Introducing Gary Jones – Genesis Developer

Recently we celebrated the anniversary of the launch of the Genesis Framework – and wanted to spend the next year focusing on the Genesis development community. After all, without all of their hard work and contributions, Genesis wouldn’t be where it’s at.

With that being said, we plan on introducing you to the developers who’ve made a difference…

Meet Gary Jones

Website: Gary Jones · Twitter: @GaryJ

Gary JonesI’m a multi-discipline web developer from the UK and although I have worked for myself since October 2008, I’ve been coding for the web since 1999. My day-to-day tasks can see me writing everything from JavaScript (mostly jQuery), CSS and XHTML on the front end, to PHP and SQL on the back-end. Previous roles have also seen me deep in Classic ASP and server setup and optimization.

I’ve been using Genesis since June 2010, and before that I was involved with another premium theme framework community, though to a far lesser extent. Straight up, my number one reason for being part of the Genesis community, is that I feel like I can contribute towards it, in the way I want, and know that it will be appreciated and valued. I’m currently a volunteer senior moderator on the support boards, and although most of the other moderators answer far more posts than me, I like to think I contribute in other ways.

Helping Others

Before I became a web developer (and my 9 months out of the rat race living in Malaysia) I was a Math and IT teacher, both in secondary schools and in prisons (for the record, the murderers, drug addicts and sex offenders are far easier to teach than the teenagers). While I’ll be the first to put myself in the geek category, the skills developed from teaching, and the keenness to help people learn means I’m usually too eager to help others understand how Genesis works. I’ve written several tutorials for doing just that, and I pride myself on giving additional information both within the code and outside of it to cater for all learning preferences. Certainly it’s more visible on there than on my own Code Gallery site.

I enjoy working with code more than talking about it though. Over the last 6 months, I’ve found that I’m getting really picky about even the smallest aspects of code quality. I’m on the boards nagging Nathan to follow the WordPress PHP coding standards for Genesis core code, or suggesting to Brian that the CSS would be better a different way because of x, y, z, or asking Daisy to update someone else’s tutorial so that it includes a docblock as all code should be properly documented. Boy, I must be annoying ;-) But you know what? That’s fine – it all leads to everyone doing things The Right Way, which means easier code maintenance, better looking sites, and clearer learning resources.

Code Contributions

Perhaps my biggest contribution in terms of bulk code is for the Prose theme. I was asked by StudioPress to implement their ideas for a new theme that allowed users to easily change some aspects of the visual design. As well as including an import / export feature for the settings before Genesis itself did, the theme can also minify the CSS for performance benefits. The code for the theme itself is comprehensively structured, and has 24 action hooks and 18 filters in there (for comparison, Genesis 1.5 has 60 action hooks and 95 filters), and I’m using some of these to create a Prose-specific plugin, called Prose Google Fonts (screencast) which will be released shortly.

Back to the “contributions being valued” point, I also wrote the bulk of the rewritten breadcrumbs feature in Genesis 1.5. Nathan loved it and tweaked it, Nick fixed it to be compatible with WordPress 3.0, and it was committed to the core code. I wrote it because I had a client that was using custom post types, and the breadcrumbs in previous versions of Genesis had no support for them. It solved a need for everyone, and Nathan and Brian were happy to accept it.

Summing Up

And that’s why I love Genesis – of course I love the features of the product itself, and the ease with which new sites can be instantly set up, but you won’t see me knocking out lots of great looking websites to add to a portfolio like some of the other designers and developers; I’m most interested in the code that powers Genesis and the community that uses it, and what I can give back to both of them. The people who follow me on Twitter will know that most of my tweets seem to be related to Genesis in one way or another.

