Great checklist created by WPBeginner of things to do before switching to a different theme. Out of everything they presented, number three hit home for me. After using a new theme for a few months, I decided to look at my Google Analytics and discovered that no stats were being saved from the date I switched my theme to the present. I obviously forgot to add the tracking code to the new theme. OOPS. ∞
By Jeffro on October 19, 2011
Just a shout out and congratulations to Chip Bennett who recently hit the 1,000 theme reviews milestone. To see each one of his reviews, check out the ongoing list on Trac for the theme repository. Thanks Chip and the rest of the review team for providing your time and knowledge to making the theme repository a better place. .
If you want to learn more about the theme review team, you should listen to episode 106 of WordPress weekly where most of the episode centers around the topic.
By Jeffro on October 5, 2011
One of the coolest things about BuddyPress is that when it was developed by Andy Peatling, he made sure to put in a considerable amount of effort into creating a BuddyPress Starter theme as well as a BuddyPress starter plugin. Knowing that those two things would be often used as the beginning stages of a plugin or theme, only the best coding practices were used as a means of not only having a blank slate to start from, but also teach developers at the same time. It’s like Hello Dolly! but without the lyrics. Boone Gorges has announced that the tradition has continued with the release of BuddyPress Skeleton Component v1.6. The new release features the following:
- Refactored to use the BuddyPress 1.5′s new
BP_Componentclass, making it dead-simple to register globals, create navigation items, and hook into the BP load order
- File structure reorganized to better reflect BP 1.5′s organization, and to provide more fine-grained access to functions
- Data storage class totally refactored, to use custom post types and WP_Query, instead of custom database tables.
- Added a small guide for creating a top-level component directory (a “root component”), which was missing in earlier versions
- Tons of documentation added and revised
It’s important to know that any plugin built from version 1.6 of the Skeleton Component will be incompatible with BuddyPress versions prior to 1.5. It’s recommended by Boone that you first create the plugin for BuddyPress 1.5 and build in backwards compatibility as an after thought.
By Jeffro on September 8, 2011
The writing is on the wall. It’s only a matter of time before automatic upgrades for WordPress core, plugins, and themes make it into WordPress. This is a step beyond the one click upgrades that are currently in WordPress. As dumb as it might seem, Otto is right in that users simply don’t upgrade. However, I want automatic upgrades to be opt-in instead of opt-out. I don’t need my hand held by WordPress in order to perform updates and uphold my responsibility of maintaining this website. There are too many horror stories of automatic upgrades gone bad for me to ever cross that line to allow those to happen either on my machine or on a website. I’m the type of person that wants to review the change log and any necessary information before the upgrade occurs. I’d feel the same way even if there was a simple revert system put in place to easily go back to a working version prior to the upgrade. This leaves me wondering if you want automatic upgrades to happen without you as a user/administrator ever being involved, or if you’ll take the more active approach and handle the upgrade process manually? Look forward to reading your comments on this one.
Should Automatic Upgrades Be Opt-In?
- Yes (67%, 141 Votes)
- No (33%, 69 Votes)
Total Voters: 210
By Jeffro on September 5, 2011
Joost de Valk who is pretty popular these days, especially after the release of his Yoast SEO Plugin tells us the story of how one of his sites was hacked because a theme containing the TimThumb vulnerability was not updated. If that were not interesting enough, Joost shares a statistic that doesn’t surprise me one bit. According to Joost, after he releases an update to his plugins, he rarely sees more than 20% of the user base upgrade within the first week.
We, as a community, need to get better at that.
I agree. People such as myself have harped on the fact that people need to start upgrading their WordPress installs sooner rather than later once an update has been released. I don’t have the numbers to back it up but I’m willing to bet that thanks to the easier upgrading processes built into WordPress, there is a larger number of people updating within the first week compared to when users had to manually upload the updated files to the server.
As if keeping abreast of updates for WordPress were not enough, users have to be vigilante on knowing when there are updates for both plugins and themes. Despite WooThemes publishing the information on their website regarding the security flaw and the associated fix, Joost still became a victim one month later. It seems as though KNOWING about the update is at least half the battle. Therefor, what do you think is the best way or ways to keep users abreast of updates for plugins and themes, especially as it relates to security releases? As it stands, the only time I know of when a plugin or theme needs to be updated is when I’m at the dashboard screen and I see the notifications. Should there be a built-in function in WordPress that plugins as well as themes can use to send email notifications to administrators when an update is available? Or, do we rely on plugin and theme authors to individually come up with ways to help their user base keep in touch with updates?
