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November 26, 2014

WPTavern: WordPress Theme Design Challenge Weekend December 13-14th

Design Challenge Featured Imagephoto credit: ashley rose,cc

In an effort to inspire WordPress theme designers and add a variety of new themes to the directory, the WordPress Theme Review Team is hosting a Design Challenge Weekend, December 13-14th. The challenge is meant to do the following:

  • Raise the design standard of the WordPress.org theme directory.
  • Match developers to designers.
  • Encourage designers to create themes.
  • Offer resources for designers to learn how to make themes.
  • Educate developers in design.

Leading up to the event, the team will hold a few learnups on Slack. Learnups are mini classes related to theme design. Dates have not been set but three individuals have been chosen to act as teachers.

Starting next week, things will get underway to establish a series of relationships between the following:

  1. Designers looking for developers.
  2. Developers looking for designers.
  3. Designers doing it for themselves.

Work will begin on a theme once pairs are established. Throughout the event, Slack (#themereview) will be used as the primary communication method to provide design critiques and updates. As Lister points out, “The main focus of the weekend is going to be helping each other and reveling in theme design.” If you have any questions or concerns, the best place to ask is in the comments of the official announcement post.

by Jeff Chandler at November 26, 2014 12:40 AM under inspiration

November 25, 2014

WPTavern: A Glimpse Into Serbia’s Rapidly Growing WordPress Community

After the dissolution of socialist Yugoslavia in the early 90’s, Serbia and its neighboring nations had an uphill climb to reach stability in their newly found autonomy. Transitioning from a planned economy to a market-driven economy was a challenge that Serbians have vigorously embraced over the past 20 years. Belgrade is now a growing center for information technology in Eastern Europe. In 2013, Serbia’s IT industry growth outpaced the rest of the economy by nearly 200%.

It’s no surprise then that the WordPress community in Serbia is growing in tandem and bursting at the seams. While a small country in the Balkan Peninsula may seem like an unlikely place for a thriving WordPress community, conditions are now ripe for the very first WordCamp Belgrade. The organizers’ budget was approved last week and the event is officially set for the weekend of April 18-19.

At WordCamp Europe I had the opportunity to meet several members of the Serbian WordPress community. While passing through Belgrade on my way out, I stopped in to spend time with community leaders Vladamir Prelovac and Milan Ivanović, who offered a glimpse into Serbia’s growing WordPress community.

From Zero to WordCamp in Under Two Years

4-wpserbia-meetup

Prelovac is a prolific plugin developer and founder of ManageWP, which was host to the first Serbian WordPress meetup in early 2013. Over the past two years, he’s watched the community go from virtually non-existent to hundreds of people.

“The WordPress community in Serbia is very, very young. It all started with a meetup held in the ManageWP’s office in early 2013, which hosted around 30 interested people,” he said. “But then it all went very fast from there. Three more meetups were organized since, with around 100 people attending each meetup.”

In a couple of weeks, the number of Serbian WP meetups will expand to five. The use of Meetup.com is not very popular in Serbia, so Facebook has been instrumental for organizing events. The WP Serbia Facebook group counts nearly 600 members, many of whom will be in attendance at the upcoming WordCamp.

“WordPress has been quickly recognized as a project that is easy to get involved with,” Prelovac said, commenting on the community’s growth. “People were eager to find out more on how they can contribute or start a business based on WordPress. For example, on the very first meetup we had the Themes Kingdom guys speaking about their theme business, which spawned a couple of theme-based businesses, some of which are already very successful.”

He also attributes the community’s growth to the energy and dedication of its organizers. “Milan Ivanović is leading the organization effort, as well as Marko Heijnen, who is playing an important role in making this community better known and recognized in the broader WordPress community. Our COO Ivan Bjelajac is also helping with logistics, promotion and local speakers.”

Milan Ivanović has been working with WordPress for six years. He is currently the Frontend Team Lead at Razor Communications, a Serbian-based digital agency, and is one of the organizers for WordCamp Serbia.

“People in Serbia saw the opportunity in getting hired remotely and that’s got to be the key to our rapid growth,” he said. “The open and helping community was also a solid foundation.”

During the first WordCamp Europe in 2013, Ivanović met Marko Heijnen, and the two agreed to put more effort into pushing the local WordPress community. “At that very same WordCamp, I met Milan Dinić who, for the past seven years, has been helping with the Serbian version of WordPress and everything that comes with it,” he said.

Shortly after that time, the group started organizing and formed a team of people to help with future meetups. “Up to the second WordPress Meetup we wasn’t sure how many people would attend and we were shocked when around 100 showed up. We saw the same number of attendees at the following meetups,” Ivanović said.

In May 2014, WordCamp Serbia organizers were approved to work on hosting a WordCamp in Belgrade. At the moment, they have capacity for 200 attendees.

Growing Job Market for WordPress Professionals in Serbia

The Belgrade metro area is home to approximately 1.65 million people, nestled between the Sava and Danube rivers. Economic freedom is on the upswing, which is one of the factors that make it an excellent place for businesses to thrive.

While the area has many WordPress-based businesses, Prelovac said that most WordPress professionals elect to be freelancers, finding ample opportunities in the very diverse commercial market created by WordPress.

It only took a couple of known WordPress local businesses to make the initial spark, and the community basically exploded from there, growing, maturing and becoming an organization on its own in a very short period of time.”

Ivanović shares the same outlook on Serbia’s job market for WordPress professionals. “Programming and development in general are blooming in Serbia and this whole region in the last couple of years. WordPress just caught that wave.

“More people are turning to freelancing or starting their own business each day,” he said. “Although there are lot of companies and start-ups specialized in building either clients websites or selling premium themes, through WP Meetups I can see that overall interest in WordPress is growing fast and we will work and try our best to bring WordPress to even more people in Serbia and the region.”

According to Prelovac, Serbian companies are very open to using open source software, especially startups. He has been at the helm of several successful commercial endeavors and believes that the region is ripe for entrepreneurs. “I’d say it was never better. The tech and startup scene in Serbia is blooming, giving a lot of opportunities to energetic, smart, and capable people.”

Ivanović echos that recommendation. “My advice for all of them is to start WordPress business ASAP! No matter how hard we try, still there are lots of websites that needs redesigning, and WordPress is the best solution for clients, nine out of ten times,” he said.

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Serbia and top talent seems to be readily available to companies in the region. WordPress is becoming one of the most important factors in the improved economic outlook for freelancers and small businesses.

Working Together with Neighboring Tech Communities

WordPress Communities of Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia at WordCamp Europe 2014WordPress Communities of Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia

The WordPress community in Serbia has a healthy relationship with neighboring communities, especially those in Croatia, Romania, and Bulgaria that share a similar history. “Our best relationship we have is with the PHP community in Serbia, but that one came pretty naturally for all of us,” Ivanović said. “There’s a large percentage of the same visitors attending WordPress and PHP conferences and meetups.”

The WordPress community also receives enormous support from the Serbian Startup community, which serves to encourage the local IT community to start innovative and successful entrepreneurial endeavors.

The community is also well connected with WP Croatia, and the two groups are working on organizing a special event to bring the communities together.

