Category Archives: WordPress News

Students share WordPress news from WordPress development, contributions, WordCamps, WordPress events, and tutorials and tips they find throughout the quarter.

WordPress News: Is Becoming a ‘WordPress Professional’ Right for You (Or Even Possible)?

In the article “Is becoming a WordPress Professional right for you (or even possible)” written by Tom Ewer, he mentions a few pointers for people who want to do WordPress as a profession. While doing so, Tom tells of 4 WordPress users who had little to no knowledge of WordPress become great theme and plug-in developers. WordPress has helped these users find their niche in the WordPress community.

Joost de Valk screenshot. Continue reading WordPress News: Is Becoming a ‘WordPress Professional’ Right for You (Or Even Possible)?

WordPress News: How Many Plugins is Too Many?

If you like to take polls, Jeff Starr from Digging Into WordPress is asking “How Many Plugins is Too Many?

As of November 20, 2015 there have been 526 votes cast and showing the following results.

  • 42% say 11-25 plugins are a reasonable number for a site.
  • 38% say the fewer the better, but 1-10 plugins are essential.
  • 11% say it’s impossible to build anything without 26 – 50 plugins.
  • 4% agree 15-100 is the perfect number of plugins for the sites they build.
  • 3% say over 100 is ok, because WordPress can handle anything.
  • Only 1% viewed plugins as the root of all evil and shouldn’t be used.

Many commenters mentioned it’s not about quantity as much as it is about quality.

The problem with this poll is that ONE plugin is too many if it’s badly coded and wrecks the site’s performance, but you can run lots of plugins if they are lightweight. A simple site might have fewer than 10 plugins, but a more complex site is going to have a minimum of 20, just from the extensions added to support e-commerce, events, forms, etc. It’s possible for a site with 50 plugins to run just fine, but I always try not to use more plugins than I really need.
Sallie Goetsch

If you are heading over to cast your vote, please note that they are asking about “typical” WordPress plugins for the poll. If you’re not sure what a WordPress plugin is, or would like to view some recently reviewed plugins, check out the following posts on ClarkWP Magazine.

For More Information:

WordPress News: How to use GIT for WordPress Development

Do you like Time Travel? Do you also like saving your work files? Well now you can do both at the same time by using Git to save your files while keeping track of each change, to each file along the way. Once you’ve saved (committed) a file in the project, the old version is saved forever allowing you to travel back through time to make changes or revert back to old files when needed.

Imagine your just uploaded your beautiful new custom theme to your WordPress site and you realize that you forgot to save your old CSS file and you’ve just overwritten the old one on your web server. You now have no way to revert back to your latest version of the old layout in case you have problems with browser compatibility in the new layout.

Git is a very powerful version control system that allows you to keep track of all your files during a project so losing file version along the way will never happen. This requires a few extra steps during your saving process, but it has saved the skins of many programmers from all over the world every day. Now, we should all try to save backups of our projects and files to protect from data loss and keeping old versions. Git takes that idea but saves each version of that file since it was created. It also protects someone from editing a file at the same time someone else is, preventing overwriting of each others new version.

Let’s take a look at the Git structure to get a clear picture of how the system checks out and references each file.

Git file reference structure
Git file reference structure

This table shows us how Git associates each file to the master project. Each time a change is made, a “snapshot” of the entire file structure is made. This allows us to see our project in front of us, while old versions are saved and hidden from view unless we physically use our time travel capability to revert. Additionally, if no changes were made to a file in a new commit, the old version will automatically be referenced instead of uploading the unchanged file into the project commit. These basic features are why Git is so powerful and efficient, that might explain why 42.9% of professional software developers reporting that they use Git as their primary content version control system.

To learn more about Git the features and the benefits, please refer to these links from which this article was sourced.

WordPress News: Using MainWP to Manage Multiple WordPress Sites

If you are a WordPress website developer, then one of the tasks that must be accomplished is managing the websites of your clients. This usually entails logging-in to all of them, one at a time, if you need to publish posts, edit pages, or even do a periodic back-up. If you have ever encountered this problem, a self-hosted, open-source utility named MainWP can help.

MainWP is a back-end manager that blends seamlessly with WordPress allowing management of multiple sites from one back-end.

Setting-up MainWP

  1. Set-up a fresh install of WordPress on your preferred host (recommended).
  2. Keep the install fresh from outside plugins.
  3. Install MainWP Dashboard plugin.
  4. Install MainWP Child plugin on every site that you want to manage through MainWP.
  5. Add the URL, site name, user admin name, and any groups you want to assign it to.

The following video explains the process:

Beyond the Basics

MainWP is full featured allowing for the use of WordPress themes and plugins through the “Trusted” options. By default, none of your themes or plugins will be automatically updated unless you select the trusted option. If you do, then whenever it has an update available, it will automatically install. Another useful tool available from MainWP is the ability to do back-ups of all of you managed sites in one step. These back-ups can be scheduled on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule and allow the choice of doing a full back-up or a database only back-up.

For more information on using MainWP

WordPress Engine Disallowed Plugins & Alternatives

With over 36,000 plugins in the WordPress plugin repository, we only forbid a relative handful. There are pretty good odds that if you want to use a plugin on our infrastructure, you should feel free to use it! It’s your blog after all.
WP Engine Support Garage – Disallowed Plugins

Those listed as “forbidden” are as follows:

Caching Plugins

Caching Plugins aren’t needed since WordPress already has a built-in caching system to increase speed called EverCache.

These caching Plugins below clash with WordPress’ own caching system and will be removed automatically:

  • WP Super Cache
  • WP File Cache
  • WP Rocket
  • W3 Total Cache
  • WordFence

Batcache and other similar Plugins aren’t banned, but they also will not work with WordPress.

Backup Plugins

Backup Plugins simply aren’t needed, as WordPress performs automated backups on an efficient nightly basis, and is available to each user as a download (if they wish).  Backup Plugins are very much discouraged because they duplicate WordPress’ already functioning backup methods, they have been known to store large files insecurely, and run backups at very inconvenient times, causing significant delays on the server.

These Backup Plugins are not allowed on WordPress sites:

  • WP DB Backup
  • WP DB Manager
  • BackupWordPress
  • VisionPress

Though, if you must, WordPress permits VaultPress as the best backup Plugin option. However, VaultPress is not free. You may also use InfiniteWP and Dropbox in congruence with each other to effectively serve the same purpose for free.

Server & MySQL Plugins

These types of Plugins have been known to overload WordPress servers or send an alarming amount of MySQL queries, while interfering with other built-in WordPress systems.

This banned list includes:

  • Broken Link Checker
  • MyReviewPlugin
  • LinkMan
  • Fuzzy SEO Booster
  • WP PostViews
  • Tweet Blender

To check your site for broken links, you can either visit Online Broken Link Checker, or download Link Checker onto your computer.

Screen shot from brokenlinkchecker.comWordPress suggests the Jetpack Plugin or Google Analytics as safe alternatives to track website traffic.

Plugins That Duplicates WordPress’ Functionality

WordPress already has built-in systems that behave exactly like these Plugins, so not only are these non needed, but they’re also banned to allow better server flow:

  • No Revisions
  • Force Strong Passwords
  • WordFence
  • Bad Behavior

Email Plugins

While sending emails in WordPress is encouraged, email Plugins aren’t a great solution because they don’t offer the best service that WordPress strives for. This email Plugin used for email blasts has been added to the “bad” list:

  • WP Mailing List

Third-party services, such as MailChimpConstant Contact, and AWeber are excellent alternatives. For further information on how to conduct an email blast in WordPress, be sure to check out WP Engine’s Q & A emailing article.

Other Disallowed Plugins

  • Hello Dolly!
  • WP phpMyAdmin
  • Sweet Captcha
  • EWWW Image Optimizer

For Further Information

 

 

 

WordPress News: WordPress 4.4 Beta 1

wordpress-4-4On October 22, 2015 Scott Taylor, who is leading the WordPress 4.4 development cycle, announced the release of WordPress 4.4 Beta 1. It offers a wide variety of improvements and enhancements, and developers are excited to test drive the new version.

