Our interview series is back with more inspiring sharing from WordPress evangelists.
This time, with the open-hearted sharing from local WordPress gurus, I hope that you guys will have a closer look at WordPress community in Vietnam and see how proud we are that WordPress in Vietnam is on the fast rise to catch up with WordPress globally.
So, gladly, I reached out for a chance to have a great talk with our 2 brilliant WordPress local influencers Tran Ngoc Tuan Anh and Philip Arthur Moore, co-organizers of Hanoi WordCamp.
Have a cup of tea and read on!
Tuan Anh and Philip at Hanoi WordCamp 2014
First, please introduce yourselves to our readers. Shall we start with Philip?
Philip: Sure, I have been working with WordPress for over 10 years and am involved in developing both plugins and themes.
I started as a freelancer for 3 or 4 years and then worked for a premium theme company called Graph Paper Press and then WordPress.com and Automattic. In thelast two and a half years, I have been doing independent consulting as a themes reviewer.
So, Philip, you used to work for Automattic, and now you’re here, in Hanoi. Would you tell me why you chose Vietnam to continue your exciting journey with WordPress?
Philip: Actually I came to Hanoi not just because of WordPress. I work with WordPress as a full-time job and I also travel a lot. Hopefully, I want to be known as a bridge to connect WordPress in America and Vietnam together.
It’s really great to be a part of the Vietnamese WordPress community, to make friends and have connections.
I love the city and it feels like home for me now. Tuan Anh and I met in Hanoi through WordPress; we barely knew each other when I moved here.
Wow, that’s awesome. What about you Tuan Anh? How is it going for you as a WordPress developer?
Tuan Anh: Well, like Philip, I worked with WordPress since pretty much the beginning.
For now, I am running a website fitwp.com that provides WordPress themes. I am also working on a project Metabox.io, which mainly focuses on developingadd-ons and extensions for my Meta box plugin, and writing a blog – Deluxeblogtips.com about WordPress technical tips and tricks.
It’s quite a huge load of work. Could you share with us your experiences in developing a good WodPress theme that is lovable for WordPress users out there?
Philip: Well, I think number one, a theme needs to be really useful for users, which make it easy for them to go from start to finish. Design is also important but, more than that, it has to fit the need. For example, when you’re making a business theme, it has to be as specific for the business as possible.
I don’t think a theme with multi-purposes is really good.
In Sept 2014, you guys held the first ever and successful WordCamp in Hanoi together. Could you please tell me more about it your experiences and lessons learnt from this 1st WordCamp, and what will be improved for the next WordCamp?
Tuan Anh:After 2 years organizing WordPress meetups and attempting to create a neat foundation, Philip and I decided to hold the 1st Hanoi WordCamp. This was a significant highlight in building Vietnamese WordPress community progress.
Through this event, we can see all the great efforts of our members and volunteers who want to contribute to a better community. In the future, we would love to see more and more WordPress enthusiasts join our event in order to create greater connections, sharing and support of others in the most comfortable and friendly way.
The biggest thing that needs to be improved here is probably the event organization. This was our first time hosting a WordCamp, so we still need to learn more to make it better.
Philip:For me, I think that the hardest thing to do is to find a good balance between community and business.
WordCamp is an official event that is sponsored by the WordPress foundation. Last year in the Hanoi WordCamp, we had a lot of people and half of them had never been to a WordPress meetup before. I think it’s really nice to share things with new people, and old friends as well.
I’d love to join WordCamp in Hanoi this year! Could you please share more about the roadmap for WordPress in Vietnam for 2015? Is there any plan to organize WordCamp Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh city the second biggest city in Vietnam this year? What do you expect it will be?
Philip: This year, we want the WordPress communities in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh to connect better. It’s very nice for WordPress users in HCM to be more involved.
This year, we want to focus more on users by finishing the WordPress translation into Vietnamese, and completing vi.wordpress.org– a website for Vietnamese users to easily download and use WordPress.
This year, if we have one, hundreds of people coming would be great, but the most important thing is maintaining a strong community within the Vietnamese WordPress community.
Tuan Anh: Yes, of course, we want to improve product quality to provide a better user experience.
As to catching up quicker with WordPress globally, we are attempting to guide the Vietnam community to adapt to the ongoing trends, mainly in the way we connect and use WordPress, share themes, plugins, and with respect for intellectual property, and stronger support for the community.
