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September 02, 2014

WPTavern: Sprout Apps Launches Free WordPress Invoicing Plugin

Last month, Sprout Apps announced that it would soon be launching a suite of business apps targeted at WordPress freelancers and small businesses. While the company is still in pre-launch operations, Sprout Invoices was just released on WordPress.org as part of the launch plan.

Dan Cameron, the founder of Sprout Apps, believes there are some distinct advantages to managing common business-related tasks in the admin. The Sprout Apps product suite aims to streamline and brand all client communications, making your WordPress site the center of activity for your business. Cameron hopes that users will opt for a homegrown WordPress solution that fits right into their websites, instead of relegating business tasks to third-party applications with narrow customization options.

The Sprout Invoices plugin unifies the workflow of estimate creation and invoice management. It allows you to receive estimate requests via a default form, or you can integrate it with Gravity Forms or Ninja Forms. The plugin automatically creates estimates based on the requests you receive and you can easily manage their status in the admin:

easy-estimate-management

Once an estimate is accepted, the plugin automatically generates the invoice to speed up the process of being paid. Sprout Invoicing has built-in support for deposit payments.

sprout-invoice

Sprout Invoicing allows for custom estimate and invoice templates, which you can brand for your business via a standards WordPress theme template. Notification editing allows for plain-text or HTML, so you can also match the branding in your email communications.

The plugin’s dashboard lets you know how your business is doing at a glance, with charts and summaries:

sprout-invoicing-dashboard

Sprout Invoicing also includes dynamic reports, which allow for date filtering, sorting, search, and exporting – all of the features you would normally expect from your standard invoicing app.

dynamic-reports

The free Sprout Invoicing plugin allows you to accept payment via Paypal Pro or send customers to Paypal to pay invoices. The Sprout App marketplace includes additional upgrades and payment add-ons.

Sprout Invoicing features at a glance include:

  • Advanced Estimate and Invoice Admin
  • 200+ filters and actions for hooking into the plugin and altering anything
  • Customizable invoice and estimate templates
  • Discounts
  • Deposit Payments
  • Taxes
  • Client records with multiple points of contact
  • Nested line items
  • Pre-defined tasks/line items
  • AJAX throughout to speed up workflow

In the future, Cameron plans to add importing from WP-Invoice, Harvest, and Freshbooks. Other major features on the roadmap include time tracking, recurring payments, and payment terms.

If you are currently using commercial invoicing software and want to save your small business a little bit of cash, Sprout Invoices looks like a promising WordPress-based alternative. You can download it for free from WordPress.org.

by Sarah Gooding at September 02, 2014 10:00 PM under sprout apps

WPTavern: The Hidden Savings Of a WordCamp Ticket

When we wrote about tickets going on sale for the first ever PodsCamp, some folks commented that $50 was too much for a one day event, especially when compared to a WordCamp. I agree with Sarah Pressler who said, “WordCampers are spoiled by the $20-40 fees associated with WordCamps.”

To see how spoiled the WordPress community is in having the WordPress Foundation, WordCamp Central pillar sponsors, and Multi-Event Sponsors foot most of the bill for WordCamps, I compared their prices with other conferences. I also discovered through public budget reports that ticket prices are 2-4 times cheaper than what the total amount of expenses are per attendee.

Joomla Conferences

Joomla Logo

Joomla has two different types of conferences. One is called Joomla Day while the other is Joomla World. Joomla Day is a 1-3 day event, similar to WordCamps. They’re held all over the world. Based on my research, prices for events based in the United States range from $20-$80.

Joomla World is similar to WordCamp San Francisco in that its a once a year, unique experience in addition to learning about Joomla from premiere speakers. The location of Joomla World changes every year.

This year, it’s in Grand Oasis Cancun, Mexico, November 7th-9th. Early bird tickets are $199 while standard tickets are $299. The 3-day pass includes access to all the sessions from Friday through Sunday. Food and accommodations are NOT included with the ticket.

According to the Joomla events website, Open Source Matters will provide $2,500 in funding to first time Joomla Days. For subsequent annual events, OSM will provide $1,500 in financial support.

Drupal Conferences

Drupal Logo

Drupal also has two different conference types, Drupal Camp and DrupalCon. A Drupal Camp is similar to WordCamp in that it’s a 1-2 day event that focuses on many aspects of Drupal in one location. DrupalCon is the official conference of the Drupal Community.

Tickets for DrupalCon Austin, TX, that took place June 2nd-6th ranged in price depending on when you purchased them. Here’s what the ticket price break down looks like.

  • Earlybird     $400     ends April 4
  • Regular        $500     ends May 2
  • Late              $550     ends May 30
  • Onsite          $600     ends June 5

These are the average prices for a DrupalCon held in the United States. A ticket to DrupalCon Austin would have given you access to a daily lunch and morning coffee break, most of the event, and swag items. Drupal Camps on the other hand average $20 for admission. The ticket price includes food and swag items.

Acquia is the commercial entity that supports the Drupal project and is the top-tier sponsor for most DrupalCons. Similar to WordPress and Joomla, Drupal has an association dedicated to helping the open-source CMS project flourish. Unlike Joomla and WordPress, the Drupal Association does not help with the fiscal responsibilities of Drupal Camps.

Everyone Sees Value Differently

The First Ever PodscampThe First Ever Podscamp

The only person that determines whether a conference is worth the price of admission is the attendee. On price alone, WordCamps are substantially more affordable than several other conferences related to open source software. This is in large part due to the financial support provided by the WordPress Foundation,  WordCamp Pillar Sponsors, and Multi-Event Sponsors.

While Scott Kingsley Clark would love to have PodsCamp be free to attend, the costs associated with the event prohibit it from happening. Since it’s a separate event from WordCamp, Clark doesn’t have access to the funds WordCamps enjoy. Instead, he’s relying on sponsors to help offset the costs so everything is not out of his pocket.

Again, value is determined by an individual but for $50, you get food, a full day of sessions devoted to Pods, and face to face access with the entire development team. I think $50 is a bargain, especially for those who use Pods extensively.

Should Open Source Conferences Be Free?

There is a line of thought that open source conferences should be free to attend. Steve Burge, of OSTraining.com, explains why.

If you want to increase the number of people using your software, you should leverage your event to attract as many people as you possibly can.

If you charge $50 or more, you’ll only ever attract the same old people. If you want to attract new people, try and remove all barriers that might stop them from attending.

Burge goes on to list a few different ways offering free tickets can work. I’ve never organized a WordCamp myself but have spoken to many who have. Several of them have told me the cost of the venue is the most expensive part of the event. Food and beverages are typically the second largest expense. Swag items are not as expensive as you might think since they are purchased in bulk.

I don’t think what Burge describes is likely to happen for WordCamps. Part of the reason is expectations. The other is that because of the WordCamp guidelines, several of the events are cookie cutter in nature. By upping the ante with a bigger after party or extravagant offerings, WordCamps can differentiate themselves. It’s possible the cost of differentiating the event will generate more expensive tickets unless it’s offset by a sponsorship.

One item Burge doesn’t mention in his post is the incentive given to people who pay for a ticket. The WordCamp planning site explains the benefits of charging a small fee.

We think of WordCamp tickets not as being comparable to conference tickets (for many WordCamp lineups, you’d have to pay hundreds of dollars at a regular conference), but as being just enough to get people out of bed on that sleepy WordCamp morning.

