Happy Anniversary to me. This year I’m celebrating 10 full years of working in WordPress.
The first project I remember well. I was working for an agency out of Washington D.C. At the time the CMS we were using was based on an old version of MoveableType. For client projects we had this multi-tabbed Excel spreadsheet to estimations. Adding any custom type of functionality like an archive page or even RSS was a total pain and hence we can up-charge the client.
Generally when you work in an agency it is all about billable hors. In my case the developers we expected to give detailed estimates on each client project. Using the PERL-based MT system this was for me a shot in the dark sometimes. You may quote 5 hours to add RSS feed or an archive page. Sometimes you hit that mark. But most times you didn’t. This can create a lot of tension in development teams because you are judged by the management on how well you can give close estimated and then meet those estimations.
Frustrated with using the MT system I decided there had to be an easier method. So over that long weekend I took an existing and finished MT project and decided to see how it would be built using WordPress. Up to that point, I had not used or touched WordPress. I knew PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaSscript, etc. My only exposure from was an internal presentation from another developer. And at the time I thought it looked promising. Much better about publishing dynamic content. Remember at the time MT and many other CMS type systems simply generated the final HTML output when they went through the publishing cycle. WordPress on the other had was a dynamic engine.
Building the WordPress replacement of the site was in a word amazing. Even back then using WordPress pre-1.5 you could do a lot of things via the theme itself. And for the needed of the project I already had the layout via the complete HTML. So was just a matter to carving out the header and footer sections. The sidebar then the main content after. Then the really cool understanding that I didn’t need to create a completely new output template for each page. Wow. I only have to create the general index.php and single.php. Links and RSS were all built-in and automatic.
So after the three days of the weekend I had a finished theme. Complete with the real imported data!
So you may be asking how long the same functionality took to developer using MT? Well I remember the project taking 6 weeks. But realize that was partly client delays (always). Design time. And a team of 2-3 developers to setup hosting, cutup PSD from design. Reviews and tweaks for browsers. etc. So lets say 10 days to 2 weeks for actual development into the MT system. So in effect I had done the same thing in three days. That meant instead of tying up a team of developers, designers, account people on a project for 6 weeks. It could instead be a mere 10 days or less if you get really good about reusing some of the theme parts.
Over the next year I was the WordPress go to guy. I was up to pushing out a site every two weeks. It would have been quicker but you have to allow time for client reviews and changes. But not too many changes.
Since that first years I moved into plugin development to add our own custom functionality.