Release candidate 2 of WordPress 3.8 is now available for download. This is the last pre-release, and we expect it to be effectively identical to what’s officially released to the public on Thursday.
This means if you are a plugin or theme developer, start your engines! (If they’re not going already.) Lots of admin code has changed so it’s especially important to see if your plugin works well within the new admin design and layout, and update the “Tested up to:” part of your plugin readme.txt.
If there is something in your plugin that you’re unable to fix, or if you think you’ve found a bug, join us in #wordpress-dev in IRC, especially if you’re able to join during the dev chat on Wednesday, or post in the alpha/beta forum. The developers and designers who worked on this release are happy to help anyone update their code before the 3.8 release.
Happy hacking, everybody!
One of the most popular modules used within Jetpack is Stats. This module replaces the stand-alone plugin formerly known as WordPress.com Stats. Unfortunately, the most recent update to Jetpack has temporarily broken the Stats dashboard widget. I’ve routinely seen the error message that is shown in the image above but I thought nothing of it. That is until I reviewed the support forum for Jetpack and noticed a thread dedicated to the Stats widget.
According to Jeremy Herve, a developer for team Jetpack, you can still access your stats by browsing to Jetpack > Site Stats. You just can’t view them from the dashboard. There is a block of code that you can use to fix the problem if you’re impatient. For most users however, I recommend waiting as Jeremy assures us that this will be fixed in the next version.
The WordPress Plugin Boilerplate is a popular tool for getting started with plugin development. Many top-notch WordPress developers have contributed to the boilerplate and the 2.6.0 release of the plugin provided a major update.
Using the plugin boilerplate as a starting place for plugin creation, a developer can quickly whip up a plugin in a matter of minutes. But what if you could do that even faster? Brad Vincent, author of the Themergency.com WordPress development blog, created a generator for the WordPress Plugin Boilerplate.
The WordPress Plugin Boilerplate Generator github repo provides instructions for installing grunt-init and using the command line to create your new plugin.
The generator includes all the relevant plugin author information. It also automatically renames all the files correctly and replaces all the necessary variables within the files. The end result is your newly generated plugin, customized and ready for you to start building.
Have you ever logged into a WordPress site, charged with the task of fixing something, but totally in the dark about what changes had recently been made in the admin? It can sometimes be tough to track down who changed what and when they did it, especially on sites with multiple administrators.
Stream is a new tracking tool that provides a log of specific activities performed by logged-in users in the backend. It’s a free plugin on WordPress.org that gives you information on recent logins, menu changes, plugin updates, content created/deleted, widgets activated/deactivated, theme changes, and much more.
The great thing about this plugin is that it doesn’t display information in an ugly old error log style. It creates a beautiful table that fits nicely into the admin design with user avatars and sorting capabilities.
Records can also be searched and the plugin allows you to filter by date, users, context and actions. It even shows which IP address the event originated from. Sorting by actions allows you to find items such as the following: activated, assigned, attached, edited, uploaded, password reset and more.
This plugin might be an excellent solution for those who perform maintenance and troubleshooting for clients. Sometimes clients cannot remember what action they took in the admin to cause changes to the site. The Stream plugin goes a long way to help with troubleshooting. In the very least it can help you eliminate things like changes to plugins or themes while tracking down the source of a problem.
The Stream settings page gives you an option to determine how long records should be saved before being purged. You can set this depending on the amount of user activity you usually have on the site in question. It also includes an option to reset your stream by deleting all of the activity records in the database.
Please note that Stream requires PHP 5.3 or higher. Download the plugin for free from the WordPress plugin repository or via the plugins panel in the WordPress admin. The sooner you have it activated on a site, the sooner you’ll be tracking valuable information.
Developed by Earth People, a web development agency based out of Gamla Stan in Stockholm, the WordPress Plugin checker can find which plugins are installed on almost any WordPress site. Unfortunately, this tool doesn’t list all of the plugins it detects. Instead, it looks to see if any of the plugins developed by Earth People are installed along with the 50 most popular plugins. Despite having a blank index.php file in place to prevent visitors from seeing a directory listing of the plugins folder, the plugin checker was able to determine that the site was using five of the most popular plugins.
While the plugin checker is a neat tool, I’d find it more useful if it listed all of the plugins in use on a website. It wouldn’t need to link to them on the WordPress.org plugin repository since I’d be able to locate them myself. However, I can see how this could raise privacy issues even though there wouldn’t be a way to download any code from the plugins listed.