Typical prices run about $15-20 per day, which basically covers lunch and a t-shirt, leaving you to cover the additional event costs through fundraising. If you think you need to charge more than $20 per day, chances are there’s something going on your budget that can be adjusted.

WordCamp Budgets Show How Much Money We’re Saving On Ticket Prices

Cash Register Featured Imagephoto credit: Historias Visualescc

At least a few WordCamps have their budget reports available for public viewing. The numbers that jump out at me are the total expenses per attendee.

Both WordCamp San Francisco and Milwaukee had a total expense amount close to $83 per attendee. This means both events would have needed to charge attendees $84 to put on the event without financial support from external sources. WCSF charged $20 per day per person while Milwaukee charged $25 for one day. Thanks to sponsorships and the WordPress Foundation, attendees saved anywhere from $40-$60 per ticket.

WordCamps Need To Keep Ticket Prices Low

The biggest point Burge makes in his post and something I agree with is that the more affordable conferences are, the more people who can attend them. I’d hate to see average WordCamp prices between $50-$80 for 1-2 days of learning. More expensive WordCamps would cause exclusivity which is against the ethos of WordPress.

I’d love to hear from WordCamp organizers on ideas or steps you’ve taken to get more people with low income levels to attend your event. I’m also interested to know if you offer free tickets to college students or members of non-profit organizations.

by Jeff Chandler at September 02, 2014 09:12 PM under wordcamps

WPTavern: Saga: A Free WordPress Theme for Writers from Theme Hybrid

When Theme Hybrid launched its Stargazer theme, the idea of a design-specific parent theme that would provide limitations landed in stark contrast to the super generic, all-encompassing themes that permeate the market. You’ve probably seen themes marketed as “the last WordPress theme you’ll ever need.” They kinds of themes purport to have so much flexibility that they can be suitable for any kind of website. Stargazer was launched as the exact opposite.

Justin Tadlock is aiming to restore the original design for the relationship between parent and child themes. His post on Designing in a Box further explains the philosophy behind child themes with limitations where the parent theme houses the majority of the design. The Stargazer experiment inspired a flurry of child themes. It represented a shift in how Theme Hybrid themes are built and its overwhelming success prompted Tadlock to create another.

Saga is the next parent theme in Theme Hybrid’s revolution. It was designed specifically for writers and has been stripped of anything that would distract from the content.

saga

The theme was designed with careful attention to typography, since it focuses on the written word. The homepage and single posts display big, bold featured images. The customizer offers custom color options and a header icon option with 400+ icons to choose from. Navigation is mobile-friendly and hidden until clicked.

Saga seamlessly integrates with several of Tadlock’s free plugins for further customization, including Custom Background Extended, Grid Columns, and Custom Header Extended for per-post headers and backgrounds.

The theme is compatible with Philip Author Moore’s new Subtitles plugin, which offers an elegant and portable way to include subtitles even if you change themes.

Saga also includes beautiful support for post formats with a unique design for each format.

saga-post-formats

Check out a live demo of Saga to see the theme in action.

Build a Saga Child Theme

If you want to build a child theme for Saga, the barrier for entry is intentionally low so that new theme developers can easily get started experimenting. “Like Stargazer, you can literally build a custom child theme for Saga with just a few lines of code,” Tadlock said. Child theme authors who submit their themes to Theme Hybrid and WordPress.org will receive a free, lifetime membership to Theme Hybrid. You’ll also receive a detailed technical review from Tadlock and the WordPress Theme Review Team, which will help you refine your skills as a theme author.

Even if you’re not planning on building a child theme, Saga is beautiful without any modifications. It offers writers a unique design for sharing stories while keeping the focus on the content. If your blog needs a design refresh, you can download Saga for free from Theme Hybrid. It will also be arriving soon on WordPress.org, pending approval.

by Sarah Gooding at September 02, 2014 06:32 PM under theme hybrid

WPTavern: WordPress Plugin Boilerplate 3.0 Released with New Community Website

wppb

Version 3.0 of the WordPress Plugin Boilerplate was released today. The open source project was started in 2011 by Tom McFarlin as a GitHub repository for storing code while he learned plugin development. Over the past three years, the boilerplate has matured beyond his expectations with the help of 39 contributors. It now has more than 1800 stars on GitHub and a brand new logo and website.

What’s New in 3.0?

The 3.0 release constitutes a major rewrite of the boilerplate. The primary objective of the project is to provide a standardized, object-oriented starting place for building high quality plugins.

“In the new version, we’ve broken things down into a very, very specific organizational structure,” McFarlin explained. “It’s much more object-oriented than it’s predecessor, the code doesn’t include a lot of TODO’s. Instead, the comments give developers guidance as to what a variable or a function should be doing when using the Boilerplate.”

As developers implement their own work using the boilerplate, they are encouraged to overwrite the comments that are included as a guide.

McFarlin and contributors made every effort to ensure that the code in version 3.0 conforms to WordPress’ coding standards and its inline documentation standards.

The plugin boilerplate now includes classes that are responsible for everything. There are classes for:

  • Plugin activation
  • Plugin deactivation
  • Plugin Internationalization
  • A class that’s used to register all hooks with WordPress
  • A core plugin class
  • Some use of common object-oriented design paradigms
  • A specific location for dashboard-related functionality, styles, and scripts
  • A location for public-facing styles, and scripts
  • A location for shared code (be it libraries or not)
  • A template for a plugin readme
  • A directory structure that mimics the WordPress Plugin Repository’s Subversion directory
  • Places for screenshots, banner images, and even the custom icons that were just announced for WordPress 4.0

The new directory structure is now broken down into assets and trunk directories:

wppb-directory-structure

One of the most exciting updates to 3.0 is that this version of the boilerplate can be installed and activated like a regular plugin, making it easier for new plugin developers to get started. “It doesn’t introduce any functionality into WordPress,” McFarlin explained. “But there are two sample JavaScript files that show how to use the core Boilerplate code to get started.”

The Future of the WordPress Plugin Boilerplate: Expanded Documentation and Community

Version 3.0 omits the Github Updater, which was part of previous versions. The reason behind this change is that McFarlin wanted to scale back the boilerplate’s contents in order to offer only the bare essentials to get started.

“I want to start up Editions (or basically forks) of the Boilerplate that are tailored to those who like to use Grunt or Composer or those who want to include the GitHub updater in the plugin,” he said. “Personally, I’m a big fan of it and I use it in a number of my plugins, but I didn’t want to build it into this version when it can just as easily be added by someone else’s fork.”

With the new website and branding in place, McFarlin hopes to develop the community behind the project. “Hopefully, having a face to relate to the Boilerplate will help elevate it beyond just a miscellaneous GitHub repository,” he said. “A domain, a logo, branding, and all of that stuff can go a long way in helping others to associate a project with an idea and a group of people more than an open source repository and a README could ever do.”

McFarlin plans to expand the boilerplate’s documentation on the website and grow a community where developers can share ideas and forks that they’ve created for specific use cases, such as WordPress multisite.

Appealing to new developers is also part of the goal for the new website. “I want to make the Boilerplate more accessible – GitHub is great, but it’s great if you’re a programmer,” McFarlin said. “If not, it’s really intimidating and people have no idea how to get started with contributing to a project.”

The boilerplate website will serve to provide documentation, example code, and an explanation of how people can get involved contributing to the project. McFarlin is even considering adding courses, editions, and a forum. “To be honest, I’ve even considered holding online events where people can pay to learn how to use the Boilerplate for certain things, though this and all of the other things are so far on the backburner that it’s hard to envision how it’s going to play out right now,” he said.

