Dustin Bolton, one of the lead developers for PluginBuddy.com goes into detail on their solution to solve the Gulf Oil Spill. Nice to see those guys putting that fancy drawing board in their new office to good use. By the way, I hope that piece of paper didn’t come out of the fax machine like that.
By Jeffro on May 26, 2010
Cory Miller who heads up iThemes.com along with PluginBuddy.com gives me the low down on what is going on with the company. Cory gives the details regarding what their newest offering, Plugin Mobile Buddy is all about. It sounds like an awesome plugin and once WPTavern.com goes through a minor redesign, this will be the first plugin I install to provide a mobile version of the site. We also talk about how iThemes tries to take customer feedback to heart by monitoring trends and responding to those trends with awesome products.
By Jeffro on March 5, 2010
After I published my review of BackupBuddy yesterday, I managed to talk Cory Miller into letting me give away a single and a developer membership option to two lucky commenters. I’d like to announce that Kevin has won the single membership version while Jeremy LeRay takes the developer version. In order to choose the winners, I took the comment ID number from the first comment and then the comment ID number in the last comment on the post and put them in a random number picker. After letting the picker choose a number a few times, I matched that number to the comment ID. A fair way to choose the winners I’d say.
I’d also like to thank each and every one of you that purchased BackupBuddy through my affiliate link. Purchases as well as the number of comments to the post were overwhelming. I simply couldn’t believe all of the developer version memberships that people were buying through me. In one day, I made enough money to travel to at least one more WordCamp this year if I chose to do that.
Congrats to Keven and Jeremy LeRay, backups are no longer a problem for the both of you! Also congrats to Cory Miller and the PluginBuddy team on a great launch.
By Jeffro on March 4, 2010
It’s exciting times for the guys over at iThemes as they have finally launched their commercial plugin store, PluginBuddy. PluginBuddy is a seperate entity of iThemes whereas iThemes concentrates on themes while PluginBuddy is strictly commercial plugins. Just like iThemes, the plugins on PluginBuddy.com will be licensed under the GPL. The launch comprises of a few different plugins but the one I’m going to be focusing on is Backup Buddy.
Installation And Usage
Installation is the same process for every other plugin. However, in order to activate it, you need to have an active license key from iThemes.com. No problem, as BackupBuddy provides an easy way to generate and apply a new license from within the plugin itself. Once the plugin is activated, you’ll want to browse to the Getting Started with BackupBuddy page which explains what the plugin does and the steps needed to configure how it works. Here is how BackupBuddy Explains itself.
BackupBuddy is an all-in-one solution for backups, restoration, and migration. The single backup ZIP file created by the plugin can be used with the importer PHP script to quickly and easily restore your site on the same server or even migrate to a new host with different settings. Whether you’re an end user or a developer, this plugin is sure to bring you peace of mind and added safety in the event of data loss. Our goal is to keep the backup, restoration, and migration processes easy, fast, and reliable.
A full backup is required to restore your site or migrate. However, a Database Only backup may be created as a faster, more regular backup solution. When restoring your site or migrating, simply include the latest database backup ZIP in addition to the full backup. BackupBuddy will automatically check the full backup and database only backup to restore the latest database version.
Instead of diving deep into a review, I’ll cover things in a bullet point process.
In order for scheduled backups to occur, you’ll need to configure a password. This password is used for migration and restoration. When asked in the live chat today whether they plan on adding encryption support, they said it was one of the things that could possibly be added at some point down the road as another security precaution.
What does BackupBuddy backup? Unlike backup solutions that are part of cPanel, BackupBuddy is only concerned with WordPress and the things associated with it. So that means it backs up the database WordPress is installed in, plugins, themes, uploads, everything related to the WordPress install. This is for the full backup. Alternatively, you can tell BackupBuddy to only backup the database.
Where do the backups go? If no options are selected, the backups will be stored in a sub-folder within the uploads directory called backupbuddy_backups. Alternatively, you can send the backup file to a remote FTP server or have the backup emailed to you as an attachment. When asked about backing up to Amazon S3, the PluginBuddy team stated they will be working on that for an upcoming version of the plugin.
Scheduling of backups. BackupBuddy provides an easy way to configure when a backup should occur. This can be monthly, twice monthly, weekly, daily, or hourly. You can also specify the exact date and time for the first instance of the backup to occur which will then reoccur at the same time on the same day. You can not group multiple days into one scheduled backup. For example, if you wanted to create a weekly backup on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you would need to setup three different backups and schedule them for weekly, on those days. Asides from not being able to group multiple backups into one schedule, you can not edit a scheduled backup. Instead, you need to delete the backup and reschedule it with the corresponding edits. I’ve been told though that in a future version, you’ll be able to edit scheduled backups.
Something that I think many will consider a killer feature of BackupBuddy is its ability to easily be used to migrate WordPress installations from a local development server to a live public server. This is how it works.
