Douglas Crockford could sue the White House

Recently, the White House switched to using WordPress for whitehouse.gov. While doing so, they deployed the most recent version of WordPress. WordPress 4.9 includes a copy of CodeMirror for an improved experience when it comes to editing code. In order to provide linting of JavaScript ,CodeMirror uses JSHint.  And this is where things get interesting. 

JSHint is mostly licensed under the MIT license. I say mostly since it inherits some code from JSLint which uses a modified form of the MIT license. It requires that the software only is used for Good, not Evil.

"The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil."

So the White House is using software that can only be used for Good, not Evil. Which means that if the White House has used its website to do evil, it has violated Douglas Crockford's license. 

The next minor version of WordPress removes JSHint, but the inclusion of it will live on in internet archive history. 

Claude Monet in New York Museums

Claude Monet is one of the foremost painters of the impressionist movement. His efforts to show the motion and color of light are in full force at museums in New York City. If you want to view works by Monet, you aren't limited to just one of the art museums in NYC.  In fact, Monet's work is currently being displayed in four different New York Museums. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art 

30 works of Monet are on display at the met. These include works from when the artist was in his mid-twenties and using the inspiration of Japanese art to embrace the 2d nature of paintings. Garden at Sainte-Adresse is an example of this period of Monet's career.

Garden at Sainte-Adresse (1867)

As Monet grew older, his landscapes began to show more motion. Vétheuil in Summer was done in 1880. The brushstrokes visible in the Seine help portray the constant changing reflection of light on a body of water. 

Vétheuil in Summer (1880)

As Monet grew older, he continued his exploration of light by painting the same locations during multiple parts of the day. While making Rouen Cathedral: The Portal (Sunlight), he moved from canvas to canvas as the day progressed. More than 30 paintings make up the Rouen Cathedral series. 

Rouen Cathedral: The Portal (Sunlight) (1894)

While finishing the Rouen Cathedral series, Monet began putting in a water garden on his property that would serve as the inspiration for some of his best known works. Already in his mid-fifties, the Water Lillies demonstrate how Cataracts affected Monet's Vision with earlier works showing much greater detail, while the later works demonstrate the blurring and color changes he saw as his eyes changed.

Overall, the 30 works of Monet currently on view at the Met demonstrate the artist's evolution.

Museum of Modern Art

MoMA has a Monet specific gallery featuring 3 works from the Artists later career including a massive 3-panel Water Lilly that is one of the more breathtaking pieces of art in NYC. 

Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond flickr photo by ralph and jenny shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

MoMA's collection of Monet's is considerably smaller than the Met's collection, but the massiveness of the Water Lily on display make it a must-see piece of Art. 

Two More Monet on view in NYC

The Guggenheim currently has one Monet on view, a later work during Monet's 1908 trip to Venice while The Brooklyn Museum has The Islets at Port-Villez (Les Iles à Port-Villez), a 1890 piece with circular motions in water that echo Vincent Van Gogh's work. The Brooklyn Museum owns other works by Monet such as one from the Houses of Parliament series, but none are currently on display. 

Between the breadth of work at The Met, and the monumental Water Lilies at MoMA, you have multiple options for exploring Monet in NYC. There are few better cities for exploring this Impressionist master. 

Random Thoughts on…Six Months of Using Gutenberg

It's been a little over six months since I wrote my first post in Gutenberg (and it was about Gutenberg). In that time, I've published 18 posts using Gutenberg. It still has ways to go before I think it's going to be great, but it's continuously solving my needs on this site. When I originally posted my comments, I posted a mix of ideas, bugs, oooh-moment features, and reactions. Some of them are worth revisiting:

  • It’s pretty. And Fast. I never thought of the post editor as being slow, but there is something about Gutenberg that makes it feel fast.

    This is still true! Overall I’m still impressed with how fast things feel.  And as some of the clutter pieces have been removed, it’s gotten even prettier. 

  • There are a lot of rough edges. It’s hard to know what is a bug, what is intentional,  what just hasn’t been done yet, and what hasn’t been thought of.

    It is becoming clearer what is a bug (and they still exist), what needs another riff, and what is just new to me.

  • The default state is likely my favorite “Distraction Free Writing” implementation in WordPress yet. I’m simultaneously able to focus on my content, and yet I have all the tools I need for writing. I don’t yet have all the tools I need for content creation.

    Creating content in Gutenberg has only gotten better.

  • I need to take my hands off my keyboard more than usual. Adding a paragraph after a list isn’t easy to do with just a keyboard.

    It’s more keyboard friendly, but still has steps to go before I can really not use my keyboard. 

