Meet Justin Shreve

Justin Shreve

Justin Shreve

Meet Justin Shreve: self-taught coder, cat daddy to Harris and Skylar, Google Summer of Code grad, and all around awesome guy.

What motivated you to become a developer? What do you like best about coding?

When I was little I used to sit in on the HTML classes that my parents would teach during the summers. I found it fascinating and wanted to learn more. By the next year I was answering questions that their students raised. From there I taught myself PHP and Javascript and eventually began working with WordPress.

Teaching himself PHP, probably.

Teaching himself PHP, probably.

I was so enthralled with how the different pieces worked together. That’s what really made me want to become a developer. To figure out how things were built, and how I could take them apart, rebuild them, and improve them.

The thing I like best about coding is there’s always something to do. Coding doesn’t get boring because there’s always a feature to add or a bug to fix.

Describe the killer app you’d build, if your wildest fantasy came true.

It’s a vague idea but I’d love to do some kind of augmented reality (AR) game. Maybe an app for something like Google’s Project Glass. I’ve always been interested in games and game design. I think AR and AR games could really be brought to a whole new level with the stuff that’s being developed. It’d be amazing to be a part of that and build a “killer app/game.”

If you could share just one piece of hard-won advice with young coders, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to break stuff. It’s how you learn. Just jump in and start coding. There are plenty of resources available to you and plenty of people willing to help you learn.

Also, seriously consider playing with open source projects. I learned a lot more once I started working with WordPress and moved away from proprietary code bases.

Meet Justin Shreve is the second in our developer interview series. We’d like you to meet Beau Lebens, too.

Meet Beau Lebens

Hello there! Welcome to a new feature of the WordPress Developer Resources Blog — interviews! In this inaugural instalment, we’d like to formally introduce you to Mr. Beau Lebens, though he insists you can call him Beau. Beau is famous for many things, including Krav Maga, and instituting burrito Fridays at Automattic headquarters in San Francisco.

How did you get into working with WordPress and how long have you been at it?

Beau Lebens

Beau Lebens

I kept an eye on WordPress just out of casual interest more than anything else (in the beginning). The first time I really used it for something serious was to make a blog for a company I was working for at the time.

That was in 2005. (I had probably been following WordPress loosely for about a year before that.) When I left that company, I started a startup with a friend which was all based on WordPress (MU, as it was called at the time) and bbPress. It was called MyBabyOurBaby.com and was basically a shared scrapbooking site for families to save memories around a child.

While building that, I worked for about eight months, day and night on nothing but WordPress. I was trying to make it do a lot of things that it wasn’t supposed to, and trying to integrate with bbPress (which was really rough at the time), so it was a pretty huge learning curve. That exposure gave me pretty solid experience with WordPress though, and I was hooked. Once MyBabyOurBaby was built, but not really taking off, I started doing a lot of WP freelance work on the side. I ended up mostly working on performance and larger-scale sites since I had a bit of background in server management in addition to WP. That ended me up at Mashable.com for about six months, helping them get their site stable, building out some custom statistics/reporting systems and a few other plugins.

After that I ended up at Automattic and the rest is history :)

What’s the most important advice you can impart to a young person who wants to get into coding and development?

Dive right in. It’s just code, so you really can’t break anything too serious. Get a copy of an open source project in your language of choice (oh hai, WordPress.org!) and you can start pulling it apart to see how it works. Never be afraid to try something, even if you think it will probably break everything — that’s what “undo” is for. And backups. And source control. :)

What’s the most important challenge currently facing WordPress developers?

I think WordPress provides a lot of the components required to build amazing products (themes, plugins, entire web applications), including everything needed to make them secure. This is where the challenge comes in for developers — ensuring what they build is as secure as the core software is. Almost every security vulnerability or exploit that I hear about is via a plugin or theme. It’s up to WP developers to build software that lives up to the platform that it’s running on and to help ensure that we’re all running a safe, secure system. Having a good understanding of a few core concepts around security (especially within WP) can go a LONG way.

Knowing these two documents inside out and applying the ideas to your code will put you ahead of most other WordPress developers:

For more on Beau, check out his blog, Dented Reality, and follow him on Twitter.