2019 Sunset

10-minute read

2019 Year in Review

Code Potent has been busy on lots of ClassicPress-related projects during 2019. Check out what Code Potent has been up to!

Thanks for checking out the Code Potent 2019 Year in Review! Over the course of the year, I’ve been busy with all sorts of various things related to ClassicPress. It’s been a fun and interesting year! As you may know, Code Potent will eventually be creating premium plugins and extensions to help monetize the effort – indeed, to build a sustainable business providing ClassicPress solutions – however, given the young age of the project, I decided to first focus on several non-monetary goals. These goals were:

  1. to establish a consistently active presence in the community, and
  2. to build a foundation of trust with my peers and end-users, and
  3. to create a recognizable brand around my content and code, and
  4. to advocate for best practices with easy-to-understand examples.

So, what have I been up to? How did I go about achieving these goals? Did I even achieve any of them? Glad you asked! Following is a roadmap (of sorts) of the various activities I’ve been involved in this year related to ClassicPress. So, let’s dive in!

Building a New Website

Without a website, I’d just be a series of screen names on the web. No good! I mean, that just doesn’t tend to instill trust. On the other hand, I wasn’t super thrilled with the idea of having to build a website. It requires dealing with things I’m not very passionate about – things like configuring SEO and security plugins, setting up dedicated social accounts, and dealing with spam comments and registrations. So, what to do? Get to work, that’s what.

At the end of 2018, I began planning the codepotent.com website. ClassicPress “happened” before I was ready for it, so, there was some scrambling to get enough content for a launch. I toyed with the idea of building a theme from the ground up, but, since design really isn’t my jam, I got over that pretty quick. To save time – indeed, to save my own sanity – I purchased a commercial theme from a popular shop and got to work wrapping it around the content and structure I’d created. Putting the site aesthetics into more capable hands was a great decision; it allowed me to start with a solid design on which I could then unleash my own code-fu at full-speed-ahead.

By early 2019, the site launched with its first 20 long-form tutorials. Phew! With the creation of the website and initial content, people were happy to see a plugin developer fully embracing ClassicPress and I think this forum post and Tweet are still my most popular to date. The website will hopefully become a go-to source for ClassicPress resources for both developers and end-users alike – a place to learn, a place to share, a place for Code Potent plugins and resources to call home.

New Plugins

During 2019, I created and released around 10 new ClassicPress plugins. Most of the plugins were utilitarian in nature, providing much-needed functionality, but, more geared toward demonstrating my “style” and showing what users might expect from my work. The feedback has been encouraging.

While you can still download these plugins from GitHub and use them, they don’t yet include a plugin update mechanism. This means you wouldn’t get any updates, even if they were security-related. That said, I am adding the update mechanism to all the plugins and will revisit this post with links as each is completed. So far, I’ve released:

  • PHP Error Log Viewer
  • Crayon Syntax Highlighter – a fork for PHP 7 compatibility
  • Registration Honeypot
  • Username Protection
  • Estimated Read Time
  • Carbon Copy
  • WYSIWYG Advanced – a fork of TinyMCE, being renamed to Enriched Editor
  • Years Since – being renamed to Timeless Text
  • Utility Plugin – a boilerplate in 4 flavors

Whereas many people search for a plugin to meet their needs, my first thought is often to wonder how long it would take to write a plugin that will meet those needs. I’m a huge fan of plugins that are performant and free of bloat, and one way to ensure this is to just create the features you need without a single feature more. Such is the life of a plugin developer!

Plugin Directory

One of the larger projects this year has been the onsite plugin directory (which is, itself, a plugin) created to host Code Potent plugins here on the site. My original plan was to wait for the official ClassicPress Plugin Directory and, in the meantime, I’d just link up users to my GitHub. However, within a short time, it became apparent that GitHub was problematic for average users and I’d heard things like, “What do I download?” and “What do I do next?” and “Where are the docs?” …and…and… I found myself saying:

I need to solve this before the official plugin directory is launched.

