Pippin Williamson, founder of Easy Digital Downloads, looks back on three years of building an e-Commerce product for WordPress. Williamson describes the last three years as containing some of the highest and lowest points of his life.
Williamson acknowledged that without his dedicated team, the product wouldn’t be anywhere close to what it is today. For example, when EDD was first released, it contained 8,085 lines of PHP. Today, EDD has 64,195 lines of PHP, which is nearly an 800% increase.
He describes what it was like to discover the first severe security vulnerability in EDD that didn’t require special knowledge to exploit:
On Valentine’s day, 2013, I was notified of a critical security flaw in Easy Digital Downloads that made it possible for someone to gain full admin access to EDD sites that were running a specific configuration of settings in the plugin. Exploiting the flaw was trivial and required no special knowledge of typical exploit methods. With the click of a button, any unauthenticated visitor could become a full admin.
Realizing that flaw was out in the wild was terrifying, and I hated myself for allowing it to happen. Suddenly I was faced with the very real possibility of being the person responsible for the compromise of a large number of sites. To say that I slept poorly that night would be a vast understatement.
Besides the stats, growth, and personal experiences, the thing I find most impressive is the last part of the article where Williamson discusses the impact EDD has had on the lives of those who work on it.
Of all reasons to be happy about earning more, the one I like the most is the excellent set of opportunities that open up. I’m not talking about expensive cars, luxury vacations, fancy houses or anything of that nature. No, I’m referring to the opportunities to change peoples lives.
He shares the personal stories of Dan Griffiths, Chris Christoff, Sean Davis and others who are able to make a comfortable living thanks to the success of EDD.
Griffiths was homeless for five years before he started contributing to EDD. After creating a few successful extensions for the marketplace, he found himself in a welcoming community that valued his ideas and contributions. Through his involvement with EDD, he was able to move off the streets, become an active contributor to the project, and regularly attend WordCamps.
I asked Williamson how long it took to come up with the words to describe the impact his product is having on people’s lives, he responded, “It took all day.” If I were in his position, I too would likely have a difficult time putting the impact into words.
All too often, I think we focus so much on the product that we forget about the impact it has on people’s lives. For Williamson and his team at EDD, the impact is well documented and celebrated.