The Future of the Serbian WordPress Community

Organizing the first WordCamp Belgrade comes with its own set of unique challenges, which Prelovac identified as “inviting interesting speakers, attracting people wanting to visit Serbia and meet with this new community as well as discover the beauties of our country.” Belgrade isn’t yet a popular tourist destination, so the event is likely to be very focused on the local community.

“The WordCamp will no doubt be a huge deal for the further expansion of the community. I expect it to have several thousand members by the end of the next year,” he predicted.

Ivanović said he also predicts exponential growth as the result of bringing together the regional community for the event. “It feels like all the people here in Serbia and the whole region have been waiting for something to happen to make that small push over the edge and into community.”

by Sarah Gooding at November 25, 2014 11:23 PM under wordcamp belgrade

WPTavern: Where to Find WordPress Related Black Friday Deals

Black Friday Featured Imagephoto credit: kevin dooleycc

This is a great time of year if you’re in the market for themes, plugins, or webhosting. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving where many retailers offer deep discounts. In the past 2-3 years, WordPress businesses have done the same by offering substantial discounts for plugins and themes.

WPLift has a great roundup of deals covering themes, plugins, and webhosting. Several companies are offering 50% off themes and memberships. WP Mayor also has a collection of black Friday deals. Keep in mind that many of the deals and coupon codes will expire this weekend. If you have an offer not listed on either site linked above, tell us about it in the comments.

by Jeff Chandler at November 25, 2014 11:13 PM under deals

Matt: Life Hack

Life Hack: Put leftovers on top of your Mac Pro to keep them warm.

by Matt at November 25, 2014 06:06 PM under Asides

WPTavern: Override WordPress Comment Deadline Settings

comments

Many WordPress users elect to automatically close comments on older posts in order to keep the constant deluge of spam at bay. This method works, but it comes with a couple of drawbacks. The option, found under the Settings → Discussion screen, is essentially an an all-or-nothing choice on older posts.

The comment deadline setting is an unsparing guillotine that drops after a set number of days to cut off discussion, without regard for any conversations still in progress. The reality is that not all older content automatically becomes irrelevant after a set number of days. Certain posts may take months or even years to get found in the vast sea of content on the web. Moreover, some posts may not gain traction or ignite conversation until well after they were originally published.

The Override Comment Deadline plugin was created to offer authors a little more flexibility to leave comments open on select posts after the deadline set in the discussion settings. It adds a new metabox to the post edit screen where you can check a box to keep comments open.

override-comment-deadline

Scott Nelle, Application Developer at Union Street Media, created the plugin to do one simple thing- to keep comments open indefinitely on select posts. There’s no settings screen or anything else that needs to be configured. However, you will need to have assigned a number of days for automatically closing comments in the discussion settings in order for the plugin to be effective.

Many large blogs are turning off comments because of the time-consuming tasks of moderation and spam management. With the help of Override Comment Deadline, you can still close the door to hordes of spam on older, less relevant posts, while keeping comments open on posts where the conversation is still going strong.

If you have a strong readership surrounding your blog, the comments can oftentimes be more important than the original post. They become a treasure trove of information and interaction that transform your blog into a community, as opposed to just a soapbox. If you want the option to keep the conversation going on your most important posts, install the Override Comment Deadline plugin from WordPress.org.

by Sarah Gooding at November 25, 2014 05:09 PM under wordpress comments

WPTavern: 6 WordPress Things I’m Thankful For

Billion Thanks Featured Imagephoto credit: opensourcewaycc

As the US gets ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s the time of year where I stop to think about what I’m thankful for regarding WordPress. In no particular order, here are six things I’m thankful for when it comes to WordPress.

The Community

The WordPress community is a large reason for the project’s continued success. It’s filled with smart, passionate people, democratizing publishing on a global scale. WordPress is like an engine and the community is the oil. Without the community, the project would likely not be as large and successful as it is today.

WordPress, Plugin, and Theme Developers

Developers are the people who create solutions to problems. Thank you for everything that you do to help WordPress be a better project whether it’s through themes, plugins, or core contributions. I especially thank those who contribute to the project without being paid for it. WordPress wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for the generosity of so many developers.

Support Forum Volunteers

The people who volunteer time on the WordPress support forums are special. To millions of users, they represent the front line of the project. Most of them are not paid and provide support as a means of contributing to WordPress. Several support queries are resolved each week because of their dedication.

Meetup/WordCamp Organizers

Meetups bring users together to interact and learn about WordPress. They’re an important part of the community and project. WordCamps are a huge undertaking and provide great opportunities for local communities to learn about WordPress. Not everyone has the skills to organize these events. It takes someone with passion, dedication, energy, and time. Thank you to everyone who has played a role in organizing either a meetup or WordCamp.

Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg

If Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little did not fork of b2 in 2003, WordPress may not exist. Thank you both for getting the ball rolling in 2003.

WP Tavern Supporters

Last but not least, thank you to those who continue to read the Tavern on a daily basis and support the work we do. Whether it’s commenting on articles, interacting with us on Twitter, or listening to WordPress Weekly, your involvement with the Tavern is an important part of the site’s success.

What Are You Thankful For?

Even if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, there’s probably a few things you’re thankful for when it comes to WordPress. Tell us about them in the comments.

by Jeff Chandler at November 25, 2014 03:05 AM under thanksgiving

November 24, 2014

WPTavern: BuddyPress 2.2 on Track to Provide a Basic Member Type API

photo credit: Dunechaser - ccphoto credit: Dunechasercc

BuddyPress 2.2 is under active development and contributors are close to having the basics of a new Member Type API on board for the upcoming release. The new API would allow developers to separate users into different types, a common request for many BuddyPress-powered communities. User types make it possible to create some interesting community features, such as restricting content, filtering the member directory, assigning different permissions, and displaying profiles in a unique way for different types of members.

BuddyPress lead developer Boone Gorges proposed the enhancement in a ticket that outlines developers’ need for this API. “It’s time for BP to provide the basics of a User Type API, so that plugin devs and site builders will have some common tools for building the user type functionality required by their implementation,” Gorges said.

In the past, Gorges, like many others, used xprofile, taxonomies, and usermeta to create user types. For BuddyPress 2.2, he is proposing that BP register a private taxonomy 'bp_user_type'. Registering a member type would require a new function. Gorges’ first pass at the member type API adds bp_register_member_type( $type, $args ), with syntax similar to what you might use to register a custom post type or a custom taxonomy. Gorges provided an example mu-plugin to demonstrate how simple it will be to register a new member type.

At the moment, the UI for the Member Type API is very basic. When member types have been registered, you will see a meta box added to the community profile screen in the admin. This will allow admins to change a user’s member type, which is currently limited to one. The 2.2 release may ship with support for one member type or it may support multiple types, depending on how the feature evolves during this development cycle.

The Member Type API won’t actually do anything visible for users in the first iteration. It’s purely a feature for developers that will enable them to build their own interfaces for creating and managing user types. The idea has been well-received by BuddyPress developers who are excited to have a standard way to accomplish user type requests that are common to building niche social networks.

