Frederick Townes: Working Backwards

8 responses on “Frederick Townes: Working Backwards

  1. Jason Aplin

    Well done. Very good insight.


  2. xodigoguy

    Love the ideas, hate the reality. Installing W3 Total Cache first creates a “Fatal Error.” Got around that, next comes a crazy bar with strange English about “Preview mode is active:” (huh?). Somehow I managed to click that strange message away, but born and raised in Engish, I have now idea what this message is supposed to mean, when normally I activate a plugin and it works!.

    Fine, next problem, clicking “Help” comes up with 52 links … very nice, but they have nothing to do with what on earth the original “Fatal Error” was nor about what a “Preview mode is active” might mean. Helpful it is not.

    Next, we work around all this weirdness and try to actually make it work on site. Google / Firebug claims we have problems. (I agree!) “Featured Content Gallery” now does not work at all. (For all Brian Gardner / StudioPress fans, watch out.) Trying to “Minify” via help comes up with yet another “Fatal error”. (Had to “disable” Minify to get Featured Content Gallery to show again on the front.)

    Thanks for the tip that you don’t have to be a university grad to run this plug in, perhaps that is my prob, I graduated from to many uni’s. I spent several hours today trying to get this to run on WP 3.0.1.

    One tip I offer (having written many software manuals,) try to implement what you say on this video, that is, make it simple! This plugin is NOT. I have little doubt that it can probably do what you offer, but simple to understand … excuse me, you are out to lunch on that!


    • Frederick Townes

      Appreciate the feedback. The plugin is not currently in a final release and the interface isn’t done. It’s improved with every release and currently only the advanced interface is available. Looking at the ratings and feedback in the forums and on twitter, I’d have to say that the majority of users are pleased with the years of work made available for free and have an interest in seeing the project move forward by submitting bug submission forms etc, which you are free to do as well.


      • Dave Doolin

        Frederick, I was pretty well stunned with the amount of work you gave away with W3TC.

        Just going through the options for the plugin is a lesson in how WordPress (and web applications in general) work. That’s a huge shortcut.


    • Frank Poole

      You seem to have a number of different issues, most importantly that you have no concept how all this stuff, this entire wordpress community – works. Some suggestions if i may?

      First, stop assuming that every single plugin, theme, etc.. is going to work for your particular configuration. It wont. Microsoft makes billions, and windows crashes 3 times a day for most people. On behalf of the internet, and the computer industry as a whole, I’d like to welcome you to our fair city.

      Second, and this may surprise you so brace yourself, w3tc was written by a single man – no not a bachelor, 1 person . And perhaps even more surprisingly, this person has a number of other obligations.. like his full time job! However, its important to note that w3edge on twitter and the wordpress support forums essentially bends over backwards to support this thing. Wait in line, get on the forums, be polite OR… pay for support.

      Finally, immediately stop complaining that free software doesn’t work exactly as you want it to, instantly, the first time. Seriously, take a step back and realize that comments like this kill the community. Its literally ridiculous that this guy built something which clearly makes a bunch of people happy and you go around complaining about help menus. HELP MENUS… you are complaining that the help menus aren’t organized exactly as you want.

      You claim to have written some software in your life. If thats true, then help w3 make the plugin better, write the documentation your asking for, contribute to the community…. don’t complain that some isn’t doing it for you.

      Seriously? Come on… Take a look at what your saying.


    • Willie Jackson

      I guess what really bothers me about anonymous gripes like this is that they seem to lack what I feel to be a reasonable perspective.

      First, the reality is that you don’t -need- W3 Total Cache to optimize the performance of your site. You could add rules your .htaccess file that go a long way towards speeding things up and making your site more performant.

      The second is that this is a completely free plugin developed by -one- dedicated person who gives back to the WordPress community in a major way. I’d pay $250 for the plugin if that’s what Frederick charged. I say that because I build servers. I know what goes into optimizing WordPress performance. And the fact that the plugin works on so many different server types (bargain basement shared hosting, VPSes that I build from scratch, dedicated servers, “cloud” hosts, etc.)…is amazing. Really.

      Finally, I don’t really think that this is the appropriate place to gripe about the plugin. There are support forums. Frederick answers questions day in and day out over Twitter. He answers emails. There are options in the latest version of the plugin to hire him at very reasonable rates for configuration assistance.

      I see it like this: the CTO of one of the largest blogs on the web has distilled a significant portion of his knowledge into a free plugin that he supports. It baffles me that people demand so much from a plugin they don’t pay for or take the time to learn and configure. There are other caching plugins. This one just happens to be the best and most robust. As such, there’s a bit of a learning curve. Not a huge one, but it exists.

      An issue most people don’t adequately investigate is the fact that their web hosts are largely responsible for irregularities and the errors that we see. They’re not in business to serve us because they love it; they’re in business to make a profit. That means they often oversell servers, run dangerously close to capacity, and do things that harm the experience of the customer. That’s just reality.

      I started building my own servers because I wanted more control over my hosting environment. I break things all the time. That’s how I learn. And that’s why my site is as fast as it is. I’ll get off my soapbox; I just hate seeing stuff like this littered across the web. My .02.


  3. Dave Doolin

    This was excellent!

    I watched the whole thing. Much of it I’ve heard a little about, some of it was totally new. Most of it I need to both learn more about and do more experimenting with.

    Thanks for posting.


  4. Andy Symonds

    Great presentation Frederick and nice plug for the WordPress Podcast too!


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May 15, 2010

Frederick Townes from Mashable discusses what to do when you run into a problem developing an engaging user experience. Understand the techniques that prevent your users from spending more time on your site or from getting a small boost in sales or rankings. Learn how performance is a building block for success with practical examples in this keynote presentation from WordCamp Denmark.

Slides for this presentation are available here.

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