I’m a huge fan of php|architect: the magazine, the books, the online training and especially their conferences. Living in the Milwaukee metro area, I have a short 90 minute drive to the flagship php|tek conference they host in Chicago each year. My schedule doesn’t always allow me to attend, but I do everything I can to make it. I’m still putting into practice the things I learned at php|tek 2010 and I regularly keep in touch with the many friends I met there.
WordPress has a concept called shortcodes. They’re very handy for inserting chunks of text or functionality with a simple text syntax. For example, one of the stock shortcodes allows you to type [gallery] in a post where you want a photo gallery to appear. But the real power is exposed when you start building your own shortcodes.
Let’s face it: there is a *lot* to know as a programmer. There is the syntax of your preferred language(s), the syntax and function library of your database technology and you probably have some sort of framework or common library containing dozens, if not hundreds, of classes on top of that. This can be overwhelming at first, but most programmers recognize the folly in trying to memorize everything. The reality is you probably only need to commit a small percentage of that knowledge to memory. The rest can be assisted by your IDE, the documentation or an Internet search. Lately, though, I’ve begun wondering if programmers might take this notion too far and rely too heavily on their “extended memory.” This thought occurred to me as I was browsing my Google search history. I saw a couple searches come up repeatedly every few weeks over the course of the last several months. Could it be possible that I was really searching time and time again for the same answer to the same question? It was a scary thought. That evening was our monthly Milwaukee PHP user group meeting, so I decided to bring it up as a question during introductions. The consensus among the group was pretty much the same pattern I had recognized in my own search activity: people were relying very heavily on search engines in their day to day work.