In a series of short interviews in the weeks before WordCamp Europe we’ll introduce some of the speakers you’ll have a chance to meet at the event.
Ryan McCue is a WordPress developer from Australia and might be to this day the youngest WordPress developer to start contributing to core (his first patch was committed when he was only 14!). Nowadays, at the much more mature age of 21, Ryan leads one of the projects that will secure the future growth of WordPress as an application framework – the JSON REST API project. He works for Human Made as the lead developer for Happytables.com.
Ryan will tell us more about the REST API project during his WordCamp Europe talk, but before that happens, let’s learn a bit more about him and his WordPress origin story.
How did you get involved with WordPress?
Way back when I was in school, before the days where computers were locked down and you couldn’t run anything, I got involved with PortableApps.com. The whole point of the project was essentially to get various programs (like Firefox) running off USB drives so you could take everything with you
It also happened to be my first open source project, and my first introduction to working with other people on open source. I managed to get some free site hosting from someone else involved with the project and decided I needed a blog. I tried out a bunch of them, but turns out they all sucked compared to WP 🙂
How old were you back then? There are rumours you created your first patch at 14?
I was actually about 11 or 12 when I first got involved with PortableApps, so I was working on open source before I discovered WP. I also had some homegrown plugins and themes before I started patching core. But 14 for my first core patch sounds about right. The whole reason I got started with PortableApps was so I could play games at school instead of doing work 😉
Do you remember how you got involved with contributing to WordPress?
I think the first version of WP that I used was in the 2.x, and same for the patch itself I suspect.
I’m not entirely sure what my first patch was, although probably it was a small CSS or JS change. I do remember replacing the colour picker in WP around the same time with Farbtastic, though, which I think was my first major-ish patch. To date though, I’m not entirely sure how many substantial patches I’ve contributed, although I suspect it’s low. That said, I’m personally responsible for huge parts of core, since I’m also the maintainer of SimplePie, which used to be ~10% of the core code (although I suspect it’s lower now).
So apart from WordPress (and your side job at Human Made) what do you do with your time?
I like to joke that working at Human Made is my spare time, since I somehow find a way to fill most of my time working on open source projects. 😉
Seriously though, I’m a bit of a transport nut, so I spend lots of time arguing with friends and family over things like bus routes, which is pretty nerdy. I’m an avid gamer too, so I’ve been super enjoying playing Cities: Skylines recently – definitely recommend it!
Thanks! So nowadays you head the Json REST API project. Could you give us a quick overview of the project?
The REST API is basically a way to get at the actual content of your site in a machine-readable way. The idea with this is to let plugin and theme developers create richer, more responsive websites, as well as helping to improve mobile apps’ access.
Right now, WP has a system to do this, called the XML-RPC API, but it’s a pain to use for developers. Not only that, but it suffers from problems with mobile devices due to how inefficient it is
With the REST API, we’re already seeing developers taking the ball and running with it. The AppPresser team has developed a system to create custom mobile apps for your site, news organisations like Wired and The New York Times are using it to connect their newsroom into WordPress, and theme developers are using it to supercharge their themes
It’s now a feature plugin, what are the plans for getting it into core?
It’s a slow-but-steady process that we’re working on, talking back and forth with the core team and working out the best way to get this thing in. We just pushed out the first beta of our new 2.0 version, which is the result of the input that we’ve had from core developers, as well as developers using version 1 out in the wild. We’ve got further things we still want to do here, and we’ll be working even closer with the core team during the 4.3 cycle.
Who else is working with you on the project?
Myself and Rachel Baker are the project leads, with Daniel Bachhuber and Joe Hoyle as our main contributing developers for version 2. All up, we have 53 contributors to the project, which totally blows me away
So if anyone wants to get involved, how should they do it?
The best way to get involved is to listen in to our twice-weekly meetings in the #core-restapi room on Slack. We hold these at 23:00 UTC on Mondays and Wednesdays. We’ll quite often jump into a Google Hangout as well to work through issues, and of course everyone is welcome to join these as well (we’ll link them in the room)
The day-to-day development takes place over on GitHub, and we use the issue tracker there heavily.
So what should people expect from your talk at WordCamp Europe?
At #WCEU, I’ll be speaking about how you can use the REST API in projects starting right now, and explore some of the ways that people are already using it today. It’ll be general enough for most people to understand it, but obviously it helps to have a technical background, and it’s probably most useful for those people as well.
See you there!
Make sure you mark your schedule for Ryan McCue’s talk on the REST API.
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