Scott Basgaard will be our live guest on Friday, December 13th at 3PM Eastern time. Scott is currently employed by WooThemes and is one of the pioneers behind WordSesh. We’ll be talking to Scott about WordSesh 2 which recently took place this past weekend. We’ll also find out what he’s up to these days as well as what he does for WooThemes. If you have any questions you’d like us to ask Scott about WordSesh or WooThemes, submit them in the comments.
WordSesh was like crack for WordPress enthusiasts who joined together on Twitter and eagerly counted down the minutes until sessions began. The event took place over the weekend, kicked off by the DradCast podcast which introduced a catchy new WordSesh rap. In case you missed it, WordSesh presenters cranked out an impressive 24 hours of free WordPress knowledge and each session is now available on YouTube.
Attendance for the event far exceeded that of most WordCamps. WordSesh organizers shared some of their viewership stats on Twitter and the results demonstrate that the event was a hit all over the world:
Despite the overall success of the event, participants noticed a few issues that might be improved for next year. Server performance was a little spotty at first, perhaps due to the number of people trying to live stream simultaneously. They were able to work it out fairly quickly without significant delays. Hopefully, the organizers will be able to find a better-performing hosting solution next time, given how quickly the popularity of this event is skyrocketing after just one year.
Others also commented that the event was slanted towards developers and those heavily involved in operating WordPress product and service businesses. WordSesh viewer David Bisset said, “I would like to see more beginner WordSesh stuff. I spoke to 30-40 people at the last WP meetup and they would have loved to experience that.” He makes an excellent point. WordPress meetups and WordCamps that have a beginner track often get beginners fired up about the software and eager to explore more advanced topics. Adding WordPress beginner sessions might help to expand the audience for the event and bring together users of all levels.
For those who were in attendance, the excitement was palpable. A WordSesh after party carried on in the chatroom after the event concluded, mirroring what often happens at the live WordCamps. Nobody wanted to “go home”. The success of Wordsesh 2 shows once again that the WordPress community loves to share knowledge, collaborate and gather around a good cause. Here’s hoping we can all jump in on another one in six months and smash all the viewership records.
In this edition of WordPress Weekly, our special guest was Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress. After catching up with the headlines, we covered a wide range of topics with Matt such as:
There are a number of things in this interview that provide food for thought. One of them is thinking about all of the changes that WordPress will undergo over the next 5-10 years. Is it possible that at some point WordPress becomes something other than WordPress? Matt referred to this as the Ship Of Theseus or Theseus’s paradox. The paradox raises the question of whether an object which has had all its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object.
Next Episode: Friday, December 13th 3 P.M. Eastern – Scott Basgaard
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Listen To Episode #130:
Very honored to be on Time’s 30 under 30 list alongside some amazing folks across a number of fields. I only have about another month of being under 30, so good to be on these lists while I still can.
Poedit 1.6 was released earlier this week. For many WordPress developers, Poedit is their go-to app for generating language files for extensions. This release introduces a new Pro version of the app with built-in support for translating WordPress themes and plugins.
Poedit 1.6 brings a more polished UI, a completely new translation memory implementation, word count, and improved handling of languages and user-friendly plural forms expressions.
Poedit Pro provides intuitive support for translating WordPress themes and plugins. It automatically sets everything up for you when you create a new translation. This is useful if you don’t know anything about gettext, don’t want to spend time learning it or simply want to add a little bit of automation into your translation process. Of course, you can still set it up manually with the free version of the app.
Poedit Pro costs $19.99 for a license and it comes with direct, personal support from the Poedit developer. The free, open source version of Poedit will continue to get updates and will remain community-supported.
For many within the WordPress community, a post like this triggers nostalgic memories of the first version of WordPress they used. For me, it was WordPress 2.2. Shortly after I started using WordPress, 2.3 was released which introduced the ability to add tags to posts. WordPress 2.3 also added update notifications so that users would know when a new version of WordPress or plugins were available. Which version of WordPress did you start with?
Yesterday, I explained how to make it snow on your website if you have the Jetpack plugin activated. After publishing the article, Mark Root-Wiley commented with a link that explains why the snow animation on websites is not a good idea. According to the website After Gadget which is hosted on WordPress.com, the snowflake animation allegedly caused her friend to have a seizure.
Recently a friend of mine visited a blog she often visits. What she didn’t know was that the blogger had added a fun, temporary new feature to her blog. When my friend visited the blog, it triggered a seizure.
The seizure trigger in my friend’s case was WordPress’ “Let It Snow” feature, which is a feature that causes little white dots to float continuously down the screen soon after someone opens the blog.
