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August 01, 2014

WPTavern: WordPress Async Task Library from TechCrunch Now Open Source

techcrunch-logo

TechCrunch is one of the largest sites publishing with WordPress and its developers are always looking to improve performance to maximize engagement and ad revenue. This week the team open sourced its WP Async Task Library, which was created to offload time-consuming tasks into background tasks. Alex Khadiwala and Nico Vincent introduced the library at the Big Media & Enterprise Meetup in San Francisco within their “Non-Blocking WordPress” presentation.

Essentially, the purpose of the async task library is to identify anything on page load that blocks better performance and relegate it to a background task. Vincent and Khadiwala offer an example of how the library works to reduce API calls when loading CrunchBase cards:

On the TechCrunch site, loading CrunchBase cards on article pages is an example of a process that could slow down the site, since the information needed for each card becomes available via the CrunchBase API. To improve performance, we cache a copy of their data for about 12 hours. But when we initially retrieve that data or refresh it, we don’t want the API call to affect our page load time.

In both instances, we instead kick off an asynchronous call back to our site with the instruction to retrieve and cache this data to be available the next time it is needed, instead of waiting for a response from their API.

Prior to addressing TechCrunch’s performance issues, the site could take up to 17 seconds to load, as it was calling more than 100 assets. Thanks to the new task library, the situation has been dramatically improved. “Since the redesign, we’ve improved overall performance by 5 to 8 times by implementing the WP Async Task library, among other important back-end and front-end improvements,” the team reported.

WP Async Task is available as a standalone plugin or developers can bundle it into their own plugins and themes. The quick start section of the documentation shows you how to use it in your own code.

It’s always exciting when one of the larger WordPress-powered publishers make their tools available to the community, because these projects tend to be the result of many developer hours. WP Async Task has the potential to benefit many other media sites running on WordPress thanks to the TechCrunch development team. The code is now available on GitHub under the MIT license and the team welcomes your contributions.

by Sarah Gooding at August 01, 2014 10:03 PM under performance

WPTavern: Radcliffe: A Free Image-Heavy WordPress Theme for Writers

Designer and developer Anders Norén has been making a name for himself with his beautifully minimalist WordPress themes. Norén strives for simplicity on the page and in his code, and his five free themes collectively have nearly 130,000 downloads on WordPress.org.

Radcliffe is the newest of his creations, designed specifically for writers. Ordinarily, themes for writers tend to focus primarily on the typography, but Radcliffe is different in that Norén places images front and center.

radcliffe

The theme showcases full-screen featured images along with your writing. Radcliffe is responsive with retina-ready assets, which means that it will respond nicely to devices large and small.

Single posts feature beautiful typography along with a full width header image, making your writing easy to read without distractions.

radcliffe-single

Check out a live demo of the theme along with Norén’s other themes and his current works in progress on his website.

Radcliffe customization options include support for uploading your own logo, changing the accent color, and three widget areas in the footer. All of the options are built into WordPress’ native customizer.

Radcliffe is a unique writer-focused theme in that it presents images as an equal part alongside the text-based content. It could also easily be used as a photoblog or a photo-heavy personal blog. You can download Radcliffe for free from WordPress.org or install it directly within your admin theme browser.

by Sarah Gooding at August 01, 2014 07:36 PM under free wordpress themes

Matt: 100% Owner

The best approach is to think like a 100% owner of your company with long-term time horizon. Then you work backward to the present and see what makes sense and what remains. Versus, here is what we have now, how do we carry it forward?

Marc Andreessen in The Future of the News Business: A Monumental Twitter Stream All in One Place.

by Matt Mullenweg at August 01, 2014 01:10 PM under Asides

WordPress.tv: Julian Dziki: SEO und Linkbuilding im Jahr 2014


Julian Dziki: SEO und Linkbuilding im Jahr 2014

by WordPress.tv at August 01, 2014 11:18 AM under SEO

WordPress.tv: Ein Blick in die Zukunft – WordPress in 2020 | 1. Teil


Ein Blick in die Zukunft – WordPress in 2020 | 1. Teil

by WordPress.tv at August 01, 2014 09:42 AM under future of wordpress

WordPress.tv: Ein Blick in die Zukunft – WordPress in 2020 | 2. Teil


Ein Blick in die Zukunft – WordPress in 2020 | 2. Teil

by WordPress.tv at August 01, 2014 09:28 AM under future of wordpress

Akismet: July Stats Roundup

This post is part of a monthly series summarizing some stats and figures from the Akismet universe. Feel free to browse all of the posts in the series.

In July, Akismet saw 5,608,437,500 pieces of spam come through. If each piece of spam were a book, there would be enough books to fill 156 Libraries of Congress (the largest library in the world).

There was a small increase in spam numbers since June – about 5%, but a 71% increase from last year in July. That’s about the same yearly increase as the one was saw in last month.

We also saw 310,275,000 legitimate comments made, which makes up only 5% of the total comments we see going around. If each real comment were a book, there would enough to fill only 8 Libraries of Congress (still not bad!).

Our busiest day was July 8 with about 240 million pieces of spam, and our slowest day was 6 with 133 million comments. Not a big range.

Overall, we missed only about 0.0206% of all spam comments this month. Although there weren’t any big fluctuations in our missed spam numbers this month, your missed spam numbers may be different. If you’re seeing more missed spam than usual come through, please do contact us and we’ll be happy to help :).

Here’s how much spam and ham came through each day of the month:

akismet-spam-and-ham-stats-july-2014

This month we did not have any service interruptions. You are welcome to follow us on Twitter or this blog for updates on that.