BuddyPress 2.2 is expected at the end of January 2015. The Member Type API isn’t yet a lock but appears to be on track for inclusion in the next release. If you have any feedback to offer, feel free to jump in on the relevant ticket (#6006) on BuddyPress trac.

by Sarah Gooding at November 24, 2014 11:36 PM under buddypress member type api

WPTavern: WooThemes Launches Storefront, A Free WordPress Theme with WooCommerce Integration

photo credit: WooThemesphoto credit: WooThemes

WooCommerce recently passed five million downloads, shortly before the Woo team kicked off the first WooConf earlier this month. The conference, devoted solely to WooCommerce, sold out with 300 attendees. The plugin had 294 contributors on its most recent 2.2 release and is currently being used on 18% of all e-commerce sites on the web.

Building on the global success of the plugin and its many commercial extensions, the folks at WooThemes are now branching out into selling theme extensions for the new official WooCommerce theme. Storefront landed in the WordPress Themes Directory last week and already has three commercial extensions available.

Although the theme appears to be very plain, it’s meant to be a starting place that includes deep WooCommerce integration. Storefront was designed to be lean, extensible, and an example of WooCommerce theme development standards.

storefront

The theme does not include any sliders, shortcodes, or page builders but exists to promote a more modular approach building e-commerce sites. Instead of dumping a bunch of functionality into the theme, WooThemes opted to keep it a simple foundation for building WooCommerce projects.

That doesn’t mean that Storefront is completely bare bones. In fact, it includes an impressive array of options built into WordPress’ native customizer. Users can easily customize the background color/image, header image, footer colors (header, text, link, and background), button colors, and site layout. Storefront was built to be responsive and offers multiple widget areas for further customization, including sidebar, header, and four areas in the footer. The live demo features example products and a custom header in place.

WooThemes used the Underscores starter theme to build Storefront. Users can upload a custom logo by adding Jetpack, as the theme includes support for the new site logo feature.

With the help of WooTheme’s free Homepage Control plugin, it’s easy to customize the appearance and arrangement of featured products, categories, recent products, sale items, popular products, etc.

Storefront also includes deep integration for WooCommerce’s most popular extensions, including the following:

Theme developers looking to build products that integrate with these extensions need look no further than the official Storefront theme. It was created to be a prime example.

The WooCommerce team built Storefront with data portability in mind, so that users will be able to easily switch themes without losing their content. That’s why they opted not to include any extra functionality in the theme, as explained in the release announcement:

By not including these features you’re free to add them via whichever plugin you prefer, and if/when you switch themes later on down the road all of those features will remain. We firmly believe that building Storefront this way means you will be less likely to need or want to switch, but at the same time wholeheartedly encourage the entrepreneurial opportunity that WooCommerce offers for theme developers far and wide.

With WooCommerce leading the WordPress e-commerce market, this theme should help to provide a standard reference for developers integrating the plugin’s features and its extensions with themes. If the popularity of the core plugin and its extensions are any indication, the launch of Storefront should accelerate the creation of new designs and ignite developers to start building new products for the theme. Check out Storefront on GitHub or download it via WordPress.org.

by Sarah Gooding at November 24, 2014 07:26 PM under woothemes

November 22, 2014

WPTavern: WordPress 4.1 to Remove Custom Background and Header Admin Screens

admin-header-screen

WordPress theme developers will be pleased to know that the upcoming 4.1 release will remove the custom background and header screens in the admin. These screens will be replaced with deep-links to the customizer. To be clear, header and background menus will still appear in the admin, but they will be deep-linked to the customizer.

This is good news for WordPress theme developers, because they will no longer have to style the custom header and background screens.

When exploring different solutions in discussion on the ticket, Nick Halsey noted that new users expect to find that functionality in the customizer with the other options:

The key issue to consider is whether hiding these pages will cause issues for updating users. New users actually tend to have trouble with the separate headers page, expecting that functionality to be in the customizer.

Header upload was pulled out of the customizer in WordPress 3.4, due to issues with cropping header images. For the past two years, the extra admin pages were confusing for users. With some theme controls in the customizer and others available in the admin, the experience of customizing themes was inconsistent and divided between the front and back ends.

Changes coming in 4.1 will replace the custom background/header screen links in admin menu and toolbar with deep-links to the customizer on the frontend. The widgets screen will also display a link to the customizer widgets panel. In the future, the plan is to remove these admin links entirely in favor of streamlining everything to the customizer.

by Sarah Gooding at November 22, 2014 02:14 AM under wordpress 4.1

November 21, 2014

WPTavern: Hierarchy Plugin Enhances WordPress as a CMS

hierarchy

WordPress 3.0 introduced the ability for developers to register their own custom post types, enabling the software to be used more easily as a CMS. Custom post types ushered in a new era that allowed plugin developers to create and organize content in a more modular way.

If you’ve ever tried to explain the concept of custom post types to someone, you may have found that they are more easily understood as custom content types. One thing that makes them confusing is the fact that are usually found floating around in the admin as top level menu items. Custom post types often have no context, which makes it difficult to know how they will appear on the frontend of your site.

The Hierarchy plugin aims to solve this problem by moving custom post type admin menus into your pages list. Ordinarily, CPTs have their own menu items and the page menu structure doesn’t accurately reflect where the content is located, as shown in the example below.

cpt-admin

Custom post types are often used to power various sections of a website. Hierarchy works to improve the content editing workflow by intelligently including custom post type admin links within the page structure. In place of the Pages menu in the admin you’ll see a new Content menu, with custom post types, such as locations, people, and knowledgebase, added under their corresponding pages.

hierarchy-in-action

Version 1.0 of the plugin includes Dashicons support and a button to add a new page. Each content type is displayed with contextual links within the hierarchical view of content. You can hover over an entry to display the edit, view, and taxonomy links.

hierarchy-contextual-links

Hierarchy also includes a settings page that allows you to designate which custom post types will be included in the hierarchy display, as well as the ability to disable new entries and set the menu order. You can also elect to hide CPTs from the admin menu so that they only show up within the Hierarchy structure.

hierarchy-settings

When WordPress is used primarily as a CMS, pages often become the backbone for organizing the site’s content. This plugin addresses the lack of hierarchical structure in the admin. Jonathan Christopher, founder of SearchWP, wrote Hierarchy two years ago and has found it to be indispensable when creating websites for clients. He released version 1.0 of the plugin this week, which is essentially a complete rewrite of the previous version. If you’re looking to simplify CPT admin menus and streamline editing, check out Hierarchy on WordPress.org.

by Sarah Gooding at November 21, 2014 09:35 PM under custom post types

WPTavern: WordPress 4.0.1 Exposes Bad Development Practices Used in Some Plugins

Plugins Broken Featured Imagephoto credit: David Glovercc

With the release of WordPress 4.0.1 less than 24 hours old, we’ve received reports of plugins breaking due to the update. For example, Cool Video Gallery is broken because of the way it handles custom shortcode attribute parsing instead of using the Shortcode API built into WordPress. Mika Epstein, who is a support forum volunteer, published a post in the support forum that explains the problem and the best way to fix it.

If you’ve upgraded to WordPress 4.0.1 and a feature using shortcodes has broken (like a slider, or a visual composer), the reason is that code wasn’t properly using the WP Shortcode API.

Code that parsed shortcodes themselves, instead of using the normal add_shortcode handlers and such, may be surprised by the new behavior of texturize, because the quote marks in what WP thinks isn’t a shortcode get texturized now like everything else. So their filters, which probably come after texturize, don’t get the expected quote marks.