While I initially brushed off the article as an attempt to dampen holiday spirits, it turns out that the falling snowflakes are akin to videos or audio playing automatically after a page loads. Seeing the snowflakes falling without anything triggering the action can induce panic attacks. While autoplays are annoying to begin with, they are devastating to those with disabilities. Some of the disabilities affected include:
The last thing on my mind when turning the snow machine on for WPTavern.com were the accessibility issues associated with the animation. After reading the article, I’ve decided to turn the snowflakes off. Searching the WordPress plugin repository for an alternative that would allow visitors to manually turn the animation on came up empty-handed. It would be nice to see a snowfall widget that contained a simple on-off button that would save the visitors choice via a cookie.
Before enabling the snow animation on your website, I encourage you to read her article first. Even if her story is false which I have no reason to believe it is, the Web Content Accessibility Group, specifically pause, stop, provides a clear explanation as to why snow automatically falling down on a web page makes a website inaccessible.
There are quite a few Ghost fanboys and fangirls in the WordPress community who are attracted to its content editor because of how well it minimizes disruptions in the writing flow. The side-by-side preview eliminates the need to switch back and forth between screens to check formatting in the preview. In the meantime, while the WordPress post editor continues to evolve, users can install a plugin to change the writing experience in WordPress.
Inspired by the Ghost editor, Andre ‘Necrotex’ Peiffer, developer at MarketPress, created Splitdown. This plugin adds a Ghost-style Markdown editor to WordPress with a real-time preview powered by Showdown.js.
Once activated, you can navigate to Settings >> Writing and select the post type(s) where you’d like to have Splitdown active. You can also activate additional Showdown extensions on this screen, including github.js, prettify.js, table.js and twitter.js.
While testing Splitdown, I found that the plugin works nicely to provide a real-time preview of your post. However, it is best suited to when you’re working from a machine with a large monitor. Smaller screens will see the preview displayed below the writing panel, instead of beside it.
Splitdown is by no means an exact replica of the Ghost editor. It still has a ways to go as far as being able to show an accurate preview of how the content looks with the active theme’s styles applied. When announcing the plugin, Peiffer said, “At the moment Splitdown is in a proof of concept state but usable.” Be advised that it is lacking some features and you may experience a few bugs. Peiffer is currently working on integrating the media manager to work smoothly with the plugin. If you’d like to test it out and offer some feedback, you can download Splitdown from github. Report any issues on the repo’s issues queue to help Peiffer shape the plugin into an awesome writing tool. Let us know what you think about using a Ghost-style Markdown editor as a replacement for the WordPress post editor.
Earlier this year the Font Awesome icon font wasn’t allowed in the WordPress Plugin Repository due to its licensing. Plugins that loaded the font were closed down. Finally, in May of 2013, WordPress removed the ban on Font Awesome after it updated its license to be open source and GPL-compatible.
Plugin and theme developers are now free to make use of the font in their extensions, provided they don’t load from a CDN. Font Awesome 4 Menus is one of the newer plugins that include the icon font. It replaces an older version that had fewer features. This plugin makes it possible to add icons to WordPress menus without having to adjust any markup or know any CSS. The process is very easy and we can do it in three simple steps.
The Font Awesome 4 Menus plugin loads the icon font on your site so that you can make use of it within your menus and content. Add it to your WordPress site via the Plugins >> Add New menu. There are no settings to adjust for this plugin.
When you navigate to Appearance >> Menus and edit individual menu items, you’ll need to make use of the “CSS Classes” option. This can be toggled on using the “Screen Options” menu at the top of the page.
The last step is to locate the CSS class for the icon you want to use and paste it into the CSS Classes field for the menu item you want to update.
You can find the CSS class for your icon on the Font Awesome homepage or by using the the cheatsheet. Each is prefixed by “fa-” to differentiate from any other common classes that may already be in use.
Here’s the end result with icons added for each item in the menu:
In addition to adding icons to menus, Font Awesome can also be used in your WordPress content via a shortcode included with this plugin:
The plugin also allows for loading stacked icons, which is a new feature in the most recent Font Awesome 4 release. Here you can see an example of loading multiple icons on top of each other:
[fa-stack][fa class="fa-square-o fa-stack-2x"][fa class="fa-twitter fa-stack-1x"][/fa-stack]
You can also use plain old HTML within your theme or content to display the icons. However, I’d caution that if you’re wanting to use the icon font heavily throughout your content, you’re much better off not using a plugin. In case someday the plugin is no longer maintained, you’ll be in a better place if you add Font Awesome manually.
The Font Awesome 4 Menus plugin was created by the folks at New Nine and you can check out a live example on their website. The plugin loads one minified stylesheet (18kb) to load the fonts, so you shouldn’t experience a performance hit on desktop or mobile if you opt to use the icon font on your site. I tested it last night and found that it works just as expected. Download Font Awesome 4 Menus for free from the WordPress plugin repository.