Here are some interesting articles on spam from around the web we liked this month:


by Valerie at August 01, 2014 03:00 AM under General

July 31, 2014

WPTavern: LaunchKey Plugin Adds Biometric Authentication to WordPress

launchkey-facial-scanWe’ve entered the future, folks. With the help of the LaunchKey plugin, you can now log into your WordPress site using your phone’s biometric facial and fingerprint scanning capabilities.

The LaunchKey mobile authentication platform has been pioneering multi-factor authentication for WordPress sites via its official plugin since 2013. The plugin has received glowing five-star reviews from users who enjoy logging in without a password. It is the first plugin to protect your site with biometric face and fingerprint scanning.

LaunchKey CEO and Co-Founder Geoff Sanders said the platform currently supports all devices that support biometric facial scanning and a limited number of devices for the fingerprint scan.

Our support for fingerprint scan is currently limited to the devices that gives us access to their fingerprint scanner, which at this time is only the Samsung Galaxy S5. As more devices with fingerprint scan become available, we’ll add support, including iOS devices with the release of iOS 8.

If you’ve ever enabled the fingerprint scan for unlocking your device, the WordPress authentication works in a similar way, except you will be scanning your finger to authorize an authentication request. “Since this functionality piggy backs off of the device fingerprint scan, there is no initial pairing or registration process,” Sanders said. “It simply needs to be enabled through the control panel.”

launchkey-wordpress-authentication-tablet-phone

How to Set Up Biometric Authentication for WordPress

If you want to set up biometric authentication for your WordPress site, you’ll need to download the LaunchKey mobile app in the Apple App Store or Google Play, pair a device, and enable the face scan through the control panel.

“During initial setup, you will be prompted to take 10 pictures of your face to map the dimensions and depths of your unique facial features,” Sanders explained. “From this point forward (until you disable it), you will be prompted with a facial scan to authorize authentication and login requests that come through LaunchKey Mobile.”

Biometric Security

Worried about having your biometric data stored by a third party? LaunchKey is totally anonymous and maintains your privacy. “All biometric data collected for these new authentication factors is encrypted and stored locally on the device and not on LaunchKey servers,” Sanders emphasized. “This also applies to all other authentication factor data used with LaunchKey such as geographic coordinates (used for geofencing), PIN codes, combinations, etc. LaunchKey is an anonymous service, and we don’t even have the ability to authenticate on behalf of our users.”

LaunchKey Prioritizes WordPress Integration

While the LaunchKey platform offers integration for both Drupal and Magento, as well as 16 web and mobile SDKs, protocol integrations (OAuth, OpenID, SSH), WordPress has emerged as a major priority.

“WordPress integration is a priority for LaunchKey because not only does it power over 20% of the internet, it’s vulnerable to the same password vulnerabilities inherent to any password-based system, and that’s exactly what LaunchKey was created to address,” Sanders told the Tavern.

The LaunchKey WordPress plugin has only been downloaded around 2,400 times, but users seem very satisfied with it. “We’ve stayed fairly quiet to date as we’ve really been more in R&D mode, but staying ‘stealth’ wasn’t something we wanted to do,” Sanders said.

“We wanted to test our technology out in the real world. As with anyone that uses LaunchKey, the WordPress owners who use our plugin immediately love that we’ve removed the hassle of passwords from their login flow which vastly improves their user experience of WordPress. Counterintuitively, LaunchKey’s friendlier user experience offers more security than password-based authentication, even at its most basic use with no other factors of authentication enabled.”

Even if LaunchKey provides a simpler way to authenticate, the challenge is getting WordPress users to see the value of the added security. Many users are familiar with WordPress.com’s Two Step Authentication, which utilizes the Google Authenticator app, and other two-factor authentication plugins for self-hosted sites. But Sanders explains how these methods are different from LaunchKey:

Google Authenticator is simply an interface for the open protocol knows as one time passwords (tOTP) which are the tokens used in the traditional 2-step authentication flow used on top of passwords. LaunchKey offers our own OTP authenticator inside our mobile app which provides the same functionality. (Our OTP authenticator actually offers more protection than Google Authenticator due to the numerous optional auth factors we can protect the app itself with such as geofencing, PIN or combo lock, etc.)

LaunchKey was designed to be a full authentication platform that replaces passwords entirely. The platform also allows you to end sessions remotely, require use of specific auth factors, or even restrict logins to specific geographical zones or timeframes.

If you’re tired of passwords and want the added protection of authenticating with your face or your fingerprint, check out the LaunchKey website for more information. The app is free and its corresponding plugin is available on WordPress.org.

by Sarah Gooding at July 31, 2014 09:54 PM under launchkey

WPTavern: Jetpack Rebrands with New Logo, Adds Custom Post Types in 3.1 Release

jetpack-logo

Jetpack is sporting a new logo in the 3.1 release announced today as part of a re-branding inspired by its growth. “Jetpack is ever-evolving and is a major part of Automattic and WordPress. It’s grown a lot since its introduction in 2011, and its branding should grow too. Something better, faster, stronger,” Enej Bajgoric explained with the unveiling of the new logo.

Jetpack 3.1 also introduces custom post types and adds the long-awaited portfolio content type, which is likely to be the first of many. The Portfolio Custom Post Type allows users to manage and showcase projects and is easily displayed using the the [portfolio] shortcode. WordPress theme developers can elect to support Jetpack’s portfolio post type by styling it to match the theme, instead of building their own.

portfolio-content-type

Theme developers will also enjoy the new responsive video support built into Jetpack. It can be enabled with one simple line of code:

<?php add_theme_support( 'jetpack-responsive-videos' ); ?>

With that code in place, all videos on the site will respond nicely to mobile devices with no extra markup. Jetpack users who were previously using other plugins to get responsive videos will now be able to eliminate those.

The 3.1 release also introduces additional JSON API endpoints for viewing updates and managing plugins and themes. You can check it out by playing with the WordPress.com developer console.

