Alex de Borba
My life before WordPress was encompassing alternative fashion modelling, travelling, and releasing a fanzine related to the extreme heavy metal scenes back in the days, which would also include a mailorder catalogue.
I also contributed to other printed press media, worked as a newspaper columnist, radio host and tv presenter, etcetera. Codewise, I got involved with phpBB, b2evolution, Invision Forum, vBulletin, osCommerce, and Magento Commerce but connected for over a decade as a Joomla! Developer.
Q. How did you get to know about WordPress? Share if there is an interesting story.
Ans: Essentially, I began my media company on October 1st, 2010, using Joomla! to build it.
After four years and while constantly pushing the core devs to give more predominance to extensions related to media sites and failing to see Joomla! roadmap evolve at a faster and more stable pace such as WordPress does, often with constant obstacles regarding responsive mode, for instance, I chose to convert the site to WordPress, and since then, I have never looked back.
As a matter of fact, I got to know WordPress since the transaction from b2evolution. So, after considering switching from Joomla! to something more flexible and extendable, I have decided to take a closer look at WordPress it and give it a try.
Q. What’s the most interesting project you have done to date in WordPress? What were your responsibilities?
Ans: My media is what I consider the most exciting project I ever took part in. It allows me to freely develop and determine what streams on it, gaining traction and several award recognitions throughout the years.
Apart from it, and at a technical level, I would say that being DevOps for OceanWP for three years was an entirely thrilling experience for me, as well as to become community support for Rank Math SEO, and currently Senior Support Specialist for Brainstorm Force, most respectively as part of their Astra theme.
My responsibilities with OceanWP were to keep a steady stream of communication between the teams, doing CI/CD, and maintaining all their online infrastructure running sharp by managing, monitoring and extending the official site, deploying demos, and making sure their integrations with third-party services were adequately flowing.
In addition, to administer everything without causing downtimes, come up with roadmaps, new feature ideas, assist on talent recruitment, and bring the community together. So you may say that while on OceanWP, I was a jack of all trades.
Regarding Rank Math SEO, I do community support, often through third-party Facebook Groups while helping users to get around it by learning what it does, how to set up, often helping through messages on how to configure specific features they are uncertain about.
As well as to bring a community spirit commitment alongside my traditional approach, besides referring the plugin as a noteworthy alternative to other SEO plugins.
So in a way, I encourage people to use it, hopefully converting them to Rank Math SEO and providing them further guidance by going the extra mile.
Lastly, shortly after leaving OceanWP, I joined Brainstorm Force as Senior Support Specialist while handling Astra support, a theme that I have admired for a long due to its steadfast evolution, innovation, and approach towards the community.
Brainstorm Force surprisingly does listen to their community and gathers their feedback to provide solutions quickly while offering new features that are somehow unbeatable due to its dynamic workflow.
Q. Have you ever been to any WordPress meetups or WordCamps? Share your thoughts on WordPress Community.
Ans: Honestly, I have never attended a WordCamp in person. However, I have attended a few online lately, the last been WordCamp Europe, and I am currently preparing to attend the WordCamp US.
Due to the whole epidemic paradigm, the new normality is to attend online while the situation is ongoing. Yet, I plan to attend WordCamps in person when it becomes primarily possible due to my tenacious colleagues in the field who are somehow curious to interact with me personally, as it seems I am somewhat an interesting creature to get to know.
Perhaps it is true; time shall tell.
Q. How does your workstation look like? Can you send us a picture?
Ans: My workstation is a mix of old and new aesthetics, and I still use whiteboards to organise my thoughts and do schematics.
I have a few Batmobiles and Batman’s on two desks, a wireless headphone to be able to move around between the desks and boards without worrying about cables, a few bats on the walls as decor, books I pick to read, my company logo on the wall as well as plants to refresh the office and give it some organic twist.
The office and my entire house are painted in black and white mainly because I am monochromatic colourblind. My companion, Akkadian (a Siberian Husky), often comes to lay down under the desk to make me company while I work. The office is far from being flawless, but I take my time with it and add new adorns here and there when possible.
Q. What interesting feature do you think you would like to see in WordPress and is currently missing?
Ans: At least for me, the feature already exists. Gutenberg is a brilliant step forward when it comes to WordPress publishing.
However, I would like to see it developed at a faster pace, especially when it comes to FSE so that the need to use third-party builders — that are governed often by teams that either add or abruptly remove features as they well please, this not to mention to drastically increment their pricing according to the moon phases — could be permanently excluded from my workflow.
Q. Out of the current plugins and themes which one do you like the most and why?
Ans: Essentially, I would say that plugins such as Rank Math SEO, WP Rocket, Fluent Forms, FluentCRM, FluentSMPT, Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg, WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, AffiliateWP, LearnDash, and wpDiscuz are among my favourite plugins.
From all, Rank Math SEO is something I install by default on a new setup.