For users, the best way to fix this is upgrade. Many plugins have already released fixes, more are on the way. While it is possible to downgrade to WP 4.0, we really hope you don’t because of how serious the security fixes were. If you absolutely MUST downgrade, please nag your plugin/theme devs a lot to fix this STAT. Or stop using their stuff. It’s that big.

For developers, if you’re making shortcodes, use the Shortcode API instead of rolling your own.

Ticket 29557 in Trac describes the issue in detail. Unfortunately, some users have downgraded to WordPress 4.0 in order to fix plugin’s they rely on. Considering that 4.0.1 is a critical update filled with security and bug fixes, it’s strongly recommended that you don’t downgrade to 4.0. Instead, use the plugin’s support forum and notify the developer of the issues you’re having.

But Point Releases Are Not Supposed to Break Anything

The biggest concern users have with auto updates is the fear something will break. By default, WordPress 3.7 and above is configured to automatically update WordPress for point releases which generally contain security and or bug fixes. These kind of updates normally don’t break anything but in this case, several of the plugins were already broken and the update exposed bad development practices used by plugin authors.

All it takes is one bad experience during an auto update to lose trust in the system. With over half of WordPress installs tracked using 3.6 or earlier, we can ill afford to have anymore users disable automatic updates.

by Jeff Chandler at November 21, 2014 06:22 PM under wordpress 4.0.1

WPTavern: CyberChimps is Looking For Investors

CyberChimps, founded by Trent Lapinski, is seeking acquisition offers. Lapinski cites the reason as becoming too big too fast. CyberChimps owns and maintains Responsive, one of the most popular themes in the WordPress theme directory. CyberChimps also maintains iFeature, another popular theme closing in on 1M downloads. The core of the business is services, paid memberships, and commercial add-ons for themes and plugins. The company has over 1M free users of its products and over 34,000 paying customers.

Screenshot of ResponsiveScreenshot of Responsive

Despite living in San Francisco for two years and speaking with several investors, Lapinski has yet to find a proper fit. “We have tapped our social networks, explored every possible opportunity, and after four years of bootstrapping and massive traction we need a new strategy.”

An acquisition would help propel the company to new heights while maintaining existing products and customer relationships. “This is the right time both for the CyberChimps team and the CyberChimps community to make a change. What we are able to do for the company and for the community has simply plateaued. It’s time to pass the torch onto someone else.” Lapinski said.

Responsive 2 ScreenshotResponsive 2

CyberChimps customers don’t need to worry about any immediate changes. Lapinski promises to notify customers well in advance when negotiations are finalized. “We’ll be sure to announce well in advance the date that the final transfer will take place along with any changes to be aware of if applicable. We’ll do our best to make this transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved, especially our customers and community.”

If you have a serious offer or would like to learn more about the company, you can contact Lapinski directly via email: trent at cyberchimps.com.

by Jeff Chandler at November 21, 2014 05:11 PM under responsive

Matt: Science of Hits

“Because the most-popular songs now stay on the charts for months, the relative value of a hit has exploded. The top 1 percent of bands and solo artists now earn 77 percent of all revenue from recorded music, media researchers report. And even though the amount of digital music sold has surged, the 10 best-selling tracks command 82 percent more of the market than they did a decade ago. The advent of do-it-yourself artists in the digital age may have grown music’s long tail, but its fat head keeps getting fatter.” — The Shazam Effect.

by Matt at November 21, 2014 05:15 AM under Asides

WPTavern: WPWeekly Episode 171 – Interview With WP101 Founder, Shawn Hesketh

In this episode, Marcus Couch and I discuss WordPress 4.1 beta 1, the delay of Composer by SIDEKICK, and a revamped WP eCommerce plugin. Later in the show, we’re joined by the founder of WP101, Shawn Hesketh. Hesketh shares his work process, the equipment used to record videos, and what parts of WordPress user’s struggle with the most.

Stories Discussed:

WordPress 4.1 Beta 1 Now Available for Testing
SIDEKICK Delays The Release of Composer
WP eCommerce Has a New Home

Plugins Picked By Marcus:

Bulk Deactivate is fantastic for discovering plugin conflicts and fixing support items. This let’s you deactivate your plugins in bulk so you can isolate the problem.

JM Twitter Cards adds the appropriate metadata on a WordPress website allowing you to get Twitter cards for posts based on its settings.

Google News Editors Picks Feed Generator generates not one but two, highly customizable Google News Editors’ Picks RSS Feeds. You can customize required feed images, names, titles, descriptions and more! You can also exclude articles from feeds and enter custom meta descriptions from the lightweight, custom meta box located on post.php (edit) screens.

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, November 26th 9:30 P.M. Eastern

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Itunes: Click here to subscribe

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via RSS: Click here to subscribe

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Stitcher Radio: Click here to subscribe

Listen To Episode #171:

by Jeff Chandler at November 21, 2014 02:33 AM under wp101

November 20, 2014

WPTavern: WP Engine Partners with 10up to Launch Enterprise HHVM WordPress Hosting Platform

WP Engine is launching its high availability enterprise hosting platform today. The new product is called Mercury and it’s built to provide HHVM (with PHP-FPM failover) to customers who require better PHP performance.

WP Engine is one of the first WordPress managed hosts to offer HHVM (HipHop Virtual Machine), a PHP execution engine originally created by Facebook to help make its infrastructure more efficient. Since HHVM is still new and isn’t 100% stable in production environments, WP Engine has opted to provide automatic fallback to its default PHP stack. This failover protection is invisible to visitors and is only in use 0.1% of the time while HHVM restarts.

WP Engine partnered with 10up, a WordPress development agency, to design and create a system to bring HHVM to customers. Benchmarks reported by 10up indicate staggering performance improvements of up to 600%.

On a generic WordPress + bbPress installation with no page caching, HHVM delivers on average a 5.6 faster response time over multiple tests:

WPE Charts

When testing bbPress with 250 concurrent logged-in users, HHVM consistently delivers a 3.6x faster response time. A regular WordPress site with a custom theme and plugins resulted in approximately 3.9 times faster response time with HHVM as compared to PHP-FPM. At the moment, HHVM doesn’t play well with BuddyPress but WP Engine plans to discuss this with John James Jacoby in the near future to see what can be done.

10up founder Jake Goldman believes that HHVM will perform even better over time and become more affordable:

Mirroring the history of air travel, Mercury will invariably become smoother, more affordable, and more accessible with time. We’re already excited by the early results: bbPress response times up to 5.6x faster, 3.6x faster at just 740ms with 250 concurrent visitors.

10up volunteered its site as the first test case and is currently running on the new Mercury platform.

Other developers have also been experimenting with WordPress on HHVM since earlier this year, achieving similar results in terms of performance improvement:

The Future of HHVM and WordPress Hosting

How long will it be before HHVM is the most common PHP engine for all WordPress managed hosts? Given how new and unstable it currently is, most hosts are not rushing to provide HHVM. However, the advances made by the collaboration between 10up and WP Engine should help to move other hosts along.

