Shardul Pandey Talks To Fahad Mahmood

I welcome you Fahad at SANGKRIT.net, please tell our netizens about yourself, your story. Hi, I am Fahad Mahmood (A WordPress Mechanic) the developer of a few famous WordPress Plugins like Keep Backup Daily, Alphabetic Pagination, jQuery Post Splitter, RSS Feed Widget and a recently launched WordPress Plugin WP Header Images. My journey started from a HTML tag <marquee></marquee> which I learned very first even before <html> and <body>. It was really inspiring for me when text was moving from right to left. As notepad was available everywhere so i did a number of experiments in my college’s computer lab during my ICS session 2001. My interest became a passion when I learned about click event of a button in visual basic 6.0. It was purely a magic when I played with it and successfully changed document title, button text, label captions and text in textboxes.

Eventually I stepped into era of ASP classic in 2004. I bought a book published by wrox and started from a, b, c of it and almost completed it within 2 and a half months. For almost 1 year I practiced ASP classic with notepad and after that I joined a software house 4Dee.net. I was aware of PHP but wasn’t sure that it is much in demand and I will be asked to continue on it. I cleared the interview and then started development in PHP for the very first time as deliverable work. I experienced a loop of new technologies and mix of scripts. Sometimes I was working on PHP and sometimes I was fixing issues in Action-scripting. That initial learning of IF, ELSE, SWITCH, FOR and WHILE helped me a lot. DO WHILE seldom used in projects but FOREACH replaced the FOR loop mainly. I continued my core PHP development experience for almost 5 years and then I tried to upgrade myself and learned smarty and codeigniter one after one. I was equipped enough with troubleshooting skill in 2008 when I joined a team which was purely working on symfony with doctrine. They asked me to start and convert it to propel, it was a nice experience that’s why I still miss symfony because I couldn’t work on it alone. Its not good thing that a few frameworks are not preferred when you are working alone. In PHP projects you mostly work alone. After tasting a few PHP development frameworks I loved to explore cake and kohana but codeigniter was king at that time for small/medium projects. Then I heard about WordPress but never bothered about it. Later in 2013 I joined a team which was delivering the WordPress based solutions, so I started fixing the issues for them on daily basis. Meanwhile I was working on my very first plugin Keep Backup Daily, the idea behind was to secure your database on daily basis instead of getting worried after being hacked. People loved it and especially small databases were really easy to email as an attachment so it was an encouragement for me to do more. Alphabetic Pagination was an accident because a client was requiring a simple CSS selector based page position navigation but I didn’t took it casually and developed a plugin for dynamic custom posts, which was a futuristic solution of complex problems. Now its pro version is available too and people love to use it with shortcode facility. I still feel that started with problem solving and these plugins are nothing but compilation of those snippets of my code which I delivered in pieces occasionally. I feel that I couldn’t serve the open source community/platform with even 10% of my work yet. I have a huge number of delivered codes which can be reused but its really hard to get a snippet and makeup it a plugin or widget for WordPress.

I served IT industry as a Software Engineer for 9+ years and then started offering services directly to the clients. I couldn’t create an awesome profile on odesk, elance, freelancer and other platforms. I still feel hard to bid on a project, I am just continuing by understanding the problems and try to provide the solutions. But its really fascinating for me when I get an email about my plugins sale or I get a support query even on my free plugin. Every client is valued for me, doesn’t matter he is using a pro version or free. After such long journey I realized that I am not a developer but a mechanic who fix the problems, a software mechanic which turned into WordPress Mechanic by the time.

What skills and technologies you work in? Majorly I work in PHP but using different technologies to finish a few products. Java, Adobe Flex Builder, HTML5 and Android too.

Tell us about the plug-in/apps you have created so far?

