In this edition of our WordPress Heavy Hitters series we are proud to feature Brad Williams. In addition to his uber awesome WordPress skills and list of impressive clients, he also has formed a team that is rock solid. We are honored to call Brad a friend and share some of his story with you.
Tag line: There are 10 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who don’t
Knock Outs: WebDevStudios.com, Co-Author of “Professional WordPress Design and Development” and “Professional WordPress Plugin Development” (coming soon), Co-Host of the SitePoint Podcast, founder of Pluginize.com
Power Move: Kill foot (Marine Corps, YUUUUT!)
You work with numerous open source software packages. Which one is your favorite and why?
WordPress of course! When WDS first started we worked with numerous open source platforms including Drupal, Joomla!, Magento, and others. We’ve since narrowed our focus and do about 99% of our work in WordPress. It really came down to what our clients found easiest to use, and what we found the best to develop in, and WordPress was the perfect fit.
How did you start working with WordPress?
My first experience with WordPress was setting up my blog, strangework.com, back in 2006. I’ve been programming for as long as I can remember so of course my first instinct was to dive into the code and learn it inside and out, so that’s what I did! At the time I was strictly a Microsoft technology developer specializing in ASP.NET and classic ASP with SQL Server, so PHP and MySQL were new territory for me. I’ve always loved classic ASP, which is a scripting language just like PHP, so it was a natural fit. I was hooked and now work almost exclusively in PHP and MySQL.
You speak at many WordCamps. What is your favorite topic to speak on?
I actually really enjoy speaking on topics that I haven’t spoke on before. There’s no better way to learn a new topic inside and out than to speak on it! WordPress Security is probably what I’m best known for, but actually my custom post types and taxonomies presentation from WordCamp Raleigh is my most viewed presentation on Slideshare.net (http://slideshare.net/williamsba).
What are the 3 must do’s for WordPress security?
1. Use a solid host. You get what you pay for so don’t get mad if you are hacked paying $5/month for hosting
2. Don’t use the admin username. Most dictionary attacks that try to guess your password assume a username of admin exists. If admin does exist, they’ve just won half the battle
3. Use secure passwords. This is the most obvious, and probably the most overlooked, security tip there is. Always use a very secure password, including numbers and special characters, to prevent dictionary attacks
Which WordCamp has been your most memorable?
I would have to say WordCamp Philly, since I was one of the organizers. Attending a WordCamp and organizing a WordCamp are two VERY different experiences. I was lucky enough to work with two awesome co-organizers, and together we put together an amazing event!
As an attendee I would have to say WordCamp Raleigh. I was on stage for about 5 hours during that event for various presentations, panels, and the live SitePoint podcast. The event was organized by an amazing group of people and I had a really great time.
How did you get involved with SitePoint’s podcast?
I’ve been a member of the SitePoint forums since 2000, over 10 years now (insane!). I learned a good majority of my programming skills in those forums. During that time I was promoted to Moderator, and eventually Advisor, of the SitePoint forums. I eventually raised the topic of starting a SitePoint podcast and the rest is history. In fact we just won Podcast of the Year from the .Net Magazine awards!
Please explain your writing process and who your book will help.
My writing process is probably not the most traditional. I typically fire up some 90s gangsta rap and write away! There’s something about old school rap that gets my writing juices flowing. The WordPress books I’ve written are a part of the WROX programmer to programmer series. These books are written by developers for developers. They are not for beginning users in WordPress, but rather people looking to take the next step in learning how to develop amazing websites and plugins in WordPress. Honestly there is something for everyone, from the beginning developer to the seasoned professional, we cover it all!
With the new book, Professional WordPress Plugin Development, we brought in the heavy hitters. Ozh Richard and Justin Tadlock are two of the most recognized WordPress developers and tutorial writers out there. Their knowledge is unmatched and the experience and knowledge they bring to the book is simply amazing. We’re covering topics that have never been in print before, everything from custom post types and taxonomies, to users and roles, working with cron and scheduling events, and even the rewrite API. We even have an entire chapter dedicated to the Multisite feature in WordPress. All in all this book will be the definitive resource for WordPress plugin development for many years to comes!
How has being a Marine helped you in your work life?
When I tell people I was a programmer in the Marine Corps for 4 years, they usually look at me in disbelief. No one assumes the Marine Corps needs programmers, but they do and I was one of them. My favorite resume line is that I’ve programmed websites in a gas mask during a war time environment while missiles were being fired at us. When you can learn to handle stress like that and keep plugging away at your job the typical day-to-day annoyances seem much less severe haha
What do you attribute to your products/services massive success?
I think a good majority of our success comes from being a part of the WordPress community. I love to speak at events, and my co-workers are also speaking at events, so being out there in front of people helps to show we not only can build amazing sites in WordPress, but we also love to give back and help others. We also create and release some fairly popular plugins for public consumption. We truly believe in the notion that the community is what makes WordPress so great, so anything we can do to give back we will certainly do!
What are you currently working on?
We have a lot of really fun projects going on at the moment. The most recent is the rebuild of CollabPress v1.0 that we just released. CollabPress is a task management plugin for WordPress. We rebuilt the plugin from the ground up to utilize custom post types and taxonomies. We have a few more plugins in the works, but those are hush hush at the moment ;)
Which product/service of yours did you expect to make a big hit but either fizzled or was used in a completely different way than you anticipated? (It’s a readers favorite)
I would say this goes back to when we first started open source website development. I never expected WordPress to be so popular, but a good majority of the contacts coming in already had, or knew they wanted to use, WordPress. That really helped steer our company in that direction and narrow our focus to WordPress exclusively.
Where do you see WordPress going in the future?
I think WordPress will keep evolving more and more into a full fledged CMS. We saw major steps in that direction with increased custom post type support, replacing the word “blog” with “site” in the admin, custom menus, etc.
Thanks Brad for taking the time! See you at WordCamp Phoenix in the next couple weeks.