How many of you still update your themes footer every year to change the copyright date? Thanks to a small snippet of code, you can add this to your footer.php file which will negate the need to manually change the copyright information every year. The code snippet is php the_time(‘Y’) An excellent primer for how to use this snippet within the footer.php file is explained via Lorelle VanFossen.
By Jeffro on December 30, 2011
By Jeffro on December 30, 2011
The independent web is growing quite a bit. Although we have these great cloud servers for WordPress, the software that people run and install themselves is still as popular as ever. Our services are bringing more people online, but they’re also bringing more people who want to own their own space on the web–they want to own a house instead of rent an apartment. When we were first starting out, I thought, “Downloading and uploading software, managing databases, no one wants to do that.” But it turns out, a lot of people do.
Posts like these from Matt Mullenweg are always fun to read. Via Open Web FTW on GigaOm.
By Jeffro on December 29, 2011
Yesterday, I received an email from a freelancer who wanted to know if I had any places I could point him to to get more WordPress gigs. The economy is still bad, people are still collecting unemployment, looking for work, but the one constant I’ve noticed is that there is always a need for a WordPress developer either through an established firm or helping out with a specific project. I reached out to those who follow me on Twitter and requested that if they were currently hiring WordPress developers to send me a reply back along with a link to the job offering. Here are the folks that replied back to me.
Page.ly – A dedicated WordPress specific hosting company
While not available on the site just yet, Marshall Oram responded that they are looking to fill a full-time position at their office located in Phoenixville, PA. If interested, contact him via his email address.
Metaltoad – Metal Toad Media is a digital strategy agency looking hard for Drupal and WordPress developers.
B5Media – Full-time position located in Toronto, Canada. These guys manage some popular websites!
Ravidreams – WordPress services company looking for dedicated individuals who eat, sleep, and breath WordPress.
10Up – Jake Goldman mentioned on Twitter that they have recently hired employee #7 and are looking for #8 which could be you!.
I can guarantee you that there are definitely more WordPress gigs out there to be had. I see requests for them all the time on Twitter. If you’re a company that needs WordPress freelancers or looking to fulfill a position, feel free to publish a link to your job offering within the comments. Links to jobs that require bidding will not be published.
By Jeffro on December 28, 2011
Looks like Drearmeda who is one of the guys behind Sucuri.net has placed some WordPress ink on his arm. He’s certainly not the first to get a WordPress logo as a tattoo and probably won’t be the last. While it’s cool to see this kind of enthusiasm for the software, some people might look at this as going over the top. I don’t think something like this symbolizes the community as turning into a cult around WordPress. It’s just a persons unique way of showing their enthusiasm for the software, which doesn’t bother me a bit. Does it bother or worry you to see a software logo tattooed on someone’s body?
By Jeffro on December 27, 2011
Created two months ago, the WordPress.org support forums has added a new section specifically for those that install and or use WordPress on a localhost. Installing WordPress onto a PC or Mac that can be used locally without an internet connection can at times become quite the endeavor. Thankfully, there are software suites such as WAMPServer and XAMPP that make the process of installing all of the necessary software to turn a machine into a web server very easy.
The following link has an assortment of community created tutorials for various setups to install WordPress on your local machine. There are also a number of links published within the WordPress Installation Techniques Codex Article.
By Jeffro on December 27, 2011
Intriguing interview conducted by Gihyo.jp which is a Japanese focused developer resource site.
As your experience straddles both, where do you think open source excels? And where is it weak?
The open source model is probably best in the world at bringing together hundreds of people, from casual passersby to those who are deeply involved, to make constant, incremental improvement to core software. For projects with a clear goal―like the Linux kernel or Wikipedia―having an efficient method for people to contribute outstrips anything any proprietary company could do. The weaknesses are that it’s harder to make radical changes and do design. And those two are very much related. Open source is best at incremental improvements of things you already do, as well as responding to user requests. But with open source, it’s a lot harder to move the community to do something that users have never imagined they want. The problem is not impossible to overcome. But it means that whoever is leading the change must lay out the case as a compelling direction for the future―and to do it before a single line of code is written.
I can imagine those who have witnessed the development of WordPress for at least the past two years may take exception to the last sentence in that quote. In my opinion, that is not how most WordPress development works. I might as well cite the classic example known as the Capital_P Dangit function. The so called compelling direction was laid out after the change was added to WordPress 3.0. The change occurred without a trac ticket attached to it which further illustrates the point that sometimes, the compelling case to add something to WordPress never happens before one line of code is written.
While I’d definitely like to see dialogue occur between users and developers on certain proposed features before one line of code is written, it’s often been said to me that we’ll end up talking in circles with no lines of code ever being written. It’s easier to talk than code. So where does the balance come into play? WordPress history shows us that plugins appear to be the balance makers. Additions or reverts to core are often remedied by someone releasing a plugin, after the fact. This is the road WordPress development has chosen to go down more often than not. It’s definitely annoying at times but I’m happy to see that WordPress has such a large user base that someone, somewhere, will most likely develop a plugin to right the wrongs of WordPress. Those wrongs are considered from a per user basis as even I realize WordPress can’t hit the sweet spots for all users.