And now for some new thoughts:

  • I like the direction Gutenberg continues to head in, but there are a number of edges that continue appearing rough. Some of those are the micro-interactions that continue to be iterated on, while others are the result of bugs (copy and paste right now is rough). 
  • Developing software in the open is hard. I'm continuously impressed with the Gutenberg team's ability to take critism and turn it constructive. 
  • Once better documentation is in place, I think we will start being at a point that we can consider when Gutenberg is merged into Core. I view the lack of great documentation as being a blocker for that discussion. Until it's easy for plugin developers to support Gutenberg, they can't build much and until things are built, it's hard to figure out when Gutenberg is ready to ship.
  • I think the documentation is going to need to tackle things from multiple points of view:
    • How to use all the various extension points. 
    • How to create automated tests
    • Advice on making decisions/Philosophy of what extension points to use (I'm hoping some designers write this)
  • I'd like to see some iteration around the taxonomies in the sidebar. In part to make custom taxonomies easier and in part to see if there are ways to make it easier. 
  • I'm going to be building something for production in February and am seriously considering building it in Gutenberg so it's more future proof.
  • This post was the first time I needed to use the classic text block. Blockquotes and paragraphs inside list items might be an edge case, or perhaps the list block is too rigid. 

I'm going to try and remember to post more thoughts on Gutenberg in another six months. I think it will be in WordPress core by then, but I'm not sure if 5.0 will have been released. For others that have been using Gutenberg for a while, how has your opinion changed? 

Random Thoughts On…Product Engineering

For the past 5.5 years, I've been a part of the product engineering leadership at a couple of organizations. While I'm not sure if these ideas translate to client services, I know that they have all been valuable to me as I work long term building products and brands.

  • It's important to periodically reevaluate your tooling and process. Iterating on the process can be just as important as iterating on features. As a team, you are able to take all that you have learned about how you work and try to improve upon it.  It's important to not do this too often though, otherwise, you are spending your time chasing something shiny rather than building something that solves problems. 
  • Users over business requirements. Users over short-term wins. Users over everything. If you aren't building for people, your motivations are wrong and you need to rethink what you are doing. Always think about users. If you are discussing working on anything and no one has asked how it benefits users, ask that question. 
  • Implementors need to have control over either the schedule or the scope of a project. Giving up both leads to burn out and/or low quality work. Implementors mean everyone actively contributing, and not just the engineers. 
  • Design is more important than you think. Design is not done at a specific point. Designers need to be involved in everything. Yes, even the most underhood back-end project. Design thinking is undervalued. I've yet to see it be overvalued.
  • Share your work and ideas internally early and often. Even when they are half-baked or you don't think they are very good. 
  • It's important to understand that what is a high priority for you, isn't always a high priority for the team. That said, every member of the team should have at least one personal priority accomplished on a regular basis.
  • At least once a quarter, you should do a sprint focused on developer experience, refactoring, and bug features. Keeping the code easy to work with shouldn't be forgotten.
  • Do things that don't scale, but make them scale if you keep doing them.
  • There are a lot of things you can optimize for and deciding what you want to optimize for is a challenge. Sometimes you need to optimize for Time To Launch, others you want to optimize to make it easier to iterate on the UI. Figure out what's important on a project by project basis.
  • Don't forget any of Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design, especially number 1.
  • At the end of the day the rules for success are 1) keep the site up 2) faster is better than slower 3) experiment with everything else

WordPress Core Committer Stats: 2017

2017 is coming to a close, and unless someone commits something very soon, WordPress Core development is at rest (since we have an API to do that now). This is the third year I've compiled these stats, see the 2016 committer stats for some of the background information. I'm going to share the stats and then share my reactions to seeing them.

An important caveat, in the post I'll mention employers but we need to remember that people change jobs and that not everyone works on donated time. In fact, the vast majority of WordPress core committers are volunteering their time when they review, write, and commit code to WordPress.

2017 will end the year with 1731 changesets to trunk.  This is down from 2967 last year.  These changesets were committed by 35 individuals, down from 37 in 2016.

2017's most prolific committer was Sergey Biryukov who was responsible for 20.57% of all WordPress commits. He takes this crown from Dominik Schilling.  In raw numbers, Dominick had 4 more commits in 2016 than Sergey did in 2017. This is the first time since I started keeping these stats that a non-release lead has had the lead.

Other notable committers (by volume of commits) in 2017 were Weston Ruter (18.14%) and John Billion (11.84%). 

The employer who was most responsible for WordPress commits this year was Yoast with 24.67%. 14 different employers (grouping all the self-employed individuals into a single group for this purpose). This is down from 20. In 2016, Automattic was first with 14.66%. 

Thoughts and Reactions

The number of higher volume committers is down substantially. In 2016, 17 commiters had at least 52 commits, in 2017 it was 11. Only 3 individuals had over 100 commits in 2017, while in 2016 it was 11. 

The number of core commits and committers continues to fall, but that's in part due to projects like the rest-api and Gutenberg being developed outside of Trac. If WordPress continues to move away from the monolithic repo model, I think this trend will continue. Additionally, with only 2 major releases and no new default theme, there was less to do in core (and many people that were active in Core development have devoted themselves to Gutenberg, the new hosting team, and other WordPress efforts).

