Your code is not the end of the story

This is a quick post to remind me of something important, something that maybe is not only relevant to WordPress, but surely is magnified in that context.

Before starting my own gig, I worked for a software company. Sure, we could pick up data from external sources, but, apart from these sporadic integrations, the whole show started and ended with things that we built, things that, supposedly, we knew 100%.

When working, developing, designing with WordPress your code is never the end of the story. Whether it’s a plugin or a theme, your code will always run alongside other codes, written by other people, with various skills degrees; people you will most likely not know.

If you’re like me, you might reject this idea, even for a little while: running other people’s code can expose yours to issues, and generally impact the end product you’ve so carefully created, possibly making look bad, without you having done nothing really wrong.

Recently, we’ve fixed a couple of compatibility issues with a product we’re publishing. One of those issues, specifically, got me thinking: it was something that I never thought could be a possibility, yet it took only a couple of minutes to adapt what we wrote to that unforeseen scenario.

I’m not saying that we must expect the unexpected, rather than you need to embrace this heterogeneity as a fact, and work for it, not against it.

As with all diversities, it’ll maybe take some time to accept it, but the reward, not necessarily for you, but for the people that are going to use your product, is too big to be missed.

On sharing knowledge

A few days ago I was thinking about how I started doing what I do for a living. I think everyone has a memory of a moment that started it all.

For me it was when I first inspected a web page to discover what was hidden behind the words “page source“. I have flashes of that memory: I remember that the page I was looking at was grey, with Times New Roman text, and the classic default blue links.

I distinctly remember though the sense of wonder that I had after opening said page in the default text editor of my operative system, changing a couple of characters, saving and hitting refresh in my browser.

It was the year 1999, or something like it, and I was officially in love.

I also distinctly remember the first time I uploaded a simple HTML document to a free hosting space I had back then.

It was a time when you had to wait a few minutes before actually be connected to the Internet, and those minutes were filled with this weird sound.

The passion that I have for what I do today started because I was able, with a little initiative on my part, to try to alter something that had been written by someone else, just for the sake of seeing what would happen.

My initiative isn’t the end of the story, but merely its beginning.

I was able to change those characters in that grey looking hypertext document because HTML is an open system, and its source can be seen and analyzed by anyone.

This is exactly why WordPress renews for me that sense of wonder almost on a daily basis, and a praise should go to WordPress itself, having created a friendly community that carries on the liberties proclaimed by the GPL.

Problems and solutions aren’t solely yours, or the plugin author’s, but they’re everybody’s territory, and everyone has the possibility to add their own little brick to the wall, actively contributing to something greater.

The other day, I was thinking that we shouldn’t take this for granted. Sadly, many companies out there still defy the logic depicted above.

Some say that Open Source is a true cultural shift, even the cultural shift of our time. What I say from my late-to-the-party perspective, is that ultimately you get what you give.

I’m starting to realize now that there’s much more to get if you share your knowledge with others.