Speakers Taylor, Eric, and Justin Answer Some Questions

Continuing our get-to-know-the-speakers-a-bit series (previous incarnations are found here and here), today we hear from Taylor Dewey, Eric Mann, and Justin Sainton:

Taylor Dewey

Taylor DeweyWhat’s your current relationship with WordPress?
It’s pretty chill. We’re profesional colleagues and even though we work together 40 hours a week, we’ll still get together on the weekends and talk shop over a good microbrew.

What’s the neatest thing you’ve seen done with WordPress?
I think that the community working on core does some of the coolest things with WordPress. While that seems like I side-stepped the question, the power of custom post types, the proliferation of featured images (along with other optional theme functions), and the mockups in trac for the upcoming media editor are what make it possible to keep doing neat things in WordPress.

Have you ever made a WordPress mistake that we could all learn from?
When I started making websites, I made them by myself, in a bubble. Only recently have I started getting frequent code and design review from my colleagues. The difference this makes is astounding. I’ve learned a ton and my code and design has dramatically improved.

What are *you* hoping to get from WordCamp Portland 2012?
Aside from making sure my first WordCamp presentation goes well, I convinced my sister — a profesional journalist — to attend, so I’m excited to see her there. One of WordPress’ strengths is its community; I’m proud to be introducing someone to it.

Eric Mann

Eric MannWhat’s your current relationship with WordPress?
I use WordPress for my own websites and develop projects for various clients in both the private and public sector. Since I don’t develop with PHP for a living, writing code (plugins and patches) for WordPress helps me keep my skills fresh and makes me a better developer with multiple languages.

What’s the neatest thing you’ve seen done with WordPress?
I’ve seen so much amazing work it’s really hard to settle on just one. But I’ve seen amazing, interactive single-page websites built on WordPress that don’t require any code knowledge to maintain. Building a stellar site and allowing the end users to just write rather than hack PHP/HTML is fantastic!

Have you ever made a WordPress mistake that we could all learn from?
Once upon a time, I was really concerned with proactively dealing with bugs for my users. To try to gather statistics, I built a small XML-RPC system into each of my plugins and had them phone home back to my server. This let me gather accurate statistics on plugin versions, WordPress versions, PHP versions, etc. It also let my plugins contact me immediately when something broke so I could fix it and email the site owner once things were back up. On the one hand, it was an awesome diagnostic tool for me. On the other hand, it was a huge security hole in all of my systems … and it was eventually exploited by someone who happened to browse my source.

I’ve long since ripped out all of the code, but I learned a huge lesson about data privacy, data security, and user trust in the process.

What are *you* hoping to get from WordCamp Portland 2012?
Networking. I used to come to WordCamps looking for incredible new code and great new ideas, but I’ve realized those things come out all through the year – not just at WordCamp. While I’m sure there will be a lot of groundbreaking work presented (or just going on during the dev/hack day), I’m coming more to meet the people doing the work and to make new friends.

Justin Sainton

Justin SaintonWhat’s your current relationship with WordPress?
I’ve been using WordPress as a CMS for clients since early in 2007. Ever since then, I’ve pretty much only worked with WordPress – there’s nothing else I’ve encountered quite like it. I made my first core contribution in the 3.3 cycle and I’ve been hooked ever since. The relationship could and should be aptly described as an impassioned love affair.

What’s the neatest thing you’ve seen done with WordPress?
Lots of interesting stuff out there these days! I always see something creative coming from Brad Williams and their crew, whether it is iPhone apps or Facebook apps or Zombies built with WordPress – GameFroot from Dan Milward and the Instinct guys down in New Zealand is off the charts. And I think the Group Deals plugin we put together is pretty spiffy. Also incredibly impressed with Scott Taylor’s work at eMusic. Not to mention some of the VIP work from the guys at 10up. Just so, so much out there that is super neat.

Have you ever made a WordPress mistake that we could all learn from?
Probably on a daily basis 😉 I think I share in most developer’s angst when I look at code I’ve written that is even as recent as 6-12 months old. Very early on (Probably 2007 or 2008) – I’d build themes for clients by simply replacing the contents of the themes/default folder. Don’t do that. Bad idea. I won’t beat the child theming/upgrade path horse. But seriously, don’t do that. Also, use esc_url_raw() when using URIs with the WP HTTP API. Lots of mistakes, I’ll send an alphabetical list.

What are *you* hoping to get from WordCamp Portland 2012?
Honestly? I just want to see what my local scene is like. I’ve spoken at nine or ten WordCamps, all around the world, in the past couple years – but this is my first time in Portland. And I live an hour away. That’s totally unacceptable. Best I can tell from Twitter, we have probably the best local WordPress scene in the entire world (fighting words!), so I’m really, really stoked to get to meet some of the other brilliant people from my own backyard.