John Alarcon

The idea for the “Plugin Directory” plugin began taking shape over the following several weeks and, since I didn’t have free time for another big project, it ate up a handful of weekends over several months and many a late night.

At this writing, I consider the directory “soft-launched”. Only a couple of plugins have been added, allowing for some last minute “live” user testing and to integrate the update mechanism. I’m looking very forward to adding the rest of my plugins to the directory soon – and building a bunch more!

New Tutorials

While I haven’t yet committed to a dedicated publishing schedule, new articles and tutorials have continued to roll out. This year saw nearly 30 ClassicPress-specific tutorials created. I’m proud of the content and eager to continue with it. Most of all, I’m extremely grateful to those who have been consuming and sharing it with others. These are encouraging signs. My tutorials and articles tend to be long – 1500 to 2000 words – and I appreciate the time visitors invest in the material. While the articles are still receiving limited traffic, they are doing well in SERPs and I think they’ll be useful for many years to come. You can be sure many more will follow.

High Visibility

I’ve made it a point to be highly active in the ClassicPress community every day. You can often find me suggesting ideas, answering question, taking part in discussions, creating cool things – or even just posting something random to gawk at. I’m an avid supporter of the project and am happy to use my platform – however tiny it may still be – to elevate ClassicPress and related projects.

New Social Channels

Code Potent doesn’t necessarily need an Instagram or a YouTube account. Yet. However, in anticipation that these channels may be needed in the future, I’ve registered official accounts across the more popular social media. I’m not a social media guru with a master plan for these channels; these accounts were created simply to reserve a place for the Code Potent brand in the more common spaces.

Twitter has become my go-to network, so, if you’re following there, you probably won’t miss anything. Somehow, I’ve racked up hundreds of Tweets – mostly about ClassicPress, SEO, technology, security, and best practices. And, no politics!

It has been said that every time someone follows me on Twitter, a junior developer gets a promotion. You should totally do it. You know, just in case.

John Alarcon, @CodePotent

Core Contributions

I haven’t been a huge core contributor, but, have submitted a few issues and pull requests along the way. I also did a bit of work fixing validation issues in the new ClassicPress.net theme prior to the revamp. My biggest core contribution would have to be the newly redesigned installation process – basically, I turned WordPress’ famous “5 minute install” into a streamlined “60 second install“, including making consistent the branding and style across the myriad success/failure screens that are possible during installation.

Plugin Accolades

While I didn’t realize it until after the fact, John Overall of WP Plugins A to Z had somehow caught wind of what I was doing. By the time I found out, he had reviewed a half dozen of my plugins on his show. Better still, he gave every plugin at least a 4 (out of 5) rating. I was gobsmacked! John has continued to recommend my various articles and tutorials to his audience – he’s been a fantastic supporter.

In addition to the reviews on the podcast, end users have been reporting back great experiences with Code Potent plugins. In hindsight, I should have been collecting some of those comments as testimonials, but, alas, they were 10k’d by Slack. I managed to scrape together a few for the PHP Error Log Viewer plugin and will do better this coming year.

Podcast Interview

After having had several plugins reviewed on the WP Plugins A to Z podcast, I was contacted to be a guest on the show. Of course, I said yes! A few weeks later, I talked with John Overall for a good 20 minutes – it was a nice interview. John’s is the longest-running WordPress (and ClassicPress!) show on the internet; it was thrill to be on and I hope to get invited back!

New Forum Role

I’ve been a very active community member and was recently given a forum moderator role at the official ClassicPress support forums. This has been very light work, to be sure, which is a great testament to the awesomeness of the community.

Community Interview

Back in February, the ClassicPress blog began running a “Meet the Community” series as a way for everyone to learn more about those involved with the project. It was an honor to have my interview kick off the series! Mostly, I’ve enjoyed reading about everyone else – it really does create a great sense of community.

Officially Published

While it didn’t take a bunch of extra effort on my part, there were several articles republished on the ClassicPress blog. It’s a great feeling when your satellite words find a platform back on the mothership! If you’re writing about ClassicPress, I encourage you to inquire about guest-blogging or republishing your existing works.

