Luca Sartoni writes How I fell into the rabbit hole: life and work at the distributed wonderland.
Luca Sartoni writes How I fell into the rabbit hole: life and work at the distributed wonderland.
Joe Boydston, the self-described “crazy running guy” who runs as far as 90+ miles from the airport to WordCamps or meetups when he lands, has written a bit about how to run better. At our company meetup he ran running workshops and coached a lot of people including myself, and applying his suggestions I’ve been able to do a lot better.
Fracking company teams up with Susan G. Komen, introduces pink drill bits for the cure, presented without comment. Hat tip: Kristin Grimm.
Version 1.0 of the Themosis development framework is now available. Belgium-based application developer Julien Lambé created Themosis in order to accelerate object-oriented development with WordPress. It offers a routing system for managing WordPress behavior on an application level and also includes a Laravel-esque templating engine for view files. Last week Lambé announced that the framework is now out of beta and ready for public use.
Themosis, which Lambé describes as “a mix between WordPress best practices and a typical MVC framework,” has evolved considerably since its beta period. Version 1.0 includes dozens of improvements based on developer feedback.
The website has been updated to provide complete documentation and code examples to help developers get started. Installation is quick and easy, as Themosis uses Composer for dependency package management, so you can install and update everything needed in a matter of seconds. The framework is designed with respect to WordPress best practices and should work seamlessly with its APIs and plugins.
Themosis comes with local and production environments pre-configured in order to facilitate collaboration. Once you register your database credentials and application URLS, you’ll be able to define the different environment configurations, making it easy to move between development and production.
The framework guide contains everything you need to know to get started structuring and building your application. The route API docs cover all the conditional tags available with code samples for basic routing methods. Lambé describes the route system as “an enhanced ‘if’ statement,” which is essentially based on WordPress conditional template tags and a closure callback.
The framework includes classes for handling AJAX requests, custom post types, metaboxes, custom fields, taxonomies, options, validation, and more. It also adds a unique set of Helpers which act as framework utility functions that run on the global scope.
Lambé has now separated the Themosis studio from the framework, which can be found at framework.themosis.com. He is launching a Themosis web agency, specializing in WordPress design and development, in order to fund future development of the framework to ensure its future.
The Themosis framework is an interesting option that could be very helpful for new WordPress developers, especially those who are used to using Laravel or those who simply want to structure and organize their code like a typical MVC framework. It provides another avenue for getting started using a structure that may be more approachable for PHP developers who are new to working with WordPress.
Themosis is an open source tool that Lambé decided to share with the community, and it will remain free to use. If you want to contribute to the project or report any issues, the framework can also be found on GitHub.
Some of the sessions recorded at WordCamp Europe are now available to watch on WordPress.TV. The rest of the sessions will be added in the coming weeks. Included in the first batch of videos is the question and answer session between Matt Mullenweg and Om Malik.
The session is an hour long and includes Mullenweg’s thoughts on the current status of WordPress, the media library, and what the platform may evolve into. One of the questions asked during the session is the role of women in the WordPress ecosystem.
At the 47 minute mark, you can hear the infamous “we love women” comment from a member of the audience. Mullenweg responds with “come onnnnn” with applause from the audience. Helen Hou-Sandí, who lead the release of WordPress 4.0, explains why saying “we love women” can cause unintentional destruction.
Near the 53:40 minute mark, Mullenweg is asked, “How much should WordPress businesses be contributing to WordPress and involved with the project?” This is the question that prompted the 5% figure and his post, Five for the Future.
This is a great session filled with information related to WordPress, Automattic, open source in general, and the future of the platform. If you attended the session live or watched the video, let us know your thoughts in the comments.
“The biggest misconception engineers have when thinking about moving into management is they think it’s a promotion.” — Lindsay Holmwood writes It’s not a promotion – it’s a career change. Hat tip: Gary Pendergast.
Emoji One is a new open source emoji set that is the first of its kind, designed specifically for the web. The set boasts more than 840 emoji. It was created to solve the perennial problem of translating emoji code from mobile devices while legally displaying the corresponding emoji icon on the web. The idea is to avoid displaying those ugly blank squares that you see so often, as illustrated on the Emoji One website:
Emoji One was also created to provide consistency across various mobile and web platforms. As things currently stand, you tend to get a slight variation in display depending on the mobile platform used to input the emoji.
Emoji One is tackling both of these problems head on with its new open source emoji set. It’s released under the MIT license, which is GPL-compatible. Check out a live demo of Emoji One to see the set in action.
WP Emoji One is the first plugin to bring Emoji One support to WordPress posts and pages. It is based on work from the TypePad Emoji For TinyMCE plugin. The emoji chooser can be launched via a button added to the visual editor.
Clicking on the button opens a modal window with the Emoji One library, along with the option to choose the pixel size of the emoji inserted into the content.
You don’t have to install anything on your mobile device to use Emoji One; just continue to use emoji as you have been. The WordPress plugin simply provides a more consistent experience for displaying emoji on the web.
I checked with the WP Emoji One plugin author to inquire about using the emoji in comments. He plans to add them to comments in the next release. BuddyPress and bbPress integration would also be very handy, as social sites are likely to derive greater benefits from offering emoji support.
Emoji One only recently launched on September 11, 2014. The team is currently working on creating the 250 new emojis that Unicode approved in June 2014, and will make those available soon.
You may have already seen Emjoi One icons in the wild here and there. The WordPress-powered Emoji One blog recently highlighted Slack’s integration of Emoji One as one of its default emoji options. As more companies and services begin to recognize the need for a universal emoji set, you can expect to see Emoji One popping up around the web in more places.
Better emoji support may someday find its way into WordPress core with enough popular support. In the meantime, you can use WP Emoji One to extend WordPress’ capabilities to provide a more consistent and colorful emoji display on your site.
The Observer writes Happy 20th anniversary to Dave Winer – inventor of the blog. I’ve gotten a huge amount of inspiration, help, and feedback from Dave over the years, and I’m really happy he’s still at it.