Many smaller improvements in 3.1 make Jetpack easier to use and its features more accessible:

  • Jetpack Settings have improved keyboard accessibility.
  • Improved RTL support for After the Deadline, Carousel, Contact Form, Comics CPT, Custom CSS, Omnisearch, Publicize, Related Posts, Slideshow short code, Tiled Gallery, Widget-Visibility and Widgets Gallery.
  • Contact Form: Add an “Empty Spam” option.
  • i18n: Change the priority of where plugin_textdomain is hooked so that the plugins can better translate Jetpack.
  • Monitor: Displays how often the site is checked for downtime.
  • Shortcode: Added Mixcloud shortcode and oEmbed support.
  • Social Links: Improved handling of customizer hooks in non-admin context.
  • Stats: The smiley image is gone by default.
  • Stats: Added link to the configure page for stats so that the stats settings page is easier to find.
  • Theme Tools: Added the responsive videos to theme tools so that themes can support responsive videos more easily.
  • Updated Genericons to version 3.1, new icons for website, ellipsis, foursquare, x-post, sitemap, hierarchy and paintbrush.

The Jetpack team further iterated on the admin overhaul that added bulk module management in 3.0. This release includes a number of tweaks to module management, allowing you to activate, configure, and deactivate Jetpack features in the feature description box. The update notice should already be available in your admin. Update now to take advantage of all the enhancements in 3.1.

by Sarah Gooding at July 31, 2014 07:39 PM under jetpack

WPTavern: How To Change The Default View Of The WordPress Media Library Uploader

When adding or editing images in the WordPress media library, there is a drop down menu that allows you to filter between all media items, only the items uploaded to the post, images, audio, and video. By default, the media library shows all media items. If you find yourself constantly having to switch from all media items to only those uploaded to a post, consider using the Default Media Uploader View plugin by Leemon.

Media Library Drop DownMedia Library Drop Down

While activated, you’ll see items uploaded to the post by default. I tested the plugin on WordPress 3.9.1 and it works fine without any conflicts. It should, considering it’s an incredibly simple plugin. Despite opening the media library hundreds of times, I had no idea this drop down menu existed. It’s nice to be able to filter the media library to just items used in the post.

Let us know in the comments if this plugin saves you any mouse clicks.

by Jeff Chandler at July 31, 2014 06:00 PM under review

WPTavern: WordCamp San Francisco Is Not Just Another WordCamp

WordCamp San Francisco is one of the largest, annual events, dedicated to WordPress. But is it just another WordCamp, or something else? Eric Mann points out the confusing nature of the event and suggests using a different qualifier.

From an outsider looking in, the only difference between a WordCamp in SF and a WordCamp in Portland is the location. From a sponsor’s perspective, from a new attendee’s perspective, from a new speaker’s perspective they’re the same. But the “official” status of SF changes all of that for those of us who’ve been in the community a bit longer.

Back in 2011, Jen Mylo proposed changing the name of WCSF to WordCon in an effort to officially differentiate it. A community member registered the domain before Mylo, forcing a name change. After thinking of different names, the decision was made to keep it as WCSF with an effort to point out that the event is more than just a local WordCamp.

Eventually, Matt said, “Why can’t it just be WordCamp SF?” And I decided he was right (partly because the owner of wordcon.com had not given any indication of wanting to sell the domain to us). The history of the event and its name ultimately carry more weight than my desire for event naming consistency. We just need to make it clearer that WordCamp SF is special, something more than a local WordCamp. We need to say distinctly:

WordCamp San Francisco is the official annual conference of the WordPress project.

So far, the event is not being marketed or touted as being something special. The WCSF 2014 website doesn’t have any information explaining why it’s different from a regular WordCamp. However, its listing on WordCamp Central specifies it being the official, annual conference. At the very least, there should be an About page with a bit of history and an explanation as to why it’s considered the official, annual conference of the WordPress project. I’d also like to see a list of items that make it special, compared to other WordCamps. It wouldn’t hurt to have specific branding as well. The only people who know it’s a special event are previous attendees and those who hear about it by word of mouth.

A Real World Example Showing The Need For A Distinction

At a local WordPress meetup I attended, I spoke with a gentleman who recently started using WordPress. He had attended his first local WordCamp and decided that he was going to further his WordPress knowledge. Since he didn’t have a huge budget, he asked me which WordPress conference would give him the most bang for the buck. I told him WordCamp San Francisco. He asked why, isn’t that just our WordCamp but on a bigger scale? Yes, I answered, but it’s different from every other WordCamp. I told him it’s one of the largest WordPress conferences of the year and is organized by the co-creator of WordPress. Developers, business owners, and attendees from all walks of life will be there. If he could only attend one out-of-state WordPress conference, WCSF is it.

You see, he didn’t know about all this. He’s new to WordPress and its community. According to him, WCSF is just another WordCamp except bigger and he didn’t see the value or worth of traveling to attend something he could easily drive to. This is why there needs to be more of a distinction created between WCSF being the official, annual conference of the WordPress project and not just another WordCamp.

I’m not advocating for a name change because it’s already been tried. But short of one, what other suggestions do you have for those new to WordPress and its community to understand WCSF is not just another WordCamp?

by Jeff Chandler at July 31, 2014 05:38 PM under wordcon

Matt: NomadList

NomadList has list of cities around the world sortable by cost of living, temperature, and internet speed, so if you can work from anywhere you can choose someplace fun to do so. Hat tip: Matt Galligan.

by Matt Mullenweg at July 31, 2014 04:12 PM under Asides

WordPress.tv: Detlef Krause: Selbstmarketing- Die richtigen Kunden gewinnen – aber wie?


