December Development Update

I haven’t written a dev diary update for quite a while – Over the past few months I’ve been preparing a lot of back-end stuff to make my life easier. The main issue was whenever I ran promotions, I’d get inundated with private questions which then I had to answer privately and this would really depress me.

I’ve removed the private tickets, so now everyone can benefit from the questions and answers and after this recent Black Friday this has worked really well. Instead of tickets, there is the public Q&A, although there is a private note area included there to provide access details and other private info. There’s also an option in the updated Q&A system to hide any URLs you provide, if you’re concerned about other WP Intense users stealing your ideas. I’ve removed the group from Facebook too, although you can still contact me directly through Facebook if you wish – I’ve basically consolidated the support into the Q&A, Bug Reports, Feature Requests – that’s it.

Plugin Updates

I’m still using the Trello development board for more live detail on development sprints although I’ve gotten stuck a little on the public Trello board with the Faster Woo Widgets plugin. That plugin has been in beta for far too long and my primary mission for December is to get FWW out of beta and back to core.

There are some other changes coming for Super Speedy Search too – the ability to ‘group by’ post types to show grouped search results (e.g. on this site it would show products, articles, q&a, FAQs etc). This is a minor alteration and will be released in December too.

I have a minor update planned for Price Comparison Pro to add templating options and make it easy for people to create their own templates in their own languages.

Finally, there is another update coming for External Images to make it compatible with Beaver Builder – that update is almost complete.

I’ve tried hiring different developers over the past 6 months but none of them were good enough, so I’ve come to the realisation that the best thing I could do in terms of a new hire is hiring a tester who doubles as a documenter. i.e. someone to run through all the features of each plugin, one by one, set up tests, write bug reports and write the documentation/take screenshots etc to fill out all the documentation pages and explain how to achieve whatever you need with the plugins. They would also be responsible for filling out comprehensive bug reports and responding to bug reports from customers – i.e. testing it themselves and updating the bug report to be more complete.

That will leave me headspace to work on support Q&A, plugin updates, articles & videos throughout each week.

Longer Term Plans

I have big plans for Scalability Pro, most of which has been designed already but not yet coded. The first aspect is making it easy to submit Query Monitor results to WP Intense. I’m setting up a system which will help triangulate and identify which plugins cause scalability issues.

Additionally, there are coding patterns I regularly spot inside plugins which cause scalability issues, so I’m adding a code scanner to Scalability Pro to detect potential issues.

Scalability Pro will also get a black list and a grey list of plugins – the black list plugins will always cause scalability issues while the grey list plugins will have features which cause scalability issues. So – scalability pro will spot all of these and will alert you for potential fixes. This will apply to themes too. It’s very common for themes to be scalable, but perhaps one feature causes scalability issues.

I have another stack guide to build too, and a hosting review and comparison of the top 5 hosting options. These things are all coming in the new year.

Finally, I have altered the Performance Analysis Service I offer – in the past, I always performed these in private, but now if anyone wants a performance analysis done they have to agree that I get to publish a case study of the work. That means all that work gets to be public too – no more working in private for individual companies. In accordance with this, I’ve cut the price of the performance analysis by over 60%.

So – no more working in private is the general statement of this dev diary – working in private depresses me – I’ve helped quite a few large companies with performance analysis work over the past year and often I don’t even get a review out of it. That’s over – all performance analysis work will now be public (with URLs redacted if the customer demands). Add to that mix, no more private tickets – all questions are public. And questions over email are no longer allowed either – the only two emails I’ll answer are [email protected] and [email protected]

Over the Christmas break, I’ll be thinking of ways to video-diary my work – I’ve been watching some other programmer videos and one possibility is to actually screencast my development sessions live with the ability for customers to comment and help while I code. I’m not sure if this will work, but it’s something I’m thinking to experiment with. I want to make videos that are interesting and insightful – so maybe screencasts might be too boring – but the overall priority is getting my plugins to be the backbone of most large WordPress websites. That requires marketing – which I suck at – so in lieu of hiring a full time marketer, the public Q&A (which I will answer) and the documentation (which the tester will create) will fill that marketing role in the meantime.

If this works as I think it should, it should bring enough traffic that I can then hire a marketer to grow the business more and then a proper development team when the money is there to support one.

Let me know any thoughts you have on any of this in the comments below.

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