Postmatic is a new WordPress plugin that I think is quite promising. It’s aim is to eventually change the way you utilize WordPress email in many ways, but its comment functionality is what intrigued me immediately.
Postmatic currently allows users to subscribe to comments and posts by email; but what sets it apart is that it enables reply by email functionality as well. That’s something that has been high on my list of wants for a WordPress plugin for a long time, and I wanted it without switching to a third party system like Disqus.
All in all — aside from enabling replies by email — the current feature set is quite similar to Jetpack’s Subscriptions module. Postmatic has widgets for post subscriptions and will send subscribers new posts and allow them to get emailed comment notifications as well.
I asked Jason Lemieux, a co-founder of Postmatic, if they were considering a way to import from Jetpack or otherwise integrate with it, and they are. They’re working now to make it so that your old posts using Jetpack’s subscription module for comment notifications will still work, and your new posts will use Postmatic.
I had a pretty thorough conversation with Jason and got to see Postmatic in action. For a free plugin especially, the functionality is quite impressive. I tested subscribing to comments, replying by email, and opting into subscriptions, and it is all very smooth. Here’s a sample reply notification to my email.
Postmatic is already in beta with their API as well. With a little legwork, you can utilize Postmatic for a variety of custom use cases. I know I’d love to play with it to see if I could create email campaigns for custom post types or multiple lists. They also intend to monetize the plugin via a few avenues — including ensuring mail delivery and functionality add-ons.
Postmatic — available for download on WordPress.org — is and will remain completely free. At some point they’ll exit beta and they will offer paid delivery of outgoing mail for larger sites. They understand the limitations of sending email through your own server and are using Mailgun to ensure delivery. They also have an extensive — and for now private — list of features they aim to introduce to Postmatic.
The product is definitely version 1.0. Advanced list management, and more advanced campaign delivery is still not ready. But I was impressed by how good of a 1.0 Postmatic is, and how much effort Jason and his business parter, Dylan Kuhn, have clearly invested heavily into the product. For instance, subscriber importing is already possible, so you could move to Postmatic for post delivery right away. They have videos show how to do that and more already available.
They tell me as well that Postmatic is in very early stages. Right now they are working on more advanced template building and other features to help tame your WordPress emails. I think they definitely have other services like Jetpack’s Subscriptions and MailPoet in their sights.
I think WordPress email is ripe for disruption. Imagine, currently, all the ways users can get emails from a website, with little continuity: WordPress itself, Mailchimp or other newsletter provider, Jetpack / WordPress.com, eCommerce solutions, form solutions. Each of these sends email and each has their own quirks, look and feel, and otherwise.
I’d love to see a service like Postmatic help tame WordPress email as a whole, and offer a more seamless experience for my website visitors that receive email from me.
In the short term, I doubt any service will be able to do this perfectly. But I think as WordPress sites send more and more mail, continuity in this arena will be very important. I know, for me, as I prepare to enable club memberships on Post Status, it’s top of my mind to provide a quality email experience to my members.
Back in September, Stream 2.0 was released with some significant changes. The most notable change is the transition from a plugin into a service.
In this episode of WordPress Weekly, Marcus Couch and I are joined by the project lead For XWP, Frankie Jarrett. Jarrett goes in-depth on the decision to turn Stream into a service. He also explains why it needs to be connected to a WordPress.com ID, what the team is doing regarding the enterprise, and why record data is stored in the cloud. Near the end of the interview, we discuss the lessons learned from how the plugin was shipped and communicated to customers.
WebDesign.com Is Now iThemes Training
Troubleshooting Handbook For New WordPress Support Forum Volunteers Is Live
How to Obtain The Total Download Count For Plugins Attached to a WordPress.org Username
Rate and Review a WordPress Plugin Day Set For October 17th
Twenty Fifteen Officially Added to The Development Version of WordPress
LoopConf: A Conference Catered to WordPress Developers
WC Vendors is a WooCommerce extension that lets you create your own Etsy or Amazon style marketplace, allowing multiple vendors to sell their goods. This allows other users to sell tangible products, virtual products or downloads on your site. Vendors receive the commissions you set on products they sell from your store.
WordPress Comments Fields is a plugin that allows admins to add custom fields to the comment area. These fields are saved as comment meta and are displayed under the comment. The plugin support four different field types: Drag and drop, text, radio, radio and select inputs.
Comic Sans Roulette randomly changes all fonts on your site to Comic Sans. You have a 10% chance that all of the fonts will be Comic Sans!
Next Episode: Wednesday, October 22nd 9:30 P.M. Eastern
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Scheduled to take place May 7-8th, 2015 at Westin Lake in Las Vegas, NV, LoopConf is a conference dedicated to WordPress developers. The two-day event has six speakers confirmed with more on the way. They include:
LoopConf is a single track conference where a bulk of the content will consist of 30 minute sessions and 60 minute developer work shops. It gives developers an opportunity to dive deep into advanced engineering and development topics in a relaxed atmosphere surrounded by like-minded individuals.
If you’re interested in speaking at the event, LoopConf is calling for speakers. The deadline to submit a speaker application is November 4th, 2014. If you’re interested in financially supporting the event, there’s a sponsor application available.
Like PrestigeConf, LoopConf is not a WordCamp or associated with the WordPress foundation. Even though it’s an independent event, there is at least one trait similar to WordCamps. One of the rules to be a speaker is to embrace the open source spirit.
We want all of our speakers to show up with an attitude to give freely. This isn’t an opportunity to pitch your company, it’s the chance to share knowledge that you’ve picked up as you’ve perfected your craft.
Event organizer, Ryan Sullivan, says the plan is to “sell 600-700 tickets in two rounds”. He also told the Tavern, “we’ll have an exclusive deal with the hotel for attendees to take advantage of. For those who can’t make it or would like to attend virtually, the event will be streamed live for free.”
Tickets have yet to go on sale as the organizing team works to complete the details. However, those who sign up to the LoopConf email list will be the first to know when tickets go on sale.
