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…