Over the next few weeks we’re going to give you all the opportunity to get to know some of our WordPress Plugin developers. You’ll get to know a bit about them and their plugins. This week we’re off to Wales to meet Jonathan O’Shea, developer of Welcome Box and Post PDE.
What is your name and where in the world are you?
My name’s Jon and I’m from sunny Wales, UK.
Can you tell me a bit about your background?
I’m an avid computer nerd with a passion for programming cool things.
When I was about 7 I started programming in Visual Basic, and went from there. I was fascinated by how creative you could be with programming (and I wasn’t very good at drawing or music!) and so it wasn’t long before I took an interest in coding websites.
I graduated from university in 2008 with a Bsc (Hons) Computer Science degree and started along the path to becoming a web developer by working (mostly for free) for several IT and website development companies, started to specialise in PHP and MySQL programming, and then decided to go freelance (best decision ever).
For the past 2 years I’ve been working as an individual contractor specialising in WordPress customizations.
I also work part time as the IT Officer of a community centre near where I live.
Are you a full-time plugin developer or is it your bit on the side?
A bit on the side. I see making plugins as a bit of a break from general website development!
There’s a creative side to making plugins, which I enjoy a lot.
Why did you decide to put your development efforts into WordPress?
The first CMS I was introduced to was Joomla, the concept of a CMS being fairly new to me at the time. I could instantly see the benefits but I didn’t find it very intuitive so I started looking into others and inevitably WordPress popped up and has been my favourite ever since and certainly loved by many of my clients past and present.
I love how it’s intuitive, organised, solid/stable, and very easy to code for.
How much experience do you have working with WordPress?
I’ve been working with it for the best part of 2 years now. I can install and configure it, and create and modify themes and plugins.
I’ve lost count of how many themes I’ve made and customized for my clients, but I’ve written 3 plugins for it so far (and I’m just getting started!).
Can you tell me a bit about your plugin and why you wanted to develop it? (e.g was it to solve a problem you encountered, was it for someone else, or did you just wake up inspired one morning?)
The idea for this plugin just came to me! It was one of those “wouldn’t it be cool if…” moments and I was feeling creative.
I thought it would be cool if you could have a lightbox automatically pop up when a user visits the home page of your WordPress website, which you could use to display anything you want e.g. news, event highlights, images, adverts, promotions.
It gives you the option to display any webpage or image, and whether to display it only once per user per session.
It’s VERY useful for grabbing the attention of first-time visitors, or displaying news to regular visitors!
What other plugins have you worked on?
This plugin was inspired by a client of mine who needed a way to restrict certain posts to not just ‘members-only’ but only to members who’ve been signed up for a specific number of days. He needed it to control certain features of his WordPress-aMember membership website. We were both surprised to find that there wasn’t already a plugin that quite does the job so… I saw it as an opportunity/excuse to have a go at writing a plugin myself!
It’s incredibly useful if you’re starting a WordPress membership website; it allows you to drip feed content to members rather than give them access to everything straight away.
Do you have a favorite WordPress plugin?
Strangely I don’t. But I guess that’s because my favourite plugin is the one I install just after thinking “I wonder if there’s a plugin for…” and then finding out there is which has just saved me a tonne of hassle!
Of course, if there isn’t one then that’s just an opportunity
Any chance of a sneak preview of future WordPress plugins?
I’m actually working on a new one called ‘Exit Box‘ which I’m about to release soon! [I don't want to reveal any more! ]
Tell me a bit about your development setup and process. What’s your workspace like? Why?
I work from home on my ‘souped-up’ 1.73 GHz (WOW!) 2GB laptop running Vista Basic with Automatic Updates turned off.
I also have my PC which I built myself a few years ago but I only use it as a backup workstation and for recreational things.
What are your essential programs, accessories, toys for developing? What helps you get the work done? Are there any pieces of software you think you should use but you don’t?
I’m very much a code-from-scratch person so to me, the best program is Notepad++ – it’s an advanced text editor with support for all the programming languages I use as a web developer.
I use FTP a lot and I’ve found WinSCP to be the best no-nonsense client.
What helps me get the work done: I find music essential to my working environment. I use Youtube to listen to playlists, rather than Spotify, iTunes etc. (because I’m a rebel).
Do you have any favourite plugin development snacks or habits?
Tea (I’m British after all).
What else do you do apart from develop great WordPress plugins?
Apart from my web development work, I work out, I love to make/record/mix music, and I love performing with my band. I also do a bit of gaming and have an interest in games programming.Wordpress, Plugin, Meet, Developer, Jonathan, O’Shea