The default theme slated to ship with WordPress 4.1 dubbed “Twenty Fifteen” has officially been added to the development version of WordPress. In sharp contrast to Twenty Fourteen, Twenty Fifteen is a simple, two column, blog focused theme. The typography features Google’s Noto Serif and Sans, a font family designed to be visually harmonious across many of the worlds languages.
Here’s what the Tavern looks like with Twenty Fifteen activated. In the screenshot, you’ll notice a scrollbar between the sidebar and content. Being able to scroll the sidebar separate from the content reminds me of the Visual Editor in WordPress 3.9. I’d like to see both columns be a cohesive unit for a better experience and to eliminate the ugly scrollbar. This issue has already been reported.Twenty Fifteen Tavern Home Page
In Twenty Fifteen, the comment reply link is aligned to the left. While not a deal breaker, I prefer the comment link to be aligned to the right.Comment Reply Link on The Left
On the Tavern, we routinely use the featured image as the first image in a post. This works well since the Tavern theme is configured to show only the excerpts and featured image on the homepage. The Twenty Fifteen homepage displays full posts which shows the same image twice, creating a post title sandwich. Keep this in mind if you use featured images and are thinking of switching to Twenty Fifteen in the future.A Post Title Sandwich
Each post on the homepage is separated by blank space. Featured images that are not at least 826 pixels wide are padded by an equal amount of blank space on each side. Similar to Twenty Fourteen, images that span the entire width change the visual look and feel of the theme. Posts on the homepage look great when the image is more than 826 pixels wide, while smaller images don’t have the same visual pop.
Since featured images touch the top of the content box, smaller images give me the impression that something is broken. For example, maybe there’s an alignment issue where the top of the image is being cut off. It’s not, but that’s what I’m thinking when I see it. This is all a moot point though if you use a full width featured image.Featured Image is Too Small
There is a long way to go before Twenty Fifteen is ready for prime time. Initial feedback I’ve seen so far labels Twenty Fifteen as a breath of fresh air. Twenty Fifteen goes back to the blogging roots of WordPress, but it does so in a modern, elegant way. Once the bugs have been squashed and the theme polished, I think a lot of people will either switch to or use Twenty Fifteen when WordPress 4.1 is released. If you’d like to see Twenty Fifteen in the wild, check out Brandon Kraft’s personal site.
The Twenty Fifteen development team is holding meetings on IRC, every Tuesday at 15:30 UTC, in the #wordpress-dev channel. The meetings are opportunities to discuss all things Twenty Fifteen and to collaborate on tickets.
Here are some recent videos from WordCamp Europe 2014 covering the past, present, and future of WordPress development.
Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress, in conversation with tech writer Om Malik on the WordPress past and present, as well as where we are going for the future.
Andrew Nacin, lead developer for the WordPress open source project, discusses the philosophy of WordPress development, and the course it should and will take to keep growing.
Listen now . When people talk listen completely. Don’t be thinking what you’re going to say. Most people never listen. Nor do they observe. You should be able to go into a room and when you come out know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling. Try that for practice.
— Ernest Hemingway
Early May 2015 will be the first ever LoopConf, a WordPress conference that’s geared solely toward developers. Ryan Sullivan, the owner of WP Site Care, is hosting the conference that is to be held in Las Vegas.
LoopConf describes itself like this:
LoopConf is the greatest conference ever created for WordPress developers. LoopConf came about as we heard technically-minded folks talk about wanting to get together and dive deep into advanced engineering and development topics. We’ve assembled an amazing group of speakers to get this inaugural event started off on the right foot, and we’re excited to share our excitement and passion for WordPress with all of you in an exciting two-day event. We hope that you join us to celebrate the software we love, enjoy each other’s company, and learn from one another.
There are already six speakers confirmed:
The initial speaker line-up is pretty fantastic. I’d love to learn more from each one of them.
LoopConf is not a WordCamp or associated with the WordPress foundation. It’s an independent WordPress conference, and Ryan says it’s the first in-person developer only WordPress conference he knows of. Most WordCamps are very catered to a diverse audience.
This could be a good way for people to have more developer centric conversations. I’m certainly interested to see how it goes, and would like to make it myself. They are seeking sponsors and speaker submissions now. I don’t know how much the tickets will be exactly, but Ryan tells me he hopes for LoopConf to have a prestige and quality similar to An Event Apart events, but for WordPress — so I imagine the tickets won’t be cheap.
As the WordPress conference ecosystem continues to blossom, I’m sure this isn’t the only one we’ll see like this. Non-WordCamp, niche events like PressNomics helped lead the way for those that are happening now, and I think generally it’s been good to have a diverse array of options for people to attend and learn from one another.
Mark your calendars and schedule some free time on Friday, October 17th for the first “Rate and Review a WordPress Plugin Day“. On October 17th, visit the page of your favorite plugin in the WordPress.org plugin directory, give it a star rating, and write a review.
If you’re anything like me, you get caught up in the day-to-day activities without getting around to rating and reviewing the plugins you depend on. Some of the plugins I rely on have served me well for years, but I’ve yet to rate or review them. The only time I stop by a plugin’s page after installing it is to visit the support forum. Since disgruntled users are more vocal than those with positive experiences, this day is an excuse to share those positive experiences with the community and the plugin author.
Since you can’t rate and review plugins from the backend of WordPress, here is a quick tip. Login to your WordPress.org account and navigate to the installed plugins page in the backend of WordPress. Each plugin should have a view details link that will load the plugin details modal. On the details screen, open the link to the WordPress.org Plugin Page in a new browser tab. These steps save you the trouble of manually browsing to each plugin’s page on WordPress.org.Open The WordPress.org Plugin Page In A New Browser Tab
Start with your favorite plugin. Review it based on your experience and try to write more than one-five words. As an additional courtesy, browse to the bottom of the plugin’s description page and click on the broken or works box. This helps determine which versions of the plugin are compatible with WordPress. Your ratings, reviews, and compatibility checks are indirect contributions to WordPress. It’s actionable data that millions of people will use to determine whether or not to use a plugin.
