Enrico Battocchi (aka Lopo) is a freelancer based in Tuscany, Italy who’s known in the WordPress community as a plugin developer and WordCamp speaker.
Enrico is the guy behind Duplicate Posts, which is one of the most downloaded and best-rated plugins in the WordPress.org directory.
You can find Enrico on Twitter.
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Q1: What is your background and how did you first get involved with WordPress?
At that time I was already looking at WordPress as one of the most promising options available for website building. An option that had already proved to be simple to use even for not techie users. Then I started with plugin development and with the design of custom WordPress solutions for my projects.
Q2: What should readers know about all the stuff you’re doing in WordPress these days?
Well, in this period, as well as in the last 12 years, I mostly focus on the Duplicate Post plugin, which was one of the first things I developed with WordPress. The idea came from a customer who needed to clone existing articles on his website. At that time, WordPress was at version 2.3, so we are talking about “archaeology” here.
There was no automatic plugin installation either, you had to download the .zip package and then upload files via FTP.
Since then, my plugin has grown in popularity, in terms of downloads, active installs, and rating. Anyway, I tried to keep it simple, without any bells and whistles both in code and interface.
Q3: What challenges did you face in getting to where you are now professionally?
One of the aspects I like the most about my professional life is being a freelancer in a small city, Livorno (Tuscany). This is great from both a professional and personal perspective but also has few downsides such as feeling “outside” of the real development world, and also you engage with clients or prospects who are usually smaller in size, with limited budgets.
But I have been also involved in important projects with big clients such as the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and Zanichelli.
What happens in the business world is quite similar in the WordPress community. At the moment, we don’t have a local meet up in Livorno and surrounding areas. And this is one of the reasons why I love to attend all possible WordCamps in Italy and Europe.
Spending a couple of days with people who work with WordPress in every possible area, taking part in talks that sometimes are real crash-courses about topics that are partially or totally new to you, gives you with plenty of opportunities to get to know hot topics related to WordPress and the whole ecosystem.
Q4: Has anything surprised you while coming up in the WordPress world?
I was very surprised by the community. I have always been an enthusiast of free software and open source. However, in the most popular communities, such as the Linux community, speeches are mostly aimed at people who have advanced technical skills.
The world of WordPress is much more heterogeneous. It is made up of people ranging from the occasional user, who can barely manage a website, to high-profile professional developers.
Even if people have different interests and points of view, the strength of the community itself is that everyone shares the same goal, regardless of the differences.
Everyone wants to listen and learn about many different things. For example, as a developer, I really enjoy listening to talks about user experience or graphic design, because it is important to know about the interests of other players involved in the game and learn new concepts and get closer to new perspectives.
— WordCamp Dublin (@WordCampDublin) September 27, 2019
Q5: What does the future look like for you in the WordPress world?
It’s hard to say. We are definitely in a delicate phase. It is a crucial moment of transition for those who will have to manage the WordPress project. We all know the requests and expectations from the community related to the democratic management of the WordPress project and the ability to listen to the involved interests.
I think that a strong community can overcome any sort of impasse and can move forward in a direction where WordPress becomes an even more powerful and versatile CMS.
Q6: What do you look for in a WordPress host?
In my background, there is a long experience as a sysadmin. I loved to work directly on server configuration files. But now I don’t deal with this sort of things anymore and for this reason, I prefer a solution that is as complete as possible and a hosting provider that realizes that having a working server is not enough, and provides all the tools you may need to get things done with few clicks.
Q7: What’s behind the development and maintenance of a plugin like yours, which counts over 3 million active installs? What are the resources it demands in terms of energy and time, and how much time do you dedicate to user support?
In a period of strong evolution for the WordPress ecosystem, staying up to date all the time, following people’s requests, fix reported bugs, etc. is a great deal and a huge achievement.
The key here is time management. A free plugin like Duplicate Posts is only supported by donations. Actually, the plugin is very simple and it doesn’t require frequent updates and this makes my life easier.
Support is different. I split user requests into two groups. The first group of requests comes from users who may not have checked the documentation and therefore ask very simple questions. The second group is people who are dealing with compatibility issues.
As Duplicate Posts is a free plugin, testing it for compatibility with any kind of free and premium plugin is really challenging. This is particularly true with plugins distributed outside the WordPress.org directory.
As a general rule, I use to test for compatibility just with the most popular plugins.
Duplicate Post version 3.2.3 is out now: it fixes a few bug and incompatibilities with other plugins and custom capabilities for custom post types.
To read the documentation, report a bug, request a feature or donate some money:https://t.co/yQAWdrqMrf
— Lopo (@lopo) July 10, 2019
Q8: What is the future of your plugin?
I would like to go beyond the user interface providing an API with functions allowing developers to access Duplicate Posts’ features from their own code.
Since I published the code on Github, I saw a growing interest in the community. What’s very useful to me is checking use cases, such as the duplication of attached files.
Q9: What do you like to do when you are away from your laptop?
I’m an old cinephile. There was a time in my life when I used to spend most of my free time at the movies. Now it’s a bit different, but I’m still involved in organizing Livorno’s film festival and I’m expanding my interest in TV series.
Q10: Who should we interview and why?
Enrico Sorcinelli, a professional who is working hard to introduce open source concepts into the corporate world.