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 WordPress.com 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:

WordPress.org Theme Review Process is Broken

Update: The Erudite 3.0.2 is now live on WordPress.org.

I’ve already criticized the WordPress.org 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 WordPress.org 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: