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Looking back at my contributions

After a stormy year with all kinds of things happening around and outside WordPress, it’s a great moment to reflect on all the contributions I have done to WordPress. I like to highlight all the things I have accomplished during my time contributing back to WordPress and related projects. I have grown as a person and as a developer. And more importantly I have made some really good friends. In the last couple of days I have spoken with many of them at WordCamp US and I can thank some of them enough for their support during the years.

The start

Lot’s of things have happened after my first prop got into WordPress. I was already a user of WordPress, but I never did something really out of the box. This all started with trying out some new things. It was during WordPress 3.0, hence enough cool things to play with, like Custom Post Types. Funny enough the first thing I wanted to contribute to was the rewrite part of Custom post Types. One of the last parts you want to start with. After that I found a new ticket to work on and with the help of Ryan I got my first prop on May 25th 2010 for ticket 14869.

After that it took a while to get more code in WordPress. At that time I got my first and second job, but I was more searching what kind of job I really wanted. After both tries, I ended up being a freelancer with a main focus on WordPress. After more than a year after my first props, I finally got my second props in WordPress 3.3. In that release I got even more then just one. Both cases were simple fixes and it didn’t cost me that much time. Due to a big client project, I sadly wasn’t able to spent much time to this release.

The game changer

WordPress 3.4 for me was a game changer. Here you could join a focused team, work on tackling issues and help out with fixing and adding things to the XML-RPC. Together with Peter Westwood and Max Cutler we were able to do some great improvements. Like adding CRUD for Post/Pages/CPTs to the WordPress API, adding featured image support and fixing issues with dates. We also started working on adding lots of unit tests and after a few patched for that I even got commit access to the unit tests. At that point they were in a separate repository. I was still able to contribute back to other parts of WordPress. In total I had done 32 props/commits for this release. Due to all my efforts I became a recent rockstar for this release.

Influenced WordPress for all users

With WordPress 3.5 I was able to do something great for all WordPress users, which means fixing the image manipulation code that was literally everywhere. Together with Mike Schroder I lead this feature. It has two goals, the first one was to simplify the code base and the second one was to add Imagick support. In the end, who doesn’t want better looking images. It was a huge project, therefore we decided to use GitHub for it. Due to many file changes, patches didn’t really work for us.

It all started at the contributor day in San Francisco where we formed this team. I started out with finding and reading all about the core and the first commit was done at August 22, 2012. I worked out some of the things during the upcoming week and kept in touch with Mike, while doing so. The week after, when most of the code was at one place, Mike started helping out too. That day we did a lot of work together and we had a great start in our collaboration. While I was still looking at the WordPress code, Mike worked on Imagick support. With out weekly Skype calls, we synced our progresses and reported back in the dev chat. With help from people like Nacin, Japh, Kurt and Ryan the end result was great. The first big patch got committed on October 1st, 2012.

This whole project was a fun experience since we both hadn’t worked with these things yet and we had to learn things very quickly. Also, compiling all kinds of combinations of Imagemagick and Imagick was time consuming. This in combination with having a full time client that was 2 hours away from my place meant a really busy few months dealing with all kinds of things. The end result was amazing and we had a lot of positive feedback. In the end we only had one bug caused by our work and till this day I still blame myself for this one. I had seen the code but didn’t realise that the image editor in WordPress was using it.

I was also still helping out with fixing things around the XML-RPC, like adding revisions and adding more tests. In the end I had 29 props/commits done for this release, which is less then 3.4, but this is caused by the work I had done on GitHub and committed in only 1 commit. So in the end I wrote a lot more code this release.

The time after 3.5

Not much exiting work, which I was part of, but still a nice list of props with some valuable contributions. I mainly focussed on XML-RPC or media related tickets with a few exceptions here and there, when I noticed some strange quirks that needed to be fixed.

3.6: 11 (including 3.5.1)
3.7: 2
3.8: 7
3.9: 1
4.0: 3
4.1: 5
4.2: 2
4.3: 1
4.4: 6

A total of 102 props/commits. Which is really amazing, if you notice that pretty much all of them were made in my own spare time.

GlotPress

After WordPress 3.5 I switched my focus a bit. I started to look to for ways in which I can help the groups that didn’t receive the attention they should have gotten. I ended up looking at GlotPress and wanted to help out there. Basically, I was directly the lead of the project since no one was working on it. I have made 233 commits (with a few props) in total. They now kind of kicked me out since they are focusing to have GlotPress as a WordPress plugin. Something I strongly disagree with, hence we parted ways.

My contributions to GlotPress all started with my first simple fix at March 11th, 2013. I was starting to learn GlotPress and didn’t want to make a big mistake directly after I received commit access. I also started to look over the tickets to get a general picture of the project. With lots of old tickets this was a fun experience. Bit by bit I was able to address tickets and specially tickets that got patches. This all resulted in haveing a nice amount of contributors last year. It was a shame that I can’t say that this year was the same.

If I look back to the two years I was leading this project, I can say that a lot of process has been made. A lot of under the hood changes got made, like fixing weird caching bugs, ability to break install by upgrading with get parameters, improving the code, etc. But also new features for translators to use, like Profiles, Glossaries, Locale pages. GlotPress even got a bit easier to install.

In the end it’s a shame that the road I had in mind didn’t become reality. With some of the UI changes made and features plans, GlotPress could have become something really great in 2016. I’m sure that other big open source projects would have wanted to use it too.

Conclusion

When writing this, I start wondering how much time I spent on WordPress and GlotPress and I can only guess that on both projects I have spent 1000+ hours of my own leisure time into it. As many people say that contributing is more than code alone. That has been pretty much the case for WordPress and especially GlotPress. Reading e-mails and the code itself is time consuming.

The future of me contributing back is tricky. Lot’s of things happened this year and time will tell if and how this will be solved. One thing I can say, is that no matter what I would not have done it differently. The experience was amazing and I had the chance to work with some really great people.

 

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