Themers in a Photo – Grand Meetup, 2016 Edition

Many themers posting in a photo both, holding signs, silly props and wearing funny masks and faces.Many themers posting in a photo both, holding signs, silly props and wearing funny masks and faces.Many themers posting in a photo both, holding signs, silly props and wearing funny masks and faces.

This past week, Automattic held its annual Grand Meetup, where the entire company gets together to talk about the past year, plan ahead for the next one and work on a few cool things…

Oh, and we throw a party at the end with a photo booth. As you can see, my team, the Theme Team, knows how to take a good photo. 🙂 I’m lucky to work with such a great group of people. They’re more than coworkers – they’re friends. People who inspire me, push me, teach me, make me laugh and probably overuse the 💩 emoji. Nobody’s perfect.

Skywalk Trail on Rainbow Mountain

This past week, while at Automattic’s annual Grand Meetup, I completed the most difficult hike I’ve ever done. Myself and a small group of Automattician’s hiked up Skywalk Trail on Rainbow Mountain – a challenging hike full of amazing views. It’s near Whistler, British Columbia in Canada.

A screenshot of Fitbit, showing 34,033 steps.

I say difficult because about an hour into the hike, I wasn’t sure I would make it. I huffed and puffed up a few steep hills and had to take a lot of short breaks. But I pushed through and enjoyed the best payoff – the views (see the photos!). I felt it the next few days with sore calves and quads.

A big thanks to Joe Boydston for organizing the hike, Stu West for hiking back down with me, and the rest of the group for being such great company.

We’re the Only Plane in the Sky

I love oral histories, and this is one that’s been largely untold about one of the most defining days in U.S. history.

If you’re an American, you remember how confusing, sad and scary that day was when you read it. But you also remember ordinary people did extraordinary things.

Thank you to all those who serve, from the armed forces to the first responders.

Have empathy today. Tell people you love them. Be nice to one another, even if you disagree with their politics, and especially if you’re unfamiliar with their background or where they’re from.

Hello Twenty Seventeen

After years of contributing to WordPress and its default themes, I get to help lead one – Twenty Seventeen! To say I’m excited and honored would be the understatement of both 2016 and 2017. 🙂

I’m looking forward to bringing a new theme to WordPress, and with the help of the WordPress community, making it the best it can be. I’ll be working with Mel Choyce, who designed Twenty Seventeen, and Laurel Fulford, who will help me give the theme life. Sure, Mel has designed some of the most beautiful themes out there and Laurel can code up anything, but that’s not what has me the most excited.

What I love most about open source, and the WordPress community, is the people. All artful creations carry inspiration from other sources, and I believe you can’t create anything worthwhile alone. That’s why Twenty Seventeen needs all the help it can get from as many people as possible.

If you’ve ever wanted to find a way to contribute WordPress, to take part in something that millions of people will touch every day, now is the time. Drop a comment on this post if you want to help. Let’s do this!

Introducing Theme User Experience Requirements

At Automattic this year, we’ve focused heavily on improving people’s experience using themes on It’s one reason we introduced the TUX List, a set of theme user experience requirements. Putting these best practices into your themes on and elsewhere means anyone using them will have an easier time getting to what they really want to do: publish their site. Not fiddle with theme setup and options. Making themes easier is a job for everyone, so let’s keep working at it!

What is React?

What I want to know is: what should I be taking away from React into my own continued evolution as a web developer? Remy Sharp in What is React?

I really like this thinking. Frameworks and techniques on the Web are ephemeral, so the what doesn’t matter as much as how or why.

New House

Ranch style, one-story house, white with blue shutters.
The new house.

We moved into our new house in Greensboro about two weeks ago, and are settling in! We’re loving it, and the yard finally looks presentable today after some work mowing, trimming, raking and pulling weeds. We’ve also put a new roof on the addition, installed a new sub pump for better drainage and done some light plumbing and electrical fixes. Home ownership can be exhausting! 🙂

Hidden Expectations

Over the years I’ve come to realize that most difficult part of making websites isn’t the code, it’s the “hidden expectations”, the unseen aspects I didn’t know were my responsibility when I started: Accessibility, Security, Performance, and Empathy.

Dave Rupert in Hidden Expectations.

Dave Rupert writes about the responsibilities that come with building websites – the ones that often matter more than you know.