“I think it is important to note that the Facebook HHVM open source team is really responsive to issues, thoughts, and feedback,” WP Engine representative Tomas Puig told the Tavern. “So it bodes super well for the future of us moving more WordPress systems to the technology.”

Puig is optimistic that WP Engine and 10up’s work with HHVM will help to provide valuable feedback for WordPress core. “I deeply believe in Matt’s recent statements on WordPress as an application framework and the API work the core team is doing,” Puig said. “I think that HHVM enables us to build more rich experiences with WordPress in a more performant manner and that’s exciting. So really we want to elevate the community as a whole to getting our code ready for it.”

Mercury customers will be given a Vagrant configuration to use for local development, and Puig said that the company is wiling to provide the configuration to anyone who requests it.

One challenge for developers using HHVM is knowing what plugins are compatible with it. “Something I’d love to see is an option to mark plugins and themes in the official repository as HHVM tested,” Puig said. WP Engine is starting to conduct a large round of basic testing to find out which popular plugins are compatible with HHVM. “We’ll be releasing that list to the community as a whole so people know where to look and are also working with plugin developers and theme shops to get their code ready,” he said.

On the HHVM side, WP Engine has been instrumental in paving the way for other open source projects to take advantage of it. Paul Tarjan, Facebook’s head of Open Source for HHVM, highlighted the importance of this partnership in the Mercury announcement:

The WP Engine Labs team has done an impressive job in democratizing HHVM for the open-source community. We are excited to work alongside the Labs team to fine-tune the stack to reach HHVM’s full potential and drastically speed up PHP execution. PHP is the bedrock of Facebook, as well as much of the Internet, and this announcement should come as a major fillip for the entire developer community.

The launch of Mercury means that many more WordPress users will have the opportunity to have their sites running on HHVM. As WordPress-specific issues are ironed out through WP Engine’s collaboration with the HHVM developers, it should become more stable over time.

by Sarah Gooding at November 20, 2014 10:00 PM under wp engine

WPTavern: WordPress 4.0.1 is a Critical Security Release that Fixes a Cross-Site Scripting Vulnerability

WordPress core contributors released a security update today. All users who have not yet received the automatic update are encouraged to update as soon as possible. WordPress 4.0.1 is a critical security release that provides a fix for a critical cross-site scripting vulnerability, originally reported by Jouko Pynnonen on September 26th.

Sites running WordPress versions 3.9.2 and earlier are affected by the vulnerability. Although installs running 4.0 are not specifically affected, this security update also includes fixes for 23 bugs and eight security issues.

According to the official WordPress version usage stats, only 14.4% of sites are currently running 4.0. This means that the vast majority of WordPress sites and in need of this critical update. A large number of those sites are also running versions that pre-date the automatic background updates that were introduced in WordPress 3.7.

wp-versions

If you want to keep your site on the cutting edge of security updates, it’s critical to have automatic background updates enabled. If you haven’t manually turned them off, WordPress 3.7+ has automatic updates enabled for minor releases by default. This includes maintenance, security, and translation file updates.

Millions of WordPress sites around the web are being updated to 4.0.1 right now and older releases will be updated to 3.9.3, 3.8.5, or 3.7.5, as outlined in Andrew Nacin’s security release announcement. If you don’t want to wait for the automatic update, you can always go to Dashboard → Updates in the admin and update immediately.

by Sarah Gooding at November 20, 2014 07:36 PM under security

WPTavern: DigitalOcean Is Now the Third Largest Hosting Provider, WordPress Droplets Account for 23%

digital-ocean

In just under two years, DigitalOcean has managed to sail past competitors to become the world’s third largest hosting provider, according to a recent report published by Netcraft. The company’s SSD-based cloud hosting products cater to developers and other tech-savvy customers.

As of November, DigitalOcean counts a total 187,866 active users running a cloud server (or “Droplet”), thanks in large part to the company’s affordable pricing structure, which starts at $5/month.

How many DigitalOcean customers are running WordPress?

I spoke with Tyler Hoffman, a DigitalOcean representative, who reports that the the company hosts 13,000 active 1-click WordPress droplets, a number which continues to grow each day. “These WordPress sites account for 3.74% of our total active ‘droplets,'” he said.

These figures are based solely on users who have deployed DigitalOcean’s 1-click WordPress images and do not take into account any custom WordPress images. The total number of WordPress droplets is likely much higher. In fact, at the end of October, Netcraft reported that “more than 23% of the active sites hosted at DigitalOcean are running WordPress, compared with less than 10% of all other active sites around the world.”

At the moment, the company doesn’t seem to be actively trying to attract WordPress customers. Nevertheless, Hoffman reports that WordPress customers are on the rise. In October 2014, DigitalOcean users launched an average of 220 WordPress droplets per day via the 1-click method, roughly 6,600 per month. As WordPress currently powers more than 23% of the web, it will be interesting to see how much of that market the company will be able to capture.

Netcraft reports that DigitalOcean is currently netting more than 68,000 new customers per month. In general, developers seem to appreciate the speed of deployment, the simplicity of the hosting interface, and the API for managing droplets and resources.

The company is still relatively new to the hosting industry and caters heavily to developers, which makes its rise to being the third largest provider all the more remarkable. Although DigitalOcean’s products don’t necessarily cater to the average non-developer WordPress user, the company seems to have no problem adding WordPress customers to its user base.

by Sarah Gooding at November 20, 2014 12:23 AM under hosting

November 19, 2014

WPTavern: Dailybolt – It’s Like WordPress Planet For The Genesis Framework

If you have trouble keeping up with everything that’s happening in the Genesis WordPress community, you might be interested in a new site created by Andrea Whitmer called The Dailybolt. The Dailybolt publishes excerpts from sites that routinely write about the Genesis Framework by StudioPress. It’s powered by WordPress and uses the Whitespace Pro theme.

The Daily BoltThe Daily Bolt

The site allows Whitmer to conveniently read material mostly devoted to Genesis without having to use social media or a Feedreader. “Yes, I know how RSS works, but I subscribe to a lot of blogs in several different niches. I kept thinking it would be awesome to have a way to access the latest Genesis tutorials or articles without hunting them down on social media or in my RSS reader,” Whitmer said.

I asked Whitmer if she plans to manually curate articles so the site contains more content dedicated to Genesis, “I created the site after polling my mailing list several months ago and they seemed interested in all the content coming from the community. So as of right now, I don’t plan to cull the other posts. However, I may remove some sites if they consistently publish articles about non-Genesis topics.”

You can subscribe to the site via RSS or email. Those who subscribe by email will receive a daily digest of headlines. Aside from being a cool domain, it’s a convenient way to keep tabs on the Genesis WordPress community which has become a cottage industry. Are there any sites you’d like to see added to The Dailybolt? Give us a link in the comments.

by Jeff Chandler at November 19, 2014 08:37 PM under studiopress

WPTavern: New WordPress Plugin Boilerplate Generator Speeds Plugin Creation

When version 3.0 of the WordPress Plugin Boilerplate was released, it came with a brand new community website. After three years of continual improvement, creator Tom McFarlin felt that the project had finally matured enough to warrant its own branding and website.