One thing to keep in mind is that ratings and reviews are not set in stone. If you’d like to change the content or star ratings, find your review and scroll to the bottom of the page. From there, you’ll be able to change the text and rating.
Inspired by Brent’s consideration of an off-the-shelf blog engine, Santiago Valdarrama has written a post outlining the problems he has with off-the-shelf blog engines. What was so interesting to me about this was that a self-hosted WordPress site addresses nearly every one of his concerns.
1) You don’t have to deal with updates to the platform. Updates and new features are nice, unless they break all the custom code you’ve developed over time.
WordPress has well abstracted APIs that make it easy for your custom code to live alongside the WP core code. I can’t remember the last time I needed to make a change to code I’d written for this site because of a WP core update.
2) You can’t control when bugs are fixed or new features released. If there’s something missing, the only thing you can do is file a request and wait.
Fiddlesticks. You can submit a patch, you can hack your local copy, and you can write plugins to add any features you feel are missing.
3) There’s always a learning curve. Every platform is different, specially when you want to fine tune your layout and deviate from the provided templates.
This one strikes me as a bit silly. There is a learning curve when building your own system too – especially if you haven’t written your layout/templating system yet.
4) Sometimes there’re things you can’t do. Period. (I wanted to use a specific format to display the date of my posts but Blogger doesn’t support it. I had to settle with something else.)
Using a hosted service and using an off-the-shelf blog engine are not the same thing. Self-hosting WordPress removes all of the hosted service restrictions.
5) You have to deal with features you don’t need. Comments? Related posts? Search? Templating engine? Image carousel? I don’t need these, but I’d have to pay the price anyway.
Just as you can customize WordPress to add features, you can also customize it to hide features. Don’t use comments? An included setting and couple of lines of CSS will make it so you never know they were there. And WordPress doesn’t include bloated features out of the box; it wisely leaves that to plugins so that you add what you want instead of removing things you don’t.
6) You can always export your content (sometimes you can’t), but even when the option is right there, the exported format is so messed up that you can’t use it again without a huge clean up. (One time I got my posts exported in a text file with no formatting.)
Again – this is only a problem with hosted solutions. With a self-hosted WordPress site you have full access to your MySQL database, as well as the built-in export features of WordPress.
7) What’s true today might change tomorrow. What you like about the platform might go away some day. They won’t ask for your opinion.
WordPress is Open Source. Anyone can create a fork based on their own needs and preferences.
8) It will never be as fast as you want it to be. If it’s hosted, your traffic will be shared. If you host it yourself, you might never be able to fine tune it to perfection.
WordPress powers around 20% of the internet – you don’t grow that big if you can’t handle scale. Dedicated WordPress hosts will solve these problems for you, and installing a few simple plugins (caching, CSS and JS concatenation and optimization, etc.) will do a ton to optimize a site on an server that isn’t tuned for WordPress.
9) I will never be sure what my content is being used for. I know it’s public anyway, but it’s also in somebody else’s database I don’t control.
Another assumption of a hosted platform. NA for a self-hosted WordPress site.
10) You’ll never get to experience the satisfaction of engaging in a conversation about how you developed your own platform from scratch.
As someone who has hacked on WordPress and related code for the last 12 years, I find this statement absurd. There are plenty of “from scratch” opportunities within the WordPress community, even now. And if what you want is engagement then joining a bountiful and vibrant community of developers is a much bigger opportunity than the potential for a conversation with another NIH hacker.
I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with building your own X. Every time you do that it’s a great learning experience. I’m saying I don’t think it is necessary to get pride of ownership.
There might be something out there that offsets all my concerns, I’m not sure (but I don’t believe so.) My blog is my hobby, and I think I’d never give control again. Every single bit you see here was a labor of love, and I’m not ready to stop thinking about it that way.
I think a self-hosted WordPress site is really close. And I feel exactly the same about my site – it’s mine and I am in control of it. Even though I’ve released much of the code for this site as Open Source, no one else has a site that’s exactly like mine. I’ve made the decisions about how to present my content, how to distribute it to Twitter and Facebook, how to integrate with the responses on those platforms, and how I represent myself online. And I do so while building on a robust base platform that allows me to concentrate on building just the features that are unique to my site.
Over the weekend, the Easy Digital Downloads team launched a new side project called WP Tally. WP Tally is a tool that displays the total download count for plugins attached to a WordPress.org username. The project is the result of a conversation about the lack of an easy way to determine the total amount of plugin downloads a WordPress.org user has.WP Tally Home Page
Daniel Griffiths, who worked on the backend of the project, tells the Tavern, “it only took 10 minutes to come up with a name.” Sean Davis, a full-time support manager and theme developer for EDD, is credited with the name. The founder of Easy Digital Downloads, Pippin Williamson, asked Griffiths if he was interested in creating a new plugin, “I’m always looking for a new pet project, so I happily agreed.” The first version of WP Tally took about an hour and a half of development time. Due to other things going on throughout the day, the estimated time to complete the project is half a day.
While the site didn’t have an API initially, one was added after being suggested by Williamson. Griffiths says the API is public and passes the same data that is displayed on WP Tally. While the extent of what the API can do is small, the team is open to suggestions. “We’ve already had someone express interest in writing a widget to allow users to display their personal data on their own website.”
Since Scott Reilly known as Coffee2Code on WordPress.org, has 70 plugins attached to his account, I used his name as an example. According to WP Tally, he has 911, 256 total downloads. Meanwhile, Joost de Valk has a total of 22.3 million downloads from 29 different plugins. Results are displayed in a vertical list without a way to sort them.Coffee2Code Total Download Count
It would be nice to be able to sort through the list by the most downloads, most popular based on ratings, and alphabetical order. I’d also like to see the total number of plugins displayed in the same area as the total download count. As an added bonus, it would be neat if the information could be embedded into a text widget as a badge.
What do you think of the site and is there anything else you’d like to see it tally?
Providing WordPress support is an important but often, thankless job. From support forums to IRC, there’s no shortage of people who need help with WordPress. However, participating in the various support channels is one of the easiest ways to contribute back to WordPress. In particular, if you’re interested in becoming a volunteer on the support forums, there’s a new guide available that walks you through the process.
It’s called the Troubleshooting Handbook. It explains how the forum works and teaches volunteers how to troubleshoot common WordPress issues they’re likely to see in the forum. In the second section of the handbook, there are several items known as Break/Fix lessons. Break/Fix is meant to be a hands-on guide to troubleshooting broken WordPress sites. Each lesson represents a common problem you may come across when helping others in the WordPress.org support forums.Troubleshooting Handbook Home Page
For the past several months, volunteers have been working hard to get the handbook in tip-top shape. On October 2nd, the project reached a point where it was ready for public viewing. Since it’s still a work in progress, I asked James Huff, a member of the support team, how others can contribute. “At the moment, contributing to the handbook is limited. If you see anything that needs to be changed, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page with the problem.”
The Support Handbook is a secondary project used primarily by forum moderators. Since moderators make up a small portion of the people who provide support, the initial plan is to merge the Troubleshooting handbook into the Support Handbook. Then, replace or combine the sections that overlap and relegate the moderator-only resources to a small Moderators Only section. Much of the work is planned to happen at the WordPress Contributor Team Meetup during WordCamp San Francisco 2014.
The Troubleshooting Handbook is a welcome addition to both moderators and volunteers. While attending a WordCamp contributor day last year, I along with a few others sat in a group and plowed through several threads on the support forum. Mika Epstein, who contributes a lot of her time to the WordPress support forums, guided us along the way. If it were not for her guidance, we may have ended up causing more problems than solving them.photo credit: pinkpurse – cc
Providing support on WordPress.org is an intimidating experience. It seems like new threads are created every second. I made a few mistakes by not having a set of canned responses or knowing how to handle certain question in the forums. By having this information in an easy to read format, new volunteers should have an easier time providing support without feeling like they’re doing something wrong.
If you want to contribute back to WordPress by providing support, I encourage you to read through the Troubleshooting Handbook. Not only is it information you can use, it’s also a helpful guide for employees who provide customer support through forums.
With the relaunch, NewYorker.com runs on WordPress, a more robust, user-friendly CMS. “We’re looking at almost total upside there,” Thompson tells me. Because the tools are no longer getting in the way of producers doing their job, NewYorker.com is now able to publish a greater volume of stories every day. The site used to top out at 10 or 12 stories each day: now, it publishes around 20 per day. “It’s a lot easier to be productive now, and we can now make the site fresh a lot more quickly than we used to,” says Thompson.
How The New Yorker Finally Figured Out The Internet in Fast Company. Still my favorite magazine in the world. Also the reason I started spending more time in New York. Hat tip: Kelly Hoffman.
I listen to music pretty much constantly, and it’s not unusual to see me on the road with just a carry-on and still have 3 or 4 headphones on me that I’m testing.
First off, Bluetooth changes everything. It’s so nice to not ever worry about cables, or even proximity for the most part, like having your phone charging by the laptop and still able to walk around the room. Audio quality is great now, only downside is having to charge something, but they’re all pretty good about battery now.
I’ve been enjoying a category I’ll call: Bluetooth, over ear headphones that let people know not to bother you, that you feel kind of cool wearing, that are great for planes, and cost around $300-400. The pioneer in this category is Beats, and I bought a pair of their Studio Wireless (in matte titanium, natch) after Apple bought them because I wanted to see what the fuss is about. More recently I got some horribly named but well-reviewed Samsung Level Overs, so this is a comparison of those two. (Another contender in this category would be the Parrot Zik ones, but just skip those. Great idea, annoying in practice.)
Let me start with how the Beats are better: they fold up, look cool, sound pretty decent on calls, and everything works nicely with the iPhone. For me they have two fatal flaws: comfort and noise. The earcups are kind of small, or my ears are kind of huge; whichever it is, sometimes after wearing them for a few hours my left ear starts to become quite sore. Second is they have active noise cancellation (ANC) that causes what can only be described as a constant hiss you can hear both while music is playing and while it’s off, it’s like like noise addition rather than noise cancellation. The fit and finish of the Beats are nice, as well as the accessories like cables, how it indicates how much power is left, et cetera.
The LEVEL overs (wow that’s awkward to write) are big, and they don’t fold, but they float around in my backpack pretty much the same as the Beats, especially if you don’t use the included case. The battery seems to go forever. The ANC can be turned on and off (battery goes longer with it off), and when it’s on it’s good, like miss-the-announcement-for-your-flight good. For me this is the deal-maker — I didn’t realize what I was missing with mediocre ANC before on the Beats, I’m now able to concentrate and relax much better on planes. I’ve flown every third day in the past month, so this is a big deal to me. They also feel like they’re better made — less plastic feeling than the Beats. The have a touch gesture control on the right cup like on the Zik, but it actually works well. The cups fit completely over my ears and in general it feels more comfortable on my head, I can wear it for hours at a time and it’s totally comfortable. I don’t think they look as cool, but that’s probably because I haven’t been conditioned with pictures of my favorite musicians and athletes wearing them. (Though not in football anymore.)
Main downsides: the cable it comes with doesn’t “work” with an iPhone or Mac as a mic or control device, and is also clunky. (Bluetooth control works fine.) This is apparently because the remote control resistor on Apple-targeted cables work differently from everyone else’s, which I think we can all agree in 2014 is ridiculous for both sides. My fix for this was to use the cable from the Beats, which you can also buy online, which looks cooler, is smaller, and works great with my Mac for G+ Hangouts and Skype calls. Perhaps related to this is when the Beats or many other Bluetooth headsets I’ve used are connected to the iPhone there’s a battery indicator and the Samsung doesn’t support this, but since the battery life is so good I don’t worry about this too much.