In the life of WordPress, there are both good and bad milestones. One year later, I still consider the addition of the Capital P function as a big mistake that will go down in my history book as a bad milestone. I chose to use this example as it best reflects the complete opposite of Matt’s response to the original question. I’m hoping that things change and that at some point, what Matt says becomes the norm for how WordPress development works, not the other way around. We need to see more events like this complete with published results and open discussion about those results.
By Jeffro on December 22, 2011
With the Santa hat on, Matt Mullenweg has decided to try out an experiment specifically for plugin authors and their respective plugin pages. He’s decided to give plugin authors a little more control with regards to how their plugin pages look by offering them a chance to upload a 772 x 250 pixel image that will be used as a banner. Here are a couple of excellent examples of this experiment in action:
One thing that I am thankful for is that most of the images I’ve seen have not detracted away from the information presented on the page. Right now, there is consistency amongst all of the various plugins hosted on the repository. I want that consistency to stick around. However, I will say that some of the plugin banner images give the page an additional pop and enhance the offering. As long as the header images are somewhat nice to look at and relevant to the plugin, I support this change!
By Jeffro on December 21, 2011
Andrew Nacin one of the WordPress core developers highlighted a philosophy that WordPress follows by providing decisions, not options. One of the documents linked to in the article points to the WordPress Release Philosophy and more notably, the section of text by GNOME contributor Havoc Pennington.
It turns out that preferences have a cost. Of course, some preferences also have important benefits – and can be crucial interface features. But each one has a price, and you have to carefully consider its value. Many users and developers don’t understand this, and end up with a lot of cost and little value for their preferences dollar.
- Too many preferences means you can’t find any of them.
- Preferences really substantively damage QA and testing.
- Preferences make integration and good UI difficult.
- The point of a good program is to do something specific and do it well.
- Preferences keep people from fixing real bugs.
- Preferences can confuse many users.
I find that if you’re hard-core disciplined about having good defaults that Just Work instead of lazily adding preferences, that naturally leads the overall UI in the right direction. Issues come up via bugzilla or mailing lists or user testing, and you fix them in some way other than adding a preference, and this means you have to think about the right UI and the right way to fix problems. Basically, using preferences as a band-aid is the root of much UI evil.
Andrew mentions that if he had the opportunity, there are at least a half-dozen options that he would remove from WordPress. I’m in that same boat but I of course would add in an option or two to control the behaviour of post revisions. After reading Andrew’s post and listening to Ryan Imel of WPCandy discuss how themes should aim for zero options, I’m beginning to get the feeling that there is a battle afoot. Developers are now being encouraged to aim for zero options. As an end user, I believe this is foolish. I agree that getting something that just works, out of the box with no fuss or muss is awesome. But plugins and themes don’t seem to fit the bill of doing one thing and then doing it well. It may be the case in the beginning of a plugin or themes life but over the course of time, users want more functionality, more customization, which eventually ruins any simplicity the plugin or theme originally had.
Thankfully, the following post by The Theme Foundry nails the point in that it shouldn’t be about Zero options. Instead, developers should focus on presenting the RIGHT options.
We left it in, and actually added a toggle for hiding the author and categories as well. It was sorta painful, but I was beginning to realize the flaw in my philosophy: It’s not about eliminating options, it’s about having the right options. I know, I know – hardly groundbreaking. It’s been said before by many wiser people than myself. But it’s very easy to get caught up in a philosophy without considering the real goal, which is making a pleasant experience for your users.
And this is why I wanted to write this post – to counter-balance the anti-options, anti-configuration sentiment. It’s too easy to get caught up in a cargo cult – I know I did, briefly. Instead of making a theme either fully-customizable or configuration-free, I’ve realized that the ultimate goal is to add “just the right options” to make the user experience more pleasant. I think everybody would agree with that sentiment – but it’s easier said than done
That is a point of view and philosophy I can get behind. Two years ago, I remember myself and many others in the WordPress community hammering plugin and theme developers, especially theme authors on needing to provide more options so that I didn’t have to dive into any code to make changes. They delivered, but now we want them to go back and have as few options as possible. Whatever that perfect balance is between which options are visually present and which are not is what will generated a “Just Works” experience. As a user, if I see too many options, I feel inundated and overwhelmed. If I see too few options, I feel as though I won’t get very far extending the functionality of the plugin or theme without having to know some PHP.
So at the end of the day, as just a normal user, I view all of this as a recipe that appears to be very difficult to get right. Here are a few ingredients to the recipe that I’ve though of.
Know your user base – The more information you have with regards to how users use and interact with your code, the better decisions you’ll be able to make.
I still don’t like to code – I still don’t like the idea of going back in time, 3 years ago where I had to follow instructions on modifying functions.php in order to configure something. So instead of loading up one options page, I appreciate a tab or sub-section with advanced options that I can wade through. I like having the OPTION to DECIDE on viewing the advanced OPTIONS.
The Best Defaults – While W3 Total Cache is an extensive plugin, I love the fact that out of the box, it’s configured by default for most applications. I’m not savvy enough to really dive in and mess with the various options so this is something I really appreciate. Having excellent default configurations I believe goes a long way in accomplishing the goal of “Just Works“.
The bottom line is, I don’t want developers to abandon all options for the sake of doing it. I don’t want to be handed a blank piece of paper and then be told to decide what to do with it. I’m counting on the developer to determine what’s best for me up front but also give me some options to play with on the side. The determination on what those options should be and how they’re presented is one of the key problems for that developer to figure out.
I wonder if developers make good fortune tellers?