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A Year of SitePoint

By Bruno Skvorc

Today marks the one year anniversary of my editing job at SitePoint.

It sure went by fast – in fact, I was genuinely surprised when LinkedIn “likes” started popping up. In this short post, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the past 365 days, and share with you what I’ve learned and how things changed.

Chaos in the Old World

When I first took the job and stepped into Tim’s shoes, I’m not going to lie – I was overwhelmed. With a big and chaotic author roster, I had very little time to get familiar with the writers, the approach to accepting drafts, the editing process and the aspect of communication with both HQ and the author pool.

Vagrant still not having been a tool as popular as it is and Docker basically not existing yet made things more difficult to test – every code sample came with its own prerequisites, and it was more work than my home Linux playbox could handle, sometimes reinstalling the PHP development environment several times per day. My machine looked messier every day.

To top it all off, a huge transition happened at SitePoint at the time. The site Timothy had been editing for was called PhpMaster, and was a separate entity. Some time around my arrival, PhpMaster was welcomed back into the SitePoint fold as a sub-channel of the main site and underwent a serious rebranding, de-naming, and restructuring, along with a structural shift in HQ. Amid all this chaos, the channel was expected to do well and to continue operating seamlessly.

Order in the New

One year later, all traces of PhpMaster are gone, but not forgotten.

Vagrant and Docker have allowed us to not only test all the demo code in articles efficiently, safely and easily – these technologies also helped us make a common environment approachable to everyone via Homestead Improved. With this Vagrant setup, every reader can have a setup ready for following along with a tutorial in minutes, without harming their current PHP development environment with additional library and extension installations.

We’ve transitioned to Trello for project management, and while still somewhat chaotic due to the sheer size of the author roster, it’s infinitely better than keeping everything in inboxes and spreadsheets. Communication now mostly happens in Slack instead of email, and everything is that much smoother.

On the author layer, almost all editors transitioned to MarkDown drafts exclusively, which now allows us all to stay in sync and easily edit each other’s articles, while at the same time getting standardized input from our writers, allowing for faster edits and a smoother workflow, along with automatic exports into HTML for publication.

The new channel is far from a futuristic efficiency machine, but with the growth it’s seen over the past year, things absolutely must flow as smoothly as possible. Seeing the competition try to copy our approaches more and more was flattering and assured us of the course we were on.

What I’ve Learned

With an excellent starting point set into place by Tim and the absolutely awesome guidance of Ophelie Lechat, my boss and mentor who came into her position a bit before I started at SitePoint, my progress was further accelerated with the added help of some ridiculously qualified people. People like Ricky Onsman, who left us to pursue other endeavors a couple months in, Louis Lazaris, Adam Roberts and others I frequently communicate with have all made becoming fluent with the process that much easier.

I’ve learned to treat authors as peers, not employees. I’ve learned what it’s like to be on the editing side, and finally realized what took Tim so long with some of the edits back when I was a writer :) I’ve learned how to properly test all the code that’s sent my way, and I’ve learned I hate WordPress more than any other software in the world.

I’ve learned the tech industry is still ridiculously male-oriented, but I’ve also learned stereotypically feminist approaches to solve this problem do more harm than good.

Most importantly, I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. In communication, community management, efficiency, work ethics, planning and structuring my time – all crucial to a job well done.

While the editing job has reduced my coding time significantly, I can honestly say I enjoy it wholeheartedly. I do miss coding, but what little coding I do for personal projects and pleasure is thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing, unlike the traditional coding we’re used to – with looming deadlines and screaming bosses overhead.

Finally, I’ve learned that exposure matters a lot. I always made sure my online persona exposed only the aspects of my life I’m comfortable with being exposed, and that my online presence stay professional and cordial (if somewhat ranty). What I didn’t know, however, was how much of an impact working for a high profile online magazine would have – particularly in terms of being recognized (either as friend or foe) in certain groups, and in being invited to speak at conferences purely due to writing and open source work – which brings me to the next section.

Join us?

The author roster has grown several times its size, and still continues to do so. If you’re interested in growing the online aspect of your life and career, and if you’d like to get more in tune with the PHP community at large, please consider joining us. We’ve got topics for all levels of experience and comfort, and there’s no better way to grow your personal brand and show various parties where your expertise lies.

The channel has grown significantly in the past year, and having experienced both the awe inspiring power of social media, and both the horrible burns and great successes of content sharing on Reddit-like sites, we’re stepping into year two with new, interesting findings and more fertile ground to grow on. The publication schedule has expanded and we’re in need of authors more than ever.

Get in touch if you’d like to know more, or come to my ZgPHP and ForumPHP talks.

