Goodbye Soma, Hello Automattic

I’m excited (and maybe a touch sad) to announce that I’m shut­ter­ing Soma Design to join the great, grow­ing team at Automat­tic to help build the best pub­lish­ing plat­form on the planet. As a Theme Engi­neer, I’ll be work­ing with the brand-new Cus­tom Design team to pro­vide some awe­some tools for cus­tomiz­ing your theme into that state of “just right.”

It’s no under­state­ment to say that I became a web devel­oper because of Word­Press. I started blog­ging with Blog­ger in 2005, only to become frus­trated and move myself over to self-hosted Word­Press. I used the old K21 theme as the basis of my own theme, and tweaked it obses­sively. WP pro­vided just the right amount of ease and power for where I was at, and revealed all the more power the fur­ther I dug. Tweak­ing your WP tem­plate is a web devel­op­ment gate­way drug.

The rest is a blur. I grad­u­ated from SSU with a BA (Hon­ours) in the Human­i­ties in 2008, hav­ing tin­kered along the way with my ever-intriguing WP blog. I even did my first paid work on my school’s web­site, attempt­ing to wran­gle some dis­as­trous table-based Dreamweaver tem­plates into some sem­blance of tol­er­a­ble. By the time I grad­u­ated with my glo­ri­ously use­less degree2, I real­ized that I could make bet­ter web sites than the major­ity of what I saw out there. So I took the plunge into free­lanc­ing with zero expe­ri­ence, con­nec­tions, or prospec­tive clients. And, many bumps in the road and umpteen trips to the codex later, it actu­ally worked out.

I’d espe­cially like to thank my friend and col­lab­o­ra­tors Mod­ern Tribe and David Pen­sato, with whom I’ve had the oppor­tu­nity to do a lot of fun and mean­ing­ful work over the last few years. I’d also like to thank the Winnipeg-based Automat­ti­cians Ian Stew­art and Krista Stevens for slowly con­vinc­ing me that I should apply. And of course, a huge thank you to the count­less peo­ple who have con­tributed of their time, skills, and pas­sion to the Word­Press project.

I’m look­ing for­ward to this next chap­ter. I get to iter­ate and improve rather than build and hand off, and work with super smart peo­ple every day. And my work will be seen my mil­lions of peo­ple. Fun. I start on Monday.

  1. Old­skool. 
  2. Empha­sis on the glo­ri­ous part, since use­ful­ness is over­rated and usu­ally far too nar­rowly con­sid­ered. The best way I’ve been able to describe the Lib­eral Arts is that “it’s use­ful for every­thing, but noth­ing in par­tic­u­lar.” 

Learning Colemak

After see­ing that Ian’s learn­ing Cole­mak, I decided to go for it too. Cole­mak is eas­ier to switch to than Dvo­rak, and pos­si­bly even more effi­cient to boot.

How­ever, I couldn’t find a key­board lay­out that I wanted to print and look at every day. I found a Mac Key­board Vec­tor with a CC license and made my own tweaks. I con­densed the key­board, and also greyed-out the keys that are unchanged from Qwerty. Down­load below:

Mac Cole­mak Lay­out

Con­sider it licensed under the same CC license as above.

Intro to Webfonts Presentation

I talked about web­fonts at the Jan­u­ary edi­tion of the Win­nipeg Word­Press meetup. The slides are not that inter­est­ing, par­tic­u­larly out of the con­text of the pre­sen­ta­tion, but here you go:

And, here’s the links from the last slide in click­able form: Theme Review Process is Broken

Update: The Eru­dite 3.0.2 is now live on

I’ve already crit­i­cized the Theme Review process when it first launched. Things seemed to be improv­ing, but either the team is poorly orga­nized, severely under-powered, or both.

The Eru­dite 3.0 has been in review for 3 months, 3.0.2 since Sept 28. The review ticket was assigned 5 weeks ago, but still no movement.

If you are savvy enough, down­load 3.0.2 from the project page. There’s a secu­rity issue in the cur­rent theme that makes updat­ing a pri­or­ity. You’ll need to install and acti­vate the Options Frame­work to change any theme settings.

NOTE: you will lose your pre­vi­ous set­tings when upgrad­ing. Annoy­ing, I know, but the old set­tings frame­work was rick­ety and awful.

WordPress Portfolio Presentation

As promised, here’s the follow-up infor­ma­tion on my Power Your Port­fo­lio With Word­Press pre­sen­ta­tion that I gave at New Media Man­i­toba yes­ter­day. I’m grate­ful that they gave me a chance to present, and dou­bly grate­ful that so many peo­ple came out on a hot sum­mer night to hear me ram­ble about nerdy Word­Press things.

Firstly, you can grab the theme on GitHub. I’d prob­a­bly even sub­mit it to the offi­cial themes direc­tory, except that it still doesn’t list child themes (it likely will in the future).

Sec­ondly, you can grab the slides on Speaker Deck (or view below). And, if you’re inter­ested in watch­ing me present, there’s the archived livestream video.

Finally, here’s a few use­ful links from my pre­sen­ta­tion, and a few oth­ers for folks who want to go deeper: