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September 19, 2014

WPTavern: Add the New BuddyPress Mentions Interface to bbPress Forum Replies

buddypress-bbpress

BuddyPress 2.1 was released yesterday with a handy new mentions interface that pops up a suggestions panel as you are typing. In the past, you would need to know a member’s username in order to write a mention in the activity stream, which many times meant looking it up. The new mentions interface makes it easier to pull users into conversations that happen in the activity stream.

Many BuddyPress sites utilize bbPress for forums, as the plugins work quite seamlessly together. bbPress forum replies is another place where access to the new mentions interface would prove to be enormously useful, as forums are a central place for interaction and conversation on many community sites. A ticket for adding this already exists in bbPress trac.

In the meantime, BuddyPress core developer Mathieu Viet, better known as @imath, posted a quick gist for adding the mentions to bbPress forum replies. Simply add the code to your bp-custom.php file:

<?php
function custom_bbpress_maybe_load_mentions_scripts( $retval = false ) {
	if ( function_exists( 'bbpress' ) && is_bbpress() ) {
		$retval = true;
	}
 
	return $retval;
}
add_filter( 'bp_activity_maybe_load_mentions_scripts', 'custom_bbpress_maybe_load_mentions_scripts' );

I tested it and it works exactly the same as it would in the activity stream. Here’s what it looks like, added to a test site with BuddyPress and bbPress:

bbpress-demo

Keep an eye on the relevant ticket, as this feature is likely to make its way into bbPress core in the near future. In the meantime, many thanks to @imath for this quick workaround. You can add it to any site using BuddyPress 2.1 and bbPress for better use of mentions in your forums.

by Sarah Gooding at September 19, 2014 08:12 PM under BuddyPress

WPTavern: A Vagrant Configuration for Contributing to WordPress Meta

Contributors on the WordPress Meta team are responsible for WordPress.org and its associated sites, i.e. wordcamp.org, apps.wordpress.org, etc. The team works on supporting and improving these sites along with the build tools that are used by the other contributor groups. Folks often complain about how the sites work, but did you know that much of the code is open source and open for contribution?

Up until recently, there was no easy way to set up a local development environment for contributing to WordPress Meta. This created a hindrance for new contributors looking to get involved, according to team member Ian Dunn.

Setting up local development environments to contribute to the Meta sites can be an obstacle for those without access to the private subversion repositories or a sandbox, especially at a meetup or WordCamp contributor day, where time is limited.

That’s why Dunn created WordPress Meta Environment, a vagrant configuration based on Varying Vagrant Vagrants. It allows you to quickly set up a development environment that is already provisioned with everything you need to contribute a patch to any of the supported meta sites. The setup includes all the open source code and sample data, similar to what you would find on the production site.

wordpress-meta-environment

Currently, the WordPress Meta Environment supports the following sites, with more planned in the future:

Setup is very similar to the instructions for Getting Started with VVV, except you’ll clone the WordPress Meta Environment repository instead. Once the setup is finished, you can visit http://wp-meta.dev for a list of supported sites and server tools.

The configuration will continue to evolve and add support for other official WordPress sites. Dunn received some helpful feedback after attending WordCamp Seattle’s contributor day. As a result, the project’s road map includes a number of priorities for future refinements that will make it a better turnkey local development environment.

The WordPress Meta team works together to create goals/priorities and to provide feedback on efforts toward meta site improvements. If you’re thinking about submitting a patch or have already created one, it’s a good idea to check in with the WordPress Meta team on the P2 blog or in IRC in #wordpress-meta. For more information on contributing, check out the Getting Started section of the Meta Handbook before heading over to Meta trac.

by Sarah Gooding at September 19, 2014 07:12 PM under wordpress meta

September 18, 2014

WPTavern: Staffer Plugin Adds Staff Management and Profiles to WordPress

Adding staff, board members, or another collection of individuals is a common requirement when building an online presence for an organization. The best way to make sure that your staff member data is portable when you change themes, is to add it via a plugin.

Staffer is a newly approved plugin on WordPress.org that stores staff/employee information in a custom post type. It allows you to create and manage a directory of staff members, which displays on the frontend as individual profiles and a grid style directory.

staffer

Individual staff member pages can easily be created just like you would compose a regular post. The plugin adds a metabox to the editor for including staff member details such as a member’s title and social links. Member profile pictures are assigned using the featured image.

staffer-single-profile

Staffer offers a wide range of settings for customizing the display of the directory and profiles, including the following:

  • Optional staff grid layout
  • Set listings per page
  • Set a custom Staffer page title (default title is Staff), used as the archive page title and within breadcrumbs
  • Set a custom URL slug
  • Option to disable all Staffer CSS
  • Custom content wrappers
  • Ability to add custom CSS

Staffer is compatible with nearly every WordPress theme. For the few cases of incompatibility, the option to use custom content wrappers will usually solve any issues. Developers can also create their own archive-staff.php and single-staff.php files to override the plugin’s templates. If you want to order staff profiles, the plugin’s author recommends using the Post Types Order plugin in combination with Staffer.

I tested the plugin and it works as advertised. Staffer adds minimal styles, which helps it to integrate well with the rest of your site. If you’re in need of a ready made custom post type for staff management, Staffer is a flexible option that’s easy to use. Download it from WordPress.org.

by Sarah Gooding at September 18, 2014 11:36 PM under custom post types

WPTavern: BuddyPress 2.1 Patsy Released

patsy

BuddyPress 2.1 “Patsy” is fresh out of the oven, named for a coal-oven pizzeria in East Harlem, NYC. Patsy’s is famous for its traditional New York style thin crust pizza and claims to have originated the practice of selling pizza by the slice.

New @mentions Interface

mentions-demo

The name is fitting, because 2.1 is another slice of excellence from BuddyPress contributors. Building on the @mentions feature in the activity stream, this release introduces a totally revamped @mentions interface. As you begin to type the @ key, members will be autosuggested via a new suggestions panel. You’ll find that this feature also works nicely on mobile.

New URL Profile Field Type

url-field-type

This release also introduces a new profile field type that will have broad appeal to many BuddyPress communities. Site administrators can now select the URL field type, which will transform URLs of any format into links on the frontend of a user’s profile:

Automatic Translation Fetching

countries

A survey conducted in 2013 showed that nearly 50% of BuddyPress sites are in languages other than English. The 2.1 release offers better support for translations, which will now download automatically to your WordPress installation. BuddyPress lead developer Boone Gorges credits volunteers from the polyglots team for making this release more translatable and more translated than ever.

BuddyPress 2.1 Highlights

In addition to the most visible new features, the 2.1 release adds many smaller improvements that make this version faster, more secure, and easier to use. A few of the highlights include:

  • Set better passwords with the password strength meter on the registration and user settings pages
  • Continued performance enhancements, particularly on the Members and Groups directories
  • Members admin: Introduce “Extended Profile” tab on a user’s profile. This allows admins to edit various BuddyPress information about a user including profile fields, the user’s avatar and user status in the admin.
  • Formally deprecated the BuddyBar
  • Renamed “Avatar” to “Profile Photo”
  • Better compatibility with themes that load their template content in advanced ways, like Stargazer

There’s also no small number of improvements under the hood for developers who are creating BuddyPress themes and plugins, as Gorges outlines in the release post. Check out the changelog for 2.1 to see the full list. Backup your site and update to BuddyPress 2.1 to take advantage of all the latest improvements.

by Sarah Gooding at September 18, 2014 07:47 PM under buddypress 2.1

BuddyPress: BuddyPress 2.1 “Patsy”

The BuddyPress team is proud to introduce BuddyPress 2.1 “Patsy”!

 

Revamped @mentions interface

mentions

BuddyPress has long supported @mentions in the activity stream. But previously, you needed to know the username of the member you wanted to mention. No longer. In BuddyPress 2.1, typing the @ key will bring up the new suggestions panel, making it easier than ever to connect with others in your network.

 

New profile field type: URL

The new URL field type allows your users to enter URLs in a number of formats, and ensures that they’re properly linked when displayed on member profiles.

 

Better translations

Running a BuddyPress site in a language other than English? We’ve worked with the WordPress team to get BP translation files downloading automatically to your WP installation. And, thanks to the tireless effort of a team of polyglots, BP is more translatable – and more translated – than ever.

 

Under the hood

We’ve made dozens of improvements with developers in mind. Here’s a taste:

  • Access control in BP_Group_Extension has been completely overhauled, allowing plugins to manage access to their nav items on a fine-grained basis.
  • A new group_activity sort order has been added for Groups queries.
  • A no_access_url parameter has been added to bp_core_new_subnav_item(). This allows you to set the URL that users are redirected to when they do not have permission to access a sub-navigation item.
  • Extra CSS classes have been added to Profile Field visibility field elements, allowing greater CSS customization.

Read more about the hundreds of bug fixes and feature enhancements in BuddyPress 2.1 at our official 2.1 changelog.

 

Give me my propers when you get home

The following users contributed code to BuddyPress 2.1. Huge thanks to them, and to all who have tested and provided feedback during this development period!

adamt19, Alex Mills (Viper007Bond), allendav, alternatekev, Automattic, Beau Lebens (beaulebens), Boone B Gorges (boonebgorges), Brad Williams (williamsba1), Brajesh Singh (sbrajesh), danbp, David Cavins (dcavins), Erin B. (ebellempire), esroyo, godavid33, Henry Wright (henry.wright), Hugo (hnla), Mathieu Viet (imath), John James Jacoby (johnjamesjacoby), Jose Conti (jconti), jreeve, Laurens Offereins (Offereins) lenasterg, mercime, Michael Beckwith (tw2113), Miles Stewart (milesstewart88), needle, OC2PS (sooskriszta), Paul Gibbs (DJPaul), r-a-y, Roger Coathup (rogercoathup), Sarah Gooding (pollyplummer), Sergio De Falco (SGr33n), shanebp, Slava UA (slaFFik), Stephen Edgar (netweb), Tammie (karmatosed), tomdxw, treyhunner, ubernaut, wbajzek, WCUADD, wpdennis, wolfhoundjesse.

 

By the slice

BuddyPress 2.1 is named for Patsy’s, a classic pizzeria in East Harlem, NYC. Aside from top-notch pies, Patsy’s is famous for its claim to have originated the practice of selling pizza by the slice. What better way to celebrate a new version of BuddyPress than grabbing a slice for yourself?

Download BuddyPress 2.1 “Patsy” today, from your WordPress Dashboard or wordpress.org/plugins/buddypress. Questions or comments about this release? Stop by our excellent support forums or visit our development tracker. Thanks for using BuddyPress!

by Boone Gorges at September 18, 2014 06:31 PM under releases

WPTavern: Crawford: A Free Minimalist WordPress Theme for Writers

A steady stream of minimalist themes for writers has been flowing into the official WordPress Themes Directory this year. As people grow disenchanted with interaction on social networks, the personal blog is on course for a renaissance. The beauty of WordPress is that anyone with something to say can be a writer.

Crawford joins their ranks of free minimalist themes designed specifically for writers who wish to place more emphasis on their content without all the distractions of sidebars, widgets, and superfluous features.

crawford

With Crawford activated on your site, you’re almost guaranteed to have it looking like the demo in under a minute. The theme options mirror the frontend simplicity, offering only the basics. Crawford doesn’t include any header, background, or color customization options.

The customizer features your standard controls for changing the site title and tagline. You can also set the primary and secondary navigation menus and assign widgets to the three footer areas. That’s it. The design itself cannot be further customized from here unless you create a child theme.

crawford-customizer

No design options in the mix may seem like a drawback for those looking for a more flexible, all-purpose theme. However, the lack of features in Crawford is meant to be one of its chief selling points. The theme is also responsive for displaying your content beautifully on mobile devices.

crawford-devices

Crawford was created by Australian theme developers from wpmultiverse. Check out a live demo to see the theme in action with blog posts set for the homepage. Of all the minimalist blog themes I’ve seen lately, Crawford stands out as exceptionally readable. View a single post to see how elegantly the design displays blockquotes, unordered lists, and tags.

Having a new, clean theme in place can sometimes make all the difference for having the motivation to write. If you need a fresh start, Crawford is a beautiful option now available for download from WordPress.org

by Sarah Gooding at September 18, 2014 06:07 PM under free wordpress themes

Matt: Tim Cook on Privacy

Tim Cook’s letter on Apple privacy is pretty amazing and a shot across the bow of Google.

by Matt Mullenweg at September 18, 2014 07:24 AM under Asides

WPTavern: Netropolitan “Facebook for Rich People” is Powered by WordPress and BuddyPress

photo credit: Netropolitanphoto credit: Netropolitan

Netropolitan, colloquially dubbed the “Facebook for rich people,” is a new private social network available to those who are willing to shell out $9,000 to join and $3,000/year to continue membership. The site advertises itself as “The online country club for people with more money than time,” and has been featured on CNN and other major news outlets across the globe.

The controversial social network was created by James Touchi-Peters, a former conductor of the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra. “This whole thing started because when I was traveling in my work, I wanted to get in on a social event where basically I could meet people like myself,” Touchi-Peters told Vice in a recent interview. The membership fee is meant to vet the members as they join in order to maintain the exclusivity of the network.

One glance at the site and it’s obvious that it was built with WordPress, BuddyPress, and bbPress, using a $63 Themeforest theme. The theme packages with it a drag-and-drop page builder as well as extra functionality to extend BuddyPress, add integration with Paid Memberships Pro, and display sliders via Slider Revolution.

“It’s your standard, typical social network, except the one change we made is that instead of using the friend method that people are used to usually reciprocally confirming relationships, we’re using the follower method,” Touchi-Peters said. This functionality is readily available via the BuddyPress Follow plugin.

The intriguing aspect of the story is how long this site took to build. Touchi-Peter’s answer to Vice implies that the network required two years of development. “From when we decided to move forward, we’ve been working on it technically for two years. It’s been a four-year process.” Touring Netropolitan’s informational pages shows a screenshot of the founder’s BuddyPress profile page, which seems identical to the theme’s demo, with the exception of the logo.

netropolitan

Many media outlets seem to be incredulous that he would choose to build the social network on WordPress, betraying a popular notion that the software is somehow insecure because it’s free. What many onlookers do not understand is that WordPress itself is not inherently insecure. Rather, low quality themes and plugins can include vulnerabilities that provide entry points for exploitation, which is more likely when site owners fail to update old software.

The concern in this particular case with Netropolitan is that the site keep pace with updates, as it’s currently behind on core updates and its theme packages the Slider Revolution plugin that recently made headlines when the developer failed to publicly disclose the severity of a recently patched critical vulnerability. Like any tool, software takes a little bit of effort and education for people to use it and maintain it in a responsible way. If WordPress didn’t hold the power to build so many things, it wouldn’t be the constant target of hackers and spammers. This is the trade off.

Nearly every WordPress development agency has been approached multiple times to build similar sites – the “Ebay for Elites,” or “Match.com for Millionaires,” all promising exclusivity at a premium. It’s humorous but also a testament to how flexible people believe the WordPress platform is for building nearly any kind of website. Netropolitan may not be the finest implementation of WordPress/BuddyPress that the world has ever seen, but it is evidence that open source software makes it possible for people to run with their entrepreneurial ideas and take them all the way to the world stage.

by Sarah Gooding at September 18, 2014 06:45 AM under News

WPTavern: Edit WordPress Posts and Postmeta in the Customizer

WordPress users were thrilled when widgets were added to the customizer in the 3.9 release. A better UI and real-time previews revived widgets and once again made them a joy to use. The experience was so beneficial to users that the project continues to plough ahead with customizer enhancements. WordPress 4.0 introduced contextual controls and a new Panels API for segmenting controls into groups. It also added a wider array of controls and parameters that make it possible for the customizer to be used beyond themes and widgets.

Just when you thought you’d seen it all, core contributor Weston Ruter and the folks at X-Team have added post editing to the customizer as an experimental plugin on WordPress.org. Customize Posts brings the power of live frontend previews to WordPress posts and postmeta with the tagline: “Stop editing your posts/postmeta blind!”

Once installed, you’ll find a new “Customize” menu item on pages and posts, which will launch it into the customizer for editing.

customize

Customize Posts enables you to edit both post content and postmeta, including the following:

  • Post title
  • Post content
  • Slug
  • Author
  • Published time/date
  • Excerpt
  • Status
  • Comments (Open/Closed)
  • Parent and Menu Order
  • Page Template
  • Featured Image
  • Any additional postmeta (custom metaboxes would have to be opt-in)

This would only be possible with the new Panels API, since it adds a long list of controls, as you can see in the screenshot below:

customize-posts

Version 0.2.0 makes it possible to add, modify and delete postmeta and all of these action are fully previewable. The plugin also grants customize capability to authors and editors who wouldn’t normally have access.

On themes like Twenty Fourteen, where you have featured images that appear on single posts, the plugin adds a convenient way to live preview various images without having to go back and forth between the admin and the frontend. If you have an extensive array of postmeta that lends itself well to live previews, I can see how this plugin could be very useful.

One thing that is particularly disconcerting is that once you are editing the post in the customizer, it appears that you cannot truly save the content without publishing it. The big blue “Save & Publish” button is your only option.

In the current absence of a full-featured frontend editor for WordPress, the experience of using Customize Posts for editing post content is a somewhat clunky alternative with its narrow editing pane. The slight lag between writing and the update in the preview amounts to a significant drawback for daily use. However, it’s an interesting proof of concept and definitely worth exploring. Ruter readily admits that the plugin is, for all intents and purposes, an experiment:

I’m happy if Customize Posts develops in parallel to Front-end Editing. I was just hoping it might be a useful reference for how to leverage the Customizer to preview changes to post/postmeta. I’ll continue hacking on my Customizer prototype to see what comes out of it.

The development team notes on the plugin’s description that Customize Posts is not to be confused with 10up’s Post Customizer, a plugin in the same vein that addresses a different problem. 10up and X-Team are in communication about collaborating between the two plugins wherever possible in addition to interfacing with other contributors on existing core tickets for the issues addressed in these plugins.

If a frontend editor does wind up landing in core in the future, do you think that the concept shown here for editing posts and postmeta could be a compliment to the experience?

by Sarah Gooding at September 18, 2014 06:45 AM under customizer

WPTavern: PhpStorm 8 Released With Full WordPress Support

PhpStorm from JetBrains is far and and away the most favored IDE for PHP developers. In March, PhpStorm announced that the upcoming version 8 would add official support for WordPress. The official release is finally here and delivers on that promise, adding a deeper level of support for developers who work with the WordPress code base.

PhpStorm 8 makes it easy to set up your development environment configuration specifically for WordPress. You can now add WordPress integration when creating a new project, or add it to existing projects.

phpstorm-enable-wp-integration

In version 8 you’ll find an impressive array of built-in hook features:

  • Completion for WordPress Action and Filter functions parameters (hooks completion)
  • Navigation from Action and Filter functions (hook registration) to hook invocation
  • Callbacks from Hook Registration
  • With Navigate | Symbol…you can search for hook invocations and easily navigate to them
  • Find Usages for Hook Registration Functions

phpstorm_wordpress

This release adds WordPress code style, the ability to search on WordPress.org right from the editor, and support for WP-CLI. It also includes PHP Code Sniffer with WordPress Coding Standards integration to help you keep your project in line with WP coding conventions.

phpstorm-wp-cli

PhpStorm 8 includes a plugin skeleton to help you get started. It creates a plugin-name.php file with the proper meta information.

phpstorm-new-plugin

Check out the online documentation for a guide to configuring your development environment for WordPress projects. If you’re curious to know how much work went into building in WordPress support, have a look at the number of issues tracked during development for this version.

A PhpStorm license is $199, but if you contribute to an open source project or create open source extensions for WordPress, you may be eligible for a free Open Source License.

by Sarah Gooding at September 18, 2014 06:45 AM under wordpress development

WPTavern: A Chat With Anders Norén on Finding Inspiration for WordPress Theme Design

When we last interviewed Anders Norén, he was the new kid on the block with a handful of successful WordPress themes. Norén, a communications student from Umeå, Sweden, had just started tossing around the idea of pursuing WordPress theme development as a serious hobby. In the span of about one year, he has released eight free themes on WordPress.org, with a cumulative 189,452 downloads.

Norén seems to be equipped with a never-ending fountain of inspiration for new themes. His Rams theme, which bears a few similarities to the upcoming Twenty Fifteen default theme, was inspired by Dieter Rams, a German industrial designer who is well known for his innovative, unobtrusive, and timeless product design.

I spoke with him regarding Hoffman, his latest free blogging theme and discovered that his design inspiration primarily comes from the recognition of others’ artistic talents.

“Hoffman was named after the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who sadly passed away in February this year,” he said. “I was devastated when I heard the news. I’ve been a huge fan of Hoffman for years. He was never the traditional leading man, but he always gave memorable performances,” Norén said, linking to one of his favorites.

hoffman

While many designers have inspiration come in the form of images, dreams, and sketches on paper napkins, Norén’s sparks of creativity for theme design arrive as clarion pieces of the design as a whole. He builds upon these fragments until the theme starts to take shape.

“Usually, is starts with a pretty clear idea of a single aspect of the design. With Rams, it was the interplay between the colors mint green, graphite and grey. I stumbled over the color scheme on the website of a Dutch advertising agency and instantly fell in love with it,” he said.

“With Radcliffe, I wanted to do a theme with fullscreen featured images. With my upcoming theme Fukasawa, I wanted to do a really clean design built with a media-heavy grid in mind. When that single detail is in place, the rest usually grows naturally around it,” Norén told the Tavern. His approach is interesting in that instead of trying to formulate pieces for a larger idea, he starts with the smaller pieces until they form a unified concept to drive the design.

Norén’s Secret: Jump Into the Code as Soon as Possible

Once inspired, Norén doesn’t sit idly courting the muse but rather moves directly into action, prototyping his theme idea in the browser. “Once I have an idea, I try to get started on the HTML/CSS/jQuery as soon as possible,” he said. “I rarely do any sketches – by hand or in Photoshop – before I jump into the code.”

Norén’s “design in the browser” approach makes sense with people increasingly accessing content on mobile devices. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to find if out if your idea is viable as a theme. “I find it hard to know whether a design will work until I have it up and running in Safari,” he said. “Most of the designs don’t work. My list of discarded themes is a lot longer than the list of published ones.”

Releasing Free Themes as a Vehicle for Personal Creativity

design

A WordPress.org theme developer has the luxury of designing for himself, something that Norén isn’t yet ready to give up. I asked him why he continues to release free themes and if he plans to make a career out of web development.

“In the beginning, I think a lot of it came down to insecurity,” he admitted. “I wasn’t sure my themes did enough or did it good enough for anyone to pay for them, so I released my themes for free on WordPress.org instead.

“That said, once I started releasing themes on WordPress.org, I realized that it was a lot of fun. The attention and appreciation of others is nice, of course, but the best part is seeing someone putting your theme to good (or unexpected) use,” he said.

“Also, by not being dependent on my themes for income, I can keep building the themes I want to make rather than the ones I think people would pay for. I don’t think I’m willing to give that up just yet.”

Giving himself over to his hobby of theme development is the path that led Norén to discover that his true passion lies in designing and developing for the web.

“When you interviewed me six months ago, I didn’t really have any intentions to actually work as a web designer,” Norén said. “I was content to keep it as a hobby. Over the course of the past six months, I’ve come to realize that that isn’t the case anymore. I’ll be looking for a job as a web designer after I’m finished with my BA in June next year.”

Although he’s already been approached by several companies, he is committed to finishing his studies before pursuing a career in development. “I’ve already had some job offers, some for contract work, some for employment, but I would kick myself for all eternity if I bailed on my studies with less than a year remaining,” Norén said. “That said, if Automattic got in touch about a job as a theme wrangler, I would probably have a hard time turning them down.”

Looking to the Future

Outside of his upcoming Fukasawa release, Norén doesn’t have any other themes in progress due to work and studies taking up most of his time. That hasn’t stopped ideas from buzzing around in his head. “I would like to build something using the new portfolio post type included in Jetpack, and it’d be interesting to build a business theme for WordPress.org as well,” he said, noting that the selection of themes in that category is still very limited. Although he won’t be able to work on themes until December, he hopes to build another to release before the holidays are over.

Anders Norén is knocking it out of the park with his continual stream of beautiful free themes. While many theme developers struggle to produce original works, Norén has found the keys to standing out from the crowd, as evidenced by the fact that he is rapidly closing in on 200,000 downloads on WordPress.org. With an impressive portfolio already in hand and a seemingly inexhaustable supply of design inspiration, Norén will enter the work force well-prepared for the stiff competition that accompanies commercial WordPress theme design.

by Sarah Gooding at September 18, 2014 06:45 AM under free wordpress themes

WPTavern: BuddyPress 2.1 RC1 Released: Last Round of Testing Begins

buddypress-logo-blue

BuddyPress 2.1 is right around the corner. After a fairly quiet beta period, 2.1 RC1 is now in the hands of testers and is your last chance to test before the official release.

BuddyPress lead developer Boone Gorges also posted an important update to let those who maintain BP language packs know that the latest strings from BP trunk are now available for translation. You’ve got a couple days to translate the new strings in order to have your language pack ready for 2.1.

The upcoming milestone will introduce a revamped mentions interface that functions like Twitter to autosuggest usernames while typing. This addition makes the mentions feature more useful and intuitive for members of large BuddyPress communities.

The 2.1 release will also include a new profile field type (URL), automatic translation fetching, and more performance improvements. For a quick overview of all the development highlights coming in 2.1, check out our 2.1 beta 1 post.

If you’re testing RC1, please make sure to report any bugs or issues on BuddyPress trac. Currently active tickets for 2.1 have been whittled down to one, so you know it’s almost ready to ship. Expect the BuddyPress 2.1 official release sometime this week.

by Sarah Gooding at September 18, 2014 06:45 AM under buddypress 2.1

WPTavern: Pho: A Free Minimalist, Masonry WordPress Theme

The folks at ThematoSoup are in the habit of naming their theme releases for delicious soup dishes. The team, comprised of WordPress plugin and theme developers Slobodan Manic and Dragan Nikolic, is dedicated to creating minimalist-inspired WordPress products.

“We eat, sleep and breathe WordPress and digital clutter gives us nightmares,” the duo expressed on their about page. The design of Pho, their latest theme, embodies this sentiment and follows in the minimalist tradition with emphasis on the content.

The theme was designed to be fast, lean, and easily customized. It showcases images on the homepage with a slider that features content based on a tag that you specify.

pho

Below the slider you can customize the homepage display using the various page templates. The masonry aspect of the design is completely optional, as you can select between masonry (with or without sidebar) or standard (with or without sidebar).

pho-homepage

Pho includes three menus: an understated, simple primary navigation, footer menu, and one at the top for social links. It supports both sidebar and footer widget areas.

All of the theme options can be found in the native customizer, including an option to upload a logo to replace the site title. You can also change the site’s primary color, archives layout, and choose from a few pre-selected fonts for the body and headings. The customizer also allows you to set the theme’s background image/color, and specify the featured content tag.

After testing Pho in my development environment, I found that with a few tweaks in the customizer, you can have your site looking just like the demo in a matter of minutes. Since the options are all in the same place, there’s nothing confusing about customizing Pho to suit your preferences.

The featured content area on the homepage will require the use of some larger sized images in order to truly shine. Pho is retina-ready and will respond nicely to various devices from desktop to mobile.

The theme’s developers did not neglect comments and have styled threaded comments up to four levels deep. Pho also includes support for paginated comments and styles for images, videos, and author comments.

The theme includes built-in support for Theme Hook Alliance, a community-driven project that offers third-party action hooks to theme developers to implement for more flexibility.

Check out a live demo to see it in action and test how elegantly it responds to various screen sizes. If you want to update your blog or website with a new minimalist design, download Pho for free from WordPress.org or add it via your admin themes browser.

by Sarah Gooding at September 18, 2014 06:45 AM under free wordpress themes

WPTavern: Free PSD Template for Creating a WordPress.org Plugin Banner

Creating a custom banner for your plugin on WordPress.org will help your extension to stand out among the 33,000+ others in the plugin directory. A little bit of branding also gives the impression that the plugin isn’t just a one night stand but rather a work that you’re committed to continually update.

If your plugin is lacking a custom icon, the WordPress plugin installer will create a default icon based on a color sampling of your plugin banner. It only takes a few minutes to create a banner and now it’s easier than ever with the free WordPress Plugin Banner PSD template from Ozh.

plugin-banner-template

The reason why plugin developers put off creating a banner is because it takes a bit of thoughtful planning to find or create an image with the proper dimensions. In addition, you need to select an image that still looks good with the plugin title obscuring the bottom left corner.

Ozh’s template accounts for all of these things and gives you different layers for creating and previewing your banner in Photoshop with the right dimensions. It’s important to note that if you want your plugin banner to support retina displays, then you need to add an additional banner that is double the size of the template:1544 pixels wide and 500 pixels tall with a file named “banner-1544×500.png” or “banner-1544×500.jpg.” (The plugin directory does not accept GIF files.)

When using Ozh’s PSD template you can preview the plugin title on your banner, but make sure to turn the visibility for that layer off before saving your final banner image. The placeholder for the background reminds you of the file name for the banner (banner-772×250.jpg) and its location: root /assets directory.

After committing your banner to the /assets directory, it may take a few minutes before it will show up on WordPress.org. The Developer FAQ section for the plugin directory has a tip on previewing your plugin page with your image:

For development and testing, you can add a URL parameter to your plugin’s URL of “?banner_url=A_URL_TO_YOUR_IMAGE” to preview what the page will look like with your own image. This will only work with your own plugins; you cannot use this parameter on anybody else’s plugins.

With the availability of this new banner template, there’s no excuse to leave your plugin looking sad and neglected. Add a custom banner and, while you’re at it, check out Andrew Nacin’s tips for creating a custom icon. You can download the WordPress.org plugin banner template PSD directly from Ozh’s website.

by Sarah Gooding at September 18, 2014 06:45 AM under Plugins

WPTavern: New Plugin Adds Conditional Profile Fields to BuddyPress

photo credit: Dunechaser - ccphoto credit: Dunechasercc

When you create profile fields in BuddyPress, they apply to every user in the same way. Each user responds to the same set of questions, but this could stand to be a little more flexible to account for differences in users. What if you could conditionally show profile fields, based on a user’s answers to certain questions?

Prolific BuddyPress plugin developer Brajesh Singh created a plugin to do exactly this. Conditional Profile Fields for BuddyPress gives site administrators the ability to set conditions for hiding/showing profile fields based on a user’s responses to other profile fields. For example, let’s say you create a field to ask if the user is a morning or night person.

profile-field

You can then set up a second question, such as “Do you eat breakfast?” With the help of this plugin, you can make the question contingent on the first question where you asked if the person is a morning or night person. Perhaps you are curious if a user who identifies as a “night person” also eats breakfast. While editing the breakfast question, scroll to the bottom and you will find a new box for setting a Visibility Condition.

From the dropdown, select the question you want as the condition, show/hide, and the value that field is contingent upon. The plugin also includes support for muti-option fields.

conditions

Once you have your condition set, you can navigate to the frontend to see that the conditional fields are shown or hidden based on your selection. Here’s a quick demo:

conditional-profile-fields-demo

If you mark the first profile field as “Required” when creating it, then BuddyPress will also show the field on the registration form and conditional fields will also apply. The plugin currently supports the following features:

  • Compatibly with 99% of WordPress themes
  • 2 visibility option to either show the field or hide the field based on the condition
  • A field dropdown box to allow you to select the field that governs the display of this field
  • 6 operators to match the values (6 operators for the number/text/textarea field and 2 operators for matching the multi-select box/check box/radio)
  • It supports the multi-type field as well as other fields (and should support custom profile fields automatically)
  • Currently the date field is not supported for creating conditions

The Conditional Profile Fields plugin is an excellent addition to any BuddyPress site that brings together different types of users. For example, educational sites might include students, teachers, tutors, etc. Instead of using a complicated plugin to set up different user types, you can add a conditional profile field to ask the user to select from student, teacher, etc. From there you can create different profile field groups containing questions conditional upon the user’s previous selection.

Conditional profile fields could also be useful for many other types of social networks, including:

  • Dating sites
  • Professional organizations
  • Sports teams
  • Multilingual communities
  • Job or freelancer networks
  • Hobby or interest-based networks

I tested the plugin with BuddyPress 2.1 beta 1 and found that it works exactly advertised. Conditional profile fields are an excellent way to extend a niche social network to display profile fields specifically tailored to different user types. Download Conditional Profile Fields for BuddyPress for free from BuddyDev.com.

by Sarah Gooding at September 18, 2014 06:45 AM under buddypress profile fields

WPTavern: Graph Paper Press Launches Theme.Works, A Drag and Drop Platform for Building WordPress Themes

The folks behind Graph Paper Press launched a new custom WordPress theme builder this week. Theme.Works was created to be a new brand, featuring a theme building platform that allows users to build a WordPress theme in under 60 seconds.

“We wanted something crazy easy for users to understand and use,” founder Thad Allender said. “Theme.Works inverts the traditional theme creation process: Instead of passively picking a stock template, you get to create a totally custom design for each piece of your website,” he explained. Users have the option to choose different headers, slideshows, portfolios, blogs, signup forms, contact forms, testimonials, footers, etc, via a drag and drop interface.

Theme.Works is actually a custom one-page app built with Node,js, Grunt, and PHP. It allows each customer to design his own theme and then download it for $79. Here’s a quick preview of how it works:

Graph Paper Press is one of the oldest WordPress theme shops in business, founded in 2007, so it’s surprising to see Theme.Works launched as its own brand. I asked Allender why the team didn’t opt to put the new theme builder under its well-known GPP umbrella.

“We wanted to build a new brand around a single idea/product,” he said. “Something with a clear value proposition without any distractions.” Allender also noted that the tech behind the venture is different, given that the builder is a Node.js / PHP app. “The dashboard (releasing next month) needed a singular focus on building custom designs,” he explained.

To celebrate the launch, Theme.Works released a free theme with fullscreen background video and portfolio integration. It includes 10 different page templates and 10 color palettes to choose from, along with dozens of custom fonts. The theme is an example of what can be built using the drag and drop theme builder.

theme.works-free-wordpress-theme-464x1024

Check out a live preview of the theme fully customized.

I downloaded the Theme.Works demo theme and installed it on a test site. I was impressed with some of the options, especially the color palettes and custom fonts.

theme-colors

Unfortunately, the theme options are divided almost equally between the native customizer on the frontend and the dedicated theme options panel in the admin. I believe this might introduce a point of confusion for users. If they don’t find the header options in the theme options, they may not know to look for them on the frontend.

Although I am no stranger to building and customizing WordPress themes, I found it difficult to get the theme looking just like the demo. The experience certainly was not as advertised in the announcement post, which claims: “The theme you design is the theme you download, simple as that. No guesswork, no reference manual needed to get your theme up and running. Just activate and start publishing.” On the contrary, I found there were many options to configure before I could even think about publishing.

I was also concerned that the portfolio functionality is bundled with the theme. Allender said that they have attempted using a portfolio custom post type in the past but decided to take a different route. “We did that at GPP and users found it confusing. So instead, we offer users a plugin to migrate CPTs.” This seems like an extra hassle if you ever want to change your theme.

However, the end result, as displayed in the Theme.Works live demo, is quite appealing and beautifully designed if you are able to achieve the same look with your content. Theme.Works plans to give away one new free every month, built using the new platform. You can download the free theme directly from Theme.Works. While you’re there, make sure to test out the new theme building platform and let us know your thoughts.

by Sarah Gooding at September 18, 2014 06:45 AM under graph paper press

WPTavern: Aesop Story Engine 1.1 Beta Now Available for Testing Ahead of First Major Update

Aesop Story Engine 1.1. beta is now in the hands of eager testers, as project leader Nick Haskins prepares to launch the first major update to the plugin since its release. Haskin’s open source storytelling plugin was fully funded via a Crowdhoster campaign earlier this year. Shortly thereafter he released it on WordPress.org and launched a line of commercial themes that showcase the storyengine.

