Wrapping up WordCamp Boston 2011

WordCamp Boston 2011 was every bit as informative, fun, and inspiring as we expected.

Like most great WordCamps, Boston wasn’t just a venue for some great sessions; it was an opportunity to chat it up with a diverse crowd that ranged from lead WordPress contributors to new users just discovering the ways they can use the booming content management system. On Saturday morning – the first day of the event – I finally found the time and inspiration to send in a short sponsorship blog post. Recalling memories of WordCamp Boston 2010, I was excited for the event, and it didn’t disappoint.

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A little freebie: WordPress folder icon

WordPress folder icon previewAt 10up, are freebies usually come in the form of WordPress code: tips, themes, and plug-ins. While a bit atypical, I wanted to share this folder icon we designed from scratch. It incorporates the WordPress logo, which is available here in vector format.

Designed with the gray WordPress color palette in  mind, this icon can add some flair to your WordPress folder(s) on your computer. There’s a full sized, beautiful 256px version, along with a small version fine tuned for the common 16px icon size.

We’re providing them for free with a GPL license, in original vector (Adobe Illustrator CS5 and SVG) formats as well as 256px PNG format and Windows ICO format. As always, we do politely request that if you use these for a client or commercial project, please give us attribution. Donations are welcome!

Download now.

Upcoming WordCamp Sessions

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be speaking again at both WordCamp Boston and WordCamp Chicago in July.

In Boston, I’ll be introducing newer users to approaching WordPress as a full fledged content management system. We’ll explore what a “full fledged CMS” actually means, and how to approach defining your requirements and thinking about your content. We’ll take a look at the administrative section of some complex CMS implementations to show what’s really possible. Then we’ll put ideas and strategy aside and review some configuration options and plug-ins that even the most basic users can latch onto to get started. My session is on Sunday, July 24th at 1:30 pm in the “How To” track. I’ll be attending all weekend, so be sure to find me and say hi!

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Secondary HTML Content 3.0 preview

As much as we like giving back to the community, it’s often hard to find time to keep some of the more sophisticated plug-ins up to date. One plug-in that hasn’t been updated in some time that I am frequently asked about is Secondary HTML Content.

I’ve had a number of ambitious goals for 3.0 for some time:

  • Enable a more complete editor experience (notably, Visual / HTML tabs)
  • Allow users to customize the labels for each content block
  • Add support for custom post types (not just posts and pages)
  • Remove arbitrary limit of 5 editor blocks
  • Integrate the settings with the “Writing” settings page (a logical place for them; I’m make a conscious effort with my themes and plug-ins to not “clutter” the settings panel)
  • On top of all this, provide a seamless upgrade path for 2.0 users

The first bullet has been by far the most challenging. While WordPress has a number of core functions that simplify adding a visual editor, they simply weren’t built with multiple editors on one page in mind. For the technically savvy, there are many hardcoded ID attributes, interacting with both CSS and JavaScript that rely on those IDs. As we know, the DOM is not intended to have multiple elements with identical IDs (particularly when we’re hooking events with JavaScript).

Nonetheless, I’m excited to say that the biggest hurdles have been tackled. Since we can’t work on hobby projects full time, the release is probably at least a couple of weeks out, mostly having to do with the upgrade path code.

New Smashing Magazine Power Tips for WordPress

My latest WordPress-focused article for the web’s leading online / digital media publication, Smashing Magazine, was published last Tuesday. New WordPress Power Tips For Template Developers And Consultants features a few tips exposed in my Custom WordPress Admin theme and talk, and adds a handful of new tips like:

  • Creating pagination links using WordPress’s built in paginate_links function
  • Adding body classes based on your own conditions
  • Redirecting failed logins
  • Adding warning messages to specific admin screens

My favorite tip is the leading one: applying WordPress’s highly underutilized, built in pagination function. I frequently see even high end, WordPress.com VIP themes relying on plug-ins like WP-PageNavi to do what WordPress can actually handle pretty well natively. The paginate_links function is a flexible little gem that should be used far more often than it is.

In the 5 days since the article was published, it was tweeted over 1,100 times and like on Facebook nearly 200 times. This website also saw a surge of traffic, which it handled gracefully thanks to some smart object caching and a highly reliable, distributed host.

Check out the article over at Smashing Magazine.

Customizing WordPress Admin – updated for 3.1 with new tips!