Here’s to a successful first year and to, hopefully, many more! Cheers!

  • Matt M.

    Just curious – why do you hate WordPress so much?

    • Taylor Ren

      ‘Mine is a long and a sad tale!’ said the Mouse, turning to Alice, and sighing.

      — Excerpt from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

      • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

        Haha, quite right!

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      The horrible, horrible performance, and the mess of code that it consists of, in a nutshell.

      • lucasrolff

        But yet eventho the performance is bad – we’re able to scale it to millions and millions of pageviews with no performance issues.

        • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

          That scaling would cost you a fraction of what it’s currently costing you on literally any other solution. Anything can be scaled if you throw enough money at it.

          • lucasrolff

            Seems like you know nothing about scaling infrastructure then – if it would cost a fraction scaling a site having exactly same functionality – then I think every company would like to hire you.

            We’re having no issues scaling WP – and cost isn’t higher than any normal site receiving same amount of traffic.

            But hey – we don’t use bloated plugins anyway. WordPress in itself is quite OK when it comes to performance, it’s the plugins that is usually sh**

          • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

            I partially agree with that, it’s the plugins that are at fault most of the time. But then, what does pure WP really offer that any other CMS out there doesn’t if you need plugins to get full functionality out of it?

          • lucasrolff

            If you read what I actually wrote:
            We don’t use bloated plugins – that doesn’t mean we don’t use plugins – we develop our own, and use some plugins with modified source to get the performance right.

            With that said – WP actually offers quite a lot of functionality out of the box, so saying WP is bad performance compared to a e.g. Synfony or Laravel site that offers same functionality – you won’t have much performance gain using Symfony or Laravel over WP – sure if WP doesn’t fit your needs, develop your own thing, or use another framework or CMS.

            But if WP offers the functionality you need, developing a system that is more high performance than WP but still offering same functionality, it will take people a good amount of time. Without gaining a lot in terms of resource usage and/or performance.

            With the right server setup (not talking about reverse proxies and shit) – WP runs smoothly, with really small amount of resources.

            So I don’t agree that WP sucks in performance, neither with plugins, but if you choose plugins that does really bad things (most do) – you’ll have a hard time building a site that scales, but it’s the same with any framework – using bundles or whatever for symfony, laravel, or whatever – can also be bloated and cause performance issues.

            But hey – if you think WP performance sucks – then sure believe in yourself – I’ve just seen otherwise, and run high performance/traffic sites successfully without big resource usages – also without caching plugins in WP ;)

          • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

            How high traffic? Would you be interested in sharing details about your setup? I’m willing to be converted into a WP believer, if there’s enough facts to make me reconsider.

          • lucasrolff

            An average of around 5.2 million pageviews a day on a monthly basis – I can share details some day about the setup, when I get the time to write a blogpost about it.

          • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

            I’d love to read about that, if you get the chance to share it.

    • dojoVader

      Trust me its not only Bruno, I don’t like WordPress one bit, yes it the best thing to end users but not to developers exposed to modern day PHP

      • Matt M.

        I can appreciate that. Thanks to WordPress, many of the projects I would have worked on in the past have been given to the designers where I work.

        I also agree that its performance can be horrible and that the code is bloated. But I personally appreciate its simplicity and community. Especially after being introduced to Drupal last year. We have two sites that use it and they’ve been a major headache.

        • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

          How so?

          • Matt M.

            If you’re referring to Drupal – many tasks just take more time because they’re implemented in a more complex way (compared to WordPress). Short answers to problems have been hard to find (ie. I find multiple answers, many of which look like dissertations).

            I’ve had major headaches with setting up a testing site, doing security upgrades for the core, and site server transfers. All problems of which I rarely have with WordPress.

            At first, I just assumed that most of my headaches were due to my lack of Drupal experience, but the problems I can’t figure out even stump our Drupal consultants. And they have years of Drupal experience! They eventually figure things out, but it seems to take them a long time.

          • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

            Interesting. I’d be keen to publish a comparison on implementing some of these complications. Get in touch if you or some of yours can do a writeup?

    • http://www.nmdesign.rs/ Nemke

      I didn’t hate or love WP until I started working with it.

      First and foremost thing I hate is spaghetti code in themes. I mean, really? In 2014 not using any kind of template engine is really ridiculous….

      Next in line are hard-coded html tags in WP core (like submit button for comments form).

      Bad security practice with profile.php and admin-ajax.php which is in wp-admin folder…

      This list can be very long….so now I’m gonna skip to good things :)

      A lot of content managers know how to use WP so I don’t have to teach them how to use it.
      Lot of changes can be done via filters/actions.
      Very big number of available plug-ins, so I have to code less.