The plugin’s 1.1 release represents a major leap forward in terms of usability. “Our primary focus with this update was to improve usability even further by removing the friction created with generating and editing story components,” Haskins said. The generator in 1.1 will be completely responsive down to mobile device displays.

ase-generator

The story components will have a new interface in version 1.1, which more closely matches the WordPress admin. This version also adds the ability to edit story components in the visual editor. Components are now converted into a placeholder where you can easily edit their attributes. Clicking the pencil icons launches the modal view with the last options you entered.

ASE-editable-story-components

After 1.1 is pushed out Haskins plans to keep hammering away at usability in preparation for launching a hosted solution for Aesop Story Engine. “After 1.1 goes out, it’s back to further improving the user interface, making things even easier, and reducing even more friction ahead of revisiting a hosted solution to offer, as the plugin will have matured at that point,” he said.

Haskins is steadily and patiently refining the plugin and has set no ETA for the hosted version. His primary focus is on improving the experience of the story engine. “We really want it to be an incredible experience, more than just ‘a skinned WordPress multisite,'” he said. “I’m watching the JSON API and waiting for more admin type capabilities. Next year would be a better guess at this point for the hosted version,” Haskins told the Tavern.

So far the project is experiencing success. “Sales have been going really, really well. Month after month of growth even with the price of themes at $120 each, which subsequently allows for further development,” Haskins reported. Version 1.1 will introduce the ability for developers to create custom add-ons to tie into the Story Engine, which is likely to bring more products into the ASE marketplace.

Aesop Story Engine Finds Momentum in Education

The Aesop Story Engine was created to empower WordPress publishers to pursue the art of digital storytelling, but Haskins wasn’t sure where it would take off when he initially tested the waters to see if there was any interest. While the product seems to be rather niche, it has surprisingly found the most traction in the education sector. “In terms of demographics, we are seeing a lot of big name universities, and about an equal amount of design firms,” Haskins said.

“The rest of users seem to fall into general writers, publishers, and news organizations, Detroit News being the most recent addition. This inevitably gives us a bit more context when making decisions regarding premium themes and upcoming addons,” Haskins said. “Simply put, the education space is the biggest trend at the moment.”

Version 1.1 is projected to launch at the beginning of next week. If you want to get in on testing the beta, check out the post on the ASE blog to download the zip file.

by Sarah Gooding at September 18, 2014 06:45 AM under education

WPTavern: Take The Annual WPShout Webhosting Survey

WPShout Webhosting Survey Featured Imagephoto credit: hfabulouscc

Since 2011, WPShout has conducted a comprehensive, non-biased, webhosting survey. Although the site has changed hands, Fred Meyer and David Hayes are continuing the tradition and the survey questions are ready to fill out. There are four required questions with no identifiable information required to submit your answers. The survey is aimed at figuring out the following information:

  • Reliability
  • Speed
  • Usability
  • Support
  • Value
  • WordPress compatibility

The data will be collected, collated, and openly shared to the community for individual analysis. In 2013, 214 people participated in the survey. The goal for 2015, is 500. Most users who run a self-hosted WordPress site also have a webhosting account. This is a chance to share your experience with that company for the benefit of others.

It’s hard to find good information about webhosting companies without running into reviews filled with affiliate links. If you have a few minutes to spare, please take the survey and help spread the word.

by Jeff Chandler at September 18, 2014 06:45 AM under wpshout

WPTavern: WP Couch Mode Gives Readers an Option to Read Content Without Distractions

If you operate a content heavy website and want an easy way to give readers an option to read content without distractions, now you can with the WP Couch Mode plugin. Developed by Ritesh Vatwani, WP Couch Mode adds a customizable link to content. When clicked, a lightbox appears displaying only the content of the post. Within the lightbox, you can increase the font size, make it full-screen, or print the article.

Configuration Settings For WP Couch ModeConfiguration Settings For WP Couch Mode

 

The plugin provides options to add the link before or after the content. You can edit the display text of the link and there’s a shortcode available if you need more control. Here’s what it looks like on the desktop view.

Desktop View Of WP Couch ModeDesktop View Of WP Couch Mode

One of the first things you’ll notice is that the images are large. When viewed on a desktop, the images are displayed at full size. On a mobile device, the images are smaller to account for screen size. Something that will need to be addressed in the next version is the poor handling of featured images. For some reason, WP Couch Mode takes a very small version of a featured image and blows it up. This causes featured images to look terrible on mobile devices. I think it would be better to not show the featured image and instead, only show images attached to the post.

When I accessed Couch Mode on my iPhone 5s in portrait mode, the X in the top right corner is cut off making it difficult to close the window. In order to access the close button, I put my phone into landscape mode. Alternatively, if enabled, I can tap the button to shrink/expand the lightbox as a work around. This is what the content looks like on my phone.

Portrait View Shows The X CutoffPortrait View Shows The X Cutoff

 

I doubt this plugin will be installed and used on sites that make a living through display advertisements. It’s like providing readers an ad-blocker tailored to the site. Overall, the plugin works as advertised. The lightbox needs some work but other than that, it gets rid of all the distractions.

by Jeff Chandler at September 18, 2014 06:45 AM under wp couch mode

Dougal Campbell: Yarrr! Talk Like a Pirate Day Is Almost Upon Us!

Once again, Talk Like a Pirate Day is almost here. Aye, this Friday, September 19 is Talk Like A Pirate Day, and all good citizens o' th' Interwebs are expected t' participate!

To make it easy fer all o' me WordPress maties, I created th' Text Filter Suite plugin, which will automagically piratify yer web site fer TLaPD. Just go t' ‘Add New Plugin’ in yer Dashboard, and search fer ‘talk like a pirate’.

And once again, t' demonstrate, any comments added t' this post will automatically be converted into pirate speak, by Blackbeard's sword! Arrr!

