Denis Žoljom

WordPress wasn’t my conscious choice

I’m a Croatian-based software engineer/small trade owner. I love to tinker with automation and consider myself a more backend developer.

Denis Žoljom // @made_by_denis

I always tinkered with computers, and during my time at university, I played around with creating my web page where I used to put any study material I could find.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Denis Žoljom: My name is Denis Žoljom, and I’m a Croatian-based software engineer/small trade owner. I love to tinker with automation and consider myself a more backend developer.

Why and when did you decide to become a developer?

Denis Žoljom: I always tinkered with computers, and during my time at university, I played around with creating my web page where I used to put any study material I could find. After graduation, I realized I’m not cut out to be a theoretical physicist so I looked for a job, and landed one as a WordPress developer.

Why did you choose WordPress?

Denis Žoljom: Well, it wasn’t a conscious choice 😂. Before WordPress, I mostly did webpages in Joomla, but the job I got after graduation was for creating themes for ThemeForest, so I had to adapt and learn WordPress.

What were your initial thoughts about WordPress?

Denis Žoljom: Creating pages using a page instead of a menu or module (I don’t recall how Joomla did it) makes much more sense! 😂

I was surprised by how easy it was to develop a theme and do something in WordPress. At that time I had no idea about coding standards, frameworks, or clean code so I didn’t pay much attention to them.

What do you love and what do you hate the most about WP?

Denis Žoljom: I love the WordPress community. It’s full of amazing people who are selfless when it comes to helping out. I made a bunch of amazing friends ever since I started to be more involved with the community. And I learned a ton from them as well.

I don’t hate it, but I don’t like the fact that PHP is being a bit neglected by the wider WP community and the core WordPress team.

It’s only Gutenberg and JS these days. There are only a handful of people like Tonya Mork, and Juliette Reindrers Folmer who are spearheading the PHP updates in WordPress core, making sure it’s up to date with the latest PHP versions. And because WordPress powers 40% of the web, you need to be super careful not to break anything.

While this is great, it brings an extraneous burden on PHP maintenance. WordPress boasts itself of working on PHP 5.6 which has been EOL for over 4 years now. PHP has moved on, but WordPress stays in the same spot, afraid to move on not to break anything.

I’m sad that PHP doesn’t get as much love as JS in the WP community. It’s an amazing language, and changes in PHP8 + are making changes in a way that makes it fun to develop with it.

It’s only Gutenberg and JS these days.

What do you consider your biggest success?

Denis Žoljom: This is a tough one. I think so far I’ve advanced in my career in a way where I have the opportunity to educate other people and make them become even better developers than I am. I love educating and sharing knowledge, so I’d consider that a success. I’m not sure I have some huge milestones. Every day I learn something new, I do something I didn’t do before, so it’s like, every new thing is a small success in a way 😅

What was your biggest fuckup?

Denis Žoljom: At my previous job, I attempted to ‘rewrite’ a 20-year-old PHP project into Laravel. I thought that I can just develop features side by side (kinda like a strangler pattern), but in the end, nothing came of it. I mean, partially it was due to the client and the way they worked, partially because that project was really, really in a bad shape, but I think I should have seen it coming and not spend my time on something that’s not going to work. I did explain all the benefits to the client but they weren’t interested.

So I’d say wasting all that time was a pretty big fuckup, but I did learn what not to do in the future.

How do you see WordPress’ future?

Denis Žoljom: It’s hard to tell. The future that the WordPress directors and leads have laid out is focusing just on Gutenberg, which is cool but not sure how sustainable.

It will grow until there comes a saturation, and then something new will have to be invented to make it cool and fun to work with. I mean it’s been going on for 19 years now, so I don’t think it’s going to just disappear or become unpopular (more than it already is with the developers at least 😅)

If you like this interview, pleas share it.

Read other interviews:

Interview: Denis Žoljom

I’m a Croatian-based software engineer/small trade owner. I love to tinker with automation and consider myself a more backend developer.

Interview: Greg Ziółkowski

I’m a passionate programmer and open-source contributor living in Poland. I craft code at Automattic, contribute to the WordPress core, and co-host the Gutenberg Changelog podcast.