- Upload the resulting backup zip file and importbuddy.php to the root web directory of the destination server. You do not need to install WordPress or any other files on the destination server. The backup will handle this.
- Also upload the latest database backup ZIP file if one exists.
- Navigate to importbuddy.php in your webbrowser on the destination server.
- Follow the importing instructions on screen. You will be given the option to change settings on import.
- After completing the restore / migration, repeat the process, selecting the database backup zip on import.
As you can see, you don’t need to actually install WordPress on the live site. Instead, all you have to do is upload the extracted backup file and run the importbuddy.php script which will handle everything. One of the biggest pains is having to manually go into phpMyAdmin to change the SiteURL and Blog URL from localhost to the live site. The importbuddy.php script provides options to configure these settings before the migration is set in stone. A real time save if you ask me.
If you decide to keep a set of backup files within a sub-folder in your WordPress installation, BackupBuddy gives you easy access to those files, including a way to send that backup via FTP or through email. Alternatively, you can download the zip file from within this interface so you don’t have to muck around with your FTP client.
BackupBuddy Is Awesome
The first public version of BackupBuddy is impressive. The problems I mentioned earlier with schedule editing and the likes are definitely not showstoppers from using the plugin. Considering those will be addressed in a future version, BackupBuddy can only improve from their initial offering.
Now here is something I found to be really impressive. Their pricing.
For the personal package which covers support for two websites, includes automatic upgrades for two sites and is good for one year, at $25.00, that is exceptional value for the price. I was expecting this plugin to be around $50.00 or more so was thoroughly pleased at the personal site price point. Their business membership plan is $75.00 while the developer version is ONLY $150.00. Prices have since changed so that the personal license is $45.00, Business $75.00 and Developer $150.00.
I purchased my personal site membership during the live Q and A today and had it performing a back-up in no time. Highly recommended by me as this is truly a great backup solution that is WordPress centric, no third party services involved.
If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of BackupBuddy, please use the following link as I’ll receive a cutback from your purchase. Also, today is a great day to purchase your membership package with the coupon code BACKUP10 which will be good until midnight tonight. This coupon will save you 10% on the already cheap prices.
Update Cory has given me the go ahead to give away one single membership package and one development membership package of BackupBuddy. All you have to do is leave a comment. Pretty simple right? I’ll choose the winners tomorrow.
By Jeffro on January 7, 2010
At A Glance:
Builder is a revolutionary new theme developed and released by iThemes. I had the privilege of being a beta tester of the first version and in this review, I’ll be using the latest release version 2.0.2.
The theme is licensed under the GPL as is all of the themes available from iThemes.
Installing was easy. All I had to do was upload the files to my themes folder and click activate. I didn’t encounter any errors but I am reviewing this theme on a fresh install of WordPress 2.9.1 on my local server without any plugins activated.
With every theme available for purchase, iThemes includes a My Theme widget which provides links to relevant information when it comes to configuring WordPress or the special features found within the theme. A nice touch since I don’t have to go searching through their support base looking for the same links.
As for the actual configuration of the theme, this is where it gets interesting. First, you tell builder which pages and categories you want to be INCLUDED into the navigational menu. It’s as easy as checkmarking a box next to a page name. The second configuration option enables you to decide on whether the default text widgets should have default text in order to identify them easier. This is like dummy content. I recommend setting this to yes just to make it easier from the get go to see what’s going on with the theme. Next is the familiar tracking code that would normally go into the footer of your theme. Last but not least, Builder includes some SEO options such as using post tags as meta keywords on single posts and category archives being indexed by search engines.
The bread and butter of this theme that I find exciting to use is its layout builder. Builder comes with four created layouts to use but why stick with those when the real fun is in creating one of your own. First, you have to give your layout a name. Second, select between narrow 600px, medium 780px, wide 960px, or a custom width. Third, select an extension. Selecting an Extension allows this Layout to modify the theme’s style.css styling. I decided to use the built in blog extension. You can then tell builder whether the extension should disable the theme’s style.css file. You can also choose to hide the widget areas to make working with the theme easier.
Last but not least, my favorite part of the process, actually creating the design without using any code. Builder currently uses a module system where you choose from different modules that are available to determine the overall design of the site. There are six different modules to choose from: Content, Footer, HTML, Image, Navigation, and Widget Bar. Most of these should be self-explanatory. Using these modules, I will create a layout similar to the one used here on WPTavern.com with Hybrid News.
In less than five minutes, I was able to create a layout similar to the one used here without touching any code. Thanks to the way the design flow works with being able to add modules above or below each other, you can easily create some creative layouts very easily. This is what makes Builder exciting and this is the kind of theme framework I always thought about when thinking of the term. As a non developer type, I’m able to whip up themes in no time without worrying about hooks, filters, or those other weird terms. That’s not to say those don’t exist as I believe over 50 actions and filters are available for developers to tap into.