Too long; skipped to the end: The Samsung sounds better, is more comfortable, and is better made. Try it out if you’re considering buying headphones in this category. I don’t expect this to be a long-term advantage because I’m fairly certain Apple will do amazing things with Beats in the future, even if that just means a lightning connector, but I’m guessing that’s a 2015 thing.
Extra credit: What headphones do I use in other categories? (An update to my 2009 post.) For in-ear wired I use Ultimate Ears 18 Pro Custom molded to my ears, but I also recommend Sennheiser IE 8i for friends who don’t want to go to audiologist, for running/exercise or when being discreet like on a subway I use the Plantronics BackBeat GO 2 with charging case, at home I like the Auduze LCD3 usually with a Red Wine Audio amp. I agree with many of the assessments in Marco Arment’s mega-review, and I got turned on to the Samsung’s by Wirecutter’s noise cancelling review.
I got a chance to try the Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 (DK2) the other day, specifically Sightline: The Chair. I’m not sure what to say except it was magical. I don’t think it replaces screens, but Oculus-style VR is definitely the future of entertainment. Thanks to (the newly retired) John Vechey for sharing it with me.
1-click installs are totally the way to go, right? I mean, 1-click sounds faster and easier than the famous 5-minute install that you get if you do it manually over FTP (according to the Codex). I immediately go into the Dreamhost control panel and went for a 1-click.
Okay, so 1-click, but 10 minutes. That doesn’t seem right, that it should take twice as long for the automated 1-click install as for a manual one. Well, too late now, right? Guess I’ll go feed the cats while I wait.
I have to kill a little more time than just feeding the cats, but eventually I get an email from Dreamhost telling me my WordPress install is ready for me, and linking me to install.php to set up an admin user and get going. I click the link and get a white screen. Hm. Try again. Hm. Open up FTP to see if the files are there, and they are. Start wondering if maybe 1-clicks can’t handle being in a subdirectory (where I’d put it), so think I’ll try another one in the root. Same thing, the 10-minute notice. Set up web email for the domain and send a test email so I can see if it’s just the website, or if it’s everything on the domain. Webmail is also whitescreened. Hm. Status on Dreamhost says my server is going to be getting some software updates and will be offline during this maintenance, but it doesn’t look like I’m in that time window. I get a 2nd automated email saying the 2nd 1-click has failed. I head into the support section.
The Live Chat support option shows as available, but when I click it it says that due to heavy activity there will be a 5-hour wait. Come on, just take down the Live Chat option when it’s 4am and you don’t have people on staff. I send an email, then another (first one re white screen, 2nd re install failure). In the meantime I start scrubbing through the Dreamhost support wiki.
I find the answer to the 2nd install failure before support gets back to me. Apparently, 1-clicks don’t work if there is anything in there already. So since I already have a subfolder in the root domain (from the 1st 1-click), trying to do a 1-click into the root won’t work. I have to empty it out first. That doesn’t make sense to me, but whatever. I wind up deleting everything via FTP and doing a manual install instead. Two, actually.
Well, then, back to the WordPress.org!
The “handy guide” is the Codex’s installation instructions page. Let’s take a look.
1. Minimum server requirements. As it happens, I had checked the php version stuff when I re-upped the hosting account for this domain, and had upped the version of PHP. Someone setting things up without my account gymnastics wouldn’t have encountered that, though, so I set out to find my hosting versions as specified in the ask-for-it text on the requirements page on wordpress.org:
I log into the Dreamhost control panel. I look for a navigation label that says something like hosting environment, version information, about, etc. Don’t see anything. Click into Manage Account, nothing. Click into Manage Domains. Oh ho!
Clearly I’d only upped the version on the one domain, not both on that account, but even so, I can see that the php versions are both above the minimum requirement to run WordPress.
Next up, MySQL version. Clicking the MySQL Databases navigation item seems the most likely, so I do. Nope. No information shown here about MySQL versions. You’d really think you would see that on the page labeled MySQL Databases, wouldn’t you? There is a link on that screen to phpMyAdmin, so maybe I can find it there. Wait — Authentication Required!
Bah, which username and password combination does it want? The hosting account (server?) or a database user? A note here saying which password is needed would be helpful. I can’t get in with the ones I know off the top of my head so I close out of that and go back to the main Dreamhost control panel (the phpMyAdmin attempt had bumped me into a new tab). In the search box at the top, I type “MySQL version” and hit enter. The page refreshes, but I’m still on the MySQL Databases page where there is no version info displayed. I think maybe there’s some documentation with version info, so I look for support.
Now, having been around a long time, I know that Wiki, a small link in the upper right corner, means documentation. But a lot of people don’t (I doubt my mom — the most recent person to ask me to set up a site — would), so for the sake of the experiment I go looking for a Help or Docs or Support link. I find it (Support) in the bottom left navigation after scrolling down (below the fold), because for some reason the “Goodies” navigation section is open. Why? Because apparently that’s where the MySQL Databases page actually lives, despite being in the navigation up above as a top-level item. Come on, Dreamhost, who’s your information architect, and what are they doing?
Anyway, I click on Support. It drops a layer with 3 options. Contact, History, and Data Centers. Why not have a link here for Wiki (or better, Documentation, which is less jargony)? Hmph. If you do click on Contact Support, it takes you into a form. There’s a live chat button, but no links here to documentation either. Hm, what’s this “Help is Off” button?
I decide to click it. Then I see this:
Oh, how handy, a link to documentation and forums. Why it’s even optional to hide that text is ridiculous. Anyway, to the wiki!
On the Wiki Home there is a nice little menu, and MySQL is listed there, so I click it. I come to another list of topics. None of them say Version, so I start clicking them in the order that makes the most sense. MySQL and PHP does not have version info. Neither does phpMyAdmin, but it does tell me that the authentication password request was for the database user password. Upgrading from MySQL 4.1 to 5.0 tells me that, “DreamHost is currently slowly upgrading your MySQL servers from version 4.1 to 5.0. You can also email support and request they upgrade your databases. There are some incompatibilities between versions 4.1 and 5.0, particularly with JOINs. This upgrade could cause some breakage of your application(s).” It does not say how to tell which version you are currently on. At this point, some people might email support, but I think a lot would just shrug and decide to take a chance and hope they were already on 5.0. So I do that. Because let’s face it, any host that is listed on wordpress.org/hosting had better be running the minimum requirements, right?