Detlef Krause: Selbstmarketing- Die richtigen Kunden gewinnen – aber wie?

by WordPress.tv at July 31, 2014 03:34 PM under marketing

WordPress.tv: Thomas Maier: How to Make Money with Your (WordPress) Project


Thomas Maier: How to Make Money with Your (WordPress) Project

by WordPress.tv at July 31, 2014 03:19 PM under monetization

WordPress.tv: Ben Lobaugh: From Zero to WordPress Hero


Ben Lobaugh: From Zero to WordPress Hero

by WordPress.tv at July 31, 2014 03:15 PM under meetup

WPTavern: BP Project Framework: A Boilerplate for Custom BuddyPress Projects

buddypress-wall

Developers who are new to BuddyPress sometimes find BP templates confusing to work with. Common questions include: Why are there so many? Where do I place the files? How can I override the templates in my project?

BP Project Framework is a plugin from the folks at WebDevStudios that provides a boilerplate for new custom BuddyPress projects. Essentially, it adds all the BuddyPress templates you need in the convenience of a plugin.

BuddyPress has included WordPress theme compatibility since version 1.7, which means that you can activate the plugin and it will work with nearly any theme. However, if you want to customize BuddyPress-specific features, you will need to override the BP templates. Ordinarily, you would copy those templates from the BuddyPress plugin folder into your theme folder. BP Project Framework allows you to skip this step by creating a new template stack.

The plugin includes all of the necessary BP templates in the /templates directory and customizing any of those files will override the core templates. You can also place custom JS and CSS in /templates/js/bp-custom.js and /templates/js/bp-custom.css respectively. The /inc directory includes files for placing custom actions, filters, template tags, and widgets.

bp-project-framework

The bp-custom.php file contains example code for easily customizing BuddyPress. If you’re new to BuddyPress development, you’ll want to check out that file to get an overview of some quick customization options.

The advantage of putting BP templates into this plugin over building them into the current theme is that you can easily activate and deactivate the plugin. It also allows you to maintain your templates if you decide to change themes, without having to move the template files.

When you have the BP Project Framework installed, BuddyPress will first look to the plugin for its template files and then will default to BP core if any are missing. Simply activate the plugin and start adding custom code, edit the template markup and add custom CSS and JS. The plugin has no settings, but the development team at WebDevStudios plans to add some new features and options in the future.

You can find BP Project Framework on GitHub. It’s a great resource for new BuddyPress developers who want a quick start for adding custom code and working with BP templates.

by Sarah Gooding at July 31, 2014 12:20 AM under buddypress themes

July 30, 2014

WPTavern: Harvesting Emails From WordPress Comments Is A Bad Idea

A recently published article by WPBeginner explains how to export email address from the comments and import them into a mailing list. While the article advises getting the user’s permission, everything about this practice rubs me the wrong way. If you’re going to do this, please put a big banner near the comments that states your intentions. A quick and easy way to do this is to use the Show Comment Policy plugin by Jimmy Peña. The comment policy text will be displayed above the commenting area.

Show Comment Policy SettingsShow Comment Policy Settings

I’m most concerned about sites that export email addresses from existing comments. At least give those people the common courtesy of being notified and provide them the option to opt-out immediately. In fact, it may be against the law in certain countries to outright harvest the email addresses. Better yet, instead of getting involved with this practice, just turn commenting off on the site.

Are you ok with the email address you gave to a site in order to leave a comment, being added to an email list as long as you’re notified?

by Jeff Chandler at July 30, 2014 10:00 PM under harvesting

WPTavern: Helpful Tips for Documenting WordPress Themes

desk

When you have a question about a WordPress theme, where do you look for more information? Theme developers make use of a myriad of documentation methods, from bundling docs to linking to external resources. If you’ve already created a theme and taken the time to document it, then your next challenge is to make its documentation easy to discover.

When documentation isn’t readily available, users will take to the forums to get answers to common questions that could have easily been outlined in a few quick notes. This increases your support burden and causes delays for users who are trying to customize your theme. Let’s examine a few ways to make theme documentation easier to find.

WordPress.org Theme Documentation Recommendations

Themes hosted on WordPress.org tend to enjoy a large audience and have guidelines to protect their large user base. I spoke with Chip Bennett, who heads up the WordPress.org Theme Review team, to find out how WordPress.org recommends documenting themes. These recommendations are helpful even if you’re documenting a commercial theme or one not hosted on WordPress.org.

Where is the best place for a WordPress theme author to place documentation so that their users can easily find it?

Bennett’s advice, as quoted below, includes a combination of four different methods:

  1. readme.txt
    The Theme Review Team recommends placing all theme documentation in a readme file, ideally in the format of the Plugin-standard readme.txt markdown.
  2. Admin Contextual Help Tab
    Another good documentation location that is woefully underused is the WP Admin contextual help tab. Themes that incorporate a settings page should definitely consider using the fairly rich Contextual Help API.
  3. Forum Sticky Post
    For any immediate support issues, a support forum sticky is a great idea.
  4. Theme URI for External Docs
    And finally, themes can declare a Theme URI, which is intended to be an information/documentation resource for the theme. If any of the built-in documentation methods are too limiting, theme developers are welcome and encouraged to use ThemeURI (which can be a domain, subdomain, or landing page specific to the Theme, or even a GitHub repo/site for the Theme, with documentation).

Theme Documentation Best Practices and Examples

documenting

Now that we’ve covered where to place theme documentation, what should be included? Bennett recommends that you start with licensing attribution and use documentation to explain setup and anything out of the ordinary.

“Some best practices for theme documentation include explicitly stating the copyright/license attribute for all resources bundled with the theme, explaining any unusual/non-standard setup instructions for the theme, and explaining any non-core-UI theme functionality,” he said. “For inline documentation, I strongly encourage developers to follow the phpDoc standard, which improves readability, and allows for automation of generation of theme documentation.”

