In my last 4 years as a software developer for GoDaddy, I’ve had the chance to work on one of the largest scale WordPress sites that I’ve ever worked with. Both on a traffic and complexity scale. I’d share numbers but I’m not sure if that’s allowed at this point in time. I’m sure there are larger sites out there, but this was my largest. There were many custom plugins, frameworks, integrations, and modifications that we implemented in order to make WordPress work the way the stakeholder’s wanted. When I joined the team it was a codebase with a large number of core hacks and ‘bolted on’ parts. This wasn’t due to bad developers, just a result of not having WordPress developers. It worked for what was needed and got the job done. When I joined the team, throughout the four years of working on it, we were able to reduce that to 2 core hacks and a LARGE number of plugins and theme features. Due to the improvements my team and I made over the years, we were able to reduce the hardware requirements in half and increase performance to the point that our Database engineers said there were significant drops in load.
As you can tell, I’m very proud of what my team and I achieved throughout the last 4 years, but as the great philosopher Bob Dylan said, “Times, they are a-changin'”.
Over the last 4 years, I’ve had 3 stakeholders, all with slightly different views of what our product was. This resulted in some technical debt while shifting gears on short timeframes. The latest of these changes left us looking at the overall requirements, and realized that WordPress wasn’t necessary for the future of the product, so we’re starting to re-architecture and redesign the codebase. Some developers might take offense to this and feel that it’s calling their previous worthless, but I choose to take the perspective that it’s an opportunity to take my expert knowledge in the current codebase, and translated it into something new.
Not only is the app shifting away from WordPress, but PHP entirely. We’re moving to a NodeJS stack with ElasticSearch for a data source. A HUGE change in direction for me, who’s focused on WordPress, PHP, and MySQL. Am I afraid? You bet. Is it frustrating at times? Sure. But what I’ve learned in the last 4 years is that any good developer can adapt to the world around them. If it means learning a new language, technology, or technique…going with the change and educating yourself is a much easier resisting it the entire way. Even if it hurts to see your old code get retired, you can use the knowledge gained from it to make the new iteration better.
What does this mean for my job
Nothing. I’m still a software developer at GoDaddy. I’m even still on the same team. My team is just being tasked with updating the architecture and codebase to one more suitable for the project’s scope.
So what does all this mean for my current WordPress plugins?
Overall, I’m really excited to take this project to a new level and see what I can achieve.