Over the years, the community surrounding the boilerplate has helped to shape its future and McFarlin is committed to move the project in a direction that continues to serve WordPress plugin developers.

“I think the one thing that I never expect to hear, yet never get tired of hearing, is: ‘I didn’t know how to write a plugin or where to start until I found the Boilerplate,’” he said. “That’s a really great feeling.”

by Sarah Gooding at September 02, 2014 02:41 PM under wordpress plugin boilerplate

September 01, 2014

Matt: Fight Club A/B Testing

Luca Sartoni writes The Rules of A/B Testing by Tyler Durden. “1st Rule: You don’t talk about A/B Testing.”

by Matt Mullenweg at September 01, 2014 03:39 PM under Asides

Akismet: August 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 August, there were 7,203,785,500 pieces of spam that came through Akismet. If each piece of spam were one word, it would take 6645 copies of the Harry Potter series to accomodate them all.

Here’s a breakdown of the number of spam and legitimate comments (what we call ham) we saw last month:

Akismet spam and ham stats Aug 2014

Our busiest day was August 21, with about 269 million spam messages, and the slowest day was August 3 with 173 million. We missed only about 1 in every 5,916 spams.

The number of spam message is up 92% from last year, which is a similar large rise we’ve seen in previous months. It’s also up from last month by 28%.

The number of legimate messages that went through this month is 33,377,8500. If each legitimate comment was a word, they’d only fill 307 copies of the Harry Potter series. The amount of legitimate content going around is only about 4% – and the large difference is business as usual.

As always, if your own missed spam or false positive numbers are on the rise, we’d love to help. You can reach out through our contact form.

August was a big month in the spam universe, three services were in the news. Google added new spam filtering support to Gmail – you can find more info on PC World. Twitter announced its new spam filtering system, BotMaker. And, Apple’s iMessage seems to have been hit with a bout of spam. Wired explained why, though MacWorld showed us why the numbers may not in fact be so dire.

And now for a question for the readers: what other data tidbits would you like to see mentioned or discussed in these monthly spam reports? We’d love to hear from you, and accomodate where we can :)


by Valerie at September 01, 2014 05:43 AM under Monthly Roundup

August 31, 2014

Matt: You Can’t Tell This is 3D Rendered

by Matt Mullenweg at August 31, 2014 03:29 PM under Asides

August 30, 2014

Matt: Why LaTeX?

by Matt Mullenweg at August 30, 2014 02:58 PM under Asides

August 29, 2014

WPTavern: Tickets On Sale For The First Ever PodsCamp

The First Ever PodscampThe First Ever PodsCamp

Tickets are now on sale for the first ever PodsCamp. It’s being held in Dallas, TX on October 3rd, 2014, a day before WordCamp DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth) with a ticket price of $50 each. Each ticket grants you access to the event, BBQ for lunch, and direct access to the developers of Pods Framework.

The event will focus on what you can do with Pods and will feature sessions on topics such as an introduction to Pods, building applications, and a Q&A session with the Pods development team. For those not familiar with the plugin, Pods is a framework for creating, managing, and deploying customized content types and fields.

A First For The Pods Development Team

The event will mark the first time the entire Pods development team will be under one roof. Lead developer for Pods, Scott Kingsley Clark, said the team will be in Dallas, TX the Wednesday before WordCamp and will be working on putting the finishing touches on Pods 3.0.

Clark explains why the team hasn’t had a PodsCamp in the past. “We’ve been talking about and planning an event like this for years, but it wasn’t until the Pods team grew large enough for me to feel like we could really do something worth people’s time.”

No Conflicts With WordCamp

Initially, I thought PodsCamp was taking place at the same time as WordCamp DFW but since it’s a day before, it won’t interfere with the event. “It’s completely separate, in terms of organization and funding,” Clark told the Tavern.

A few years ago, PodCamps would sometimes be merged with a WordCamp to offer attendees a chance to attend two events with one ticket. However, WordCamp central frowns against this practice and now states that WordCamps must be focused on WordPress. From the WordCamp Central FAQ:

Q. Can I do a track at a BarCamp/PodCamp/other event and call it WordCamp?
A. No. The use of the WordCamp name indicates that it is a standalone event dedicated to WordPress, and to prevent confusion, WordPress “tracks” within larger events such as BarCamp or other conferences are no longer called WordCamps.

Sponsoring and Needing to Be Sponsored

The Pods Foundation is sponsoring the WordCamp DFW Contributor Day on October 5th, through a deal Clark made to secure the same space for both days. At the same time, PodsCamp is in need of more sponsors. If you’re interested in sponsorship opportunities, please get in touch with the organizing team. SiteGround, Chris Lema, Aesop Interactive, and Beil Media are just a sample of the sponsors already on board with helping the event.

I think it’s great to see events like PodsCamp where you can focus on a particular plugin or subject while not conflicting with a WordCamp that same weekend. I like the strategy on the part of Clark and his team for the event to be a day before WordCamp so people can attend both without worrying about missing sessions.

Will you be attending the first ever PodsCamp?

by Jeff Chandler at August 29, 2014 10:36 PM under wordcamp

WPTavern: How to Create a Quick Style Guide for Client Websites

The business of building WordPress websites is exploding, and most agencies and freelancers have more work than they can handle. Clients are attracted to WordPress because of how easy it is to manage content. In the old days, if you had a website built, you would still need to hire a developer to make updates to your content or design. WordPress makes it possible for anyone to create new posts, pages, products, etc., without any technical experience.

The flip side of this is that your design may be in danger when everything is so easy to edit. If you want to keep branding consistent across a website, you may need to include a style guide to breakdown the design you’ve created.

Having a style guide for reference is especially important if you are passing off a CMS to a client who will be using it to create content on a regular basis. Without a guide your client may go nuts with customization features that may be built into the theme. Before you know it, he will have used 10 different typefaces in various places and multiple header colors and sizes. The beautiful website you created can end up looking like digital goulash in the end, which is no good for your portfolio.

I’d like to introduce you to Stylify Me, a handy new tool that can automatically create a quick style guide for any website. Simply enter the site URL and the app will return its background colors, text colors, typography, and image dimensions.

Here are the colors you get when you input WordPress.org:

wordpress-styles

It also returns the typography and image dimensions found on the homeapage.

wordpress-typography

The download for your style guide comes in the form of a PDF, a somewhat inconvenient file type that many clients seem to love for whatever reason. Obviously, this is just a quick start which you can further edit and fine tune. Some homepages may not lend themselves as well to demonstrating the site’s style. In that case you may want to select another content page from which the app can extract styles more representative of the site as a whole.

The Stylify Me app was built on NodeJS and PhantomJS. Its creators, Annabelle Yoon and Michael Mrowetz, wanted to provide a tool that would allow designers to research sites more efficiently, without having to inspect each element. The app is hosted on Heroku using the multi buildpack and is MIT-licensed. Check out the code on GitHub to see how it works.

Stylify Me gives you the ability to quickly generate a style guide that will help your clients keep their websites within the realm of the original design. Providing a style guide adds an extra touch, which demonstrates that you care and are invested in your client’s success.

by Sarah Gooding at August 29, 2014 10:23 PM under design

Matt: Journalism vs Mass-Media

by Matt Mullenweg at August 29, 2014 08:52 PM under Asides

WPTavern: Nouveau Riche: A Free WordPress Blogging Theme for Creative Minds

Denis Bosire has been working with WordPress for more than five years. As client work became more frustrating, he decided to focus his attention on WordPress themes. After an unsuccessful attempt to monetize themes at Creative Market, Bosire decided to try his hand at developing themes for WordPress.org. Nouveau Riche was approved this week and is his first theme in the directory.

nouveau-riche

Nouveau Riche is a simple, customizable blogging theme that was designed for creative minds. It offers beautiful support for post formats, with custom icons assigned to each. The theme utilizes the native WordPress customizer to include options for uploading a logo, adding a header and background image, and setting colors for the header, background, and theme.