I also don't think that it can be ruled out that as a complex piece of software with moderate (at best) automated test coverage, people tend to be cautious and risk-averse. Increasing the automated test coverage should help with these efforts. 

Finally, WordPress does continue to improve. It had two major releases in 2017 bringing some long requested changes to a large swath of the internet. Commit numbers is far from a perfect metric. Some people it takes one commit to get right, sometimes it takes 3 commits to not break the build when landing something. Looking at it and watching it in context of everything else, we can see that WordPress is setup for an incredible 2018.

A Sabbatical from Speaking in 2018

Normally, when a year comes to a close I start to brainstorm about talks and presentations I want to give in the coming year.  I copy over a doc in Simple Note and start pruning off talks I've already given or ideas that no longer excite me and add in new ideas where I feel like I have something to add. This year is a bit different since I'm going to focus my energies elsewhere and will not be giving public presentations in 2018. I still intend to contribute to the conversations around technology, but in a different way (read on to find out more).

What's driving this decision

I came to this idea after spending some time re-evaluating how I spend my time. The talks that I prepare generally involve about an hour for each minute I present. In 2017 I gave presentations at WordCamp Lancaster, Pressnomics, WordCamp DC, and WordCamp Philidelphia. Overall, I spent nearly one hundred hours preparing for and delivering these talks. When I think about my hopes for how the web moves forward, I wonder if those 100 hours couldn't be spent doing something with a bigger impact.

Additionally, I don't bring a lot of diversity to the table. I'm a mid 30's cis-gendered white-passing male.  There are plenty of us in technology. If I move out of the way, that can hopefully make space for someone to bring a different viewpoint to the conversations.

What I'm doing instead

I still love public speaking and want to help some newer speakers give great talks. I thus intend to volunteer and donate my time helping some speakers. If you have enjoyed any of the presentations that I have given and think I might be able to help you, please send me a DM on twitter (my DMs are open). I'm going to give preference to people that bring some diversity that I don't bring to the table. I'm hoping that as 2018 comes to a close, I can say that I spent 100 hours helping new voices in the conversations around technology.

My WCUS 2017 Watchlist

I didn't make it to nearly as many WordCamp US Sessions as I would have liked. This year was packed full of quality talks.  Rather than leave a bunch of tabs open, I'm going to list out all the talks I hope to watch here.


There are more talks that still need to be uploaded, so this list may grow.

Check out the rest of the WCUS 2017 videos, you just might find something that inspires you. 

Getting started with Jest

In the past, my automated testing for javascript was done in either QUnit if it was a browser app or Mocha if it was a node app. On a new project, I decided to kick the tires on Jest and thus far, I really like it. It did have a bit of a learning curve through to get it up and running, but now writing tests in it feels natural and is going well. Here are a couple of things I've learned thus far.

Jest defaults to an outdated version of jsdom

.jsdom added support for HTMLElement.dataset in a recent version. However, due to minimum node version support differences, Jest by default uses an older version of jsdom.  Switching to the latest version though turned out to be fairly easy. I installed jest-environment-jsdom-latest and changed my package.json to run jest with "testEnvironment": "jsdom-latest". Alternatively I could have used --env=jsdom-latest.

Steal Configs From elsewhere

It's really easy to run down the rabbit hole of learning everything about how to set up a tool before learning if you want to actually use it. To get started, I stole some of the config from an ejected create-react-app application and looked at the docs for using jest with webpack. That was all I needed.

Use .resolves() for your promises

Unwrapping a promise and using .resolves() allows me to easily unwrap promises and keep my expectation in a single chain.  It feels as much like magic to me as promises did the first time I used them.

Additional Resources 

Overall, I'm excited to continue playing with Jest. 

Three Years as a WordPress Committer

Three years ago today, I changed three lines of code in WordPress and did it without someone else signing off.  In fact, I didn't write the code that went into WordPress that day.

I've not been a high volume committer in my three years ( I've made 283 total commits), but I have had the pleasure of working on user-facing features such as Shiny Updates for plugins and "Logout everywhere" along with helping to maintin multiple underlying components. I also had the honor of being a deputy release lead for WordPress 4.7.

Here's to three years of helping to democratize publishing 🍻

Typography Videos

I've been spending more and more of my time thinking about typography, fonts, and lettering.  It's one of the foundations of communication.  The typeface we use adds character to what we say in the same ways that inflection adds to the spoken word. 

Here are a handful of videos I've seen recently that have impacted how I think about type. 

I didn't realize it until after some googling, but this speaker and I went to the same university. 
Mel's talks constantly make me think differently. 
The designer of Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial, some of the earliest and most important digital typefaces. 
One of the Tobias Frere Jones designed Gotham, which is a contender for the most important font of the 21st century.