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Theme Team in Barcelona, 2016

So I’m posting these photos late. 🙂 Last November the Theme Team, my team at Automattic, spent the week in Barcelona. We worked on Components and saw a few sites: La Sagrada Familia and Parc GĂĽell.

Contributing to Twenty Seventeen

Sami Keijonen shared his experience as a first-time contributor to WordPress default themes on Post Status. It’s an excellent read, especially if you’re interested in getting involved in WordPress Core or default themes.

Twenty Seventeen wouldn’t be the same without Sami’s work. His experience provides a good example of how to watch an open source community, learn from it, find a niche within it and attack when see a way to give back. My favorite advice is this:

Once you start contributing, you shouldn’t just disappear with no explanation. If you’re running low on time or have other obligations, it’s totally understandable, but be sure to politely inform others you can’t continue anymore, so they can pick up where you left off.

The Power of the Web

The Web has never been a place of purity. Yet people often want to turn it into that.

In The Case Against Progressive Enhancement’s Flimsy Moral Foundation, Josh Korr lays out his case that progressive enhancement has a giant flaw. “Progressive enhancement is a philosophical, moral argument disguised as a practical approach to web development,” he says. He goes onto to poke holes in the moral case for progressive enhancement, saying that those advocating for progressive enhancement are: “Pushing an incoherent moral philosophy in the guise of a practical discussion, and kinda being a jerk about it.”

Korr has also wrote a follow-up post, clarifying his tone snd points. He says:

“The purpose of my post was not to assess progressive enhancement as an approach to web development. (Hence my not-a-dev-disclaimer.) And yes, PE is undeniably a practical approach to web development.

The purpose was to offer an explanation for the PE discussion’s dynamic: how it’s highly combustible and seems to go around in frustrating circles.”

I can understand why Korr makes his main point. The discussion around some topics in the web world do go in circles, and get contentious. This happens in the accessibility community too.

Progressive enhancement, like most principles on the Web doesn’t have an always-optimal approach. To succeed with it depends on your users and your project. A site can have okay accessibility and still deliver a passable experience to users with disabilities. A project can do a decent job with performance, and still be production ready. The Web is messy. It moves fast and slow. Think of how fast responsive design took hold. Now, remember what a monumental change happened when images hit the Web in Mosaic. But we’re still trying to figure out to best deliver those images responsibly today. The Web is a fragile environment. The entire thing relies on connections, which can be broken, interrupted or suboptimal. Progressive enhancement just helps you think critically about how to handle the variables. That way, your users don’t have to worry about them.

The power of the Web lies in its millions of different connections. All powered by people somewhere in the world. That provides all the fuel needed for a difference of opinion now and then. The circular conversations don’t matter as much as the acknowledgment that many paths to success exist when we hear each other out. We just need to stay open to new ideas and not get too caught up in semantics.

2017

A new year starts tomorrow so I’m thinking about where I’ve been and what’s ahead.

Like the last few years, I’m focusing on personal focuses rather than work ones. But this year has turned out amazing at work, getting commit access for themes for WordPress and helping release Twenty Seventeen. Plus, lots of work on Components, a new project from the Automattic Theme Team.

Last Year

I had three main goals last year:

Schedule two hours a week of thinking time for myself. I kept up with this for most of the year. According to Habit List, I completed both 95 percent of the time, on average. Usually, I thought through things after my morning coffee or before bed. The habit has made me more mindful of my reactions and my mistakes throughout the week, meaning I’m more apt to course correct when necessary.

Listen more. I don’t think I made the type of progress I wanted to on this one. Some things helped here, like the month or so I spent without Facebook and Twitter on my phone or the general simplifying I’ve done in my life. But I think I could still be more present in conversations and life. It’s subjective, but I’m trying to be honest with myself. Hopefully, the awareness leads to further incremental improvement.

Make progress on a book about accessibility. I didn’t make progress here either. However, I did keep an accessibility newsletter going on and off throughout the year. I started that as a way to get writing more about the topic and it worked. I also received good feedback on the newsletter when it was active so I have a base to keep building on for the future.

Next Year

I wouldn’t call these resolutions or goals, but focuses. Because I don’t want to make a giant goal that I struggle to break down into actionable steps as in the past. Instead, I want to focus on my personal passions and let them help lead me to a better place.

Writing: I’ve always loved writing, and I always feel more productive with my web development work when I write more. So I want to focus on it this year. That means returning more to my blog, where I wrote for 80-plus days in 2015. It also means relaunching Accessibility Weekly and keeping it going strong with original writing and curation.

Experiments: I moved twice this year, so I naturally simplified my life, jettisoning a lot of needless stuff. I’ve started to embrace minimalism and productivity, looking for ways I can do more with less. In reading a few new blogs and listening to some new podcasts, I like the idea of doing small experiments in life to make yourself uncomfortable. Just last week, I kicked regular coffee. It’s freeing to try something different to alter your perspective. In 2017, I want to try as many experiments as I can, especially a 30-day minimalist challenge and starting a bodyweight-only exercise program.

See you in the new year!

Previous years: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011.

Dear Twenty Seventeen Contributors

We shipped! Twenty Seventeen, along with WordPress 4.7, hit the Web yesterday. We shipped not just any default theme, but one that gives users a home page like no other default theme. We made something amazing that literally millions of people will use and learn from.

At times, I’d go to bed worried about how to tackle a problem, but then I’d wake up and you all had it solved. Every day, you taught me something new and demanded my best. I can’t thank you enough.

It was an honor to work on Twenty Seventeen with you. I’m proud of it, and can’t wait to see what people do with it. Let’s keep improving WordPress, themes and customization together – there’s much more work to be done.

Thank you to from the bottom of my heart to the 102 contributors who helped get Twenty Seventeen created and launched:

aaroncampbell, acmethemes, adammacias, afercia, ahortin, akshayvinchurkar, alex27, allancole, anilbasnet, b-07, binarymoon, bradyvercher, brainstormforce, caspie, celloexpressions, claudiosanches, clorith, davidmosterd, delawski, dimadin, dineshc, doughamlin, electricfeet, enodekciw, fencer04, for, grapplerulrich, hardeepasrani, helen, hiddenpearls, idealien, imnok, implenton, implenton, initial, iv, joefusco, joemcgill, johnpgreen, jordesign, joshcummingsdesign, joyously, juanfra, karmatosed, laurelfulford, leobaiano, littlebigthing, lukecavanagh, mageshp, mahesh901122, manishsongirkar36, mapk, mattwiebe, mbelchev, melchoyce, metodiew, mor10, mrahmadawais, netweb, nikschavan, nnaimov, noplanman, nukaga, ocean90, odysseygate, patch, patilvikasj, peterwilsoncc, pratikchaskar, pressionate, presskopp, rabmalin, ranh, rianrietveld, ryelle, sami, samikeijonen, sandesh055, sgr33n, sirbrillig, sixhours, smyoon315, snacking, soean, sstoqnov, swapnild, swisspidy, swissspidy, taggon, tg29359, themeshaper, transl8or, tsl143, tywayne, valeriutihai, voldemortensen, vrundakansara, westonruter, williampatton, yoavf, yogasukma, zodiac1978.

Love,
DK