Best practices for theme documentation are not unduly strict, in that you can utilize virtually any route you choose, extending beyond the four methods recommended by the Theme Review Team.

“Almost any method of documentation is encouraged,” Bennett said. “Theme developers can certainly bundle help docs with their themes. Some use plain-text readme.txt or readme.md files; others use HTML files, rich-text documents, or even PDFs,” he said.

“The only downside is that there is no standard/easy way for the end user to find/use those documents,” Bennett cautioned. “Again, the Contextual Help API could be useful (it can be used to display rich text/HTML, or to link to a Theme-bundled PDF, for example), as well as the Theme URI.”

Bennett also notes that the way you choose to implement theme features will directly affect how much documentation you need to produce. “Another important best practice is always to incorporate features using the WordPress core implementation, so that fewer such features even need to be documented,” he said.

“For example, when implementing custom header images or custom backgrounds, using the core implementation provides a standard, intuitive UI for the end user. Similarly, when implementing a custom static front page, or a custom blog posts template, properly implementing the Template Hierarchy will avoid the need to provide instructions for a non-standard implementation of those features.”

Bennett offered a few examples of themes that have solid easy-to-find documentation. He developed his Oenology theme with excellent documentation as an intentional goal. The Oenology options page makes use of the contextual help tab to provide additional information on settings, FAQ, a changelog, support, and licensing.

oenology-options

Theme developers can check out Oenology theme files to see how Bennett incorporates documentation into the theme itself. He also recommends Underscores as a well-documented theme.

More Documentation Options Coming to WordPress.org

WordPress.org plugin authors have the option of adding additional documentation to the FAQ and Installation tabs. When I spoke with Bennett, he explained that theme authors do not yet have this capability.

“The Theme Directory is much more limited because, while the Theme and Plugin directories look essentially the same on the front end, they are two entirely different beasts under the hood,” he said. “The infrastructures are different. That said, there will be some changes in the (nearish?) future, that will allow the Theme directory to emulate the same (or similar) functionality, based on a standard readme file format.”

The Theme Review Team will be discussing how improvements can be implemented, but it’s not yet clear what those changes will look like. In the meantime, theme authors can make use of the solid documentation recommendations Bennett outlined.

Good documentation requires a little bit of strategy to find the best way to connect with your users when they need help. Chip Bennett’s tips are useful to all WordPress theme authors, whether you’re creating a custom theme for a client, selling a commercial theme, or supporting a free theme on WordPress.org. A combination of approaches via the readme.txt, inline documentation, contextual help and external docs at the Theme URI will cover all your bases.

Take the time to create high quality documentation and you’ll find that the burden of support will decrease. As a WordPress.org theme author, I’d prefer to spend my time making updates and developing new features and themes. Using WordPress core implementation for features and providing good docs is the best way to free up your time to do more of the fun stuff – creating beautiful themes that users will love.

by Sarah Gooding at July 30, 2014 09:34 PM under documentation

WPTavern: 7 Aspects Of WordPress I Take For Granted

After using WordPress for seven years in a row, it’s hard to consider switching to another publishing platform. I have my gripes about WordPress and there are plenty of things that can improve the publishing process. However, after testing a few other open source alternatives, I was reminded of how many things I take for granted in WordPress. Here are seven WordPress things I take for granted.

The Visual Editor

For the longest time, the visual editor in WordPress has been the bane of existence for so many users. It has a reputation for screwing up code snippets and ruining the formatting of text. In the past two years, there have been several improvements to the editor that make it my favorite way to write a post. These are just a few of my favorites, some of which are slated for WordPress 4.0.  oEmbed support, oEmbed previews, sticky toolbar, automatic resizing based on the amount and type of content, and the ability to easily edit inserted media.

After using a few different themes, I’ve determined support for visual editor styles to be a killer feature. If executed properly, content within the visual editor looks the same as it does on the frontend of the site. After using a theme that executes this feature properly, it’s hard to use a theme that doesn’t support it.

Visual Editor In WordPress 4.0 With oEmbed PreviewsVisual Editor In WordPress 4.0 With oEmbed Previews

One Click and Automatic Updates

As far as I’m concerned, any content management system that doesn’t have an easy way to upgrade within the software is stuck in the past. WordPress 2.7 “Coltrane” introduced the ability to upgrade WordPress with one click. Gone are the days of manually uploading files via FTP. Being able to upgrade plugins, themes, and WordPress with the click of a button is a huge time saver. If you want to fully automate the process, you can configure WordPress to automatically update core, themes, and plugins.

Vast Amount Of Plugins and Themes To Choose From

Considered a negative by some, I think the large amount of free themes and plugins to choose from is a huge benefit. It gives users across the world a chance to turn WordPress into their WordPress. Because of the wide assortment of themes and plugins available, the chances of two WordPress installations being exactly the same are slim. Sure, there is a lot to choose from, but I’d rather have too much choice than too little.

Plugin Count As Of July 29th, 2014Plugin Count As Of July 29th, 2014

Akismet

Despite Akismet not being 100% accurate in determining who spammers are, it’s saved me a lot of time (24 days to be exact) and grief. It’s available for free for non-commercial use and ships with WordPress. There are plenty of alternatives to handle comment spam but I’ve never had a reason to switch. Other content management systems I’ve tested either don’t have an anti spam solution built-in or are tied into the Akismet service. At the time of writing, Akismet has protected the Tavern from 109,288 spam comments with an accuracy rating of 99.19%.

Akismet Stats For The TavernAkismet Stats For The Tavern

An Abundance Of Resources

Being used on over 22% of the web has its perks. If I don’t know how to do something with or in WordPress, the answer is usually a Google search away. Someone has either written a tutorial or knows about a plugin that has the functionality I’m looking for and a lot of the information is free of charge.

