Leaving the Listings project

I remember the feeling of pride, excitement and determination to make something great, in the months prior to the launch of Listings. The project was born out of frustrations with WP Job Manager being abandoned after the Automattic acquisition and the idea that we could do something better. We made a plan to setup a more generic listings experience, powered by niche specific implementations. Listings was born.

After a couple weeks of digging through the WP Job Manager code (which we forked Listings out of) we got a point where the plugin was ready to be viewed by the public. The first public beta version was available and we got a lot of press coverage, tweets, likes and everyone seemed to like the idea.

All this attention made us believe in the project even more. Listings was born out of a need, there is a massive target audience for each specific niche we wanted to target and people seemed to like our setup. We got Listings from initial idea to actually released project and were able to tick all boxes of our plan so far. I think I’ve never been more enthusiastic about a project, than I was about Listings. That’s why it stings so much that I have to step down as project lead.

Unfinished business

There was so much more that I wanted to do with Listings. Our plan to make add-ons that were compatible across all niche extensions still excites me when I think about it. Listings is definitely the project that I’m going to miss most from my time at The Look and Feel.

Stepping down as project lead doesn’t mean that I’ll never touch the project again, though. From now on, I’ll be an external contributor just like anyone else not affiliated with The Look and Feel or Listings team. I can still contribute to the core code, write my own extensions or paid add-ons. That’s the beauty of such an open source project. Running the project is great, but as soon as you step down there is still plenty opportunity to stay involved.

Lessons learned

Listings was the first product of this scale, that I set up from the very beginning. When I joined the WooCommerce team, the project was already running. With Listings, we had all the freedom to explore our options and make the project exactly like we wanted it. This is awesome, no doubt about that. At the same time, it’s incredibly hard. Launching a project of this scale is all about killing your darlings. You can’t do everything you want, or else you will never get the project out the door.

Aside from all management challenges, Listings has also learned me a thing or two about writing code. All code has its challenges, you need to decide which ones you are ready to take on at first. We wanted a generic core plugin, which would be extended by niche specific extensions. First up was the Jobs extension, introducing job board functionality to the core plugin.

This approach meant that all decisions and changes for the core plugin, would affect each and every extension as well. So we had to get the foundation right from the beginning. All this is about killing your darlings again. Focus on the most important things first, leave the rest. Maybe you’ve made a decision in your code that will force you to break backwards compatibility in a future release, but that is always better than never shipping this project at all.

Listings is a good thing

Listings has a bright future. The people now steering the ship are perfectly capable of running the project. There is plenty opportunity in the market for Listings to grow and perhaps I will be able to help them out with a couple contributions on my own.

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