The sidebar is hidden by default and slides out when clicked. The theme also includes support for two other widget areas- main footer and sub footer.

nouveau-riche-sidebar

Check out a live demo to see the theme in action.

Nouveau Riche is based on the Underscores starter theme. “I didn’t use any framework, just _S starter theme, which I use for ALL of my other themes,” Bosire told the Tavern. “No CSS framework either; I find them very unsuitable for WordPress themes because of all the bloat. Took me about three days from start to finish and submitted it immediately,” he said.

Bosire found that building the theme was easy and quick, because he was used to all the WordPress coding standards after finishing a theme for WordPress.com. His commercial theme is currently undergoing review and should be launching in a few days. He plans to release another free theme in September in addition to another commercial blogging theme that is still in process.

His journey began when he started offering free themes on his website. “I started building simple blogging themes and offering them for free on my website,” Bosire said. “I then proceeded to build premium themes that I sell on Creative Market. Sadly, they didn’t sell as expected but I really enjoyed building themes, so I decided to continue doing it, this time for WordPress.org.”

Bosire’s tenacity in continuing theme development after a discouraging experience is admirable. If you build a theme and submit it to one marketplace where it doesn’t take off, don’t get discouraged and stop building themes. If you love creating themes for WordPress users, try again via a different distribution route. If you choose to go the WordPress.org route, you’ll learn quite a bit during the process with the help of Theme Review Team.

Nouveau Riche is a beautiful and simple blogging theme that you can personalize in a matter of minutes. It’s responsive and translation-ready. If your blog needs a fresh design but you don’t have a lot of time, this might be good option. Download Nouveau Riche for free from WordPress.org.

by Sarah Gooding at August 29, 2014 08:43 PM under underscores

WPTavern: Why You Might Consider Adding Development Hours to Your Changelog

Jean Galea, who is a member of the Advanced WordPress group on Facebook, recently shared a plugin with an interesting changelog. It’s called Bulk Delete and is developed by Sudar Muthu, a developer based in Bangalore, India. The changelog not only shows which bugs have been fixed or features that were added, it also displays the amount of time spent on each release.

Bulk Delete Changelog On WordPress.orgBulk Delete Changelog On WordPress.org

Due to some personal things going in his life, Muthu began to track how much time he was investing in his side projects. “This happened because I got married and suddenly the amount of free time that I used to have in my life started to dry up. I wanted to find out which pet projects are taking up the majority of my free time,” Muthu Told the Tavern. In April of 2012, he wrote about the initiative and started adding the metrics to the changelog of Bulk Delete.

Bulk Delete Settings PageBulk Delete Settings Page

Some plugin authors have funded development of their plugin by having users pay for specific features. Muthu doesn’t get paid to work on Bulk Delete but he has started to sell commercial addons for it.

A Different Approach to Getting Free Support

One of the things Muthu has noticed is how users approach him to receive free support. “After I started adding the amount of time I am spending on different plugins in the changelog, the way people interact in the support forum seems to have changed a bit. I felt that they were able to understand the amount of time I am investing in developing and supporting a free plugin,” Muthu said.

I asked if he thinks this is something other plugin authors should consider implementing. “Each developer has their own preference but I guess if possible, I would like plugin authors to do this. It seems people like it and it will also let people know how much time an author spends in developing and maintaining a free plugin,” Muthu said.

I Think It’s a Great Idea

As someone who investigates the changelog for every plugin update, I’ve seen my share of them. However, I’ve yet to see one that is as detailed and informative as Bulk Delete. Showing the amount of time each version takes to develop gives users a perspective of the time and effort required to maintain a plugin. We generally hear how much time is involved, but rarely get to see how much.

Would you like to see this type of information added to the changelog of more plugins? Will seeing the amount of time change the way you approach the author to receive support? Sound off in the comments.

by Jeff Chandler at August 29, 2014 07:56 PM under changelogs

WPTavern: Google Authorship is Officially Dead, WordPress Authorship Plugins are Now Obsolete

John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, announced today that Google will be discontinuing its support for authorship in search results.

We’ve gotten lots of useful feedback from all kinds of webmasters and users, and we’ve tweaked, updated, and honed recognition and displaying of authorship information. Unfortunately, we’ve also observed that this information isn’t as useful to our users as we’d hoped, and can even distract from those results. With this in mind, we’ve made the difficult decision to stop showing authorship in search results.

In June 2014, author photos were dropped from search results in order to reduce clutter in the design, according to Mueller. Today’s announcement means that the rel=author markup will no longer be tracked on websites.

Google authorship in actionGoogle authorship in action

Authorship was an experiment that Google had been running for the past three years. Mueller reported that their tests showed that removing authorship generally does not seem to reduce traffic to sites, nor does it make it more likely that users will click on ads. The change was allegedly implemented to improve users’ experience.

Although the authorship schema is no longer used to identify a post’s author in search results, Mueller says there’s no need to be in a rush to remove it from your code. “We’re no longer using it for authorship, we treat it like any other markup on your pages. Leaving it is fine, it won’t cause problems (and perhaps your users appreciate being able to find out more about you through your profile too),” he said.

Jetpack 2.5 introduced an easy way for WordPress users to add authorship to posts. Representatives from the Jetpack team were not immediately available to comment on whether or not the plugin will shed the dead weight of authorship in the next release. There are many other WordPress plugins that add Google authorship, though not as elegantly as Jetpack did. Several major SEO plugins also incorporate ways to add authorship to posts. The authorship-related functionality in these plugins is now obsolete.

Mueller emphasized that even though authorship is being discontinued, Google will continue its support for structured markup:

Going forward, we’re strongly committed to continuing and expanding our support of structured markup (such as schema.org). This markup helps all search engines better understand the content and context of pages on the web, and we’ll continue to use it to show rich snippets in search results.

Many SEO specialists have speculated that linking authorship to Google+ profiles was a ploy to get more people to use Google+, a product that has failed to gain momentum. Fans of the authorship feature are baffled by its removal, given that Google’s research indicates that it doesn’t seem to affect search results. From a user’s standpoint, seeing an author you recognize can be tremendously beneficial when selecting among similar search results.

Google is well known for experimenting with features and products and killing them off as soon as tests show that they are no longer valuable. It’s not clear whether or not authorship will be reincarnated in some other form down the road. If you’re using a WordPress plugin that adds authorship to your site for SEO purposes, you are safe to disable it, as Google is no longer interested in that data.

by Sarah Gooding at August 29, 2014 01:25 AM under seo

August 28, 2014

WPTavern: ProWordPress Subreddit Passes 1,000 Subscribers

reddit

Earlier this year we featured the /r/ProWordPress subreddit on a post exploring various WordPress watering holes. If you’re not familiar with subreddits, they are essentially focused topics where where registered users can vote article submissions “up” or “down.” Subscribing to a subreddit allows you to hone in on specific topics where you have an interest.