As the boilerplate gained traction, McFarlin started receiving numerous requests for a generator to simplify the process of searching and replacing text strings throughout the boilerplate’s codebase. Although the boilerplate greatly speeds the process of structuring a new plugin to use a standardized, object-oriented foundation, it still requires the developer to manually replace strings for the plugin name, slug, URI and author info.

Fans of the boilerplate have tried different approaches while attempting to come up with a generator, including one that uses a grunt-init template to generate a plugin from the boilerplate. While this solution generates a plugin in about 30 seconds flat, grunt isn’t necessarily a part of every developer’s workflow.

Today, McFarlin introduced a new generator option created by Enrique Chavez, which provides the simplest approach to date. The WordPress Plugin Boilerplate Generator is a web app that generates a plugin without you having to replace any text strings.

wpb-generator

Simply enter your plugin information into the form on the site. When you click the “Build” button, the app will pull the code from the Boilerplate’s master branch on GitHub and will automatically replace all the necessary text strings. The result is your customized plugin delivered in a tidy zip file. If you use the WordPress Plugin Boilerplate as a starting point for your new plugins, this generator is a handy site to bookmark.

The WordPress Plugin Boilerplate has now been starred more than 2,400 times on GitHub and has been forked more than 600 times. The project currently boasts 46 contributors and continues to grow. McFarlin plans to add more helpful resources to the boilerplate’s community site in early 2015 along with detailed documentation.

by Sarah Gooding at November 19, 2014 08:02 PM under wordpress plugin boilerplate

WPTavern: WP eCommerce Has a New Home

In what has been a long time coming, WP eCommerce has changed the URL of its website from GetShopped.org to WPEcommerce.org. Between the Shopp e-commerce plugin and Getshopped.org, it was confusing as to which product the site represented. The move to a more recognizable URL is the pinnacle of a series of improvements the project has undergone in the past few years.

WP Ecommerce WebsiteWP eCommerce Has a New Home

A Multi-Year Rewrite of WP eCommerce

At nearly a decade old, WP eCommerce has gone through its share of ups and downs. It has a reputation among some developers in the WordPress community as being bloated and poorly coded. “The purpose of the rewrite is to bring us back up to latest WP coding standards,” Dan Milward, Founder of WP eCommerce, told the Tavern. “When we first released ​WP eCommerce, WordPress had sketchy coding standards at best (WordPress was at v1.5)​. As such, ​making a complex eCommerce Plugin back in the day was difficult and we had to do things in ways that are now frowned upon.”

To put this in perspective, custom post types, taxonomies, and many of the hooks and filters developers rely on today simply didn’t exist. The legacy code has plagued the project from the beginning and is largely responsible for its negative reputation.

Not having a robust set of WordPress coding standards to develop from allowed other eCommerce plugins to enter the market and leap frog over WP eCommerce. “We feel like those days are behind us and that it’s our turn to do some leap frogging.” Milward said. The alignment with today’s coding standards means WP eCommerce has a smaller footprint, runs faster, and is easier to maintain.

A Team Effort

Gary Cao, who previously lead the development of WP eCommerce, helped pave the way towards aligning it with today’s coding standards. Justin Sainton, co-founder of WP eCommerce, has taken over the role and is leading the development of WP eCommerce. Sainton is a well known developer in the WordPress community and has an impressive array of core contributions to WordPress.

Sainton and Milward approach problems from very different yet, complimentary angles. The relationship has helped create a better business allowing each to focus on their core strengths. The WP eCommerce support team has been instrumental in being the front line of the company. “These folks are the front line and they are turning public opinion around in the WordPress.org forums and in premium support​. They are doing a great job at serving the WP community,” Milward said.

Pippin Williamson of EDD With 45 Commits to WP eCommercePippin Williamson of EDD With 45 Commits to WP eCommerce

Contributions have come from non WP eCommerce core developers as well, including the competition. Pippin Williamson, founder of Easy Digital Downloads, has 45 commits to the project since 2013. In early 2013, Williamson explained in detail why he contributes to WP eCommerce.

I empathize with projects attempting to overcome a bad reputation when they clearly want to earn a better reputation. If you write bad code and never actually try to improve your project then I have a hard time believing you actually care about your users’ experience. The team behind WP e-Commerce is NOT one of those teams that doesn’t care about improving their plugin. They are one of the most down to earth, caring team of developers I’ve met. They really, really care about their users and customers, and they truly want to make WPEC a kick ass plugin again.

Ben​ Huson​, Lee​ Willis​, Jeff​ Shutzman​,​ and Curtis McHale, among others also contribute to the project.

The Future of WP eCommerce

With the launch of the new site complete, Milward says the next feature they’re working on is implementing a theme engine based on the work John James Jacoby put into bbPress and BuddyPress. New object-oriented APIs and integration with the upcoming WP-API are among some of the other features planned for a future release. There will also be improvements to the WP eCommerce marketplace ecosystem for developers.

Time to Give it Another Chance?

WP eCommerce is nine years old and continues to chip away at legacy code, but has made substantial improvements over the past two years. Perhaps it’s time developers and users give it another chance. WP eCommerce is free to use and available in the WordPress plugin directory. If you’ve recently launched a project or use WP eCommerce, feel free to share your experience in the comments.

by Jeff Chandler at November 19, 2014 06:30 PM under wp ecommerce

November 18, 2014

WPTavern: Automattic Open Sources Its DMCA Process Docs on GitHub

photo credit: Peter Slutskyphoto credit: Peter Slutsky

A couple months ago, Automattic made headlines with its public dismissal of Janet Jackson’s spurious claims of trademark and copyright infringement. Jackson is now a fixture in the company’s Hall of Shame, along with others who have issued abusive takedown demands. Automattic considers these a threat to freedom of speech and has even taken to the courts to protect users from DMCA abuse.

Today, the company is open sourcing its DMCA process docs under the Legalmattic repository on GitHub, which sports the tagline “Democratizing WordPress.com legalese since 2014.” This collection of documents contains more than two dozen ‘predefined replies’ that Automattic uses when corresponding to various parties in the event of a complaint. It also includes a copy of the DMCA Takedown Notice and Counter Notice documents.

The team at Automattic hopes that the open source DMCA process docs will help others to more easily implement their own processes for dealing with takedown notices. These documents are a valuable resource for small businesses and individuals who don’t have a legal team at their disposal to draft up appropriate replies to complaints. The DMCA process docs are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license and users are encouraged to re-use and edit them for their own purposes.

Whether you administer a large blogging network or simply maintain a small blog of your own, Automattic’s predefined responses may provide a good starting point for getting a grasp on the language and the process of dealing with DMCA complaints.

by Sarah Gooding at November 18, 2014 11:04 PM under dmca

WPTavern: I18n and RTL Support Are Top Priorities For Web Savvy Marketing

photo credit: Sarah Elizabeth Altendorf - ccphoto credit: Sarah Elizabeth Altendorfcc

This year’s State of the Word at WordCamp San Francisco emphasized WordPress going global through improvements to internationalization. This year also marks the first time non-English downloads of WordPress have surpassed its English counterpart.

Catering to Customer’s Needs

With WordPress raising the bar, it won’t be long until users and customers expect themes and plugins to be translatable and available in multiple languages. Rebecca Gill, of Web Savvy Marketing, announced its catalog of themes are now translatable and coded for localization and multilingual use.