 

Original Article: Yarrr! Talk Like a Pirate Day Is Almost Upon Us!
Dougal Campbell's geek ramblings - WordPress, web development, and world domination.

by Dougal Campbell at September 18, 2014 04:13 AM under TalkLikeAPirate

September 17, 2014

Matt: Merchbar

Merchbar is an iPhone app that makes it easy to buy merchandise from your favorite artists. It also was the first investment I made through my Angellist Syndicate, and I’m excited for the team on its launch. (Although it’s good to remember that launching is a halfway point — you should expect to spend at least as much time as you did leading up to launch to get to something you’re happy with. Something I’m thinking about a lot in Automattic these days.)

by Matt Mullenweg at September 17, 2014 06:36 PM under Asides

Matt: Fast Company Profile

Every second, somewhere in the world four babies and two WordPress blogs are born.

That great line comes from Shane Snow’s profile of myself, Automattic, and WordPress called “How Matt’s Machine Works.” If you’re interested in the latest on how Automattic works as seen from the eye of a journalist with a background in product and technology, check it out.

A few comments: Since it came out my colleagues have been making fun of me for “trolling.” :) The term “benevolent dictator for life” goes back to at least 1995 and is common in open source communities. Our lounge in SF is now much nicer than the one pictured. We mostly use Slack instead of Skype. I would say my management style has changed quite a bit since when Scott was at the company. The end of the article nails it in that as Automattic has scaled, to 272 at latest count, it’s really the over 40 leads who keep things running as smoothly as they do, and many people in similar roles on the .org side.

Even with the above, the article is probably the best look at the things I’m involved with every day since 2009’s The Way I Work, so kudos to Shane and definitely check it out.

by Matt Mullenweg at September 17, 2014 05:09 AM under Asides

September 16, 2014

BuddyPress: BuddyPress 2.1 Release Candidate

BuddyPress 2.1 Release Candidate 1 is now available. The “Release Candidate” status means that the final release of BP 2.1 is imminent, and this is your last chance to put the next version through its paces before it comes out.

Get BP 2.1-RC1 through Subversion, or by downloading the zip file here: https://downloads.wordpress.org/plugin/buddypress.2.1-RC1.zip. And remember: this is still pre-release software, so we don’t recommend running it on your production site.

Questions or comments? Drop a note in our support forums or our development tracker.

by Boone Gorges at September 16, 2014 03:24 PM under release candidate

Matt: Ultimate Office Perk

We’ve had some really good press the past week, the first I’d like to share with you comes from Aimee Groth writing for Quartz: The makers of WordPress.com learned years ago that the ultimate office perk is not having an office. The funny thing is I’m writing this from the once-a-year Automattic Grand Meetup, which is in Utah this year, there are over 250 of my colleagues here and it’s great fun meeting and hanging out with everybody.

by Matt Mullenweg at September 16, 2014 06:23 AM under Asides

September 15, 2014

BuddyPress: BuddyPress 2.0.3 Security Release

BuddyPress 2.0.3 is now available. This is a security release which fixes one security issue with group creation, which was discovered by the BuddyPress team.

This is an important and recommended update for all BuddyPress sites. A full changelog is at http://codex.buddypress.org/developer/releases/version-2-0-3/.

You can upgrade via your WordPress Dashboard > Updates. You can also download the latest version at https://wordpress.org/plugins/buddypress.

by Paul Gibbs at September 15, 2014 03:51 PM under releases

Matt: White House Goes On Lockdown After Sneaky Toddler Breaches Fence

“We were going to wait until he learned to talk to question him,” Secret Service Agent Edwin Donovan said in a statement, “but in lieu of that he got a timeout and was sent on [his] way with [his] parents.”

Pretty funny article from White House Goes On Lockdown After Sneaky Toddler Breaches Fence.

by Matt Mullenweg at September 15, 2014 05:08 AM under Asides

September 14, 2014

Matt: Logical Conclusion of AI

There’s been some great threads going around inspired by the book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, including Elon Musk hoping we’re not just a biological bootloader. Via Automattician Matt Mazur I came across this fantastic review of the book on Amazon that gives a great counter-balance and lots of additional information you wouldn’t get from the book itself, and also summarizes it quite well.

by Matt Mullenweg at September 14, 2014 06:59 AM under Asides

September 13, 2014

Matt: Minimum Viable Civilization

We’ve talked about the Fermi Paradox here and here before, my long-time friend David Galbraith, ever the architect, tackles the Fermi Paradox from the point of view of the natural limits of communication in Minimum & Maximum Viable Civilizations.

by Matt Mullenweg at September 13, 2014 04:54 AM under Asides

WordPress.tv Blog: Designing with WordPress: Recent WordCamp Presentations for Designers

There is no doubt that design is a popular topic at any WordCamp. From WordCamp Vancouver and WordCamp Asheville come these great talks on how to level-up your WordPress design skills.

Designing for Content

This talk from David Hickox goes over the method he has created for designing websites from the content outward. His talk covers aspects of designing in code, type choices, line height and typographic scale, creating a proper base style sheet, usability best practices, semantic structure, and more.

Responsive web development made easy with CSS and the mobile plugin

In this lightning talk, Christine Rondeau offer some tips and tricks to get better looking sites on mobile devices, including how you can use the mobile plugin to get completely different layouts on mobile devices.

Designing for Sales and Conversions

Sarah Benoit shares insights into the latest trends in website usability, searchability and design elements that encourage conversions — purchases, form completions, event registrations, and more. Learn best practices for designing a site with WordPress that both looks great AND converts website visitors into the customers, clients, and potential leads every business needs.

Building Better Websites Through Collaboration, Communication, and Consistency

In this presentation from WordCamp Asheville, Julien Melissas talks about how perfecting your workflow can help you level up your professionalism, relationships with clients & colleagues, and happiness levels!


David Hickox: Designing for Content
Christine Rondeau: Responsive web development made easy with CSS and the mobile plugin
Sarah Benoit: Designing for Sales and Conversions
Julien Melissas: Building Better Websites Through Collaboration, Communication, and Consistency

by Jerry Bates at September 13, 2014 12:20 AM under Announcement

September 11, 2014

Matt: Long-term Asia-Pacific Security

As reported by the Boston Globe, four-star Admiral Samuel Locklear, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, provided an “unexpected answer” when recently asked “what is the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific region?”

I usually don’t do this, but check out the link to see what the United States Navy admiral who currently serves as the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command said. Hat tip: Jim Meyer.

by Matt Mullenweg at September 11, 2014 08:56 PM under Asides

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September 19, 2014 09:45 PM
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