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Q&A with Scott Fennell

Web developer for WordPress

I make WordPress themes and plugins, for my employer, for myself, for the occasional side-client, and for

What inspired you to become a developer?

I was working as a brakeman on the Alaska Railroad, which is a seasonal job, so I was only working a few months per year.  And a lot of the work is on-call, meaning I had to be ready to work in an hour or so at any moment.  I felt like I needed something to occupy my mind while I was on-call or laid-off in the offseason, so I went to a bookstore and started scanning the titles.  I happened to walk by the "personal computing" section and I found all the acronyms really intriguing, like a mystery!  What the heck is CSS and why is it always mentioned with HTML?  Why is there Java and Javascript?  Why do all these books have animals on the cover? The whole aisle seemed to call out to me as a challenge, so I just dove in.

I started with the Liz Castro book on XHTML & CSS, moved on to the Larry Ullman books on php/MySQL, and became forever addicted when I found the first Dan Cederholm book. And then there was the CSS Zen Garden!  I went page-by-page, front-to-back and back again, except for when I was rudely interrupted by my on-call job at the railroad.  Eventually life-circumstances forced me away from the railroad job and I took a full-time job as a developer.

What software do you use to organize your work?

My email inbox (gmail) is probably my primary tool for communication, and I also organize project details in google docs.  At a code level, Github and Gitorious help keep me sane.

What is your ideal work environment?

The hours of the morning where it's still dark out, my dog is still sleeping by my side on the couch, and I'm still caffeinated.

In an organizational sense, I love working with project managers who can help me see the client use-case and pull me back from the code a bit.  It's thrilling to make something when other team members have brought real-world problems and experience to the table.  Even more important than that, I love developing for talented designers, because that's a skill I have never had myself.

Where does your work inspiration come from?

The code itself. Line-by-line, function-by-function, that's where I get lost in the world of ideas and feel the most comfortable.

Who are the developers you admire most?

It always comes back to being approachable and friendly, whether it's co-workers or "dev celebrities".  Being eager to teach, learn, share, joke around, is so much more important than knowing every last detail of a language.  Kai Curtis (@thepelkus), Robert McFrazier (@rmcfrazier), and Irving Bermudez (@bigchirv) have been mentor/co-workers, while Larry Ullman (@LarryUllman), Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier), and Dave Rupert are my usual suspects when it comes to listening/reading material.