‘Recent Rockstar’ advances content management system


By Brian Clark, WSU University Communications

PULLMAN, Wash. – A Washington State University Web developer has been recognized as a Rockstar.

Jeremy Felt, a senior WordPress engineer, was bequeathed Recent Rockstar status by members of the WordPress Web development community for his impressive contributions to the most recent release of the open-source software.

Jeremy Felt. (Photo by Brian Clark, WSU University Communications)

It may not be a Grammy Award, but considering that this community spans more than 60 million websites worldwide, the acknowledgement is a big deal. Nearly 20 percent of the Web worldwide runs WordPress.

Unlike commercial software, WordPress uses an open-source approach where any user can suggest improvements to the technology. These suggestions are evaluated and built upon by other members of the development community and the best contributions get incorporated into the free Web-based software program.

Plenty of Felt’s ideas have been incorporated in the newest version, said his boss, Stephen Locker, director of WSU Web Communication: “Jeremy is all about the user, about giving everybody a chance to communicate and get their stuff out there as easily as possible.”

The goal of WordPress, which turned 10 this year, “is to democratize publishing on the Internet,” Felt said. “That concept may not be easy to grasp in the U.S. where free speech is a constitutional right, but elsewhere in the world it is a powerful idea. It’s an idea that really fits well with the role of a public university.”

WSU Web Communication is leading the way in developing WordPress as a content management system for the entire university community.

“As far as we know, we’re the first university to use WordPress at this scale,” Locker said.

“WSU Web Communication is dedicated to open sourcing our work – not only for the benefit of the WSU community but for the greater good of Web-based communication,” he said.

He pointed to the work of other members of the Web Communication team in developing open-source solutions at the university. Nathan Jacobson and Jeremy Bass, he said, are working on e-commerce and Web template tools that will be available in the near future.

Felt was specifically recognized for his contributions to the multisite feature of WordPress core code. Multisite lets developers run many networks and sites within a single installation of WordPress. Multisite allows system administrators to perform various tasks more efficiently than would be the case if they had to perform each task on separate sites.

Felt familiarized himself with the large number of software bug tickets (fix-it requests) that had accumulated around multisite. He then proceeded to code solutions to fix the bugs as well as to map out a plan for addressing the remainder.

Felt is well-known in the WordPress development community.

“I’ve been a speaker at several WordCamps,” he said. WordCamps are get-togethers of community members ranging from casual users to developers.

For WSU, the multisite improvements were a huge leap forward, according to Locker.

“Having the multisite functionality of WordPress be really robust helps us all manage networks of sites,” he said. “For users and content providers, that means every site they work can be managed in one spot. No more logging in and out to get to the various tasks on their to-do list.”

Locker added that Felt’s work on WordPress multisite “extends the software’s enterprise capacity, enabling big, multi-faceted institutions like WSU to securely share data in manageable ways.”



Stephen Locker, director, WSU Web Communication, slocker@wsu.edu, 509-335-2288

Jeremy Felt, senior WordPress engineer, jeremy.felt@wsu.edu, 509-335-5301

Brian Clark, associate executive director, WSU University Communications, brian.clark@wsu.edu, 509-335-0939