Matt Wade

7 comments | Posted: 9 February 07 in Interviews, by Nathan Smith

Matt Wade is a leading PHP programmer, author and tech editor. He also manages Inside Open Source, an extension of the publishing company Apress, dedicated to following the happenings in various open source technologies such as PHP and Linux. Matt was tech reviewer for the first PHP book I ever read, so I am glad I was finally able to interview him.


How did you get your start using the PHP programming language, and what do you like the most about it, as opposed to other freely available options?


I actually got my start with PHP back in 2000 when I was running the site for a church I went to. I wanted to incorporate a calendar into the site, but could not find one that I really liked. So, I went about developing my own calendar and decided upon PHP as the language. PHP was a natural choice for me because I was already programming in C and PHP’s syntax is obviously very C-like. The calendar has since become a SourceForge project, LTW Calendar. I have not contributed to the calendar in quite some time however. By the way, LTW stands for “Lighting The Way.”


You do regular work as an editor and tech reviewer for Apress, Inc. As a programmer, what led you towards the publishing industry side of things?


I first dove into the publishing industry in 2002/2003. I was contacted by Wrox Press to write a couple of chapters in a book for them. The book was PHP String Handling Handbook and I actually ended up writing three chapters. All in all, it was a horrible experience. The book writing process was terribly rushed and it seemed they cared more about getting the book done than getting a quality book. That would not have been as bad if Wrox had not gone into bankruptcy three days after the book published. I ended up never seeing a dime for the work, even though they did sell books to bookstores. Authors and tech reviewers were the last claimants to be paid, and after the bank and investors took their money there was not anything left for us. I ended up putting my chapters online here, here, and here. The chapters are over 4 years old now, so they could be a little dated.

After that experience, I ended up doing some tech review work for several different publishers, Apress included. I was the tech reviewer on the Jason Gilmore book Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL, the second edition Beginning PHP and MYSQL 5, and I am working on the third edition. From there I was invited to become a part time editor in their open source line. I have worked with some great authors and been able to work on some great books. My two favorite books that I edited are Beginning GIMP and Pro PHP XML and Web Services. I am currently working on additions to the Apress web presence, Inside Open Source being one of them.


What influenced your decision to use Textpattern to power this Apress site?


I selected Textpattern after being discouraged by so many other CMS packages out there. I have tried just about every one of them at some time or another. Many of them are very good, but I guess they just did not fit my style or what I was looking for. Textpattern is just so amazingly simple to use. From the first time I installed it, I knew I had found something special. Of course as you know, it is much more than blogging software. I can be used as a full CMS and it is that flexibility coupled with its simplicity that hooked me.


Do you use any PHP frameworks? If so, what is your favorite one and why?


I toyed with and looked at several frameworks and I currently am delving deeply into the Zend Framework. It fits my style of development very well and as such I feel comfortable using it. Sure, there are some other frameworks that are more full featured at this point, but I am willing to give ZF the time to mature. I have been very impressed with the development efforts so far and the way they are shaping the future of this framework. The current components are designed well and account for the most common use cases. The development team listens closely to the programmers utilizing the framework for future developments and feature sets. Given that ZF is still available as a preview release, I think it is a superb framework that can only get better.


Please describe the vision behind Codewalkers and eChristian WebHosting.


Codewalkers actually came about at the same time Matthew, my first son was born. I had a month off work and I was pulling the night shift with the baby while my wife took the day shift. A month full of nights with nothing much to do in between feedings put me in programming mode. It really started off as just an exercise and I was not planning to make a public site. Yet, as I coded more and more of it, I figured I would launch it as a friendly place for beginning PHP programmers. For some reason, people came and began posting in the forums and submitting other content. I may have written the code, but the users built the site. Without them, I was just some guy coding a site for himself.

eChristian WebHosting came about because I felt a good, inexpensive, Christian web host was needed. In looking around the industry at the time there were not any Christian web hosting companies that were pricing their services in a range that I thought was reasonable. It appeared to me that there was a premium being charged if someone wanted to host their web sites with a company that had the same moral values as them. I do not think it was an imposed premium so much as it was just left over from the higher prices of yester-year. When I opened eChristian WebHosting, most of the other Christian web hosts were those that had been around awhile and they had not adjusted their prices as quickly as mainstream companies. When I entered the market, most Christian web hosts were still charging $20.00-30.00 a month for 250-500 MB accounts. Now, three years later many of those hosts have adjusted prices and some new Christian web hosts have come in the market with lower prices as well.


Please share your testimony and describe what being Christian means to you.


Wow, I do not know that I have enough space to share all the wonderful things God has done for me, so I will just give a brief account of my life and how He has changed it. I had a fairly regular childhood and grew up in a Christian home, but it was not as on-fire for God as it could have been. I went to church every Sunday with my family as a young boy. Unfortunately, I cannot remember anyone at church ever really giving a clear gospel message and truly explaining what one needed to do in order to be saved.

