Anyone who’s good at what they do will tell you that you have to surround yourself with people who are likeminded if you want to succeed in the same area as they have.
Today that principle couldn’t be any easier to live by simply because of the advent of the internet, blogs, podcasts, and social media.
Over the past few years (and particularly in two areas of my life) I’ve tried to live by that principle. I’ve been intentional to surround myself with great content and great content producers even if they don’t know my name or who I am. If you’re a web developer and are interested in furthering your craft, you absolutely must continue furthering your education and sharpening your skills.
Web Development Blogs
Before there was Youtube, there were tutorials. Most of which were written, and contained a few images or snippets of code. As a developer who’s been in the game for a while, I had to learn by reading countless tutorials, forum posts, and product documentation. If you’re not a reader of web development blogs, tutorials, and documentation then you’ll never be a successful developer, so learn to read and most importantly learn how to search for the solutions to your problems. Some great web development blogs to help you get started reading include the following.
Pippin Williamson is one of the most widely known WordPress developers out there. He’s produced many premium and free plugins such as Easy Digital Downloads, Affiliate WP, and Restrict Content Pro. Pippinsplugins.com is a great resource for WordPress developers who are looking to learn about advanced WP techniques. Pippin frequently blogs and releases tutorials that will help you sharpen your skills tremendously. Check out his blog and help him out by purchasing a subscription.
Monday By Noon
Monday By Noon is one of those sites that really amazes you once you start to dig into the old posts that are archived on it. Jonathan not only teaches you about certain aspects of code and things that he’s done, but he also teaches a lot about business and how he runs his business as a web developer. Jonathan is also the creator of a really awesome search indexing plugin called Search WP, I suggest you check it out and purchase it to better power your site’s searchability.
Codrops by Tympanus
Codrops is a really neat source for learning how to sharpen your frontend development skills. They have tons of articles that deal specifically with CSS and JS development as it’s related to the user’s experience.
Deep Dive Into Plugin Code
One of the best ways to learn is to learn by example. This principle applies very obviously in industries that are very hands on, and it also applies in web development. Over the past year, the way that I’ve learned the most has been by breaking down the code of other plugins to understand why things were done the way they were.
Now not all plugins or plugin developers write the best code, or follow the best practices so you do have to have some discernment when you’re looking at plugins and seeking to learn.
Some of the plugins that I’ve personally done a lot of diving into and reverse engineering have been the following.
WooCommerce is probably the most used e-commerce platform in the world. It’s a powerful plugin that allows you to sell all kinds of goods and services. Woocommerce has one of the best file architectures that I’ve come across, and is actually the basis for a plugin that I’ll be releasing later this year. Things you can learn a lot about include.
- Creating templates with your plugin
- Overriding the template if it’s included in the user’s theme
- Installing new database tables
- Applying filters and actions (These are all over the place)
- The upgrade process for the plugin
Easy Digital Downloads
EDD does as the name suggests, its handles the selling of digital goods online. EDD is another one of those plugins that you can learn a lot from. Two things that stuck out to me was the way they handle database transactions, and the way they handle generating html fields. I’d strongly recommend diving into the following files to soak it all in.
CMB2 creates custom metabox fields for post types, taxonomies, user meta, options, and more. CMB2 is also a plugin that is very easily and widely extended, and I’ve personally done so for many sites myself. CMB2 uses a really neat singleton class that basically handles all of the data that is passed into it via hooks. It also has many actions and filters that make CMB2 a pleasure to work with. Some files I’d suggest you check out include the following.
Podcasts For Developers
Podcasts are a great way to learn from the experiences and expertise of other developers. Many developers have been in the same circumstances and faced the same problems, so to be able to get free advice from them is literally priceless.
Podcasts for developers can range from business management and practices, to plugin development. A few of the podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis, which are not limited development include.
Apply Filters is a great resource for WordPress plugin and theme developers. It is hosted by Brad Touesnard and Pippin Williamson, and they frequently have guests who talk about their products, business, and how they developed their products. Apply Filters’ best selling point is Pippin’s and Brad’s experience in web development.
Post Status is another great podcast for developers and WordPress entrepreneurs in general. Hosted by Brian Krogsgard, Post Status is much like Apply Filters in that there is a ton of talk about code, and web development practices. Post Status also has many guests who share their WordPress development experience.
Matt Report is run by Matt Medeiros where he interviews guests who speak about their experience as a WordPress entrepreneur. Many of his guest talk about the problems they’ve faced as business people, the solutions they came up with, and the products or services they’ve built since being in business.
Web development is an ever evolving industry. To be a web developer requires a person to be motivated and willing to continue learning. The resources I’ve listed are just a few, there are plenty more to help you sharpen your skills so keep searching and keep learning.