By Jeffro on March 29, 2011
I’m not sure if you noticed as much as I have but there seems to be a commercial theme sorter popping up on every corner. At least, that’s the impression I get as I’ve routinely been receiving emails lately from people letting me know about the launch of their theme sorter. The newest one to launch which has over 500 themes from 19 sellers listed with a goal to reach over 1,000 by this summer is called ThemeSorter. ThemeSorter provides different ways to browse through their listing such as color, specific niche, ratings, styles, etc.
Talk about an easy business model. There are so many commercial themes being developed by established companies with brand new commercial theme businesses opening shop every week that it makes sense to create a directory of sorts to try and make sense of everything. The directory has to be easy to browse, contain affiliate links to their respective theme authors and hope people go through you to purchase the theme. Special deals from those sellers wouldn’t hurt either.
The question I have about all these different theme sorters is which one will gain critical mass? That is, which one will end up having a community of people or users that rate and review themes similar to customers reviewing items that have purchased from Amazon? Which one will be the go-to place that has the largest and most legit listing? I’ve heard many people request that there be a place similar to the WordPress.org theme repository but for commercial themes and these theme sorters seem to fit the bill although they don’t contain any files to download. They are informative only.
If nothing else, these commercial theme aggregation sites make for a good place to get inspiration or find out what the latest designs are from the commercial theme ecosystem surrounding WordPress. How many of you have actually used one of these sites to purchase a commercial theme?
By Jeffro on March 22, 2011
A few days ago, Donal MacArthur of Cranes And Skyhooks reached out to let me know about a new framework he’s developed called Atlas. After playing around with the theme for about an hour, I have a couple of suggestions for Donal.
Out of the gate, Atlas and it’s first child theme Elegance are clean and simple. In fact, I didn’t have to open the Readme file to figure out what to do although I couldn’t if I wanted to since the theme didn’t ship with one. Atlas is still in the testing phases and that could explain why there is no documentation either within a Readme file or a section dedicated to support on the website. I hope this changes prior to the frameworks official launch or some people will be left scratching their heads and ditching Atlas before giving it a real chance.
One of the nice things about Atlas is that its option pages blend right in with the UI back-end of WordPress which is always nice to see. Custom back-ends developed my theme authors usually look messy and out of place.
For the layout of the site, users have a few options to choose from for their index, single, archive and attachment pages as well as single posts. Selecting a specific layout for a page is as easy as using the drop down box but it comes with a price. After using the visual editor by Headway this approach to viewing changes feels old school. It’s like the old days of making a change, uploading the CSS file, clicking refresh, possibly clearing out the cache, refresh again and if you don’t like the changes, revert to the old CSS file. It’s not as difficult as I describe but you do end up having to select a layout and refreshing the page to see if you like it or not. There is no way around this except to use some sort of live preview.
For themes that give end users the ability to use a custom logo for a header, the method I like best is an upload box that will upload an image using the WordPress media library. This is completely feasible and is much easier than providing a logo URL box.
The other area of Atlas that made me screech in pain are the text area boxes that require me to know the ID numbers for Pages and Categories that I wanted to exclude from the drop down menus. I hate this technique. Please don’t make end users go through the pain of trying to figure out those ID numbers even if they are somewhat easy to discover. Instead, provide some UI such as check boxes or selection boxes that support multiple choices.
One of the nicer points of Atlas which I’m sure other theme frameworks are going to adapt despite plugins being available is a way to disable the admin bar for all users, disable the admin bar for all non-administrator level users or enable the Atlas info panel on the WordPress admin bar for logged-in Administrators. The Atlas info panel shows the total number of database queries executed on the page with the total page generation time.
Other than the pain points I discovered, Atlas is not a bad Parent theme for its first version. However, if it’s going to have a chance to succeed with the big boys, it’s going to have to step it up in terms of ease of use. Also, support and documentation for some are the most important aspects of any theme and if it’s not available when this thing launches to the public, I doubt it will gain any traction.
For a limited time you can get free copies of both Atlas and its first child theme, Elegance, by becoming an Atlas beta tester or more aptly, a feedback provider. Donal is looking for feedback and is willing to give you the framework as well as the first child theme for free to thank you for that feedback. So if you have a spare moment or two, give Atlas a spin and let him know what you think.