WordPress Approved Plugins are here – https://profiles.wordpress.org/fahadmahmood/#content-plugins

  1. Alphabetic Pagination
  2. Authors Posts Widget
  3. Endless Posts Navigation
  4. Gulri Slider
  5. Injection Guard
  6. Keep Backup Daily
  7. jQuery Post Splitter
  8. RSS Feed Widget
  9. Woocommerce Discounts Plus
  10. WP eCommerce Wishlist
  11. WP Header Images
  12. WP Mechanic
  13. WP Secure Content
  14. WP SpeedUp
  15. WP Responsive Tabs

A few premium plug-ins are available at – http://shop.androidbubbles.com/

  1. 2Checkout plugin for woocommerce
  2. Woocommerce Coupons Cloning Utility
  3. WooCommerce Upload Files During Checkout

A few products online:

  1. http://www.tutorsloop.net/
  2. http://www.bookingware.com/
  3. http://www.eventholler.com/
  4. http://zippypixels.com/
  5. http://www.wpokay.com/
  6. http://epos.com.pk/

Blog:

  • http://www.websitedesignwebsitedevelopment.com/

HTML5 Game:

  • https://apps.facebook.com/hopeofabug/?fb_source=appcenter

JS based controls demo:

  • http://androidbubbles.com/sailing/
  • http://androidbubbles.com/ball_collisions/

Adobe Flex Builder App: Dominos Flyer Designer

Do you share your code? If so, why and how? Yes, I do and the reason is to help other developers.

Mostly code sharing activity is on stackoverflow- http://stackoverflow.com/users/1541275/wordpress-mechanic

and on github profile – https://github.com/fahadmahmood8.

Rest of the ready to use functions and other stuff is being published on my blog – http://goo.gl/njxbvY.

If WordPress free plugins can be considered as code sharing so there are a few plug-ins which are in daily usage of developers too.

What are your favorite development tools and why? Adobe Dreamweaver is my favorite development tool and the reason is its FTP connection with uploading and downloading facility by using short keys. My major task is to fix the things so it helps me a lot in putting and getting files without worrying about the web directory tree. Else if I use filezilla so i have to navigate forth and backward for even every single file. Troubleshooting and bug fixing is really fast when you are just putting and getting files instead of navigating the whole tree uselessly.

What hardware do you use? What is your dream hardware setup? I have recently upgraded to Intel Core2 Quad Q9450 @ 2.66GHz with 8GB RAM. Before this system I managed with Core2 Duo. It’s really difficult for developer to upgrade and move his all stuff to a new system. Even a window reinstallation cost a lot when you are busy in continued projects. My dream hardware setup is ASUS ROG G20AJ US009S – Core i7 4790 – 8 GB RAM. But currently I am planning to get Core i3 for routine blogging and R&D work.

What is your favorite development language and why? Java is my favorite development language after PHP. The reason is its strict rules for OOP implementation. I have worked on Dominos flyer designer software which was developed using Adobe Flex Builder so the syntax was similar to Java and it helped me a lot to keep the code understandable. I don’t think that it was possible in any other development language that way.

What websites and blogs do you read for improving your skills and keeping yourself well informed? Initially I started with kirupa.com, w3schools.com and a few other but now I am regularly visiting stackoverflow and random pages about 3rd party scripts. Tech Crunch was in my regular usage during 2012 and 2013 but later I realized that it’s more a magazine than a technical stuff.

How much time you spend working on your domain? It’s a painful truth that I work on my own domain once a year or sometimes once in 2 years properly. My job is particularly related to fixes so I don’t get much time to renovate my websites. I just keep adding content and tweak them a little but don’t get much time to improve my own websites. My blog is with the same theme and layout which was installed in 2010 and modified a little during 2011 and 2012 when I was regularly posting  on Artificial Intelligence.

Do you work alone or you have got people associated for working together? I am working alone since 2003. The reason is my attitude towards solving a problem. Although I have worked in teams and lead a team as well but still I was working on separate tasks too. Tortoise SVN remain in my regular usage for team work thing but mostly I work alone. But I am planning to move a software technology park soon so hopefully I will get some good mates there.

What kind of websites/programs you can design, what are your charges? I can handle almost all type of websites and web based applications except accounting softwares. I could never quote any website or a web application in a specific amount. Whenever I feel difficult to quote so I prefer to quote as per hour rate. Here are a few items listed in dropdown http://goo.gl/kUrdqT.

