress. Adopting these and staying up to date with the latest core developments will ensure that your plugin is stable with the latest version of WordPress, which in turn keeps your users happy.

Approach the project from an ideals point of view. Ascertain what exactly it is you aim to achieve with your project and then, without any boundaries (other than the scope you’ve just set out for your project) make the project happen, rather than letting the platform dictate what it is that you can and cannot do. If you find the appropriate approach to your WordPress project, virtually anything is possible.

And last, but not least, simplify. Keep it simple. Make sure your functionality is clearly set out and has a clear end point.

Q: If WP could be written in any other language, which would you choose and why?

(WordPress is written in PHP for those who donโ€™t know)

A: I don’t feel that I would change the language, actually. PHP’s open environment, as well as it’s accessibility and relatively steady learning curve (compared to other languages) make it an un-intimidating language with which to learn programming skills. When the number of PHP developers increases globally, so does the global code base and knowledge of the language, which, in turn, can only aid the WordPress system and its development.

Next week Wednesday, weโ€™ll catch up with a WordPress developer originally from Durban and based in Cape Townโ€ฆbe sure to check back.

If you are a WordPress developer who would like to be featured in this series, please contact @anastacia on Twitter or simply post a comment below.

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