Then I entered my teenage years. To put it mildly, I was an absolute terror. It is certainly by God’s grace that I am alive today. If there was something to be mixed up in, not only was I mixed up in it, I was doing the mixing. I fancied myself a big-shot and attempted to live the life of the mobsters that I thought were so cool. I proudly claimed to be an atheist and enjoyed debating with Christians over the origins of the world and life. I certainly subtracted years from my parents’ lives with my actions. Simply put, I was consumed with my own pleasure and not the least bit concerned with anyone else. I continued in this lifestyle until I was in my early twenties and then reality hit me that I needed to get a real job and attempt to make something of my life. I did get a job and did well in it, but I continued my crazy lifestyle outside of work hours.

Over the course of three or four years, my heart began softening. Looking back I can see that God put people in my life knowing that it would take a steady barrage of hearing the message and seeing it illustrated in people’s lives to make me receptive to His gift. Obviously at the time, I did not even know anything was happening except that I felt empty and the worldly pleasures were no longer filling that void. I gradually began to realize that there had to be something more.

Along came Michelle, the woman who has now become my wife. She was exactly the type of person that I would have never dated. Her favorite song was Jesus Freak, and that she was. She was on fire for God and was not afraid to tell you. We began talking and I started to see that God could fill my void. Being an argumentative person, I had tons of questions and a logical explanation for everything she attributed to God. She suggested that I go speak with a pastor at a local Baptist church. During that talk I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I stopped my crazy lifestyle cold and starting going to church on a regular basis.

So, after that long winded story, what does being a Christian mean to me? I believe it is out goal as Christians to share the gospel in a simple and effective manner. We should not muddy the water with lots of confusing elements. People need to hear the simple truth that Jesus saves and it is by believing in him, and by no other way, that you are saved. People need to hear about the reality of hell and that if they do not make a choice to serve Jesus in this life, they will spend an eternity there. I wish I had been told these simple facts much earlier in my life. I could have avoided much heartache. Of course, God has a plan and I believe my experiences as a teenager and young adult help me reach those in similar places.


Well, those were all the questions I had. Is there anything you would like to add before we close?


First, thanks for even doing this interview. I am more than honored that you asked me. I have been reading Godbit for awhile and am always finding interesting bits of information there. I would like to shamelessly promote one thing though. I am currently reprogramming the back-end of Codewalkers with the Zend Framework. I am not a designer, so I figured I would run a little contest to see if someone could create a fresh new look for the site. If any of the talented designers in your audience would like to give it a shot, more information can be found here.

Discuss This Topic

  1. 1 Yannick

    Nice interview Nathan and Matt.

    That’s quite the testimony you have there Matt, going from a Christian home, to being an atheist and then God bringing you right back. God is truly amazing. May the Lord continue to pour out his blessings on you Matt and bring you success in all that you do.

  2. 2 Chris Ranjana

    “I actually got my start with PHP back in 2000”

    It is good that you mention that, I started around the same time with php too.

  3. 3 Natalie Jost

    Matt! I’m so thrilled to see your name here. I admit I feel a bit ashamed that I’ve known you for two years now and didn’t know most of the things you talked about with Nathan. Shame on me. :) I so appreciate hearing your testimony. It’s funny how that’s what stands out. All the things we do in life, none of it matters without our relationship with God. Thank you for sharing yourself with us all – and for being a fabulous host!

  4. 4 Nate Klaiber

    Matt: what an excellent interview. Nathan and I have been discussing Frameworks a bit lately, I am curious as to what you like most about the ZF. I’ll be honest, I love it. The day it came out I was playing with it (and a tutorial by Chris Shiflett). Mostly, it had many things you could want for any given project (even PDF creation). I love the coding style as well, and that it is PHP5. However, I feel it is still lacking in feeling as a ‘solid unit’ so that I can reduce the amount of time I have to setup a project. I think it has a great road ahead – just curious about your thoughts related to some of the other frameworks you have tried.

    And, as Yannick said above – what an incredible testimony.

    God Bless…

  5. 5 Jonathan Sampson

    Matt Wade is an awesome guy, and a great host!

    I’ve known Matt for years now, and have been using his hosting for years too. He’s truly the greatest person I’ve ever had to deal with regarding hosting-issues.

    Excellent Interview, Nathan, as always!

  6. 6 Hermawan Haryanto

    Hi Matt,

    After running around the web for awhile, I can’t stop my self wondering why I suddenly see your name being interviewed in here Matt.. ha ha ha.. Nice to see you again mate.

    I hope this message finds you and your family well. I hope your life has been providing you with all the challenges, happiness, and rewards you desire and deserve.

    Greetings from Jakarta

    Hermawan Haryanto

  7. 7 Nathan Logan

    Great interview – I really enjoyed it.

    Thanks to both of you for making it happen. And most of all, thanks to God for His work in Matt’s life and for providing another example of how much we need Him. Testimonies are so encouraging.


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