/r/ProWordPress was started by Brad Williams, CEO of WebDevStudios and author of Professional WordPress Plugin Development. As a developer, Williams has a strong interest in exploring more technical topics surrounding WordPress. The group recently passed 1,000 subscribers (currently at 1,027 readers) and continues to grow.

prowordpress-subreddit

“I started the r/ProWordPress subreddit to focus on more advanced WordPress topics,” Williams told the Tavern. “r/WordPress is great but will always have more beginner users, so it’s hard for the more advanced topics to surface. r/ProWordPress is a smaller, more focused subreddit with a focus on advanced WP topics.

As the subreddit has grown, r/ProWordPress has become one of William’s main sources of news on WordPress development. More subscribers translates into a wider reach of advanced topics as well as more voting users to curate the quality of articles that float to the top. Williams has the ability to moderate the topics submitted but reports that, unless you have a highly active subreddit, very little work is required.

With WordPress now powering more than 23% of all websites online, the community surrounding the software is growing at breakneck speed. People are working with WordPress every day, building businesses on top of it, and are seeking out places online to learn from each other. Matt Mullenweg recently jumped in on the Advanced WordPress group on Facebook, which has accrued more than 9,000 members. This group explores a wide range of WordPress-related topics but may not appeal to everyone.

While some WordPress users enjoy interacting on Facebook, others are taking to forums such as WP Chat. Different kinds of groups are popping up, reflecting the various interaction styles that WordPress community members use to connect.

“WordPress has such a large user base that it’s hard to have a one size fits all area for all topics,” Williams said. In his corner of the internet, he hopes that /r/ProWordPress will continue to be a nice place to share and read about more advanced topics. In some ways Reddit combines the best aspects of both Twitter and forums, in that you can share articles, vote, and comment to enter into discussions with other members. If advanced WordPress development falls within your wheelhouse, make sure to drop by the /r/ProWordPress subreddit and subscribe to new topics.

by Sarah Gooding at August 28, 2014 11:15 PM under wordpress development

WPTavern: WP Settings Generator: Quickly Create a Custom Options Page Using the WordPress Settings API

photo credit: Leo Reynolds - ccphoto credit: Leo Reynoldscc

Yesterday we featured a plugin, created by application developer Jeroen Sormani, that clones Google Keep functionality in the WordPress dashboard. Sormani has produced a number of other interesting experiment with WordPress, including a little known tool for generating WordPress settings.

The WP Settings Generator is a tool for plugin and theme developers. It generates a custom options page that is fully compatible with the WordPress Settings API standards. The tool is similar to the kinds of generators found at GenerateWP, which lacks a tool for creating settings.

On the config tab you can enter your plugin/theme name, plugin prefix, and text domain. Select your menu position and then proceed to the next tab.

settings-generator

The next screen provides a drag-and-drop interface for adding settings fields:

settings-fields

Once you have added all your fields, you will be presented with your customized settings code, which you can scroll through and copy to your plugin. Although it is designed to create settings pages for themes or plugins, the general consensus these days is that it’s preferable to utilize the native customizer for theme settings.

the-code

After reviewing your code, you have the opportunity to leave a personalized review of the generator. If you find that the code you receive has any errors or seems off, make sure to let Sormani know with a quick comment.

Of course, using a settings generator isn’t going to help you learn how the WordPress Settings API works, but it does give you a quick start for creating options. It’s not so much of a teaching tool but rather designed to eliminate the rote task of writing your own settings. Check it out and let us know if it ends up saving you time.

by Sarah Gooding at August 28, 2014 09:03 PM under wordpress development

Matt: Everything Is Bloated

by Matt Mullenweg at August 28, 2014 05:30 PM under Asides

WPTavern: An Easy Way To Notify Users When Their Comment Is Approved

By default, WordPress doesn’t notify users when their comments are approved from the moderation queue. If you’d like to change that, consider using the Comment Approved plugin by Niels van Renselaar. The plugin is simple to use and configure. After it’s installed and activated, you’ll find the settings in Settings > Comment Approved. It’s important to note that even when the plugin is activated, it won’t send out notifications unless you check mark the box to enable the comment approved message.

Click The Checkbox To Enable The Comment Approved MessageClick The Checkbox To Enable The Comment Approved Message

The text area is populated with a default message using the only two shortcodes available. You can customize this message using standard HTML. Here is what the default message looks like in an email.

Default Approved Message Email ContentDefault Approved Message Email Content

While I like the default behavior to notify users when their comment is approved, you can use this plugin to award first time commenters. For example, you can send them a link to a free eBook or a different promotional item. Once the user’s comment is approved, they won’t see the approval message again.

It’s strange that comment approval notifications are not part of the default behaviour of WordPress. I think it makes sense, especially if the front-end notifies them that their comment may be held in moderation. While I doubt this plugin will prevent commenters from getting in touch with site administrators to figure out why their comment is not displaying on the site, at least they’ll know when it’s approved.

by Jeff Chandler at August 28, 2014 07:49 AM under review

WPTavern: Jason Schuller Shares His Experience Running a WordPress Theme Business

Press75 Logo Featured Image

Jason Schuller who was the previous owner of Press75.com, has published a great post detailing his experience of running a WordPress commercial theme business from 2008-2014. While Schuller describes a variety of ups and downs he encountered while running the business, I thought his reasoning for losing his way in 2010 was fascinating.

As WordPress became increasingly more complex and option rich, so did the demand for themes. The proverbial “gold rush” of the WordPress world hit and new shops were launching almost weekly with themes that were powered by complex frameworks including endless layout, customization, style options and “shortcodes”. In 2010 I began to focus more on the “bar” that had been set by the market and less on why I started Press75 to begin with.

Instead of continuing to focus on what he was so good at doing, he started developing themes to cater to the market which was outside of his passion. The increase in complexity in WordPress coupled with various development techniques he implemented in his catalog of 20 themes became a huge burden, especially when it came to support. One piece of advice Schuller shares that I think is important and hits home for many commercial theme authors is to never forget who you are and what your own style is. Be inspired by what others are doing, but always stay true to yourself.

Schuller is not the first person to learn this lesson the hard way. When UpThemes announced a complete restructuring of their theme business in early 2014, they cited poor infrastructure as one of the main culprits of creating a large demand for support.

Building the themes was easy enough, but then selling, deploying, supporting, updating, and generally making a profit on them was something we struggled with, mightily. With every theme, we introduced a ton of new code that had to be supported and maintained. This was at a time when WordPress was still changing the way themes worked. It made development more difficult.

One of the things Schuller wished he had done is to hire the right people once the business became too much to handle. Not doing so put all of the pressure of running the business on his shoulders. In the post, he shares a few other lessons I think aspiring theme shop owners can learn from as well. If you’d like to hear Schuller tell his story, listen to this special interview I did with him early in 2014.

by Jeff Chandler at August 28, 2014 07:34 AM under press75

WPTavern: WPWeekly Episode 160 – The Founder Of BruteProtect, Sam Hotchkiss

In this weeks show, Marcus Couch and I are joined by the founder of BruteProtect, Sam Hotchkiss. We learn the circumstances which lead to the birth of BruteProtect and how it operates. Hotchkiss explains the details of the acquisition with Automattic and how it will be rolled into Jetpack. While some people are not happy that it’s being added to Jetpack, we discuss why it’s a huge win. Last but not least, Hotchkiss explains the process he went through to obtain funding and offers advice to plugin authors who may find themselves in the same position.