Mod_rewrite! Since I’m already in the wiki, I do a search for “mod_rewrite Apache module,” the last item in the ‘email your host” list. The 4 search results are not helpful in any way. I remove “Apache module” from the search term and try again. Lots of results, none of them helpful. I decide again to shrug and assume, because this documentation is for the birds when it comes to confirming minimum requirements, and who has time to wait for support emails? Not me!
Around now I get an email from support about my earlier white screen issue. They say that it’s because the DNS hasn’t finished replicating. I might add that there’s a “works for me” comment in there that makes me purse my lips. But I stop to think about DNS. Yes, in the past I’ve had to set up a temp site on a dreamhosters subdomain if I wanted to work on a site before DNS caught up. Pain in the ass, yeah? Having to then do a move once the real domain is showing up? I hadn’t thought about that this time because the GoDaddy registration of the domain had been pointing at Dreamhost servers all along. I guess the hosting being down and then up created a DNS interruption. It was not explained to me satisfactorily, but I move on. Specifically, to step 2 of preparing for the install.
Step 2. Download the latest release of WP. Easy. Go to wordpress.org, click the big Download button. Oh, okay. That wasn’t really a download button, that was a navigation link to a download page. Okay. I skim the content in the middle and go to click on the… oh, that button at the bottom of the content area is to find a mobile app, and goes to a site at get.wp.com. That’s not right. Oh, there’s the real download button up in the sidebar. It seems like those should have been switched, but whatever. Click! Download! 6.3MB, it takes 7 seconds.
Step 3. Unzip the file. Also easy. Do Show in Finder from the download bar on the bottom of my browser, double click the file, see the wordpress folder appear. 3 seconds.
Step 4. Secure password for secret key. Click on the link to read about it. Get distracted by the big-ass blue-i information icon alert at the top that says, “Interested in functions, hooks, classes, or methods? Check out the new WordPress Code Reference!” Why is that following me around on every page of the Codex? For someone installing WordPress for the first time, that is not helpful. At all. Further, there’s no x to dismiss the box, so if I’m not interested, I still have to scroll past it every time, and it pushes the content farther down on the page, not to mention making me feel like I’m probably not in the right place because they obviously think I am way technical. (Tangent: People keep saying that the fold is dead, but I think they are wrong.) Anyway, I’m already confused. I clicked on a link that said Secure password for secret key, but I don’t see that language on this page. It doesn’t anchor link me to the specific section I needed, so I guess I have to read this whole page? With multiple mentions of passwords but no headlines that say secret key? I command+f to do a search for text on the page, which shows that “secret key” is mentioned in the section titled Security Keys. Hmph. Would a little consistency here be so much to ask?
Read the section. Questions that should be answered in this section before jumping into the history of adding stuff.
Then it shows what secret keys look like from the online generator. Cool, I like online generators. But the wording all over is inconsistent and confusing — is it one secret key, or four, or eight? And where do I set a secure password for the key (or keys)? I don’t understand this! So! Many! Words! Used! Indiscriminately!
I cheat and use the fact that I know what all that confusing language means, and what it wants, which is simply the block of generated keys and salts, not a password for them.
Step 5. Print this page. So I have it handy during installation? I’m thinking this list was written in the days before browser tabs, because why would I print it when I can just keep a tab open? Silly directions. But! On to the actual install!
That sure was a lot to do before doing the install, but I’m ready now!
Download and unzip — check. This step, which was 2 of the steps in the Before You Install list, took under a minute total, about 20% of a 5-minute install.
Create a database and a MySQL user — check. This takes a couple of minutes. I have to log in to the hosting panel, locate MySQL Databases in the menu, and scan the resulting page to orient myself. The first thing on the page is creating a new hostname, and the WP instructions didn’t say anything about creating a new hostname. Below that is create a database, which has fields to create the first user at the same time. There’s no instruction on the difference between a database user, an ftp user, and an account user. I go ahead and made new host, db, and user (and while I’m in there I delete the databases left from the aborted 1-clicks), but I think it would intimidate someone who hadn’t done it before and didn’t really know what a database was in relation to a hosting account or a website. This takes me a minute or two, but would probably take someone who’d never done something like this a little longer, maybe up to 5 while they tried to grok the setup page on the host panel.
Edit wp-config.php — check. This step is labeled optional, but I’m not sure why. If you click the Editing wp-config.php link, it says WP will create the config file for you from info you enter, and that turning wp-config-sample.php into a real wp-config.php file is for advanced users. If it works fine to have it be auto-generated, then why have this step in there at all? If it’s really better to do it manually, then why have the auto-create version? In any case, I’m used to editing the config file at this step, so I do it. Takes a couple of minutes because I had to go back and forth between tabs and copy/paste stuff. I happen to have Coda installed so the file opened in that program, but normally I’d have used textedit.
At this point I’ve passed 5 minutes.
Upload files via FTP — check. I open Transmit and start the transfer. It takes twelve minutes. Why? My first guess is that it is shipping with 3 default themes now, all with retina-ready images. But I don’t know, I could be wrong. I know I don’t need all those themes, so I delete Twenty Fourteen and Twenty Thirteen while I’m in FTP, and plan to start out with Twenty Twelve.
Tangent: Why do I want to start with Twenty Twelve? I think Twenty Thirteen is really aimed at bloggers and it has an overwhelming brand/design to it. The site I’m making is for a class, and needs to be chill. Twenty Fourteen I just personally don’t like, for the same reasons I don’t like the general mp6 coloring/style, which I’ve posted about elsewhere before.
Run the script at the URL where you installed — screeech! Screech to a halt here, because I wind up on another white screen. Side note: the wordpress.org instructions say to go right to the root URL, not to install.php directly (like the 1-click email tells you). Are they two different locations? Does install.php automatically load at root? Bah.
