Dev Spotlight: Felix Arntz on Coding and Contributing to the WordPress Core
After Felix Arntz gave his latest speech at WCLDN regarding contributing to the WordPress Core, I had a sit with him. Mostly to chat about what keeps him going. He’s a freelance backend developer, based in Germany. And for many years, he’s been implementing client solutions and plugins that majorly focus on Multisite environments.
This month, Yoast started sponsoring him part-time to contribute to the WordPress Core. Which lets him spend even more time coding for the open-source-project he’s deeply committed to. Besides this, you’ll also find him involved in Multisite, Capabilities and Post Thumbnails. Moreover, he writes plugins and libraries, focusing on developing clean and sustainable solutions. Here’s what we learned from Felix last weekend.
Felix Arntz Q&A
WordPress is free for us and allows us not only to publish content but also to make a living out of it. And even get in touch with awesome people from all over the world. It’s important to give something back in whatever dimension that’s possible for you, as an individual, in whatever area works best for you.
Definitely overcoming the feelings about being “rejected”. For example, when people closed tickets I opened or didn’t accept my suggestions. It’s important to step back and ask yourself why this make you feel frustrated.
Maybe this won’t make a lot of sense to you. But when you write a unit test in WordPress, you don’t need to clean up after yourself. Because WordPress does it for you. It’s not very well-documented, so a lot of people don’t know – unfortunately.
They clean up after themselves and write tons of additional code which is absolutely unnecessary. It’s not important because it doesn’t break anything. But it just kind of bugs me. Yes, a useless thing, which bugs me. (laughing).
Patience. At first, I was very annoyed because many things took a lot of time. I was like, “come on, it’s not that hard to fix!” But when I got my committer access to WordPress core and did my first commit, that was the moment when it clicked.
I was kind of anxious when I was about the hit the “Enter” button for the very first time. Did I do everything right? Would my decision break WordPress? I know my colleagues have similar attitudes too.
Everybody wants to be 100% sure the code they’ll commit will work – and not break anything. I understood then why (good) things may take time and why not everything I had pushed for previously got merged as quickly as I wanted it to.
That’s a very easy question: going to my first WordCamp! One of the best decisions I ever made, to be honest. In my talk I said I regret that I didn’t to that 2 years earlier.
However, it was definitely outside of my comfort zone, because I wouldn’t say I was much of a people person. I didn’t know anybody. But it immediately worked for me. I already met the first cool people of this community on the plane – which was amazing! (laughter).
I really like Sublime Text, which I use as a code editor. It’s a very basic tool but I love how fast it is. This is way more important to me than additional features other editors would provide me with. Well, I argue about that sometimes with people. (Laughter).
WP Query Monitor is a great Developer Tools panel for WordPress. And then some automation tools like Gulp and a lot of testing tools. If I counted them all, it would take us some time. (Laughter)
Coding standards and well, design patterns. Basically more abstractions in the code base. And making it maintainable. Because to be honest, maintaining it is terrible at the moment.
I didn’t start learning it yet, but I definitely will! Now that we’re talking, I seriously think I’m gonna start tomorrow by learning React and then dive into Gutenberg. (Laughter)
I decided not to go down the business road. Because I love coding. And when you run a business, you do this part that you really enjoy less and less. I just wanna code (Laughter)
I’ve been a freelancer for some years now and I try to automate my workflow as much as possible. So I think I would probably use any tool that would help me doing so. Why not a server management platform like Plesk? I must confess, that I haven’t used Plesk’s control panel so far. And I don’t know that much about it. But that’s nothing we can’t change!
Lots of things music-related: listening, writing and producing music, playing the piano, going to concerts. And I love playing soccer. Oh and of course – travelling the world with WordCamps!
Catch Felix’s WCLDN Talk on WP Core if you’ve missed it
You can very well get familiar with the technical bits of WordPress core contribution during a WP Contributor Day. But you don’t normally get deep insights if you’re interested in finding your spot in a core contributor team.
— Saskia Lund (@SaskiaLund) April 14, 2018
Felix’s talk is for those who want to contribute as efficiently as possible and deal with roadblocks with less frustration. He showcases the benefits of contributing, recommends how to build trust, and gives insights on which traits are particularly valuable to have. It’s more than just code-writing. It’s building long-term relationships and making significant impacts. WPTV Talk coming soon! Meanwhile, check these slides here.
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