Andrew Munro popularly known as Sumobi, is a WordPress plugin developer from Auckland, New Zealand- a land with more sheep than people.
Andrew started out building a few extension plugins for Easy Digital Downloads, and contributing to the core. He was then brought on board as part of the support team at EDD, and later progressed to become a core developer.
He has also partnered with Pippin Williamson to build the AffiliateWP plugin.
Despite Andrew’s busy schedule, he has taken the time to talk to us, and share his development experience, and I thank him for that. 🙂
Enough from me, over to you Andrew!
What does ‘sumobi’ mean?
Back in 2010 before I got involved in plugin development I wanted to specialize in building responsive websites, hence the ‘mobi’ (mobile) part. I wanted a reasonably short domain and sumobi was the only brandable 6-letter domain I could find.
I also enjoy beer, rice and sleep, just like a sumo wrestler. 🙂
What has made you a better developer today than you were when you started out?
A few things:
- Constantly learning from other developer’s plugins. I’ll always pick up something new when I dig into someone else’s code.
- Building new plugins when I have no idea how they will work. It forces me to grow as a developer, and learn new things.
- Realizing that I’ll be spending more time debugging than coding. I indent my code, use comments, and ensure it’s logical so others can make sense of it.
According to you, what are the 4 must follow coding practices for any WordPress developer?
- Always follow WordPress coding standards.
- Functions should only do one particular task. This keeps them as small as possible, so they’re easier to debug in the future.
- Add comments to your code. When you look back at at it, you’ll know why you did something. It’ll also help other developers who work with your code, or want to contribute to it.
- Allow your code to be easily extensible through action and filter hooks.
How elaborate is your testing process for a plugin you’ve built?
I don’t do anything too elaborate, but I hate the thought of a plugin I’ve built breaking! I just triple check WP_DEBUG is always enabled, and ensure any errors are instantly shown to me on screen.
Can good support save a poorly built plugin?
If it’s your plugin, improve it. If it’s one you can contribute to, help make it better. The idea is to decrease the support load as much as possible.
Does the plugin make the author or does the author make the plugin?
Both. A well-built and popular plugin can give an author more exposure, and financial rewards. A well-established plugin developer can also bring a plugin more exposure.
Since you’ve built Shop Front, what are the challenges you faced when developing a theme as opposed to building a plugin?
I actually haven’t released any themes since Shop Front – my focus has mostly been on plugins. However, I’ve built custom themes for PippinsPlugins.com, AffiliateWP.com, and WordMaid.com. Themes are always more challenging. Style is subjective, whereas if a plugin works, it works. Never mind the sheer number of available plugins and the conflicts they can cause in themes! You simply can’t test for every possible scenario.
Name any one plugin you wish you had built
I don’t wish I had built any one particular plugin, I’m just glad someone else built them! There are so many amazing plugins. For example, without Easy Digital Downloads I wouldn’t have been as involved in plugins as I am.
Rank the following in order of importance - Users, Revenue, Popularity, Quality.
- Quality: I strongly believe in the importance of a quality product
- Users: Through understanding of a quality product, and communication, users also believe in and understand the quality
- Popularity: With users’ belief comes popularity (advocacy) and support
- Revenue: And without the first three, the last does not exist.
In this interview, the emotion that surfaces above the rest is passion– a must have for any professional, and probably the quality that makes Andrew a great developer.
Andrew, thanks again for your time and succinct answers. I resonate with the line- ‘And without the first three(Quality, Users and Popularity), the last (Revenue) does not exist‘- well said!