How you promote your services? Mostly I try to write articles and keep posting the back links to relevant websites and discussion forums. My professional profiles are giving me traffic from linked in, upwork, elance and a few other platforms.

How you reach up to new clients? I don’t reach to the new clients usually. I try to keep myself busy in developing ideas and seldom I get time to work for new clients. A few old clients contact me for their routine fixes and a few new clients reach me through my websites or directly to my email address with the problems etc. I feel that if I can develop 1 plug-in a month so it can help 100s of people later instead of fixing unexpected major or minor issues on daily basis.

How you convince them? Most of the time the clients try to convince me that me should charge them cheap per hour rate. I make them realize that my per hour rate is already discounted if you noticed that it is higher on upwork profile. And development time will be reduced obviously when you will not demand layout/design changes etc. during development. And speed will be automatically increased; I will surely cooperate with you as you want to keep your costs as low as possible but I can do it by speeding up the development process and using less number of hours. I will not uselessly log hours for retarded progress, you will feel it once project will be started. My 1 hour is not exactly 60 minutes of a normal developer or a normal clock hour. My 60 minutes means, for every single second my hands are on keyboard and every moment will be spent to complete something. No coffee breaks, no browsing, no chat and no sleep timings are included in it. It’s hard to convince everyone but I try to be truthful with them.

Tell us about creative and technical challenges you face in your work? Most of the time I face creative challenge in user experience. Clients either provide a reference website or just an idea roughly. I have to design the best smart as well. I think technically the things are easier for me than a user friendly module. Even a simple add new item form can be developed differently to achieve the best user experience. The worst part is if you try to copy user experience then you will simply spend 4x time to steal someone else’s idea. It’s better to discuss with the client and go for the unique and fresh idea.

What business philosophy drives you doing this? As I am really antisocial due to my 9+years of job career so I am trying to engage myself with my audience. I am trying to be in touch with the people through blogs, discussion forums, free scripts and help and finally providing them premium solutions whenever they require.

What makes your endeavors unique on Internet? I don’t bid the projects and don’t snatch projects from my fellow developers. I just keep myself busy in developing solutions and try to contribute in open source community. Most of the time my audience are developers and designers instead of end user.

Is there anyone in your life who supported you to be here like this? Yes, my family supported me a lot to carry on my coding passion like this. Especially my brother Wasil Mehmood helped me a lot when I was studying in MCS during 2010-2012. He is still playing a vital role in managing user interfaces with me. I want to tribute my best friend Atif Akhtar who spent his pocket money in 2001-2002 when I started developing web based applications using internet in commercial internet cafes. I can’t forget such support which never let me down and I continued my journey in era of mirc32 with unusual experiments of self developed MSN messenger and other VB 6.0 software. Kayzee joined and helped me to plan my own business in MBA during 2006-2008 when I started thinking about escape from job culture. It took years to escape and finally I got success in July 2014. Lastly I want to thank every single person you helped me in this continued journey including kirupa.com team who replied my questions when I was learning action scripting to develop a famous lucky shoe pair of the week game during my first job in 2005-2006. Mr. Awais Butt is an unforgettable personality who helped and encouraged me on every step in this professional career. He was my first boss and still is in contact as an elder brother, he is the one provided me the identity and I started development for the market. 4Dee Technologies was the company which I joined in 2005 or 2006 and learned to take challenges on daily basis. Finally I was in a position to develop a customized/designed ecommerce website within 3 hours. It was my best development speed time before WordPress plug-ins. It’s really nice to write for Shardul’s website, thank you for giving me such beautiful opportunity to recall these beautiful memories from my archives.

What is your ultimate message for netizens? Keep sharing your knowledge and keep appreciating those who are spending the precious time to create free tutorials and other helping stuff for you. Try to be truthful and especially in telling number of years you have worked on a specific technology because when you get a project by lying on your profile so you are unintentionally damaging your own repute. Ultimately you will leave that project undone or unpaid so it’s better that be truthful and try to describe your own stuff instead of copying from other profiles. Believe me, there are a number of clients who look for fresh enthusiasts instead of busy gurus.

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