About a year ago, I wrote about how to become a WordPress developer. I’m always looking for ways to up my game. Late last year, I got involved in the WordPress Developers Club, and signed on for an Apprenticeship with Tonya Mork, a software engineer whose been in the field for over 30 years.

That apprenticeship program has evolved over the past few months into a program called Know the Code. And the good news is that it’s now open, not just to a select few, but to anyone who wants to deeply understand the code under the WordPress hood.

It’s a go-at-your-own-pace program that teaches and then builds on the fundamentals of programming. It starts with a solid foundation for coding in PHP, the scripting language on which WordPress is built. Tonya breaks down the php docs into video tutorials that clarify their often cryptic language. Then shows you how and when to use them effectively.

Along with the fundamentals of programming, you get introduced to using developer tools such as the Composer dependency manager, the Node Package Manager and the Gulp task manager.

Tonya digs into WordPress core to help you understand what makes things tick. For example, what’s really going on with action and filter hooks, why you should care, and how to use them to your advantage. In labs, you start building real world plugins and customizing real world themes using the concepts you’ve learned.

Finally, you get an inside view of the Genesis theme framework. I never used Genesis until I bought it for the apprenticeship program. Personally, there are some things about it that I’m not really fond of. But there are other things that it does really well. It’s solid, it’s popular, and it’s a flexible highly customizeable theming system. Even if you don’t choose to use it, seeing how it works helps you to learn a wide range of best practices for when you create or customize any WordPress theme.

Soon there will be tools and labs for learning JavaScript and resources for object oriented programming in a WordPress environment.

Last year, when I started the apprenticeship, I was already really good at what I do. But I’ve got to say, in the last six months, my skill level has jumped exponentially. Tonya’s not paying me to say this. It’s just that good.

Whether you’re just beginning or you’ve been hacking away, or googling together bits and pieces of code for a while, and even if you think you’re pretty good at WordPress already, if you’re serious about becoming a top-notch WordPress developer, you owe it to yourself to check this out.