In a recent article, Scott gave the following recommendation:

This software is still in development, so we don’t recommend you run it on a production site. Consider setting up a test site just to play with the new version.

He went on to list four reasons to be excited about WordPress 4.4 Beta 1:

  • REST API (phase 1) — The underlying infrastructure of the WordPress REST API plugin is included in WordPress 4.4. Plugin authors can take advantage of this by adding custom endpoints.
  • Term Metadata — Taxonomy term metadata is included in WordPress 4.4. Developers who are using a plugin to implement term metadata should read this post on how to prepare for the switch. Also, the underlying WP_Term class improves caching when working with terms.
  • Improved <title> outputwp_title() is deprecated; WordPress will handle the rendering of the document title automatically.
  • Comments — Comment queries are now split for performance. Also, the underlying WP_Comment class improves caching and introduces strong-typing. (#8071, #32619)

In an article on the WP Tavern website, Jeff Chandler details whats under the hood, which may explain all the excitement.

Three New Distinct User Facing Features

  • Twenty Sixteen – Twenty Sixteen is a new default theme with a simple layout and color scheme designed by Takashi Irie, who also designed the Twenty Fourteen and Twenty Fifteen default themes.
  • Responsive Images – WordPress will automatically deliver a more appropriate image to users depending on a variety of conditions like screen size, view port size, and screen resolution.
  • oEmbed Posts – In addition to YouTube, WordCamp.TV and other whitelisted providers, users will be able to easily embed content from almost any site that supports the oEmbed standard, including WordPress sites.

More Information

WordPress News: CDN Enabler – WordPress CDN Plugin

CDN is short for Content Delivery Network which is a network of servers that deliver cached static content from websites to users based on the geographic location of the user. A CDN will not take the place of your web hosting account but simply improve website speeds.

Advantages of Using a CDN

When a website has a high volume of traffic then the site can overload the server, which leads to a slow loading site or even server crash. This is where a CDN comes in handy because it is a network of servers, but most importantly these servers are spread throughout the world.

When a CDN is being used, the static content is cached and stored on all of these servers. Static content includes images, stylesheets (css files), javascripts, Flash, etc. When a user visits the site (original server), the CDN technology redirects them to the closest server to their location.

If your website is receiving heavy traffic and you have not yet enabled an CDN here are some good reasons to get started today:

Choosing a CDN That’s Right For You

According to Brian Jackson, most people will configure their CDN with a caching Plugin such as WordPress Cache EnablerWP Rocket, WP Super Cache, or W3 Total Cache.

However, if you are running on a managed WordPress host such as Kinsta, WP Engine, or Pagely you might not want a full blown caching plugin just to enable your CDN. This is where the free lightweight CDN Enabler WordPress plugin from KeyCDN comes into play. Note: You don’t have to be using KeyCDN to take advantage of this plugin. It will work with any CDN provider.

Installing CDN Enabler – WordPress CDN Plugin

To install your CDN Plugin follow the simple five step process with screenshots. Once the Plugin is installed you will find the following features:

  • Ability to set up CDN URL. By default it will already have the “wp-content” and “wp-includes” folders setup.
  • By default it will have “.php” setup.
  • Relative paths are enabled by default.
  • Ability to enable HTTPS.

This is a screenshot of the CDN Enabler Settings in WordPress

 

For More Information on CDNs

WordPress News: Live Chat with Matt Mullenweg–Founder of WordPress

Product Hunt is a website that lets users share and discover new products, from apps, websites and technology products that everyone’s talking about. On September 22, 2015, Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, Automattic, JetPack, and Audrey Capital hosted a LIVE Chat on Product Hunt.

There’s a large list of participants (or community members) who ask Matt questions about almost everything; from what are his favorite apps on his phone, to questions about Plugins, themes, and new upcoming releases. One conversation between community member Nikhil VIMal and Matt that caught my interest is below in the screen shot provided:

Screen shot of a conversation between Nikhil and Matt on Prudhunt.com

Not all questions got answered, but Matt did a fantastic job answering as many as he could.