Final Facts

  • If I wasn’t using WordPress, I’d love to have a real understanding of the Zend Framework. I’ve got a few ideas of sites and applications I could build with it.
  • I’m hopefully going to attend my first two WordCamps this year – WordCamp Portsmouth UK, and WordCamp Chicago (if it runs).
  • I’m a PADI advanced open water scuba diver, and have dived with 3.8m-long gray nurse sharks. I want to dive with more sharks.
  • My (now rusty due to under use) party piece is to juggle and spin fire poi. I’ve only burnt myself once.
  • I learnt up to level 2 of British Sign Language. I don’t use it regularly, so it’s been largely forgotten.
  • As a Brit, I drink lots of tea. I don’t like coffee, which means I see little point in Starbucks existing…

Comments

  1. Hey Gary,

    It’s interesting to “get to know” you a little better! I’m an avid fan of not only Genesis, but Prose too. The way you’ve implemented the Design Settings area is allowing even my least tech-savvy clients to change the look & feel of their site for themselves. They, and I, really appreciate how that empowers them to take charge of their site. And it’s great to know that behind the scenes is good, clean code.

    I also appreciate your attention to detail with not only the code itself, but the clear and comprehensive explanations you include on the forums. I’ve just started playing around with Grid Loops and your Genesis Grid Loop Advanced tutorial not only offers code snippets, but explanations of why and how to use them. Well done!

    One more thing – as a diver, I know what PADI is, but I’m stumped about spinning fire poi. You juggle burning fish??

    • The Prose Design Settings obviously make use of the WordPress admin styling, so that the user interface is consistent, making it far more intuitive to use. I still think there’s room for improvement with the actual settings provided, but that would come with knowing how people are using Prose, and how they feel it could be improved.

      Thanks for your other comments – Having been a teacher, I like to explain not only how to do something (the code snippets), but also *why* some logic is how it is – it’s more likely to sink in for those that want to learn the thought process behind writing their own code customisations.

      As for your final comment – I would not advise spinning fire koi to anyone – flaming scales everywhere – but fire poi (originally from New Zealand) are fine :-)

  2. Ouch…So, you and Brian must argue often over the necessity of Starbucks. :)

  3. I had no idea your operation was this big. As a customer I appreciate the hard work that is put into the framework.

    • The framework benefits by having one or two official developers, but also by those developers having the confidence and sense to tap into the vast community of coding experience and knowledge.

  4. Nice to meet you, Gary. I also want to comment on your love for clean code and advanced user-control (like Prose) and easy-to-understand-tutorials. As a webmaster for varying tech-savvy level of clients, it’s so helpful to have easy-to-understand themes that give them easier control. Just wanted you to know your work is highly valued in all areas!

    • Thank you for your comments Lynn. Code, like any language, always benefits from being clean and to the point, but having further explanation included if it might be advantageous for those less comfortable with code. I’m sure we’ll get the technical documentation (phpDocumentor docblocks) of Genesis up to a sufficient level that it’s output to a PDF, for instance, will be as useful for very tech-savvy customisers.

  5. Good to see a “local lad” on here!

    Some great work done on the themes Gary and good to see someone taking care over coding. Shame whoever added your Twitter link at the top of the page didn’t do the same ;)

    Seriously, great themes, a delight to work with and great support.

    Rich

    • Thanks for highlighting the link issue Rich – this has now been fixed.

      I feel that, just as front-end designers need their stuff to look good, as well as function, that just because the PHP code is tucked out of the site, why it can’t look as good to those who appreciate its beauty :-)

  6. Hi Gary:

    I read your bio with great interest. I’m new to WordPress, StudioPress and Social Media, and seeing and getting to know folks like you and Brian and the whole Genesis/StudioPress community is really encouraging. Eleven years ago, our small mom and pop web development shop designed and built our own Perl-CGI cms which has done a great job all these years, and is still doing so. But now at age 60, both my wife and I have jumped into the deep end of the WordPress/Social Media pool with both feet!! Thanks to you and the rest of the team, we feel confident that we’ve made the right move.

    P.S. We also like helping people. We are part-time pastors and work a lot with the homeless community in our hometown of Ottawa. For the last three years I have been the barber at our Wednesday drop-in centre. I love this combination of cutting-edge web development while serving the disadvantaged. Great to meet you Gary and all the best in your endeavours.

    Rudy in Ottawa

    • Welcome to the WordPress and StudioPress community Rudy :-)

      Although it sometimes doesn’t make good business sense, helping others get to grips with something has a level of altruism that I know I enjoy – the teacher part in me. Your efforts in helping those with more important life matters than not being able to get a website customised exactly how it’s needed, is far more beneficial to the community.