Improved Search Placement

Let’s face it: writing long articles is the easy part. Making them engaging and authoritative is a whole other thing. For the most part, I’ve spent 1-2 hours on each article after-the-fact rewriting for active voice, improved flow, and general on-page search optimization. Luckily, the process is getting faster as my writing improves. It has taken some months, but, Code Potent is now ranking very well in Google for many top ClassicPress queries. As it turns out, much of the search analytics is Greek to me, so, my strategy is an amalgam of on-page SEO and hoping for the best.

Financial Support

Starting in late 2018, Code Potent made an internal, non-verbal commitment to assist the ClassicPress foundation with operating costs. Every bit helps, after all. To meet this need, I’ve been donating $1,000 per year to the foundation and have honored this commitment for both 2018 and 2019.

Wrapping Up

As you might imagine, I’ve been busy with ClassicPress-related things this year! I feel that the goals originally set out have been accomplished. This was greatly facilitated by my being able to move to a new platform while retaining 100% of the expertise accumulated over more than a decade in the WordPress space. I’ve been an avid supporter of the ClassicPress mission and am thrilled to be a part of its history. I’m looking very forward to a bright future with ClassicPress and I hope that 2020 brings evermore new faces into the mix!

Long live ClassicPress!

What do you think?

Did anyone else write a year in review or similar? If so, link it up! I find it to be a great motivator to look back on the year and see the various accomplishments, whether they were successes or failures, and to reflect on the year(s) to come. What are your plans for 2020? How does ClassicPress fit in? I’d love to hear your thoughts – let me know in the comments!

4 comments on “2019 Year in Review”

  1. A commenter said:

    Wow, this is quite something. I hope to see the how I build my plugin directory tutorial one day when you are ready. It is one thing I have watched from the side but would be intrigued to see the real code. Cheers to year two!

    • AUTHOR
      Code Potent replied:

      Hi Laurence! First things first: thanks a lot for reading. 🙂 Can you believe it’s already been a whole year?!

      While the plugin was built for a very specific internal use, I’d love to share the ins-and-outs of how I built the plugin directory plugin. The dilemma is “how”. At 1Mb+, it would likely take a long series of tutorials to get from start to finish. I’ve seen a bit of interest here and there, but, it hasn’t risen to the level that I can justify spending time on a series yet. I have also considered the “public release” option, but, realistically speaking, I won’t have time to support such a weighty plugin that isn’t helping to pay some expenses.

      While I built the plugin with my own very specific needs in mind, it does occur to me that it could be used for far more than just plugins…it could be used for themes, recipes, tutorials, and probably a bunch of other things I can’t even fathom. I should have named the plugin differently, so as not to make it feel “locked-in” to such a particular purpose. I suspect this will be the best path; renaming the plugin and releasing it publicly for free with a few paid extensions, but, I’m still quite undecided.

      If you have any other ideas on how I might go about making this available (or teaching about it) without introducing a lot of extra work, I’d be ecstatic to hear them.

  2. A commenter said:

    Nice one John, I enjoyed the review, you are one of the dude pushing this project forward, it’s great to have someone like you around.

    In as much as I would love to contribute to ClassicPress, well, it turns out things went out of shape this year (Still more time though), I’ll make sure I participate more next year, so I’ll be able to write a good review like this.

    P.s – Your comment submit button is telling me to reload the page to post a comment, u gotta fix this 😉

    • AUTHOR
      Code Potent replied:

      Appreciate the kind words, Horlaes, thanks! I’m just one of many, many who are pouring themselves into the effort as much as possible. I’m hoping the post inspires others to get involved or at least take stock of what they’ve personally accomplished, and that it lets people know there are people out here working hard to help the project become a success, from the inside and the outside. I completely understand the need to step back due to “life” – it happens. I figure you can pop in any ol’ time and see many of the same faces around. And I hope you do!

      P.S. Thanks for the tip about my comment form; I’ll put it on my to-do list I think it’s resolved. 😀

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