About Roberto Fernandez Larsson
Hello, my name is Roberto Fernandez Larsson and I created this site to discuss and blog about all matters related to WordPress, the premier content management system. WordPress, which is still used as a main blogging platform, has evolved into a complete website solution.
I have been playing with and designing websites for over 20 years. I have a Ph.D. in microbiology and was a bench scientist in academia for many years so I had the opportunity to be exposed to the internet when it was the dominion of only universities and the military, long before it became available to the general public and long before Al Gore said he created it.
I first started working with websites in the very early 1990s. In those days, there was nothing much to it except putting text, pictures and hyperlinks in some orderly fashion. My first web browser was a text-based browser (no graphical user interface), but I quickly switched to Mosaic and, viola! Pictures and text could be seen in the same window.
The Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), allowing information to be displayed in a web browser was created around this time. Throughout the 1990s I took it as a hobby to learn as much as I could on how websites work and the different web scripting and database technologies being developed at the time.
Late in 1999 I took a position as an editor for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, publishers of the famous Science magazine. AAAS had been developing several standalone websites on several science niches. My job was to develop a web portal/magazine on HIV/AIDS prevention (AIDScience). For this purpose we received a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
We hired a web developing company from Boston to develop and maintain our website using Microsoft’s active server pages (ASP), which is a server-side scripting language. My job was to provide content. As the weeks went by, it started to become apparent that the website was nowhere ready to launch. The test server was full of errors, slow performance, and crashed often. Since I was pretty familiar with ASP and SQL Server, the database it runs on, I set up a demonstration website to help the developer know what we wanted.
My boss came to see me one day and in effect said: we have a developer that can’t get the website running and you have a test server that works like a charm; could we use it? I couldn’t believe that I was going to become the ad hoc developer of our website. Through the weekend I tinkered with the website to iron out details, and the week after I talked to the IT people to move it to an in-house live server connected to the internet on a fast line.
In 2003 I started working for the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative in New York (IAVI), also as an editor of a web magazine, the IAVI Report. They already had a prestigious bimonthly print magazine, and a website that archived the PDFs, but wanted a web magazine that could carry content and news of the day relating to AIDS vaccine development.
Again, I ran into a similar problem. A website developing company, this time a much more expensive web developer based in Northern Virginia, was hired by IAVI before I started working for them. They were unable to get the website up and running in time and with our specifications no matter what we did.
By now you probably guessed what happened. I fired the developer and developed the website myself, using my experience with AAAS and with ASP. The only regret is that I did not get much credit for developing websites for these companies. Almost nobody in a company knows how a website works, so how are they going to give you credit, especially if you are doing it ad hoc?
Since then, I have continued to develop websites for people I know or for myself using active server pages. ASP has now grown into a full-fledged framework called ASP.NET.
For the past three years, I have fallen in love with WordPress, the software for standalone websites. The popularity of WordPress has increased exponentially and as a result, more frameworks, themes and plugins are being written and developed. From its humble beginnings as a blogging platform, it has now grown up to be the premier content management system.
On the business side, I have chosen WordPress as the website technology of choice for professional websites developed by my company.