Stories Discussed:

WordPress 4.0 Adds Custom Icons to the Plugin Installer
WordPress Plugin WP Inject Renames to ImageInject and Introduces New Features
BuddyPress 2.1 Beta 1 Now Available for Testing
Chris Wiegman on Why He Sold Better WP Security to iThemes
WordPress 4.0 Release Candidate Now Available for Testing

Plugins Picked By Marcus:

WP Admin Quicknav adds a simple dropdown box at the top admin edit screens allowing you to quickly jump from one page, post, or custom post type to the next without having to return to the respective listing page. This is easily customized and can be really handy for saving time navigating to specific admin pages.

Comment Approved can be used to notify a user when their comment is approved. This is a great way to keep the communication channel open between you and your loyal readers. You can customize the approval notification enabling you to reward those who participate. This could include an ebook, a link to special content, etc.

WP Is Mobile Text Widget adds a text widget that switches the display text using the wp_is_mobile() function depending on whether the device is mobile or not. This is a great enhancement for delivering a simple, custom piece of text content based on the detection of a mobile browser.

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, September 3rd 9:30 P.M. Eastern

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Itunes: Click here to subscribe

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via RSS: Click here to subscribe

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Stitcher Radio: Click here to subscribe

Listen To Episode #160:

by Jeff Chandler at August 28, 2014 07:30 AM under security

August 27, 2014

WPTavern: WP Dashboard Notes Plugin Clones Google Keep in the WordPress Dashboard

wp-dashboard-notes

Dashboard notes can come in handy when working with multiple people on a WordPress site. Even when working alone, you can use notes to collect ideas for posts or to remind yourself of important publishing-related tasks and ways to promote your posts. While there are many varying plugins devoted to creating sticky notes in the dashboard, the new WP Dashboard Notes plugin stands out with an interesting implementation that mirrors Google’s popular note-taking service.

Google junkies will notice that the color scheme of the notes is strangely similar to that of Google Keep, if not identical. The note creation and management process is also very similar in that there is no save button for editing and everything is saved automatically in the background.

WP Dashboard Notes doesn’t add any admin menus. Once installed, you can create a new note by clicking “Add Note” under Screen Options in the upper right corner. After you create your first note, you can add new notes from the black bar within existing notes.

add-note

A new note pops into your dashboard, which you can now edit and skin with one of the preset colors. Like Google Keep, notes can be set as a single note or a list. Users also have the option to set the visibility to ‘Everyone’ or ‘Private.’ Here’s a quick demo:

wp-dashboard-notes

WP Dashboard Notes contains virtually all the same capabilities of Google Keep, minus the ability to upload images. The plugin’s features include:

  • Colored notes
  • List notes or regular notes
  • Public or private notes
  • Edit on dashboard
  • Add as many notes as you like
  • Drag and drop list items
  • No save button needed

Multiple notes arranged together create a colorful dashboard full of ideas and users will see public notes upon logging in.

notes

After testing the plugin I found that it was simple and intuitive to use. The plugin, created by application developer Jeroen Sormani, elegantly merges WordPress and Google Keep functionality to create a useful addition to the dashboard.

You can customize the colors by overriding the plugin’s CSS from another stylesheet. Additional color palettes and per-user visibility settings might make the plugin even more fun, but for now Sormani has kept it delightfully simple.

If you need note-taking capabilities for better collaboration in the dashboard, this plugin works as advertised and goes far beyond most other dashboard notes plugins. WP Dashboard Notes is available for free from WordPress.org.

by Sarah Gooding at August 27, 2014 10:41 PM under Plugins

WPTavern: Matt Mullenweg Hosts Impromptu Q&A Session On Facebook

WordPress co-creator, Matt Mullenweg, stopped by the Advanced WordPress Facebook group and participated in a WordPress edition of ask me anything. After receiving a warm welcome from the group, Mullenweg outlined what types of questions he would answer.

Rules Of EngagementRules Of Engagement

Once the gates were opened, the questions started pouring in. Here are a few of my favorites along with Mullenweg’s answers.

What is the most important thing we can do to support and bring value to WordPress?

Everyone really sets their own path. Think about the thing that makes you happiest, what you consider your gift that you can share with the world, or something that you want to learn a lot more about.

What are your thoughts on the businesses and entire industries that are built around WordPress and what opportunities do you see in the future?

I think it’s awesome there are whole industries built on WordPress, that was part of the idea from very early on. It’s counter-intuitive, but I actually think one of bigger opportunities is in consulting and building sites right now. WordPress can get people 90% of the way there, but that last 10% represents a lot of opportunity for clients from the Fortune 500 to the smallest personal sites.

I’m curious about Automattic’s policy about unlimited vacation days. I have never heard of this policy anywhere else. How does that play out? Seems like such an awesome place to work.

I think open vacation policies are becoming more common, here’s an article that covers the pros and cons fairly well and says 1% of companies offer them now: The Pros And Cons Of Unlimited Vacation Policies

I think it really comes down to hiring. With the right people you can have very liberal policies like this because people think about the organization as a whole and do the right thing. If anything we sometimes have to encourage people to take a bit more time off, something I don’t always set the best example of but I’m trying this week. I’ll be completely offline Thursday through Sunday.

Is the Codex really going to disappear eventually?

We’re not going to take down the Codex until we have something better to replace it. It’s more likely you’ll just see more links default to someplace new and Codex traffic will trail off until at some point, we’ll put it into archive mode.

Do you think now that JSON support in WordPress core is coming, should it be used over RSS for building things like Mobile Apps? What you would recommend?

Whether you use the prototype JSON API or RSS for a mobile app I would say depends a lot on what it does. Think of the JSON API more as replacing XML-RPC.

What would be great for everyone is to start to try and build applications on top of the prototype API, and let the team know where you get stuck or find things hard to understand. I’m extremely anxious to have a cleaner API in core, but I feel strongly that it should remain a plugin until we’ve built a few independent third-party applications on top of it when it’s in plugin form, utilizing every aspect of the API, so we know where it works well and where it’s lacking.

This is a lesson I’ve learned from my experience at Automattic. You can never design a perfect API and anticipate all needs, you really need to use it to solve real problems a few times before you can iterate it to have it be something that works well and that you’ll want to support for many years to come.

This is just a sample of the questions and answers within the conversation that took place on Facebook. If you want to see the rest of them, you’ll need to join the Advanced WordPress group on Facebook. It’s free and the moderators are quick to approve new members.

I’d Like To See More Of These Types Of Events

Conversation With MattImage Courtesy of Bucky Box

This was just a sample of the questions and answers within the conversation. If you want to see the rest of them, you’ll need to join the Facebook group. It’s free and the moderators are quick to approve new members.

Seeing Mullenweg join the Facebook Group and then participate by answering questions was a shock to me. I know from experience that he likes to hang out where discussions of WordPress are taking place but it’s rare that I see him participate in the discussions, let alone host an impromptu Q&A session.

I’d like to see more of these types of events from Mullenweg whether it be on his blog or through a medium of his choice. Perhaps once a month, he can hold a Q&A session at a different WordPress hangout.

The community can be a fickle bunch but I think it would be beneficial if he participated in more discussions outside of what’s going on in core. In his roundup post, Matt Cromwell hits the nail on the head on what it means to some folks to have a direct conversation with Mullenweg.

I hope Mullenweg drops by again in the future. For him it may have been a quick dip into the WP Community. But for boat loads of WordPress developers, it was the highlight of the week.

