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Seisuke Kuraishi Interview

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Say hello to @eastcoder, a.k.a., “tenpura,” a.k.a, Seisuke Kuraishi, founder of Tinybit Inc., co-founder of ja.wordpress.org, plugin daddy to WP Multibyte Patch, and CMS creator extraordinaire.

How did you first get into using WordPress?

I started using WordPress in 2006 in the web 2.0 and blog boom when I was looking for a good learning resource for new web technologies. I tried a few CMSs, but decided on WordPress. I have been creating custom CMSs for my clients with PHP and MySQL since 2001, so using WordPress was comfortable from the beginning. Needless to say, WordPress is still the best resource for people to learn the latest web development techniques.

How did you get involved in the WordPress community?

My first contact with the WordPress community was submitting a bug fix to Core trac. I also created a .org account with the silly ID “tenpura” (I never imagined I would be so involved in the WordPress community in the future). Later, my bug fix was merged into the Core code and some people appreciated my work. This experience opened my eyes to open source community contributions and influenced the work I am doing now.

Tell us about how you contribute to the WordPress community.

In 2007, I worked with some peers to start ja.wordpress.org. Since then, I have been maintaining the site and ja packages, answering forum questions, and organizing WordCamps. As the local community grew, my contributions became eclectic. I’ve constantly contributed to core trac since I started using WordPress. The WP Multibyte Patch plugin might be my most unique contribution. It transforms WordPress into a perfect Japanese version of WordPress not only in language, but also in functionality. Some of the functionalities common to other languages have already been merged into Core. This was a discussion topic at the WordPress Community Summit 2012.

When did you set up Tinybit Inc. and what have you learned since then?

In the late 1990s, I worked as a freelance web developer. At this time, I mainly used Perl to build CMS-type systems (e.g. shopping carts, job matching sites). In 2000, as my number of clients increased, I started Tinybit Inc.

For years, we’ve been making and selling online journal aggregation/single sign-on systems for universities, hospitals, libraries, and think tanks. I’ve learned that the niche market is good with regard to this business. After I encountered WordPress, our company started using WordPress to make our clients’ websites. However, we hadn’t mentioned WordPress as our company specialty for a long time.

In late 2011, we moved our offices to Sapporo from Tokyo and reorganized our business line, finally finding our niche business in WordPress, which is “WordPress Support” (Sound too ordinary? Perhaps; but I rarely see anyone do this correctly.) The concept is support for everyone — from small site owners to WordPress pros — we help them in any way we can.

So far, most of the inquiries are from small business owners who build WordPress sites by themselves or small web-dev companies who build WP sites for their customers. A few years ago, none of my old clients knew anything about WordPress, but today in 2013, most of their corporate sites are built with WordPress. This makes me feel that WordPress has truly become the de facto standard for a site building tool. I think more and more professional helping hands might be needed by this new generation of WordPress users.

Tell us a bit about the project that you’re most proud of.

Running School+Q is a runner community featuring the Olympic gold medalist runner, Naoko Takahashi as a coach. The site is one of the first commercial use adoptions of WordPress by a big enterprise in Japan. It is also a successful sample of a multi-user blogging community.

Tell us about your involvement in WordPress Internationalization (i18n).

In short, WP Multibyte Patch is an i18n version of the hotfix plugin. The current version contains 15 enhancements and bug fixes for Japanese installs. Some people, like Andrew Nacin, suggested that I do this in Core and I think it’s a nice idea; but before we go too far, I think we need to research other languages and organize common problems and language-specific issues in order to determine the most appropriate way of implementation and one that will make everyone happy.

How has contributing to open source affected your work, life, and learning?

This is a difficult question. It has definitely changed the way I think and how I work with people, but, in reality, contributing to open source and business do not always go together. I still don’t know the best approach for accomplishing both.

What motivates you to stay active in the WordPress community?

I’ve known WordPress since its humble beginnings. The community is still growing fast and so many talented people are working hard every day to make the software better; I see no reason to stop watching it.

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Krista

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