  • Taylor Ren

    Frist of all, congratulations to Bruno!

    You have done a fabulous job.

    Reaching out for new authors, structuring/moderating the editor-writer forum (Trello), catching/proposing new topics to grab… Above all, regular update on “Welcoming New Authors”, “PHP news that may have missed” and other writings on various topics.

    We may not agree to each other on some points. But all these I adore very much.

    My first article in Sitepoint was around a year ago (Oct 14, 2013), and total 22 since then, averaging ~2 articles per month. It won’t be possible without your editing, support, advice. Please accept my sincere appreciation.

    Keep it rolling, pal!

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      Thank you Taylor, much appreciated!

  • http://harikt.com/ Hari K T

    Congratulation Bruno.

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      Thanks!

  • Craig Buckler

    Congratulations Bruno! Keep up the great work.

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      Thank you Craig, much obliged!

  • Aleksander Koko

    Congratulations Bruno!

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      Thanks!

  • http://websitediz.com/ websitediz
  • dojoVader

    Congrats Bruno been a fan since you say the truth regardless of what others feel, but please next time put a note or use a good title, i almost freaked out i thought this was a Goodbye Post to SitePoint. because I use to be a fan of code.tutplus.com till it became too WordPress centric than PHP

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      Haha, cheers, no worries, it’ll be a while before you see a goodbye post from me :)

  • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

    Thanks!

  • lucasrolff

    Personally I think it has been a year with a lot of blogposts with almost no content, and waay too much of your own opinion, instead of real quality content and facts if stuff is good or bad.

    Congratulations you’ve been there for 1 year – hopefully better content will come :)

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      Thanks for the feedback, that’s actually good to hear! Would you like to go into specifics on what you’d like to see? I do my best to keep it balanced between news/opinion for light reading and tutorials and specific stuff for those who can afford the time, but I’m willing to take other perspectives into account – do let me know! If you want, you can go into detail at bruno.skvorc@sitepoint.com

  • http://nyasro.com/ Nyasro

    Congrats!

  • http://quran.2index.net/ Said Bakr

    First I realized that you are going to talk about a PHP Editor, i.e something like Sublime Text, due to the Facebook post title “Bruno’s first year as SitePoint’s PHP editor…” :) However, happy new year and best wishes for you and SitePoint.

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      Thanks :)

  • http://tutsave.com/ Fabien Zet

    Congratulations Bruno! Your articles in recent years have helped me a lot

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      Thank you Fabien, glad to hear that!

  • http://cneude-createur-web.com Matthieu

    You wrote a lot of articles that helped me become a better developer. Thank you for that ! I’m planning to write for sitepoint one day but I have to increase my english level…

    Anyway thank you again !

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      Thanks! Btw, I’m here to help with the English level :) You don’t have to be a master of English, just decent enough for me to understand what you mean, leave the corrections to me. Get in touch!

      • http://cneude-createur-web.com Matthieu

        Oh I didn’t know ! That’s great :)

  • Guest

    Congrats guys! Keep up the good work! I just had a look at my forum account. Opened in 2003 :)

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      Old school! :)

  • Dante

    Congrats Bruno. Keep those articles coming :)

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      Thanks, Dante!

  • http://chrisburgess.com.au/ Chris Burgess

    Congrats Bruno! I’ve been a long time fan of the PHP channel and I enjoy the passion you bring to it, keep up the great work :)

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      Thanks Chris!

  • Steven Leggett

    Bruno, keep up the good work.

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      Thanks!

  • https://www.peternijssen.nl/ Peter Nijssen

    Congratulations bruno! Keep up the awesome job you are doing! :)

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      Cheers!

  • Kemo

    Just keep the awesome stuff coming ;)

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      I’ll do my best :)

  • Gabriel Birke

    What do you mean by “stereotypically feminist approaches”? I’d like to hear more to see what works and what doesn’t.

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      Manhating, complaining, rather than practical approaches that prove a point.

  • jbk

    Thanks Bruno, for all of the great content you provide. You help make SitePoint one of my favorite sites! Keep up the great work.

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      That really means a lot, thanks!

  • http://about.me/devdrops Davi Marcondes moreira

    Awesome!! Congrats Bruno, you’ve been doing an amazing work on SitePoint. If that’s the quality we’ve saw on the 1st year, which is great, then I just can’t wait for what’s coming on the next years! :-D

    • http://www.bitfalls.com/ Bruno Skvorc

      Thanks, Davi! Glad to hear that, much appreciated!

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