Just out of curiosity, if you had one question to ask Mullenweg, what would it be?

by Jeff Chandler at August 27, 2014 06:52 PM under matt mullenweg

Lorelle on WP: Two WordPress College Classes Offered at Clark College This Fall

The WordPress I CTEC 160 courses at Clark College are about to close and there are still seats open in the Monday/Wednesday classes. This fall there are two times to choose from. Days from 1-3:30PM and evenings from 6:30-9PM. The 5-credit course covers the basics of WordPress, from content to design. Much of the classwork […]

by Lorelle VanFossen at August 27, 2014 06:08 PM under wordpress help

WPTavern: WP Tech Event Will No Longer Be a WordCamp

nantes-featured

WP Tech is “breaking up with WordCamp,” according to co-organizer Willy Bahuaud. The developer-centric event, previously called WordCamp Nantes WP Tech, is set to be held at the end of November and was welcomed as France’s second official WordCamp.

During the course of working with WordCamp Central, the organizers decided to opt out of keeping WP Tech under the WordCamp umbrella due to a number of conflicts.

“WordCamp Central gave us too many constraints, and we would not have been able to create a great technical event about WordPress,” co-organizer Daniel Roch told the Tavern. “It will be an independent WordPress tech event, like other great events such as Pressnomics, WPSessions, WordSesh or WordUps.”

The organizing team found that some of the WC Central rules would have forced them to change the core concept of WP Tech. “In our case, we wanted to hold WP Tech as a national event, inviting speakers from France to a provincial town (Nantes),” said Bahuaud. However, this poses a problem, as WordCamps are meant to be local events and the majority of speakers have to be from the city where the event takes place.

The second critical conflict they encountered was regarding speaker expenses. “We want to cover speakers’s travel cost. WordCamp central was very firm with this point: we can’t. The WP Tech team was told that the only people’s expenses that can be covered are those who appear on the sidebar of WordPress’ about page.

“WC Central’s position is that traveling to speak at a conference is a legitimate business expense,” Bahuaud said. “But we think it’s not. We believe that if people spent time to prepare a conference, it’s normal to cover their $200 (on average) travel and accommodation costs.”

Additionally, Bahuaud reports that the requirement to use the WordCamp platform for the event’s website was problematic, since it doesn’t allow for extensive customization. The event branding requirements were also an issue. Organizers changed the event name to “WordCamp Nantes WP Tech” but WC Central required further changes to make it compatible with guidelines.

“Four months before the event, rules were still changing and we had to be accountable on each step. It was very frustrating, so we decided to break up with WordCamp, and make our event separate,” Bahuaud explained.

Cultural and Economic Differences Regarding Speaker Travel Guidelines

Jenny Beaumont, a WordPress developer and an active member of the French WordPress community, commented on the conflict with insight on the economic differences experienced by non-US event organizers:

In France, a majority of people in the WordPress community are freelancers, and as such, many of us have a legal status that’s called an ‘auto-entrepreneur’. It’s part of what is known as a micro-regime that gives us a tax break on social contributions, which are very imposing here (45% for regular business owners).

The flip side to this is two-fold: 1) We have a ceiling on earnings, 2) We can’t deduct expenses. It’s this last fact that also influences the desire on the part of WordCamp organizers in France to want to reimburse speakers for their travels costs. WordCamp Paris has been doing it for years, though in light of recent events, may be prohibited from doing so in the future.

Whereas Americans are free to deduct work-related travel expenses as a business expense from their taxes, French speakers do not share that same privilege. At this point in time, WC Central guidelines don’t currently allow for flexibility on the issue of speaker travel, but the guidelines are not written in stone. WordCamp Central is open to further discussion on the matter.

Andrea Middleton clarified the issue of speaker travel expenses today on the make.wordpress.org Community blog. She highlighted the importance of WordCamps as local events and how paying for speaker travel costs doesn’t mesh well with that guideline:

WordCamps are locally-focused, so there’s an inherent disconnect between paying for people from out of town to speak at a WordCamp and that emphasis on local community. Local experts are assets to their communities all year round, whereas visiting speakers don’t typically serve as ongoing resources once they have returned to their home cities.

Middleton suggests the more cost-effective option of utilizing Skype or Google hangouts to pull in out-of-town speakers who are unable to cover their own travel expenses. The idea is that the WordCamp budget can be better used to serve the local community.

“A WordCamp’s primary focus is on connecting local community and lifting up local experts, rather than blowing our budgets on flying people around the world when technology can get them there so much faster,” she explained.

Community members who want to advocate a different opinion on the guidelines have the opportunity to do so. Middleton invites discussion in the comments of her post. She also plans to discuss the issue with contributors at the WordPress Community Summit in October, which will include WordCamp and meetup organizers from around the world. Data from WordCamp San Francisco’s new travel assistance program may also factor into the discussion.

Not every WordPress event has to be a WordCamp. It’s not a failure on the part of the organizers or WC Central if there are irreconcilable differences. If an event finds the WordCamp guidelines to be too problematic, organizers can host it as an independent event. WC Central exists to nurture local pockets of WordPress enthusiasm, but not every event will share that mission. There’s no mandate that all WordPress events have to be WordCamps and many successful events run outside of that umbrella.

Do you think the economic differences in other countries are an influencing factor regarding the creation of new WordCamps? Should cultural and economic differences come into play when it comes to officially-sanctioned WordCamp events?

by Sarah Gooding at August 27, 2014 05:11 PM under wordcamp

Matt: How The Sun Sees You

This video really makes you want to wear sunblock, something I haven’t been as good about this week. (Sorry Mom!) Hat tip: Sara Rosso.

by Matt Mullenweg at August 27, 2014 05:00 PM under Asides

WPTavern: WordPress 4.0 Release Candidate Now Available for Testing

WordPress 4.0 RC 1 is now available for download. Helen Hou-Sandí announced the release candidate today with an update to the project schedule. The official release was targeted for the week of August 25th but will likely be arriving the following week.

“We hope to ship WordPress 4.0 next week, but we need your help to get there. If you haven’t tested 4.0 yet, there’s no time like the present,” Hou-Sandí said in the release announcement.

The easiest way to test RC1 is to put the WordPress Beta Tester plugin on a test site and start running through all the new features, many of which are highlighted on the 4.0 about page in the admin (wp-admin/about.php). If you want a more in-depth look at the new features, Hou-Sandí previewed WordPress 4.0 at a recent NYC Meetup and you can watch the video.

The good news is that plugin and theme authors still have plenty of time to test their extensions against the release candidate for compatibility. Since WordPress 4.0 adds icons to the admin plugin installer, plugin developers will want to put their custom icons in place to improve visibility among all the auto-generated ones.

Over the past month of four beta releases, WordPress 4.0 has incorporated hundreds of fixes and refinements that make it truly a joy to use. Watch for the official release to drop sometime next week.

by Sarah Gooding at August 27, 2014 04:06 PM under wordpress 4.0

Dev Blog: WordPress 4.0 Release Candidate

The first release candidate for WordPress 4.0 is now available!

In RC 1, we’ve made refinements to what we’ve been working on for this release. Check out the Beta 1 announcement post for more details on those features. We hope to ship WordPress 4.0 next week, but we need your help to get there. If you haven’t tested 4.0 yet, there’s no time like the present. (Please, not on a production site, unless you’re adventurous.)

Think you’ve found a bug? Please post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. If any known issues come up, you’ll be able to find them here.

To test WordPress 4.0 RC1, try the WordPress Beta Tester plugin (you’ll want “bleeding edge nightlies”). Or you can download the release candidate here (zip). If you’d like to learn more about what’s new in WordPress 4.0, visit the awesome About screen in your dashboard ( → About in the toolbar).