When it comes to themes, I only have two personal favourites, which are GeneratePress and Astra. However, weekly, I analyse new themes out of curiosity, but they never fully satisfy my needs. Currently, my site runs GeneratePress while I am converting it to Astra, which should be completed relatively soon.
Q. Any awesome technology you want to share other than WordPress?
Ans: I would not say new, but I would mention that I fancy Vanilla JS and experiment with Foundation 6, Vue.js, Flexbox, and React, to name a few. Gatsby is quite interesting as well and deserves a worthy mention.
Q. Do you like/love what you currently do in WordPress?
Ans: I am very passionate about what I do and take a great interest in detail, performance, and how things integrate and visually explore how things can be done uniquely. However, what I do enjoy more about WordPress is the ability to help others by sharing knowledge based on my personal and professional experience.
This been said, I have a genuine interest in all things WordPress and the community around it, especially towards disabled people such as myself.
What I love the most about WordPress is exploring new plugins, snippets, writing code, overcoming issues, and perfecting my skill set as much as possible without limiting myself to one spectrum of things. This leads me to be constantly impulsed to try new things and see what else can be done in this field, as stagnation is not an option.
Q. Where do you find yourself after 5 years
Ans: Hopefully alive if I manage to survive to celebrate my 50th anniversary. Honestly, I hope to keep the reputation that I have been gathering for more than two decades while working in different fields.
But, most importantly, five years from now, I would relish keeping inspiring people to overcome their problems and be better every single day in what they do by teaching them, be a more pro-active speaker, and impulse them to continuously think out of the box while keeping my essence intact in the process.
Q. Share something about your life other than work
Ans: Other than work would be researching. I do plenty of scholarly research on topics related to gothic, heavy metal, psychology, literature and much of the like somehow connected in-between with the alternative lifestyle for my own business.
Also drift away often from my surroundings while thinking 100mph on how to perfect things I am working on, or plan new approaches, redo, and so on in my mind as it was a canvas ready to be filled with inspiration.
More often, when holding my cellphone off-working hours, I am searching online for scholarly papers to read about different topics to obtain more knowledge in a wide range of topics of my interest.
Since I suffer from a variant of ALS, I do not go out much, spending most of my time mostly at home, be it working or doing research, sometimes reading, or watching documentaries, or doing my exercise routines to keep myself functional, such as therapy, practising when I am able to, Krav Maga.
When I am able and have the opportunity to go out, I often pick quiet places, have a couple of beers, sometimes engage in a conversation or not, or merely walk with Akkadian for a couple of hours while listening to music.
You might say that I am a quiet person who prefers isolation rather than being grouped with other people, especially now and that I am very much driven and focused on what I want to accomplish.
Q. To whom you give credit for your success?
Ans: It will sound odd, but I would say to myself. Throughout my life, I never needed to idolise anyone, I never had a song that changed my life or a celebrity that I admired or someone that I looked upon as a source of inspiration.
All that I have learned through my life have been self-taught, with much hard work accomplished on my own. So I can say there are people I respect for what they do, but I do not envy them or want to be like them. Everyone does the best they can; that is how I see things.
Q. Can you give us some reference for whom we should conduct an interview next and why?
Ans: Sure, I would like to refer Bhanu Ahluwalia for his incredible work with Rank Math SEO and Sujay Pawar for his phenomenal work behind the scenes of all things Brainstorm Force. I find them both very approachable, and often their interviews contribute much to the WordPress ecosystem.
Both are truly friendly and have a unique approach to what they do, and are people that I highly recommend and deeply respect as friends and professionals.
Q. How do you reward yourself?
Ans: Interesting question. I would say either buying something new to decorate my house, a piece of clothing, or a toy to put on my desk. It depends on the mood. However, occasionally, I donate to someone I know who is going through some difficulties as part of my success or a new accomplishment in my life.
Going out to try a new place or something out of the ordinary is also a kind of reward, especially if my companion is lovely and enjoyable.
Q. Any suggestion for WordPress beginners?
Ans: We all got to a certain point in our life that we can say we have accomplished much professionally that a few can obtain in life. The source of what you may consider success was done by trying, failing, learning, and most importantly, persistence throughout the years and not days, weeks, or months.
Beginners can not expect to accomplish results quickly or learn faster than anyone else. Instead, there is a natural process of evolution that leads to perfection.
Learn how to ask and interpret criticism, but most importantly, respect the insights shared with you. Impatience can slow down your progress as you will feel the urge to constantly seek out new things instead of focusing on the task at hand and perfect it.
Once you do, level up! Above all, stay humble. We may healthily compete with one another without trying to pin down competitors, that would only mean you are insecure about your skills, and the easy way out is to attack others.
However, that is not the way to obtain noteworthy recognition as you have to realise that you share the ecosystem with other professionals, and you can always learn from them.
Above all, be conscious that no matter how much you learned, there is always someone who knows more than you, so keeping a positive attitude and remain humble takes you further in this fieldwork.