We are ready again to inspire you with our series of interviews with CMS experts today. This time, our blog guest is Michael Bastos, an experienced WordPress and Ruby on Rails developer, founder of Advanced WordPress Facebook group, Pricels.com, and a very witty interviewee. Enjoy the read!
Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Michael. Can we have a bit of background information – how did you get into WordPress industry? What is WordPress for you these days?
My adult career started with 8 years in the United States Marine Corps, when I got out as a Sergeant in 2009 I needed a way to make money while I tried to finish my degree in Computer Science.
At the time it was mostly fixing servers and networks, most of the folks I did work for would turn around and ask me if there was anything I could do for their site and I hadn’t touched web design since doing it as a teenager in the 90’s so I started researching.
Structurally the software engineer inside of me really started to like Drupal but WordPress had a community that I had not been aware of.
After a few months of research when I finally needed to make a decision on which platform to get behind I realized that most of the friends I had made along the way were in the WordPress community.
From then on I started doing a lot of freelance WordPress work until I got a position at a larger firm as a full-time Engineer and from then on I tried contributing back to the WordPress community through what I was learning and the tools at my disposal.
I created Advanced WordPress in January 2012 because I felt that no one was talking about the technologies I was using during my day job at the time like AWS or Redis or deploying WordPress through tools like Vagrant or Chef.
These days God has been good to me, I have an amazing job as a Senior Engineer and Data Scientist for an amazing company here in LaJolla, I’ve been working hard over the last year and a half on a Real Time Price Tracking API at Pricels.com and I was asked to lead the team that was putting together WordCamp San Diego 2015 and it’s been an amazing honor to work with the other 7 Organizers who have done such an amazing job putting it all together.
You’ve done lots of development projects. Which of them you are most proud of? What specifically interesting projects are you working on now?
I’ve worked at places ranging from Sempra Utilities to the Naval Research group at SPAWAR to smaller companies but if I had to pick the project that is most dear and near to me it would have to be the work I’ve done on Pricels.com API over the last year or more.
Pricels.com is not a WordPress project yet but I have talked with a few friends to eventually create a WordPress or WooCommerce Plugin for the API and I’m excited at the thought of returning to php and WordPress again in my day to day.
What gave you the idea to create Advanced WordPress Facebook Group? When you have actually been creating it, did you have the idea that it will grow to a group of this size?
I’m a sharer, I share stuff with folks that I read on hacker news or learn from trial and error all of the time, I get texts and emails all of the time asking how to solve this problem or that from friends and family and I try to answer them all as best as I can.
Advanced WordPress back in January of 2012 was just a way for a few of us to consolidate that sharing, it started with in-person meetups here in San Diego that still happen every month and eventually led to the Facebook and Google Plus groups that everyone uses.
I’m not surprised that it grew as big as it did, only that there are folks that still don’t like the format. I get messages all of the time from people that tell me that I should never have put it on Facebook or should have built a site around it. My perspective has been to go to where the conversation is already happening, not trying to create a business or a company out of this, just trying to keep the conversation going as best as possible which is why we have some 20+ admins in the group.
What resources do you turn to when you face any WordPress issues? What resources would you recommend for self-study?
Google, it’s honestly the best tool to use before anything else, in AWP we ask that folks at least try to find out the answer to a question themselves before they ask the group.
What are the challenges in using WordPress? Do you find any features that are necessary to be added, and any to be done away with?
I’m an engineer so I’m the worst person to ask this question to, at the end of the day I use WordPress very differently than other people because I use many of the other competing tools as well like Node, Rails, and Jekyll and wish some of their features were found in WordPress, but that is the wrong perspective to have.
Every tool has a purpose and trying to change that purpose will only confuse people who still appreciate the original purpose of the tool in the first place. I’d love to get some time to help WordPress use Postgres SQL or SQLite instead of just MySQL or MariaDB (which works really well since it’s compatible with MySQL).
I’d also love to introduce the concept of working in different development environments like production, staging, testing and or development and allow the framework to have those concepts built into it natively.
Yet those are all my paradigms and may not fit WordPress as it currently stands and it would be wrong of me to impose those views unless the community as a whole desired them.
Providing migration service, we witness that there’s a growing trend to leave other CMS platforms in favor of WordPress. Have you ever faced the problem of website migration? Do you think it’s crucial to keep the same design when converting?
Folks don’t want to have to pay expensive licenses to use all of the tools made available to them on other platforms which is why I think they make the switch to a system as popular as WordPress, it would be best for us to remember that the next time someone tries to make a service or product in the WordPress space.
I think new platforms are a chance to update and upgrade the look and feel of anything, if you’re not upgrading when you move servers then you’re project/code/program is already dying.
And the last question. As long as WordPress has the best community that expands with each passing day, could you share any parting insights on where do you see this CMS in a prospect of the next five years?
My friend Chris Lema once mentioned that the Community is consolidating and maturing, I see that as a necessary step for a market that is ripe for disruption and innovation.
With projects like the one from the ServerPress.com guys building Desktop Server 4.0 to bring a Node.js type development environment to WordPress and more and more smaller companies creating platforms for niche areas such as WordImpress.com doing a WooCommerce like platform for donations called Give, the more established WordPress companies will welcome it all and that makes all the difference.
The reality is that most of the community are friends, most of us that have been around WordPress for a few years now have BBQ’s together or know the names of each other’s kids.
That is where the WordPress community differs from other industries, at least in my part of the world, we encourage each other because you never know who might be working with whom in the future and a lot of that I think is thanks to WordCamps being structured the way they are.
We would like to thank Michael for the time he spent to share his WordPress ideas, recommendations and cherished memories and thoughts.
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