A knowledge base is one of the best ways to organize information spanning many topics and categories. It’s also useful for providing a first line of support for a product or service. WP Knowledge Base is a new free WordPress theme that lets you quickly set up a multi-product knowledge base using standard WordPress posts and categories. So far, the theme has received only 5-star ratings on WordPress.org.
This responsive theme is based on the Twitter Bootstrap 3.0 framework and utilizes Underscores as the backbone of the theme. WP Knowledge Base includes support for images, forum links and icons that you can assign to the different knowledge bases.
There are a lot of goodies built right into this theme, especially for seamlessly integrating bbPress content:
Check out a live demo of the theme to see it in action.
Well-structured and comprehensive documentation is available on the WP Knowledge Base homepage. The docs are arranged, as you might have guessed, within a knowledge base. The theme is completely open source and feature requests and pull requests can be sent via github.
The cool thing is that because of how this theme is structured to use WordPress posts and categories, your data is portable. That means that even if you use this theme for awhile and then want to change to a different theme, your data goes with you.
If the WordPress.org Theme Directory had favoriting capabilities, I’d recommend this one for your bookmarks. WP Knowledge Base is a solid option for streamlining a knowledge base with a bbPress-powered support forum.
The event will take place on a Friday and Saturday. Friday March 7th, will be hands-on training, a refresher course for those interested in starting from the beginning. Saturday will be filled with tracks for the novice, power users, developers and everything inbetween. I asked the organizer of the event what inspired them to organize a WordCamp in the Dayton, Ohio area.
WordCamp Dayton was the next logical step for us after running the Dayton WordPress Meetup group for a little over a year. A couple years back, Nathan Driver and I began discussing the need for a local resource of all things WordPress. Columbus has a great monthly Meetup. However, we wanted something a little closer to home.
After some guidance(pushing) from Jonathan Davis, Nathan and I created DaytonWP and scheduled our first meetup for October 11, 2012. The big push to get our WordCamp organized was Nathan hearing that people attending WordCamp Columbus wanted to know if/when Dayton’s would be scheduled.
WordCamp Dayton is the third different WordCamp to take place in the state of Ohio. During 2013, there two WordCamps in Ohio, WordCamp North Canton and WordCamp Columbus. Although general admissions tickets are not yet available for purchase, I will be in attendance at this event. If you plan on going, let me know in the comments.
Delving into the intricacies of web accessibility can be like visiting a remote star system. Many of the terms and practices are unfamiliar to your average blogger or site owner. For this reason, accessibility is an often overlooked aspect of publishing content for the web. Fortunately, there are some experts out there who have created tools that make it easy for you to audit your site’s accessibility.
Media Ally is a new plugin, created by Stephanie Leary, that generates an accessibility report for media files. Once installed, you can visit Settings → Accessibility Report to find out how well you’re doing at adding alt text. From there you can navigate to each image to add it.
How does it work? The Media Ally plugin uses the new “NOT EXISTS” option in meta queries to detect images that don’t have the _wp_attachment_image_alt custom field set.
The plugin also includes an option to turn on an ‘Alt/Transcript’ column in the Media Library, where it will display either a checkmark or a link to add alt text. In the future, Stephanie plans to add other forms of media and is accepting suggestions on the Media Ally github repo. For now, most of us probably have a little work to do when it comes to improving alt text for images.
Images should include an equivalent alternative text, otherwise known as “alt text”, so that it can easily be changed into other forms, ie. large print, braille, speech, symbols, etc. W3C identifies the reason for this:
Electronic text has the unique advantage that it is presentation neutral. That is, it can be rendered visually, auditorily, tactilely, or by any combination. As a result, information rendered in electronic text can be presented in whatever form best meets the needs of the user. It can also be easily enlarged, spoken aloud so that it is easier for people with reading disabilities to understand, or rendered in whatever tactile form best meets the needs of a user.
How sad would it be if the images you post are completely meaningless to people with disabilities? It’s like excluding someone from your world, albeit unintentionally. Adding alt text only takes a few seconds and it makes a big difference for people with disabilities. The next time you’re writing and adding images, don’t be in such a hurry. Remember your alt tags. Your readers will thank you and Google will, too.
While you may not share a passion for accessibility with the folks who work in that space every day, you can still do your part to keep up with alt text on your site. The Media Ally plugin makes it easy for you, so grab a cup of coffee, perform a quick audit and get busy with your alt text.
This is an aggregation of blogs talking about WordPress from around the world. If you think your blog should be part of this send an email to Matt.
For official WP news, check out the WordPress Dev Blog.
December 10, 2013 10:30 AM
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