Maker Stories

Product Hunt also features podcasts called, Maker Stories. Episode 44: features Matt Mullenweg on hiring, investing and picking his friends wisely. Erik Torenberg–Product Hunt interviews Matt and has this to say about him:

Real pleasure to chat with Matt, the most successful humble person I know.

More Information

WordPress News: Emoji Coming to Jetpack

“Emoji” is a Japanese term meaning “picture character.” It’s a standard for showing smileys and other little symbols inside text. But unlike traditional smileys that are made up of a sequence of letters like :), every emoji has its own letter.
Marcus Kazmierczak

According to Sarah Gooding’s post, Twitter has “open sourced Twemoji,” meaning the emoji characters/symbols we all know and love to use on our phones are now accessible on twitter and can be seen all alike on mobile devices and desktops.Examples of emoji's used universally

In even more interesting news, Twitter also partnered up with Automattic to help WordPress do the same. Sarah also briefly explains how it may be easy to use emoji’s on a mobile device, but could prove slightly more challenging to desktop users. So to help she shared a small cheat sheet to use emoji on desktop.  She also says, “Mac users type Command + Control + Space while in a text editor. Windows… users can make use of the touch keyboard, which includes emoji support” (Sarah Gooding).

This is a great step for emoji users and it eraser a very annoying problem that’s been around for quite some time.

For More Information

Choosing the Right WordPress Theme

The choice is not as daunting as it might seem. The ability to keep in mind what the blog is trying to get across is paramount in selecting a theme. This is important, and can showcase the effectiveness of themes in regard to blog content, and layout.

The next thing to keep in mind is what the budget is for creating the blog because if you aren’t going with free then you will need to consider domain names and hosting costs.

Be mindful of the time it will take for research and development, as well as the cost. Many themes come with support or without support, and this should be considered when selecting a theme. When it comes to cost keep in mind the themes ability to be used again and again this will lend itself to versatility and functionality.

A very important decision to make for a blog is what it will look like. With WordPress there is a vast array of choices for the theme of a blog to take on.

Some things to consider when choosing a theme

  • Theme cost
  • Theme versatility
  • Theme supported/unsupported
  • Theme functionality
  • Theme layout
  • Theme effectiveness

These links have the information that this article was influenced by, and how I came to the conclusions about how to choose the right WordPress theme.

Automattic Acquires WooCommerce

In May 19th 2015 it was announced that Automattic would acquire WooCommerce . The article states that with most people have their sites built on open source software like WordPress. So when Automattic (what powers WordPress and a lot of Plugins) acquired WooCommererce it made it easier for people with businesses to sell their products. Continue reading Automattic Acquires WooCommerce

The New iOS and Android Apps Have Arrived

According to Hot Off The Press the new WordPress apps have arrived for Android 2.6 and Apple.

Some things that have changed are the sidebar and the tab-bar layout for the iOS. The latest WordPress update for Android consists of a redesigned interface and provides a much improved native reading experience, different things appear in a snap, and images fade as they are loaded.

 

For More Information

US Internet Competition and Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is important for small business owners, startups and entrepreneurs . Net Neutrality preserves our right to an open internet. An open internet allows these entrepreneurs to communicate freely on the web.

Protecting Entrepreneurs on the Web

In May 2014, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released a plan that would give internet service companies control over free speech on the web. This meant that they could block and discriminate against any applications or content that was carried on these networks. Internet service providers could charge websites and companies money in order to have their packets delivered faster. Advertisers with more money would get a higher speed and a student blogger might be slowed down.

Document signed by the President February 26, 2015.
A letter from the President expressing his support for Net Neutrality.

An internet protest was held by Etsy, WordPress, and Netflix to draw attention to the idea. Wheeler’s original proposal was shot down and revised after activists fought back. He based the new proposal of the Net Neutrality rules on Title II of the Communications Act, giving Internet users the strongest protections possible.

The FCC approved Wheeler’s proposal on Feb. 26, 2015. The rules rooted in Title II of the Communications Act ban throttling, blocking and paid prioritization.