Back in June of 2010 I debuted a talk at WordCamp Chicago which I updated and shared in September at WordCamp Mid-Atlantic. Aimed at developers, Customizing WordPress Administration offered killer tips for consultants looking to tailor the other end of WordPress for their clients.

At the heart of the talk was a simple  Twenty-Ten child theme, with the focal point being a functions.php file loaded to the gills with hooks and functions that customize the branding and administrative experience (available for download here).

I’ve updated the child theme to 1.5; in addition to incorporating some suggestions, I’ve updated some small bits (like removing menu items) to take advantage of new WordPress 3.1 API calls and some other best practices (it now requires WordPress 3.1).

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That's a WordPress Site?? – A reminder

This evening, at our Providence WordPress Meetup,  one of our attendees mentioned that he participated in a training session run by Acquia for aspiring Drupal developers. As a user of WordPress, he was dismayed but not surprised to hear Acquia dismiss another attendee’s questions about WordPress’s viability as a content management system. “If you want a blog, go with WordPress. If you want a real website, go with Drupal.”

I have nothing against Drupal. In fact, I’ve developed websites on Drupal, and have recommended Drupal for some truly atypical and complex website projects. That said, I maintain that WordPress is not just a capable CMS for 90% of websites, but today, it’s the better choice. It’s usability is second to none, and with lower setup costs, hosting requirements, and maintenance requirements, it’s a smarter choice for the average client’s wallet. With the fairly recent addition of features like custom post types, custom taxonomies, and built in menu management, WordPress is quickly closing the gap on that 10% “unsuitability” hole, too.

You can’t blame Acquia for trying to protect their business, but it is a bit sad to see serious companies perpetuating the myth. For those still in doubt, I’ve attached my presentation from my “That’s a WordPress site??” lightning talk from July of last year.

That’s a WordPress Site?? – A reminder

This evening, at our Providence WordPress Meetup,  one of our attendees mentioned that he participated in a training session run by Acquia for aspiring Drupal developers. As a user of WordPress, he was dismayed but not surprised to hear Acquia dismiss another attendee’s questions about WordPress’s viability as a content management system. “If you want a blog, go with WordPress. If you want a real website, go with Drupal.”

I have nothing against Drupal. In fact, I’ve developed websites on Drupal, and have recommended Drupal for some truly atypical and complex website projects. That said, I maintain that WordPress is not just a capable CMS for 90% of websites, but today, it’s the better choice. It’s usability is second to none, and with lower setup costs, hosting requirements, and maintenance requirements, it’s a smarter choice for the average client’s wallet. With the fairly recent addition of features like custom post types, custom taxonomies, and built in menu management, WordPress is quickly closing the gap on that 10% “unsuitability” hole, too.

You can’t blame Acquia for trying to protect their business, but it is a bit sad to see serious companies perpetuating the myth. For those still in doubt, I’ve attached my presentation from my “That’s a WordPress site??” lightning talk from July of last year.

Podcast Series: Exploring Commercial WordPress Models

Throughout the month of April, I had the pleasure of co-hosting the WordPress Weekly podcast with regular host Jeff Chandler. The April episodes comprised a mini-series focused on commercial WordPress business models, not including consulting. Our primary goal was to provide insight and wisdom to those considering a commercial software or SaaS model built on an open source project (WordPress, specifically) from those who had been there and done that.

The origin of the series actually dated back to January’s WordCamp Boston, where Jeff moderated a panel I organized called “Monetization in a Free World”, intended to help the audience understand the commercial WordPress themes, plug-ins, and SaaS businesses. Jeff ended up being in an impossible position, with 40 minutes to cover all 3 models and incorporate Automattic’s perspective, visa vi Jane Wells. Jeff and I decided it was worth doing justice to the idea; and so the April series of podcast episodes came to life.

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WordPress Providence Meetup Kicks Off

Inspired by a few WordCamps that built themselves up from local WordPress meet ups, I finally got a few locals together at the beginning of April (Ken DeBlois of Brown and Suzanne McDonald, a freelance writer) to help organize a Providence Meetup. A couple of planning meetings, a new website, a Twitter account, and some local marketing later, we had our first meet up on April 26th.

I’ll be blogging over at the WordPress Providence website, so I won’t say too much about it in this forum, but the headline is that I was thrilled by the turn out and energy at our first event. We had about 30 attendees, a lot of buzz during the hour of networking, a nice and short presentation by DandyID (a local firm with a popular plug-in), and a great after-presentation brainstorming / discussion session.

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