The next step in the Builder process is to configure views. Custom layouts can be applied to specific posts, pages, etc. This part of the equation takes the building process to the next level as I can create an awesome front page layout but have an entirely different one for the single page view. Sure, you can already accomplish this manually by creating Single.php and assigning that page template to a newly created page. However, while the creation of Single.php would normally have to be done by hand, I can use the View builder to create a page template which in this case is called a view, then assign that view as I see fit. To make things simpler, this component of the Builder theme provides a Page Template builder so that you don’t have to create each page template by hand. Exciting for me since I’m no code monkey!
The views that can be configured are 404, archives, attachment, author, category, date archive, page, post, search, singular, and tag. All of which would be normal page templates in any other theme except in Builder, you can easily control how the page is laid out for that specific template.
Support for Builder is available for paying customers in the iThemes forum.
Between the layout builder and the view assignments, this theme is killer because of the ease of use in creating unique looking designs with a couple of mouse clicks instead of modifying code. While not ready for prime time, iThemes has already started to put the foundation in place to add a simple Extension editor which will make it really easy to create styles that can be applied to your layouts. Note that in Builder, layout styles are now called Extensions.
While I was a big fan of Flexx, Builder takes the concepts of Flexx to the next level while also breaking down the walls of limitations that Flexx contained. During my conversation with Chris Jean who is the main driving force behind the theme, Builder is aimed at being the tool used to create a theme from start to finish without spending hours within a code editor. It’s also interesting to note that child themes can be built off of Builder and that is one of the topics covered in tomorrows webinar being presented by iThemes.
All in all, the only thing missing from this theme right now is an awesome style editor but as stated earlier, that’s on the roadmap. If you want to easily create different layouts and have the ability to assign those layouts to specific places down to the post level, this is the theme for you. My hope is that WordPress theme frameworks in the future somehow tap into the design ideas inside of Builder and improve upon them.
Also, if you feel luck is on your side, tell me what you think of what you’ve seen of this theme or ask questions regarding it. Chris will be keeping a watchful eye on the comments and one lucky commenter will receive access to the Builder theme for free!
By Jeffro on November 29, 2009
I won’t dive into a lengthy review here but in the Builder theme, users can easily build Layouts. In the time span of 5 minutes, I created a layout that mimics the one I’m using on WPTavern.com complete with the widget spots.
After building my layout with clicks of the mouse and not having to touch one bit of PHP code, the only thing left for me to do is style the layout through CSS. This is the type of theme framework I can get behind which doesn’t require me to know hooks or filters, etc although I’m sure those are built in. One of my wishes for WordPress was to one day, be able to use a WYSIWYG theme creation tool where I could whip up a theme using standard elements. Although Builder and Elastic are not exactly what I had in mind, they are pretty darn close and both impress me quite a bit. They really empower the end user to create things instead of relying on a developer.
Between Builder and Elastic, I’m wondering if it’s possible for a theme developer to put himself out of business by creating and releasing something that for the most part, removes the developer from the equation. Let’s discuss.
Can A Theme Developer Put Himself Out Of Business?
- No (50%, 37 Votes)
- Are You Crazy? (28%, 21 Votes)
- Yes (22%, 16 Votes)
Total Voters: 74
By Jeffro on August 26, 2009
Nathan Rice who I first came into contact with through iThemes and at WordCamp Dallas 2008 has moved on to a new venture called Modthemes. Modthemes is a fresh new venture that offers commercial GPL themes for WordPress with Bryan Hauer as CEO. Right now, there is only one theme available with another on the way.
The WordPress community has benefited greatly from his contributions in both themes and plugins. I want to wish the best of luck to Nathan on his new career path.
By Jeffro on August 26, 2009
The other night, I participated in a conversation with a few other people on Twitter regarding iThemes. There was some talk that iThemes was losing momentum and that the company was stagnating. Others said that iThemes was not producing innovative themes and pushing the boundaries of WordPress. While we speculated on the current status of iThemes, Cory Miller who is the co-founder took notice of the tweets and responded in a post on the company blog.
We respect and appreciate our customers who have gotten us here. We are deeply committed to the products and goodwill we’ve built with iThemes. In short, we love what we do!
For as long as I can see or forecast, iThemes will continue to be a creator and innovator of WordPress themes – focusing specifically on CMS and Business themes as we’ve consistently done since we opened the doors in January 2008.
I’m pretty happy to find out iThemes will continue into the foreseeable future to churn out business and CMS specific themes for WordPress. However, I’m really appreciative of the fact that Cory Miller came out and responded to the community discussion in a post on the company blog which not only answers our speculation, but also reinforces the companies stance to their customers. This is the sign of a co-founder who is paying attention and responding when necessary before speculation turns into false facts. If only other companies would be as responsive or alert, I think it would save them a lot of trouble in the long run.
By the way, take a look at Yukon which is iThemes latest offering. A Clean, business oriented theme with a few different post templates and drop down menus.