In her post, Gill explains the thought process behind the move.

If 50% of our product sales are internationally based, then I need to spend time making sure these buyers are being taken care of and clearly I wasn’t. I was expecting this to be handled by Genesis, the WordPress core, or translation plugins.

I didn’t realize how badly I was ignoring the needs of our international customer base. And for that, I am truly sorry.

The work was completed through a collaborated effort between Carrie Dils, Nir Rosenbaum, and Gary Jones. Each theme has been updated to include I18n and RTL (Right to Left) support. Files included in each theme are:

  • POT File – A file with i18n ready strings.
  • en_US.po File – A file with translated strings and English strings.
  • en_US.mo File – A file converted to a format optimized to be read by machines.
  • RTL Style Sheet – Overwrites horizontal positioning attributes of your CSS stylesheet in a separate stylesheet file named rtl.css.

Ever theme is an opportunity to learn techniques, code, and best-practices. I believe the quickest way to make an impact and to raise awareness is for commercial theme companies to support and advertise I18n and RTL as cool features.

The fact these improvements are part of a smart business move doesn’t detract from their importance. The more theme developers and companies who place I18n and RTL near the top of the priority list, the better.

by Jeff Chandler at November 18, 2014 11:02 PM under web savvy marketing

WPTavern: 20 Reasons To Attend a WordCamp

Ask twenty people why you should go to a WordCamp and you’ll likely receive 20 different answers. A recent post by Waseem Abbas, of Cloudways, is proof positive. He asked 20 different members of the WordPress community, including yours truly, why you should attend a WordCamp. He’s compiled the answers into a slidehsare document.

Like Heather Baker Steele, I view WordCamps as family reunions with family members I want to socialize with! The WordPress family continues to grow rapidly every year and WordCamps are opportunities to not only strengthen relationships but also to create new ones.

Check out the official WordCamp schedule to see if there’s an event near you. Also check Meetup.com to see if there’s a WordPress meetup close by. WordPress meetups are like WordCamps but on a much smaller scale.

Last but not least, if you’re planning on going to your first WordCamp, read this survival guide by Carrie Dils. The guide contains advice that improves the chance you’ll have a great experience.

What’s your reason for attending a WordCamp?

by Jeff Chandler at November 18, 2014 08:59 PM under wordcamps

WPTavern: Postmatic Now Supports 1-Click Migration of Subscribers from Jetpack

postmatic

Postmatic is hoping to revolutionize WordPress comments by giving readers a way to subscribe to new posts/comments via email and leave a comment by simply hitting reply. Since email is usually the way most people find out about comments, having the ability to reply without leaving your inbox in convenient, especially when you’re on the go.

Postmatic’s post and comment subscriptions feature is quite similar to Jetpack’s subscriptions module. Jetpack is the plugin’s strongest competitor. While both plugins are free and perform similar functions, Postmatic includes the added ability to reply by email, subscription invitations, and a mobile-friendly email template that is fully customizable.

Today, Postmatic’s co-founder Jason Lemieux announced that the plugin now supports single-click migration of subscribers from Jetpack. The beta 6 version of the plugin introduces a secure importer that will copy over all of your new post notification Jetpack subscribers in a matter of seconds.

postmatic-jetpack-import

Beta 6 adds a native Postmatic exporter to allow users to export their subscribers, along with subscription preferences, to a CSV file. Postmatic’s creators are also gradually adding to a shortcode whitelist that will allow the display of third-party shortcode content in emails.

The plugin is available on WordPress.org and is production ready but is still in limited-release beta. Postmatic is releasing a few hundred API keys per week to those who sign up for beta access.

In the future, the Postmatic creators hope to monetize the plugin by offering paid delivery of outgoing mail for larger sites, Lemieux told Post Status in a recent interview. They also have an extensive list of planned features. The basic Postmatic plugin, however, will remain free for any number of blogs with any number of posts and subscribers.

by Sarah Gooding at November 18, 2014 08:08 PM under wordpress comments

WPTavern: Gigaom’s Blazing Fast WordPress Search is Enhanced by Sphinx and Scriblio

Gigaom has been pumping out a steady stream of news and analysis on technology since 2006. The WordPress-powered site attracts 6.5 million monthly unique visitors with topics ranging from science and energy to cloud businesses, media and mobile.

With years of articles buried in its archives, it’s important for Gigaom to have a solid search experience. The site’s engineering team, led by Casey Bisson, opted to utilize Sphinx in order to improve upon WordPress’ native searching capabilities.

The result is a super fast dedicated search page at search.gigaom.com that features the ability to further narrow results based on available terms.

gigaom-search

The advanced search feature was built using a combination of several open source plugins built by Bisson. These plugins integrate Sphinx and taxonomy filtering to help users more easily explore Gigaom’s wealth of content. All the tools are open source and were contributed back to the community for anyone to use.

What is Sphinx?

Sphinx is a GPL-licensed full text search server that was created to be highly performant while returning the most relevant results. In order to integrate it with WordPress, Bisson developed Gigaom Sphinx. The plugin pulls WordPress posts into Sphinx and then queries them using the standard WP_Query class.

Gigaom Sphinx requires that you first install Sphinx and then set it up with the sample config file, which includes parameters to index the site’s content. Once the site is fully indexed in Sphinx, WordPress query performance will be greatly improved.

sphinx-config

Scriblio

In order to further filter results, Gigaom uses Scriblio, a plugin that provides faceted searching and browsing of WordPress posts, pages, and custom post types. This enables users to further narrow down results based on taxonomies and their available terms. The facets are easily added via configurable widgets, which you can include on your site’s search, tag and category archives, and other archive pages.

Search results can be filtered using multiple terms. This allows visitors to quickly nail down the most relevant content.

example-search

The facets can be displayed as either tag clouds or lists, as shown above. Scriblio’s search editor widget will show the selected search terms and allows the user to easily add or remove terms while automatically updating results.

The plugin also includes live search suggestions as you type. These recommendations are based on all available taxonomies as well as post titles.

bCMS

The last plugin required to create Gigaom’s unique search experience is bCMS, which was also developed by Bisson. It enhances WordPress’ CMS capabilities in a number of ways and includes a setting to enable full text keyword indexing.

For a full rundown of Gigaom’s searching capabilities, check out the FAQ item devoted to search. Thanks to Bisson and the Gigaom team, these tools are available for any WordPress site administrator to use. If you need more fine-grained sorting capabilities for search results, the combination of Gigaom Sphinx, Scriblio and bCMS is a solid option.

by Sarah Gooding at November 18, 2014 05:56 AM under WordPress search

WPTavern: Installatron Partners With Clef to Add Two-Factor Authentication to Automated Installs of WordPress

In a bid to protect as many users as possible by default, Clef has partnered with Installatron. Founded in 2004, Installatron is one of the most popular script installers used on the web. Similar to Fantastico and Softaculous, Installatron is a script installer that enables users to quickly install more than 170 different applications including, WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.

Installatron AppsInstallatron Apps

Clef is a mobile app that replaces usernames and passwords, enabling users to log in easily with their smartphones. The Clef WordPress plugin is growing rapidly in popularity, with over 130,000 downloads and over 15,000 sites using the service. The partnership enables automated WordPress installs from Installatron to have Clef support out of the box. The partnership also enables webhosts that use Installatron to be added to Clef’s Safer Hosts Program.

