David and I have an intertwined past as it relates to WordPress. While I was getting my feet wet writing about the project, David already had a few years of experience writing about WordPress on BloggingPro. In fact, he has over 130 archived pages dedicated to his name on BloggingPro. Once I started writing about WordPress on WPTavern, David and I would cross each others paths more often until he became my co-host for WordPress Weekly between episodes 41 – 75. He now publishes his ramblings on Peralty.com. Let’s find out what he’s been up to since those days in 2009.
Long time no talk. Tell me and the audience who you are what it is you’ve been up to lately?
My name is David Peralty, and I’m a recovering blogaholic… The basic summary of who I am, that’s relevant here, is that I have been using WordPress since 0.72, was a full-time blogger for five years and created a lot of content about WordPress. Some of you might remember me from the WordPress Podcast or WordPress Weekly.
Lately, I have been working for Rocketgenius, doing this and that for their Gravity Forms project. I’m currently focused on helping with some basic marketing, tech support and working on a documentation refresh that will also eventually include screencasts.
Why did you join the WPTavern forum way back in 2009?
I had already started losing touch with the WordPress community back in 2009. Things were changing in my career that stopped me from having the time to research and keep up to date with what was happening and who the key players were, and I really disliked that change.
I’ve always been very passionate about WordPress, and when I started reading the content on WPTavern, I was excited. Here was someone who didn’t have an agenda. You weren’t trying to promote your own company, or be sensational just to build traffic. The forums quickly became a place where the “best of the best” congregated, and while I never really felt like part of that group, I watched everything happening.
How did the WPTavern community help you progress with WordPress in the past 4 years?
It kept me in the loop. It gave me a place that I knew I could come back to. I recognized a lot of names, and felt like it was a group of people who might just remember some of the contributions I made to the WordPress world. I didn’t realize it until I was out of the loop how much I would miss the interactions and community.
It wasn’t long after I joined that I started working for the government and then a private company, both of which were using WordPress, and so having knowledge of powerful plugins and upcoming developments kept me seeming fresh and useful to those organizations.
When co-hosting WordPress Weekly, you couldn’t stop reading the ad copy for GravityForms. Tell us the story of how you became a RocketGenius employee.
In January of 2012, I went to Cuba with my roommate and his friends. The trip was wonderful, and it wasn’t too expensive. Upon returning to work, I was brought into a meeting with the company I was working for. They let me know that they had made some business mistakes and that they were going to have to cut their staff in half if they were to survive. I was brought on board a year before that to help them with IT, web development and online marketing, but by the time of the meeting, I had optimized all three. For a staff of 30, I was barely kept busy. With a staff of 15, I was no longer needed. Initially, they told me that I had until the fall of 2012 to find a new job, but two weeks later, I was told that April would be my last month.
Immediately, I was sent into a panic. I e-mailed some people who I knew had strong business connections, as well as some people who ran businesses. I asked if any of them knew of anyone looking to hire. One of those people who I e-mailed was Carl Hancock of Rocketgenius.
He asked me to send him my résumé and that he’d pass it around. I had met Carl at WordCamp Chicago 2009 where I got to demo Gravity Forms for the first time. Since that point, I had become one of their biggest fans, as you know. I wrote about it and mentioned it anywhere I could because I saw Gravity Forms as the first application that was connected to WordPress.
Carl contacted me back and offered me a job. They weren’t really looking to hire anyone, but they felt a connection to me, and my skills were enough that I could be useful to their organization. I’ve been with them for a little over a year now, and I’m even more of a fan of their product than I was before. Mostly because in working on the support side of things for the majority of the last year, I’ve learned more about how flexible and powerful it can be. I also have to say that support is rough.
You’ve been writing about WordPress far longer than I have. Taking a moment to reflect, what are some of your general observations of the project?
The race to supporting the least tech savvy user has always been a bit of a complaint of mine. I liked that it required some technical acumen to install, update and manage. I miss the days where I had to find ways to update hundreds of blogs using a bash script and reading through the logs it generated.
But the project never would have been as successful under my leadership, and so I’m glad that it didn’t fall on me. I think that WordPress’ legacy code is currently its biggest potential downfall, and I hope they take the advice of some people smarter than I and look at releasing two branches for a year or two, one that supports legacy code and one that is a more modern rewrite. I know Matt himself would love to be involved in that. Build an application framework instead of trying to extend blogging software that probably still has some backwards compatible code from ten years ago hidden in it.
Like other pieces of software before them, the “world” is now theirs to lose. Some small upstart could become the new popular publishing system in the next 2-5 years if WordPress doesn’t continue to evolve to meet the needs of consumers, designers and developers.
Back in the WordPress Weekly days, you were my cynical half. Has that changed at all?
To be honest, I played it up a bit for the audience. Being the devil’s advocate meant that we could discuss things in more detail, and try to see things from all sides. I’ll admit that I still don’t like every move the project makes, and I have my more cynical moments, but I don’t think there are many people who are as big of a fan of WordPress as I am and I’m grateful to everyone that has ever submitted a line of code, or used the software. If WordPress had failed, my career would have been and would currently be, entirely different.
Will you be attending any WordCamps in the near future?
I would like to. I am thinking of attending WordCamp Toronto this October. Beyond that, I’ll probably start looking at the mid 2014 schedule for the eastern seaboard of the U.S. as it starts coming out. Ideally, next year I’ll try to attend two or three, but I’m getting married in April 2014, and I want to dedicate my financial resources towards making that a nice event.
Is there anything you’d like to say to the general WordPress Community?
The WordPress community is so vast, and there are so many spectacular people in it, but please try to find and remember the people who helped build the software and community it is today. My biggest hope, since falling into the background, has been to have mattered. That my contribution had an effect.
Oh, and can someone explain to me why there still isn’t an interface for Custom Post Types as a core element in WordPress? Custom Post Types and Taxonomies are still so confusing to me. I don’t know why. I sometimes feel like I’m an old man and just can’t wrap my brain around these new fangled features.