The WordPress Community

The WordPress community is global. People all over the world are helping each other go farther with WordPress. People who don’t know each other are showing up to local area meetups and becoming best friends. I’ve seen first-hand veterans of the community stop what they are doing and provide a helping hand. More often than not, if we see someone struggling with their WordPress website, we do what we can to help them.

WCSF Contributor DayWCSF Contributor Day

The Time So Many People Spend Improving The Project

Notice how I didn’t say improving the software. That’s because WordPress is more than just software, it’s like a big tree with several branches. There are a ton of people all over the world helping to make the project better through individual and team contributions. Most are not paid but simply want to improve their favorite part of the project. This includes documentation, organizing meetups, WordCamp planning, improving the core of WordPress, and other initiatives.

Many of the contributions go unnoticed and contributing to WordPress can be a thankless job sometimes. Not every contribution is world-changing; some are more important than others. The bottom line is, every contribution no matter how small, makes a difference.

What Do You Take For Granted?

I asked the Tavern followers on Twitter what aspect of the WordPress project do they take for granted. Here are a few of the responses.

What aspects of WordPress do you take for granted?

by Jeff Chandler at July 30, 2014 08:00 PM under visual editor

WPTavern: If I Switched Publishing Systems, ProcessWire Wouldn’t Be My First Choice

CMS Critic, a popular website covering the content management system market, has switched their website from WordPress to ProcessWire. ProcessWire is a free, PHP based, open source, four-year old, content management system maintained by Ryan Cramer. CMS Critic cites the following reasons for moving away from WordPress:

  • Bloat
  • Poor performance on their webhosting account
  • Too many plugin/theme updates
  • Too many plugins in general with no vetting process
  • Difficult to use caching plugins

Their number one reason for leaving WordPress is bloat but their explanation of bloat is different from most I’ve read.

WordPress; like a lot of CMS platforms; relies heavily on plugins for extra functionality over and above the core services. The main issue, however, is that these plugins are not actively vetted out (or tested) by core team members to ensure they use optimized code and are safe for your site. This means that by installing a plugin, you can bring down your whole site and cause yourself mountains of headaches all because you wanted to add some extra functionality.

The bloat they speak of is not from the core of WordPress, but due to the number of plugins they installed. They are the ones responsible for the bloat, not WordPress. While they raise a good point about plugins not being vetted from a code quality stand point, they are vetted to make sure they don’t contain security vulnerabilities and follow the WordPress plugin directory guidelines.

According to CMS Critic, Cramer reviews most of the modules before they end up in the official directory. He gives developers a list of improvements and advice that helps limit the potential of modules conflicting with each other. The review process has helped keep problems stemming from modules to a minimum but I don’t see how it can scale. If the CMS ever reaches the point of receiving 20-50 modules per day, Cramer will need to find help or risk losing precious development time.

WordPress Plugin Update Fatigue Is Real

As for updates, each plugin and theme installed in WordPress increases the chance you’ll see an upgrade notice each time you login to the backend. Despite upgrades being as easy as clicking a button, having to go through the process every day can become cumbersome. CMS Critic makes a good point in that you can’t tell the difference between a critical update and a bug fix release. As far as the user is concerned, every update is critical.

Looks Like I Have A Few Plugins To UpdateLooks Like I Have A Few Plugins To Update

While most plugins have a changelog where you can see what changes are in the latest release, themes do not. This is something that will be addressed when the WordPress theme directory receives a major overhaul. Even if a change log is available, it’s not always clear to the user if the update requires immediate.

What makes all of this a moot point is the security advice of always run the latest version of WordPress which could be extended to plugins and themes. If you follow that advice, it doesn’t matter whether an update is critical or not. There will likely never be a system in place to determine the importance of an update because it creates another layer of complexity involving a decision that shouldn’t be complex at all.

The development philosophy of “iterate and release often” works fine for services like WordPress.com, but not so much for WordPress, themes, and plugins. Coen Jacobs wrote an excellent post explaining why not all WordPress plugins should iterate quickly and release often.

Of course, it’s a great thing to be able to develop new features at a fast pace, be able to quickly deliver this to your users (or to add an extra layer of complexity: to your customers) and release a couple fix releases in the time between. But it also requires your users to deal with this number of updates, or they might be at risk of falling behind or have potential security issues in their websites.

Update fatigue is a real and should be avoided if possible. The problem is compounded as the number of installed plugins increases. I’d like more plugin developers to come up with a better release strategy instead of sending out an update as soon as they’ve fixed a bug. Beginning with WordPress 3.7, users have the ability to automatically upgrade core, plugins, and themes. However, turning on automatic updates because a plugin is updating too much is a poor reason to use the feature. It’s worth noting that automatic updates are impossible for certain sites to use such as eCommerce or those that use version control to verify updates before they go live.

My Experience Using ProcessWire

In order to see what all the fuss is about, I installed ProcessWire on my local server. Installation is easy and didn’t require me to edit a configuration file. Here is what a sites looks like after a fresh install.

ProcessWire Fresh InstallProcessWire Fresh Install

The backend of ProcessWire is simple but coming from WordPress, is like being on a new planet. Everything I’m familiar with in terms of creating content is missing. I can create pages but from a background of knowing pages are more for static content, I’m not sure if that’s the optimum method of creating content. There’s no welcome screen, no signs of help if I need it, and it quickly becomes obvious this is created by developers, for developers.

The Backend Of ProcessWireThe Backend Of ProcessWire

After using the CMS for 30 minutes, I promptly gave up trying to do anything cool with it. ProcessWire has a modules directory to add functionality to the platform but it’s not accessible from within the CMS without the modules manager.