Developers, please test your plugins and themes against WordPress 4.0 and update your plugin’s Tested up to version in the readme to 4.0 before next week. If you find compatibility problems, please be sure to post any issues to the support forums so we can figure those out before the final release. You also may want to give your plugin an icon, which we launched last week and will appear in the dashboard along with banners.

It is almost time
For the 4.0 release
And its awesomeness

by Helen Hou-Sandi at August 27, 2014 12:20 PM under Releases

WPTavern: Menu Humility: A Plugin to Put Plugins in Their Place

menu-humility

Giving a plugin a top level admin menu between Dashboard and Posts is somewhat frowned upon among WordPress plugin developers. Although the Administration Menus section of the WordPress codex doesn’t outright forbid top level menus above Posts, plugin authors are strongly encouraged to consider placing their plugin’s menu underneath an existing WordPress top-level menu.

Nevertheless, many plugins assume a higher level of importance by placing their admin menus above WordPress’ core publishing features such as Posts, Comments, and Media. Jetpack is a prime example. As useful as the plugin is, its settings menu is not something that most users need to access more often than posts or comments.

That’s why WordPress lead developer Mark Jaquith created Menu Humility, a plugin that reassigns the menu location for errant menu items. For example, if you use it on a site with Jetpack installed, it will put its admin menu at the very bottom below Settings.

Menu Humility is not a new plugin. In fact, it’s three years old – ancient in WordPress years. After testing the plugin today, I found that it’s still effective at stripping plugins of their assumed preeminence in the admin.

The bottom line is that most plugins don’t require top billing. If you feel that a top level menu item constitutes a plugin getting too big for its britches, then install the Menu Humility plugin to bring it back down to its place.

by Sarah Gooding at August 27, 2014 04:10 AM under Plugins

WPTavern: Chris Wiegman on Why He Sold Better WP Security to iThemes

WordPress Security Expert Chris WiegmanWordPress Security Expert Chris Wiegman

If you’ve ever wondered why Chris Wiegman sold Better WP Security to iThemes, he answers the question in a post on his personal site. The birth of Better WP Security started off as a mixture of features from several of his favorite security plugins. “I started mashing together features of some of the plugins I liked while adding in some of the functionality we wanted as a department (like ‘Away mode’) to produce something that I could manage myself and would make sure I kept off of anyone’s radar by not being hacked,” Wiegman said.

Wiegman goes on to describe the success the plugin had and how much money he was making in donations. At the peak of its popularity, it was downloaded over 1M times with $20,000 earned in donations. This prompted Wiegman to create a premium support channel. “It was so big I was no longer able to keep up and had to implement premium support only for folks who needed it. This was a new revenue stream and the first official revenue stream for the plugin.” The surge of popularity came at a time when Wiegman was teaching and reviewing books for APress. This severely limited the amount of time he had available to develop new features.

iThemes Enters The Picture

iThemes logo 2One day, the founder of iThemes, Cory Miller, reached out to Wiegman for support after he was locked out of his site. “What started out as a rather simple conversation quickly lead to something more. I realized that the medicine the project needed to get off life support wasn’t necessarily something I needed to provide myself but could in fact come in the form of selling the plugin to a group who had the resources to make more of it,” Wiegman said.

According to the post, he reached out to a few other groups but stuck with iThemes because they had products that complimented a security plugin such as BackupBuddy and Exchange. Better WP Security was sold to iThemes on December 1st, 2013 and renamed to iThemes Security. As part of the deal, Wiegman joined iThemes as a full-time employee to continue developing iThemes Security.

Not Every Plugin Has a Happy Ending

What I like most about Wiegman’s story is how a simple idea turns into a solid product. I think a lot of WordPress plugins are created because they scratch an itch or solve a problem. The plugin’s creator usually submits the plugin to the directory with a mindset that it can help others as well. Since WordPress is used on 23% of the web, there’s a good chance that a plugin distributed through the directory will help more than one person.

While Wiegman’s tale has a happy ending, so many plugins never reach the type of adoption of Better WP Security. In fact, quite a few end up in a graveyard of abandonment for any number of reasons. If you find yourself in this situation, read our guide on how to adopt a plugin and put one up for adoption. It could end up being the next Better WP Security or BruteProtect.

by Jeff Chandler at August 27, 2014 03:55 AM under ithemes

August 26, 2014

WPTavern: 3 Quick Ways to Create bbPress Test Data

bbpress-test-data-feature

bbPress 2.5 introduced a host of new importers for AEF, Drupal, FluxBB, Kunena Forums (Joomla), MyBB, Phorum, PHPFox, PHPWind, PunBB, SMF, Xenforo and XMB, making it easier than ever to bring forums into WordPress. bbPress 2.5 also improved existing importers to include better support for importing stickies, topic tags, and forum categories.

If you’re thinking about importing forums into bbPress or starting with a fresh installation, you may want to set up a test site first to see how different themes and plugins will work with your content. There’s nothing more tedious than trying to create a bunch of forums, topics, and replies manually, so you’ll need an automatic way to generate a bunch of demo data.

In searching for bbPress demo data, I found that there’s no standard way to generate it. Several developers have created and shared their own tools. Depending on your development workflow, one method may prove easier than another, so we’ll check out all three.

XML: bbPress Unit Testing Data

The first option is a set of bbPress unit testing data stored in an XML file, which allows you to import it via the standard WordPress import tool. The file was created by bbPress core commiter Stephen Edgar. It gives you 17 forums, including 15 public, 1 private, and 1 hidden.

xml-demo-data

The demo data includes multiple topics and replies and also a group of forums and categories based on the Nested set model.

forums

Technically, this unit testing data is still in process, as it’s currently hosted in a ticket on bbPress trac and is open to further improvement.

Plugin: bbpFauxData

bbpFauxData is another option created by WordPress developer Daniel Dvorkin. It’s a quick and dirty plugin to help you populate a bbPress instance with faux data which seems real, generated by the Faker PHP library, in order to test performance.

bbpfauxdata

Once installed, you can set how many users, forums, topics and replies that you want to generate:

$bfd = new bbpFauxData();

const USERS   = 50;
const FORUMS  = 5;
const TOPICS  = 100;
const REPLIES = 1000;

for ( $i = 0; $i < USERS; $i++ ) {
    $bfd->generate_user();
}

for ( $i = 0; $i < FORUMS; $i++ ) {
    $bfd->generate_forum();
}

for ( $i = 0; $i < TOPICS; $i++ ) {
    $bfd->generate_topic();
}

for ( $i = 0; $i < REPLIES; $i++ ) {
    $bfd->generate_reply();
}

This plugin gives you a little more control over how much demo data you want to generate, as it is geared more towards testing performance. Dvorkin suggests that you bump up the ‘max_execution_time’ and ‘memory_limit’, if implementing this data at higher numbers.

Plugin: Test Data for bbPress

bbpress-test-data

Test Data for bbPress is a plugin created by Rob Mehew, who needed demo data while developing a theme. The plugin creates the following:

  • Adds a forum with nested forums
  • Adds a forum with loads of topics
  • Adds a topic with loads of replies

Test Data for bbPress was created for the purpose of testing themes and includes lorem ipsum for sample text. As with all of the above options, this plugin should only be used on a development site; it is not designed for use on a live site.

Anyone have other bbPress demo data creation tools? Let us know in the comments.

by Sarah Gooding at August 26, 2014 07:35 PM under forums

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Last updated:

September 02, 2014 11:30 PM
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