“Making two-factor accessible around the web is a critical step in securing our lives online,” said Brennen Byrne, CEO at Clef. “Protecting new users by default, instead of requiring research and expertise, is how we will build a safer Internet. Installatron has been a leader in providing secure infrastructure for their huge customer base and we’re excited to be a big part of it.”

Earlier this year, Clef partnered with Softaculous to provide two-factor authentication to automated WordPress installs. By leveraging partnerships with companies like Softaculous and Installatron, Clef is rapidly making a huge impact in securing the web by default.

by Jeff Chandler at November 18, 2014 12:21 AM under installatron

WPTavern: SIDEKICK Delays The Release of Composer

SIDEKICK Balance Featured Imagephoto credit: diffendalecc

Among the festivities at WordCamp Toronto 2014, was the planned release of Composer by SIDEKICK. Instead, Composer has been delayed and the release date is to be determined. According to the announcement, the plugin and its architecture are not ready for customers just yet. In a FAQ accompanying the post, SIDEKICK Co-founder, Ben Fox, gives more details on what’s not ready.

A little bit of everything really. The new architecture which is going to power SIDEKICK Composer and the new version of our Player is kick-ass and working but the integration between it, the new account centre, the billing system and Composer itself is still “fragile”.  Add to that the fact that the new version of our website, which is necessary to power the front-end of the new Account Center, isn’t complete yet and we have a recipe for launch disaster.

Although it is disappointing to those who expected to purchase Composer over the weekend, at least one person cites the news as a good example of what to do when you’re not ready to launch a product.

Since the news broke, SIDEKICK has received an unexpected outpouring of support. “Something like 30 direct emails, numerous tweets and FaceBook messages plus we were approached at WordCamp Toronto by many people who offered their support for our choice,” Fox told the Tavern. Several people have commended SIDEKICK for its transparency. “What really got me though was not just the understanding our customers and community have shown but also the praise for our direct and transparent communication.”

Finding The Balance Between Good Enough and Don’t Ship

Despite a lot of talk in the WordPress community around the idea of “just ship it“, SIDEKICK decided to hold off to fix a few loose ends. In an essay by Matt Mullenweg entitled “1.0 Is The Loneliest Number,” he uses Apple as an example of a company that’s not afraid to ship a rudimentary version 1.0 to the public. The essay goes on to describe the idea of ship early, iterate often and how it’s the approach used to develop WordPress.

By shipping early and often you have the unique competitive advantage of hearing from real people what they think of your work, which in best case helps you anticipate market direction, and in worst case gives you a few people rooting for you that you can email when your team pivots to a new idea. Nothing can recreate the crucible of real usage.

You think your business is different, that you’re only going to have one shot at press and everything needs to be perfect for when Techcrunch brings the world to your door. But if you only have one shot at getting an audience, you’re doing it wrong.

The challenge of releasing the first version of a product or service is one many companies are familiar with. Composer is not ready for prime time but the question is, how will Fox and his team determine when it’s ready? “SIDEKICK will never be perfect in our eyes and we waited until the last possible moment to make the call because we wanted to make sure we weren’t releasing simply out of a need for perfection,” Fox told the Tavern. “I can’t speak for the entire community or other startups but I can tell you that while we’re not afraid to release a product that’s not ‘perfect’, we will never release something that doesn’t work as advertised just for the sake of making a release date.”

Where is The Happy Medium?

When it comes to releasing a product, there appears to be a happy medium of being good enough for consumer adoption but not bad enough to delay the release. As a product developer or service provider, how do you determine when your product or service has reached the happy medium and what factors go into the decision? Let us know in the comments.

by Jeff Chandler at November 18, 2014 12:09 AM under software development

November 17, 2014

Matt: Peak Beard

“If, like me, you are a staunch pogonophile and do not believe there is a single man who cannot be improved with a beard, these are happy times indeed.” The Guardian asks Have we reached peak beard?. Also check out their take on the lumbersexual, which a closet full of plaid shirts might indicate I’m trending toward.

by Matt at November 17, 2014 07:53 PM under Asides

WPTavern: WP Slack Plugin Sends Notifications to Slack Based on Events Triggered in WordPress

wp-slack

In a matter of months, Slack has managed to become the favorite communication tool for thousands of businesses, boasting more than 250,000 daily active users, with roughly 30% of them paying for the service. The company recently acquired $120 million to fund further growth and is now valued at $1.1 billion dollars.

While Slack helps teams get things done together, much of the actual work happens outside of the app. That’s why the Slack API offers the ability to add new Incoming WebHooks to integrate outside services. With WordPress powering 23%+ of the world’s websites, it’s important to have an easy way to bring in notices from those sites.

Self-hosted WordPress installations have the option of using the Slack plugin, created by Akeda Bagus, a developer with X-team. Last week we featured the bbPress Slack Integration plugin, which allows you to send notifications of new bbPress topics and replies to your Slack channel of choice. WP Slack performs a similar function for general WordPress events.

The plugin is capable of notifying Slack, based on a few basic events:

  • When a post needs review (status transitioned to ‘pending’)
  • When a post is published
  • When there’s a new comment

Additionally, it includes a slack_get_events filter for adding more events. The documentation provides an example of creating a new event that will notify Slack when a user is logged in:

add_filter( 'slack_get_events', function( $events ) {
    $events['user_login'] = array(
        'action'      => 'wp_login',
        'description' => __( 'When user logged in', 'slack' ),
        'message'     => function( $user_login ) {
            return sprintf( '%s is logged in', $user_login );
        }
    );

    return $events;
} );

Configuration inside the WordPress admin is simple. Once you’ve set up the webhook with Slack, you simply paste it into the Service URL field when setting up an integration:

slack-integration

WP Slack allows you to set up multiple integrations so you can send notices to different channels. Notices can also be temporarily deactivated and turned back on a later time. When you finish setting up an integration, the plugin allows you to fire off a test notification to ensure that it’s working correctly.

channel-notification

Bagus has also developed a suite of free extensions that notify Slack based on events triggered by other plugins:

These plugins make it possible to keep your team notified of new orders on a WooCommerce or EDD-powered store, or even website inquiries from your site’s contact form. Each extension requires the Slack plugin to be installed first.

While the plugin author hasn’t announced plans to add this feature, it might be useful to have support for Outgoing Webhooks as well. That would make it possible for WordPress to get information back from Slack based on public triggers used in the channel. The possibilities for this could be interesting. For example, you could set up a trigger that automatically creates a new draft or perhaps publishes a one-sentence summary of a quick meeting.

The Slack plugin for WordPress is available in the official Plugin Directory. You can also find the project on GitHub where pull requests are welcome.

by Sarah Gooding at November 17, 2014 06:35 PM under slack

November 16, 2014

Matt: Munchery is Eating the Restaurant

Munchery is Eating the Restaurant, a cool write-up of Munchery which I’ve been a long-time fan of and is an Audrey company. Whenever I’m in SF I order from Munchery.

by Matt at November 16, 2014 06:32 PM under Asides

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November 26, 2014 01:45 PM
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