ProcessWire comes with a lot of bundled modules that can be turned on or off. This allows you to specifically determine how much functionality your site has. Over the years, there have been several discussions on whether WordPress should start moving its feature set into separate plugins. This is where I appreciate the decisions, not options philosophy of WordPress. I’d rather be given a strict feature set and then add-on to it with plugins. I couldn’t care less about enabling/disabling core functionality but I understand how this is a great feature for developers.

Core Modules In ProcessWireModule Management In ProcessWire

ProcessWire is based on the premise of everything being an API call away. “Underneath, ProcessWire 2 is a purely API-driven content management framework that is fully functional without any sort of admin interface.” WordPress is steadily moving in the same direction, especially once the JSON REST API makes its way into core.

ProcessWire Wouldn’t Be My First Choice

I’m happy to see another GPL licensed project gaining steam and finding a place all its own. The community is active and the main developer has over 8,000 forum posts. They also have a showcase filled with websites using the software. If you’d like to check out ProcessWire for yourself, they have a demo available which shows an already created, public facing website. You can also log in to the backend to see how it looks and functions.

If I were going to switch from WordPress to another publishing system, ProcessWire wouldn’t be my first choice. There are several reasons why. First, I’m not a user within their target market. Second, most of what I want out of a publishing system it doesn’t have out of the box. If it does, it’s not obvious. Last but not least, because of the way ProcessWire functions, it doesn’t have a way to install new themes for the frontend of the site. Great for developers, terrible for users.

Several of the reasons CMS Critic moved from WordPress I think are benefits, not detriments to the project. It’s great that they’ve found a project that is more in line with what they need but with the nature of evolving software, how long will it take before iterations and improvements have them looking for yet another CMS to switch to? In most software projects, end users far outnumber developers. I get the impression that most of the users for ProcessWire are developers. If the project doesn’t decide to cater to end users, I don’t see it ever becoming much more than an addition to a developer’s toy box.

There are plenty of things that need improvement in WordPress, but after using ProcessWire for 30 minutes, I was reminded of how many things I take for granted. More on that in a future post.

What do you think of ProcessWire? Is it something you can see yourself switching to or building client sites with? What parts of ProcessWire can be used as inspiration for future improvements in WordPress?

by Jeff Chandler at July 30, 2014 06:37 PM under processwire

WordPress.tv: Ivan Potančok: Tvorba eshopov vo WordPress


Ivan Potančok: Tvorba eshopov vo WordPress

by WordPress.tv at July 30, 2014 03:43 PM under e-commerce

WordPress.tv: Mária Jellúšová: Projektový manažment pri tvorbe webov


Mária Jellúšová: Projektový manažment pri tvorbe webov

by WordPress.tv at July 30, 2014 03:27 PM under project management

WordPress.tv: Vladimír Rejholec: WordPress MFA a affiliate


Vladimír Rejholec: WordPress MFA a affiliate

by WordPress.tv at July 30, 2014 03:07 PM under advertising

Matt: Five Corporate Giants

As the engineer and writer Alex Payne put it, these startups represent “the field offices of a large distributed workforce assembled by venture capitalists and their associate institutions,” doing low-overhead, low-risk R&D for five corporate giants. In such a system, the real disillusionment isn’t the discovery that you’re unlikely to become a billionaire; it’s the realization that your feeling of autonomy is a fantasy, and that the vast majority of you have been set up to fail by design.

From Wired’s One Startup’s Struggle to Survive the Silicon Valley Gold Rush.

by Matt Mullenweg at July 30, 2014 01:05 PM under Asides

WPTavern: First Vietnamese WordCamp to be Held in Hanoi in September

hanoi

Vietnam is getting its first WordCamp on September 6th, 2014. WordCamp Hanoi was born out of the Hanoi WordPress Group, an active local meetup with nearly 300 members. The group connects WordPress enthusiasts in the area for relaxed chats and presentations. As of last month, WordPress is now 100% translated into Vietnamese, and some of the meetup members were active in helping to reach that goal.

WordCamp Hanoi is set to have three presentation tracks to include the business side of WordPress, using WordPress, and developing for WordPress. The call for speakers is open and applications will close on August 11. Organizers are looking for volunteers to help with food, shopping, creating speaker gift bags, designing and organizing badges, and all the other behind-the-scenes magic that powers WordCamps.

The Hanoi WordPress Group has been meeting for the past two years and its members have created a friendly atmosphere for connecting with other local enthusiasts. Philip Arthur Moore, one of the organizers of the event, is hoping that same atmosphere will be part of Vietnam’s first WordCamp. “Our goal this year is to keep the event simple, cozy, small, and familial, something that our group has done a good job of maintaining since its 2012 start,” he said.

WordCamp Hanoi will feature a diverse range of presentations to interest as many different kinds of WordPress users as possible. If you’re planning on being in Hanoi during September, watch for the ticket announcement so you don’t miss this historic WordPress event.

by Sarah Gooding at July 30, 2014 03:54 AM under wordcamps

July 29, 2014

WPTavern: Stellar Places: A Plugin to Create, Manage and Display Locations in WordPress with Google Maps

Many Google Maps plugins have a convoluted admin workflow for creating locations in WordPress. Some of the clunkier solutions actually require you to look up longitude and latitude coordinates to manually input for pinpointing. Very few maps plugins utilize custom post types to provide a user-friendly input.

