What will the introduction of Gutenberg means for developers working with WordPress?
You can read more about Gutenberg and design systems in our interview with Tammie Lister from Automattic.
You already mentioned React and the topic of your workshop at WordCamp Europe was Gutenberg block development with React. Could you please explain how React works inside of WordPress and what are the benefits of using it?
My next question is about educating people. You are a professional educator for already many years. What advice would you give to a WordPress developer who wants to start teaching others about the platform?
ZG: Well, keep it up! I mean we have a really great ecosystem. You know, I do full-time education, so it’s courses and things like that and I’m not doing so much development for client projects. So what I’m able to produce is very different. So I’d say don’t necessarily try to model what I’m doing necessarily, in terms of like a huge course, or “I want to do this and have it be this big”. Like even just writing about what you’re sharing about [is good]. One of the biggest things is, if you search for a problem and didn’t find a good result or answer, well now educate someone else on how to do that right. Especially for developers those rich blog articles, and again now is a really good time, so blog titles that have to deal with the WordPress editor and React or Redux or Gutenberg these are helpful things that people are searching and looking around for. Really just filling gaps with your knowledge set. If you work for a company and you want to get into a culture of sharing different things, there are good WordPress agencies out there that do really good examples, and maybe something like a white paper or a tutorial where you show something off from a case study like these are helpful. I just encourage people often when they’re like “oh, I want to do a course or something”, there’s a lot of work that goes into it the planning the preparation the doing it and then the marketing and getting it out there right so not everything has to take the same format. Although in these days and ages if you could screencast and throw stuff up on YouTube that’s a whole other market and cool thing there too and if you want help further please reach out, I like the topic so happy to help and discuss more.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned during your time as an educator?
ZG: Oh dear, that’s a good one. I honestly think it’s more an experience I’ve had of joy and when people who really want to learn something come together and then there’s an ability to facilitate that and it goes along with someone having hopes and dreams for their life and doing what they dream. To be a part of that is really inspiring for me. So just as much as I might make money from a course, the excitement in the heart is as a whole combined component to it. I don’t know what I’ve learned from that, but I’ve learned that like my experience and to be part of it is a cool thing.
What ways can becoming a WordPress educator help a WordPress developer improve their own skills?
ZG: Anybody who’s taken the time to try to explain something to somebody else knows that there’s a different level of knowledge that’s required to solve a problem, because you have a context of your whole problem and you just need this part solved. Whereas often times when you get into explaining you need to explain the whole context of what you’re teaching because you don’t know what the problem is going to be, so you need to like spread it as wide as possible and cover that. That’s thankfully helpful.
What’s the best way for people working with WordPress to make sure that their skills stay up-to-date?
How do you personally keep up with the latest developments and decide which tools and technologies to learn and then to teach?
How do you learn fast?
ZG: I think for all of us it depends and we refine it, but some of the things that I have that make it easier for me to do is, I’ve spent a lot of time in academia. I’ve been through a lot of schooling, I’ve taught a lot of schooling, so that system of learning I’m familiar with, but I also have the time, if my full time job is education, a huge part of that is research and having the time to do that, that not everybody has the luxury to do. But I like to think I could download stuff pretty quickly so consuming as much in different formats. I’ll watch like two or three courses on a subject or read all the major articles. I’ll look at the tutorials. Sometimes I’ll build a little something to just glue the pieces together and I don’t know just download, download, download. Sometimes I feel like: Yeah, you know our brains are more antennas and all we have to do is tune into a field of something and we just through osmosis start picking random stuff up, but you know different thoughts on how we learn.
Who are your top WordPress experts to follow on social media?
ZG: Okay, so if you just stopped at certain experts and not social media it would have been two different things, because there are some great people I’ve gotten to know at WordPress you wouldn’t know from following. Well, you might know how smart they are, but they don’t share out everything that they’re doing.
I think one of the top ones to watch is probably Weston Ruter. He works at XWP which is a great WordPress VIP agency or one of the enterprise level agencies. He also works on the customizer and the next level of Gutenberg passive editor is going to be in the customizer. He writes a ton on the make WordPress blog and he’ll share out stuff and also doing things with amp and new page designs and mobile first and that sort of stuff. So he’s one I would definitely watch.
Another – not to plug XWP too much – but Tonya Mork is a friend of mine and a fellow educator and she’s actually returning now to the development world and working. You could find her @hellofromTonya on Twitter and http://knowthecode.io/. She has a huge education site with tons of free resources. So it’s always sharing out information.
Carl Alexander is another one, I don’t know if folks know him or not, but more on the deep deep programming understanding. Things at a deeper level like object-oriented programming or server architecture and more complex stuff. He get in over my head pretty quick.
Josh Pollack is another one a good friend of mine and he writes pretty prolifically and it’s been doing some web series on Gutenberg and stuff like that.
I am missing a ton. Mel Choyce I really like watching, because she shares some different design aspects of how things in WordPress are evolving.
Oh there’s got to be more. I’m so sorry for all the ones I’m missing but those are interests of that come off off the top of my head.