Until now, you’ve already held 16 WordPress meetups in Hanoi since the first one in 2012. How has your experience been in organizing WordPress meetups so far? How about the next gathering?
Tuan Anh:We started our first meetup like a coffee chat with a small group of people. The atmosphere was super great. They were really friendly and we had a great time talking about WordPress.
From the middle of 2014, we wanted to add some presentations to WordPress meetups but honestly, despite the growing number of new members, I didn’t see more feedback and connections from attendees.
That’s why in 2015, we will switch back to the previous routine of finding a comfortable and familiar atmosphere to have free talk and share new ideas with other members.
In the near future, when our community is strong enough, I really expect specific meetups for developers, designers or even marketers to attend.
What about you Philip? Is there any difference from the previous meetups in other places you attended, like Bangkok or San Francisco?
Philip: Location determines how the meetup does. In San Francisco, we had a large community. The meetups there had a very rigid structure with a detailed agenda.
In the other hand, Bangkok and Hanoi have the same atmosphere. It’s a humble coffee shop gathering so developers, designers or even WordPress fans can come to talk.
There are a lot of WordPress users in Vietnam who attended the meetups, more than developers. In our next meetups, we also hope to see more people who develop using WordPress in Vietnam and have more involvement.
I see “The Hanoi WordPress Group” on Facebook is a little bit abandoned and not active, but the number of members is more than 1000. Is there any plan for refreshing the group in the near future?
Actually, “The Hanoi WordPress Group” on Facebook itself is one of the unofficial channels to announce about the meetup event effectively. I think an active group needs a lot of people contributing and discussing WordPress issues regularly. For now, we still need other members to kick off discussions as well.
And Philip, what do you think about the Vietnam WordPress community personally from your experience with other regions in the world? Do you think the Vietnamese market is a promising place for WordPress to grow?
Well, we have 2 communities: users and developers. In Vietnam, WordPress.com is very strong because everyone in Vietnam already understands blogging, as they used blog 360 (blogging platform by Yahoo) back then. The coding knowledge of Vietnamese developers is really great. However, the sharing culture is quite low. And it’s different from Open-source philosophy which highly encourages the sharing and openness between members in the whole community.
It’s not only a Vietnam issue, other countries in SouthEast Asia like Singapore and Thailand have this problem too, and I think it will take time for Vietnamese people to be aware of the importance of sharing their ideas, coming to meetups, and contributing to the community.
I think the Vietnamese community should take control themselves and have more and more involvement. I think that every community needs a group of volunteers who are willing to support the community and really keep the thing going.
As you mentioned The Translating WordPress project, so, how is it going?
Tuan Anh: After WordCamp, we had about 96-97% WordPress translation. We are now working on completing some new parts of the latest version, WordPress 4.1.
If the Vietnam WordPress community is strong enough, and we have more helping hands, I really hope to see the Vietnamese WordPress Codex come to life so every Vietnamese who doesn’t know English can approach and contribute to the future development.
I am also planning to write some guidance on vi.wordpress.orgto help them translate WordPress Codex partially.
What do you think this project will contribute to the WordPress community in Vietnam and WordPress on a global scale? How can Vietnamese WordPress fans join you guys?
Philip: The WordPress audience in other languages is so much larger than in English, and of course we think that Vietnamese users should not need to know English to understand and useWordPress to start building their websites. This is the effort around the world, not just in Vietnam.
We always welcome every person who wants to join the project. The translation is really quick. It only takes you about 30 minutes a week. You guys can contact us via “The Hanoi Meetup Group” on Facebook, Meetup page, or go to translate.wordpress.org to contribute your translation
Please share with us your plan for localizing WordPress in Vietnam? Is your translation project one of the first moves?
Tuan Anh: Yes. The first thing we need to do now is complete the translation of WordPress into Vietnamese, and then update the vi.wordpress.com website when the latest version is released. It will be so much easier and quicker with the help from our community. So, we need to find companies and volunteers who are willing to help with this.
Thanks for sharing your time and ideas with us. I am looking forward to hearing good news from upcoming WordPress projects and events for Meetups and WordCamp as well.
The world now is raising a bar on WordPress localization to help users from over the world understand and use it easily. Vietnam’s WordPress development is not an exception to this trend. And surely, contribute and support to our strong community is the best way we can benefit from it.
Connect with our Hanoi WordPress Group, you’re always welcome! And don’t forget to join the WordPress Translation project for your local community.