Stellar Places is a new plugin designed to provide an intuitive way to create, manage and display locations in WordPress. The plugin registers a custom post type for locations with integrated Google maps. Once activated, a new Places menu shows up in the WordPress admin:

places

Scroll down to enter location data, which is pulled in via Google Maps. You can enter an exact address, just the cross streets, exact coordinates, etc. There’s a good deal of flexibility in entering a location to pinpoint. The map and extra data fields are automatically updated with your location, without refreshing the page.

google-map

Places added can be accessed on the front end via the location listing view or single location view with the associated maps. Maps can be inserted into a page or post using the [stellar_places_map] shortcode. Stellar Places also allows you to display multiple locations on the same map.

maps-frontend

The shortcode for embedding places is extremely customizable and includes parameters for customizing HTML attributes, such as ID, class, width, and height. It also includes query parameters for limiting the display by post_type, taxonomy, term, category, and post_id. Shortcode map settings allow you to specify latitude/longitude for the map center, mapType, scrollwheel, zoom, minzoom, maxzoom, and infowindows.

responsive-mapThe plugin is also mobile-friendly and produces responsive maps that are easy to navigate on devices. This makes it ideal for featuring local events, divided by categories. You could also use it to create a store locator for businesses that have multiple physical locations. Each location gets its own dedicated page and will automatically appear in the list of all locations.

Stellar places features include:

  • Live map preview
  • Drag and drop marker relocation
  • Location pages for better SEO
  • Unlimited locations and maps
  • Mobile friendly, responsive maps
  • Easy map embeds via a customizable shortcode

In the future, the Stellar Places development team plans to build extensions for the plugin that you can install to gain additional functionality.

An easy-to-use maps plugin that looks and feels like native WordPress is long overdue. I tested Stellar Places and found that it works as advertised. The process of adding new places is intuitive and maps can be tailored to your exact specifications with the many options available in the shortcode. If you’re looking to try a new Google Maps plugin for WordPress, download Stellar Places for free from WordPress.org.

by Sarah Gooding at July 29, 2014 08:04 PM under google maps

WPTavern: MigrateWP Launches a Service Dedicated to WordPress Migrations

While there are many excellent plugins that make migrations easier for developers, WordPress migration as a service hasn’t been widely marketed. MigrateWP is a new business dedicated solely to providing smooth, painless migrations for people who don’t have the skills or time move a site from one host to another. Pricing starts at $200 and includes DNS migration and a free site audit. Larger and more complex migrations range from $300-$750.

migratewp

Founder Daniel Griffiths describes MigrateWP as a curated migration and conversion service for WordPress. Griffiths is best known for his work as an Easy Digital Downloads extension developer and is also the founder of the Redux Framework. During the course of his work, he found migrations to be a source of continual frustration for the average WordPress user.

“The idea came about as a direct result of a series of issues posted in the Easy Digital Downloads support forum related to migration issues experienced by one of our users,” Griffiths said. “I came to the realization that no matter how well documented, migrations suck! Even for someone who’s done a few, they’re a headache and for a new user, they’re downright impossible.”

A Hands-On Migration Service with No Automation

After researching the problem, Griffiths found that there are very few resources available to facilitate site migration, let alone conversion, for end users who aren’t technically inclined. “Yes, there are a few other services, but they all suffer from one fatal flaw: automation,” he said. “MigrateWP was built on the premise that no matter how well thought out, automated systems can’t compare with the reliability that manual processes can.”

Griffiths hand-tailors the migration process for each user’s unique scenario, and all migrations are completed hands-on by specialists with a high level of experience. This enables MigrateWP employees to ensure data integrity and customer satisfaction.

“Beyond the basic migration component, we do site conversions, full site auditing, and every migration is run through malware checks both before and after the migration process to ensure the client receives a clean site when the process is finished,” Griffiths said.

Customers often have no idea how much information they will need to provide access to in the course of a migration. I asked Griffiths how he plans to simplify the process of interfacing with his clients’ old and new hosts. “Before the migration begins, we personally contact every client to work out the details of the migration,” he said. However, the initial contact on the website is designed to be quick, without attempting to capture all of the information required.

“Our client contact form is extremely simple for a reason,” Griffiths said. “Particularly in the case of companies, it’s unreasonable to expect a single individual to know all the details up front. After all, companies frequently have multiple employees responsible for various facets of their tech. This may well include different people responsible for the physical hardware as opposed to software, or corporate staff changeovers.”

Griffiths’ team first performs a site review and engages each potential client directly to get a grasp of the actual migration before proceeding. He is aiming to hire a 5-10 person staff within the first year.

In the future, he hopes to attract developers to utilize his service, in addition to assisting end users who don’t have the skills to migrate their own sites. Any capable WordPress developer should be able to easily handle an average site migration, but Griffiths hopes to free up their time by creating agreements with development agencies or hosting providers to manage their client migrations.

The commitment to provide a more personalized migration experience with no automation is what Griffiths hopes will distinguish MigrateWP from its competitors. Many hosts already offer free automated migration when you sign up for a new account. Do you think end users are more likely to utilize a dedicated migration service or will MigrateWP find more success among developers and agencies?

by Sarah Gooding at July 29, 2014 06:12 PM under wordpress migration

Lorelle on WP: Code Standards Project to Take WordPress Into the Future

WP Tavern reported recently that WordPress Developers are organizing a community initiative to standardize common post types, taxonomies and meta data. Led by Justin Tadlock, popular WordPress developer and author of Professional WordPress Plugin Development, the goals of the community project are to name these common parts of WordPress to create a more stable and […]

by Lorelle VanFossen at July 29, 2014 04:57 PM under wordpress standards

WordPress.tv: Daniel Naber: Wie WordPress unsere Rechtschreibfehler findet


Daniel Naber: Wie WordPress unsere Rechtschreibfehler findet

by WordPress.tv at July 29, 2014 03:54 PM under proofreading

WordPress.tv: Michal Kopecký: Perfektný článok


Michal Kopecký: Perfektný článok

by WordPress.tv at July 29, 2014 03:42 PM under Writing

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August 02, 2014 12:15 AM
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