In this edition of our WordPress Community Interview series, we spoke with Carl Alexander while attending WordCamp Toronto. Carl is known in the community for his writings and teaching of advanced coding topics. He started coding when he was 8 years old and hasn’t stopped since.

In the video below, we learn how he got started, what brought him to WordPress and get his opinion on what the future holds for the platform and community.

Stop by the District for more from WordCamp Toronto and interviews with other influencers in the WordPress community!

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Carl Alexander:
My name is Carl Alexander. I’m I guess a consultant. I do mostly work for a small nonprofit, but I’m also known for writing at carlalexander.ca. I write very technical posts around WordPress, around coding, and I’ve been doing a lot of speaking at WordCamps for the past year and a half about those topics like advanced coding topics, or systems administration, or those types of things.

Oh, TwigPress. It’s T-W-I-G-P-R-E-S-S.

I got hired at an agency that was trying to develop their first WordPress site in 2009. That’s how I kind of got into WordPress. Actually, yeah, it was 2009. That year, I went to the first WordCamp Montreal as well. That’s what got me kind of into the community as well because we were slowly romping up doing larger and larger projects for larger web properties, for Rogers which is the equivalent of Time Warner, if you’re from the states. It’s a large conglomerate. They own a lot of magazines, newspaper, both consumer based and professional base. We started doing a lot of contracts with them. That’s kind of how I got into it.

I’ve been coding since, oh my God, maybe, I’m going to go with something like eight years old. I started with like logo writer. If you know what that is. It’s like a little Apple programming language. I did my first robotics project in grade nine. No, not grade nine, grade four, sorry. In grade four, around that and I’ve been programming on and off since then.

I went to college in computer engineering, but I graduated and ended up doing sys admin work, not coding. I kind of got back into it with WordPress. I was like on and off and then ever since WordPress is 2009, I’ve been consistently in that community with coding. That’s what I want to do, so I just stick with it.

I’d say it’s the talk I’d gave. I gave a talk in San Diego. It was called A Look at the Modern WordPress Server Stack and it really went in depth. What’s running on the modern WordPress hosting companies like WP Engines, SiteGround, GoDaddy Pro. Whether these guy’s running, what can you do? It wasn’t just about just the advance stuff. It was really from the moment you pressed enter on the browser to get a site, what was happening? How could you optimize that? What were your options? What could you do with plugins? What could you do a bit more server administration, but not too much? What were the more heavy duty options and all throughout. Not just with page caching, but with PHP, with the database. What were the options?

Every talk I do has a companion article and that companion article did very, very well and got republished on Smashing Mag too, which was my first time so I was really happy about that. That was like a small victory for me, but I’d say that one was definitely the biggest win I’d say in the last year and a half that I’ve been speaking.

I guess I’m bearish on JavaScript. I think it’s good for some use cases. Right now, I think people are a bit hyped up too much about it and try to apply it to all the use cases. I think we starve in going through that transition where people learn where this is good, where this is not good.

I think the REST API on the other hand is a very, very big thing, but it’s just taking a while to get into core, like it’s in core in some respects, but you still need the plugin if you want to interact with a lot of the WordPress functionality, but I think that’s a much stronger platform.

It’s not really that it keeps me up, but it’s just like what’s motivate me in the morning to just get out the bed because I’m self-employed on my own. That’s I find super, super important, much more than what keeps you up at night. It’s like what makes you get out of bed and sit down and do the work I find is like the challenging part when you’re on your own.

Let’s say when it keep you away from like doing a Netflix binge for like a week, you know, you start a series and then you don’t see daylight for a couple of days. I think that’s more important for me.

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