I go ahead and do a second manual install, so now I have one in root and one in a subdirectory. White screens on both. So it seems that the DNS stuff is really going to hold things up. I decide to go to school and finish it off when I get home that night.
Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion in Act III, which will cover finishing the WP install, installing BuddyPress and other plugins, and setting up BuddyPress.
How many times have you found reviews of webhosting companies only to discover they’re filled with affiliate links? The presence of an affiliate link leaves the validity of content in question. HostingReviews.io by Steven Gliebe, hopes to solve this problem by documenting micro reviews without any affiliate links attached.The Far Above Average Hosts Per Customer Reviews
HostingReviews.io works by documenting what people say about their webhosting provider on social media sites such as Twitter. These micro reviews are stored in a queue that Gliebe and his helpers process. Tweets that clearly express happiness or dissatisfaction are marked as such.
Gliebe collects tweets matching certain keywords into a database using Twitter’s stream API. There are keywords setup to cover each host as best as possible. For example, Site Ground, SiteGround, and @siteground. This process means there is nothing special people have to do other than mention their host.
It is not really a submissions site where someone can say “I want what I say to be there” which can be abused. Gliebe describes the process being similar to a researcher taking a sample large enough to draw conclusions from. “I want to cover a lot of hosts eventually and that would be expensive to human-process so again that means not everything will be included, but whatever is excluded, will always be done so across the board at random as not to unfairly affect scoring.”
“Some people have asked me to add specific tweets. I decided not to do that because it will skew results (ie. someone submits only good or only bad ones for specific hosts). I’m sticking with the data Twitter themselves automatically roll in 24/7.”
If the user’s statement is in regard to a specific aspect of hosting (support, uptime, etc.), that is noted too. The micro-reviews and the data derived from them are presented on the site. Since users are more likely to Tweet dissatisfaction with their webhost, the overall scores are low. Gliebe notes that comparison is key.FlyWheel Reviews With Pretty Charts
The site is relatively new so there isn’t a lot of data to work with but what I’ve seen so far matches what I’ve noticed in my Twitter feed. Flywheel leading the pack doesn’t surprise me as I’m consistently reading tweets raving about their service and support.
In the past few months, there’s been more positive tweets about Pagely than I can remember. So being the number two webhosting company on HostingReviews matches what I’ve seen.
The site is a great resource as long as it keeps its promise of not using affiliate links. While 140 character tweets leave out a lot of context, I still think they have value. If you’re looking for webhosting reviews without an agenda, consider browsing HostingReviews.io.
We’re making this transition in order to bring everything we do at iThemes under one roof (themes, plugins & training) and eliminate confusion caused by having multiple domain names and two separate brands.
If you’re a member of WebDesign.com, not much changes. You’ll be able to use the same credentials to login to iThemes Training and access the same content as before.
October 3rd, 2014 will live in the history books as the day when the first conference devoted to Pods took place. Organized by Scott Kingsley Clark, PodsCamp not only focused on the Pods plugin, but it was also the first time the development team was in the same physical location. In the following interview, Clark tells me how he thinks it went and whether it will become an annual event.
Overall, what is your impression for how the first ever PodsCamp went?
It was awesome! It could have only been made better by perhaps more tickets being available for WCDFW which was a barrier for folks coming from out-of-town. When tickets ran out for WCDFW, people couldn’t justify just coming out for PodsCamp, but could justify it if they were able to go to WCDFW that weekend too. Almost all (if not every single one) of our attendees went to WCDFW the next day.
What was accomplished by having the entire Pods development team under the same roof?
This was the first time we were together and it gave us an opportunity to have face to face conversations. We talked about all sorts of things like where we’ve been, where we’re going, and ideas on what we want to improve upon. One killer idea that came out of the weekend was from Joshua Pollock. We’re nailing down the specifics right now and should have an announcement post published as soon as we get things in place.
Do you have any initial feedback concerning the event?
We didn’t make enough from sponsors, Tilt, or ticket sales to cover the cost of the event. Our highest expense was bringing in four people from out-of-town and covering their accommodations. I hope in the future we can secure enough to at least break even.
Is PodsCamp something you’ll try to turn into an annual event?
Yes, we’re going to do this again next year just before WCDFW and will go over new topics now that we have established a baseline. We’re also considering 1-3 smaller meetup-based events near where our team members are located. One of which may be a mini-PodsCamp type of event in Austin, TX. I think that PodsCamp DFW will be our flagship one, which we would bring the whole crew out for, but the smaller ones could be more workshop and less camp.
I just want to again thank everyone who made this possible, especially Chris Lema, Jake Goldman, Tom McFarlin, WPEngine, and SiteGround. I’m so stoked we could pull this off!
If you attended PodsCamp, let us know about your experience in the comments! Slides from each presentation can be found here. Sessions recorded at the event will be added to the Pods Framework YouTube channel.
This story about how a man sabotaged a FAA facility is terrifying and inspiring in how people worked together to overcome it, and also includes this unintentionally funny line, “He had worked at the Chicago Center for eight years, according to an FBI affidavit. The company has fired him.”
Since there is no guest this week, Marcus Couch and I used this opportunity to spend more time than usual with the news. We spend a considerable amount of time discussing WordPress contributions and I provide insight into my distinction between direct and indirect contributions. I share my experience of attending the first WordCamp event for Ann Arbor, MI. Last but not least, we end the show with a shout-out to HostingReviews.io, a resource filled with webhosting reviews from current or past customers without affiliate links.
Duplicate Title Validation looks for posts and pages with the same name and prevents you from using the same title twice.
Flexible Widget Title enables you to hide widget titles in the frontend of WordPress, while the widget title is still visible in the backend.
WP Double Protection adds the ability to have a second password option. Instead of needing one password to login, you’ll need two.
Next Episode: Wednesday, October 15th 9:30 P.M. Eastern
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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.
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October 20, 2014 05:45 PM
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