Closing the month of May with Brisbane’s first WordCamp is just an incredible experience. This post covers the highlights of the talk: “Contributing to WordPress: Why It’s Important to your Business”
Growing up without a computer makes it quite ironic (and a blessing at the same time) to be working in a tech company. Though over a year has passed, the feeling of being overwhelmed is still there. Everything still feels new. Diving into a new job, culture of Japan and the culture of open source is the formula for an exciting adventure. And how these three factors influenced one’s life and career will be shared in this article.
Being in a company whose work is related to WordPress makes anyone learn many things, and one of these is passion for open source. Passion drives anyone to contribute, however, what does it really take to contribute to WordPress? Is it really necessary?
For anyone who’s just starting, it’s natural to feel scary at first. It could be intimidating to attend tech events especially if you’re not a developer.
My first WordCamp was Kansai 2014 where I met attendees of different tech levels (non-developers and developers alike). After that, I did not feel so alone anymore. That’s also where I realized that besides being a developer (or not), there are many ways to contribute to WordPress.
Each of us has his or her own strengths whether it’s developing themes, plugins, speaking, writing, organizing meetups or business WordPress. We can use that strength to take advantage of contributing.
At the final WordCamp San Francisco 2014, Matt talked about Five For the Future. This is where companies and individuals willingly dedicate 5% of their resources to WordPress. It’s true that for something like WordPress to succeed 20 years or 50 years from now, there should be a strong community of contributors behind it.
Founded in 2006 with a couple of people and one belief that open source will create a better future.
We are a team of WordPress contributors, working 100% remotely and 100% dedicated to open source contributions.
When we contribute, our company does not receive profit. We just want to share to open source which is more important.
WordPress on AWS
This is the business model of our choice because it helps quickly turn our WordPress ideas into WordPress solutions and services. Combining these two platforms give us the flexibility that we need for our business.
Amazon Web Services gives us the ability that though we’re a small team, we are able to handle huge enterprises, obtain big results and do mighty things.
Our growth strategy
WordPress Contributions and Business Impact
1. Core Contributions & Localization
DigitalCube team contributed to WordPress core 7 times, and we will do the same for succeeding releases.
Two members in Japanese translation team are from DigitalCube, and this was recently featured in WP Tavern.
For business to keep moving forward, we need motivation and inspiration. It’s a nice feeling to contribute your skills in keeping WordPress core awesome.
When WordPress was translated into Japanese, we were able to appreciate WordPress even more since we can understand it in our native language.
With this, two major breakthroughs happened:
1. Rapid increase: users in Japan
2. Rapid increase: Japanese market
Since WordPress is available in multiple languages, for us in Japan, we started thinking of our business in a global scale.
2. WordCamp and Local Community
Many say that travelling opens your eyes. Same thing goes for being in a WordCamp. All 14 of us in the team spoke in local and international WordCamps – a total of 49 times. Brisbane is the 49th.
Besides speaking, there are also other community contributions like organizing, volunteering in local activities, sponsoring, mentoring and hands-on activities.
WordBench is a local WordPress meetup group in Japan. It gathers people together with the same goal of learning more about WordPress. Today, WordBench has groups in 48 different locations in the country.
When you speak in WordCamps and other meetups, you teach what you know, inspire others and share your knowledge. This helps increase the number of WordPress users, developers and it also increases the awareness to your brand, solution or company. In events like these, you meet others and you let others meet you.
Attending WordCamps lets you give life to the person behind the Gravatar. You get recognized in events and you become the face of your company. Speaking lets you give life to new ideas for yourself and your audience.
3. Plugin Development
We currently have 81 plugins in the official WordPress plugins directory. With user downloads and contributions, we were able to gain technical trust from the community, our current and potential clients. Customization and development consultation started to come from all over the world, including increased interest in the plugins, and even business partnership offers.
When developers create plugins, they improve their development skills and learning always has a positive impact. When you learn, you grow and your company grows with you.
4. Theme Development
99% of our work is related to WordPress, so we want something that can automate theme development process, and we came up with IEMOTO.
IEMOTO is a WordPress starter theme based on _s integrated with grunt-init, gulp and Sass (Compass). With IEMOTO, our development became even faster that help makes our work efficient.
With years of experience, we thought of an idea of a modern development way of WordPress (JSON REST API template). And a web media developing framework was born and we call it Media Assembly Kit.
5. Development Environment & Hosting
Most of our projects are WordPress-related, so we wanted a convenient WordPress development environment that is also useful for collaboration.
VCCW is a Vagrant configuration for WordPress sites, plugins & themes development.
It’s a development environment for WordPress which is Vagrant-based.
We also wanted to use WordPress on AWS more easily because that’s our business model. We like the idea of infrastructure as code / programmable infrastructure. Being in the industry for nearly 10 years, we’re able to refine our skills, and together we joined forces and the result is AMIMOTO.
Majority of the members in our team are developers and engineers, so the ideal environment for us is something that is friendly to our developers, that also has the performance that pass the standards of our engineers.
AMIMOTO is a pre-configured OS and virtual app software. We combined HHVM, Nginx, MySQL tuning and WP-CLI.
The code is on GitHub, and since it’s open to public, users saw that and asked us if we can help launch the same environment. What started as a company tool became a business idea, and AMIMOTO was a big turning point for us.
Open the source code and share it to the world because a code that’s open to public benefits everyone. When you contribute, it shows your community spirit, you help your business grow and WordPress evolve.
Businesses engaging in WordPress should be sensitive and considerate to the needs of the community.
Our strong community is the foundation of WordPress.
Continue to maintain sites, write code, develop plugins and themes, attend meetups, speak and organize WordCamps, and localize WordPress.
Don’t stay still, keep swimming.
In the business of WordPress and open source, you learn that it’s not about the money, but it’s about the value of sharing, the people you meet and the friends you make.
Contributing to WordPress is important to your business, because when you contribute, you learn about culture. And culture is important on how new innovations come to life.
Some questions after the talk:
1. Community in Japan
I don’t have the exact number, but the community in Japan is extremely large. Not only for WordPress, but also for specific programming language groups and other platforms. You have to be here to experience how massive it is.
- WordBench is a local WordPress meetup group in 48 different parts of Japan
- JAWS-UG is Japan Amazon Web Services User Group, the largest in Asia Pacific region
2. Clients in Japan: do they give back?
Regardless of where clients come from, when you serve them well they will be happy to give back, like answering a survey and perhaps more than that.
In Japan we have a culture of “omotenashi”. It does not really have an exact English word for that, but it means endless hospitality.