Web Development

A Side Adventure with WordPress and PHP

Maybe I should say “A side track…”

I love doing photography but have been wanting to get out of it as a profession for about a year, so last August I decided to try coding and loved it, and have been doing it every day for at least a couple hours since August.

Four months ago, the urge to make the switch to coding and web development became especially strong, and since I have a long and extensive background in WordPress as a user, I decided that learning PHP and the WordPress backend would be the fastest and easiest way to make the switch to web development.

I committed to a fairly intense line of coursework from SkillCrush and that’s what I did for the last few months.

I have since discovered a number of truths about myself, the tech industry and WordPress and that has made me want to head back over to JavaScript and Node.

DISCOVERIES

1. DISCOVERY: I like to code. I like writing lines of code. WordPress uses PHP but most of the time I was building in the text editor it felt like I was just sorting through partials the entire time, and pasting PHP blocks from widgets and the codex. The actual amount of coding I did was actually quite minimal.

2. DISCOVERY: WordPress has been around for a while and is very popular, therefore most everything has been created and you really just need to customize the plugin or theme that has already been made. So the learning is really about the plugin or theme, not about coding or anything that has a definite long term life. In the past I have installed plugins that took a week or two to learn only to find that 6 months later the developer got bored with the project (or busy) and then it was no longer updated, rendering it useless with future WordPress updates. There goes that week I spent learning it!

3. DISCOVERY: PHP does not refresh properly all the time (at least not on my computer). A while back I wrote about resetting the cache when PHP does not refresh properly. Well, about 2 weeks into the SkillCrush course I realized that it still was not fully refreshing my changes. So sometimes I would make a change to the style, not see the change, quit coding, come back the next day and see the change. Grrrr… This is so frustrating. Never have this problem with JavaScript. That’s enough to make me walk away. I asked my SkillCrush teachers about it. They did not have an answer. Quirky.

4. DISCOVERY: I already knew that PHP was sort of out of fashion to learn based on my experience with YelpCamp (where it was not taught at all in a full stack course) and an article about a panel discussion about PHP that I blogged about a few months ago. But I also noticed on this org. chart that WordPress is not even mentioned and PHP is not connected to anything WordPress related.

There is another org. chart I saw (that I cannot find now) that didn’t even have PHP on it. This was disheartening when in the midst of an intense WordPress / PHP course.

Despite all of this, I decided to rebuild this site and declare my capabilities in WordPress, and my skill at customizing WordPress sites, which I do have now.

And I like this website a lot more now, so that’s a plus.

But part of me is like, “Why the heck would I go into the data files when there is a theme that can do it for me?”

Conclusion

So that’s it.

I am halting my learning into PHP and WordPress to return to my beloved JavaScript and Node (and possibly expand into Ruby & Rails).

I don’t like working with the data files of WordPress, especially when I can do the same thing using X theme. I can serve my clients just as well with that and do 90% of what I need to do using X or Pro and never have to open WordPress up in a text editor. And I am happy to do that other 10% in the text editor. Done and Done!

And finally, while it seems PHP will be around for a while with so many people on WordPress (like myself), it seems like the industry is asking for JavaScript developers (especially full stack), and that’s what I’d like to be.

I am still happy to set up and customize WordPress websites for clients. Heck, I could do that all day and be happy. But my coding interests lie somewhere else, and I feel that I have explored WordPress and PHP to the point where the gains to not justify the time and energy required to go further.

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