24 Oct 2014

feedWordPress Planet

Matt: WordCamp SF Live Stream

WordCamp San Francisco, the original, starts tomorrow and the tweets are already starting to stream in. On Sunday at 11AM I will deliver my State of the Word address, our annual look at where we've been and the road ahead, and even if you can't make it you can livestream the SoTW and the entire weekend for just $10 from the comfort of your own home. 16+ hours of WP entertainment for the price of one movie ticket! (Or might be a sleep aid, depends on your perspective.)

24 Oct 2014 6:02pm GMT

Alex King: No WordCamp SF 2014 For Me

Unfortunately I'm not going to be able to attend WordCamp SF 2014. My apologies to those who I was planning to meet up with. I'll miss seeing you folks there - but have fun and do great work!

24 Oct 2014 4:21pm GMT

WPTavern: MediaPress Now in Beta: A New Media Gallery Plugin for BuddyPress

mediapress-feature

For a long time, BuddyPress has been sorely in need of better support for media, as images, video, and audio play a major part in connecting people on social networks. BuddyPress core has adopted the features-as-plugin development model to help facilitate the development of a new media component called BP Attachments. This new Attachments API, once finished, would allow BuddyPress to store media as attachments, offering developers a standard way of extending the plugin to build media-related functionality.

With no way of knowing when or if BuddyPress will add a core media component, developers have struggled over the years to tackle media support with independent solutions. Brajesh Singh, a prolific BuddyPress plugin developer, created the popular BP Gallery four years ago to address this need, but the plugin is now outdated.

Last week Singh introduced MediaPress, his latest attempt at creating gallery/album capabilities for BuddyPress. The plugin is now in beta and boasts an impressive list of features, including:

MediaPress adds upload buttons for images, audio, and video to the activity update box. Users can also upload from the gallery menu item in their profiles.

media-upload

MediaPress' gallery support works very similar to Facebook. Images uploaded via the activity stream will be placed in a wall photo gallery where users can view, edit, or delete them.

user-galleries

MediaPress comes with an extensive array of admin options for controlling its features. It's also tightly integrated with WordPress and BuddyPress, which is why audio playlists in the activity stream look similar to audio uploaded to posts.

audio-play-list-activity

Singh built MediaPress to be easy to customize and easy for other components to extend. Here are a few examples of what developers can do with the plugin:

The Future of MediaPress

MediaPress does not utilize the BP Attachments API. I spoke with Singh to see what his plans are, when/if BP core adds better media support. "Yes, I will continue developing it even if BP adds its own media component," he said. "MediaPress has a more versatile API than what will come in any media component in the next 2-3 years at least."

Singh spent the last year and a half planning the plugin, but it was only within the last four months that he got serious about building it. "I spent most of the time planning the architecture and API. My basic goal was to make it easy for site admins as well as developers to use and extend the plugin," he said.

MediaPress is open source and will remain free to use, as Singh's primary goal is better community adoption. After the first release, he is planning on putting the plugin on GitHub and will also submit it to WordPress.org. He hopes to build a community around it.

Singh will be retiring BP Gallery in favor of MediaPress. "Things have changed in last 4 years - custom post types, taxonomy APIs made it into WordPress core, as well as multisite," he said. "We needed a plugin to reflect these changes and work better with the current APIs. I did not feel updating BP Gallery will do it justice."

There are very few media plugins for BuddyPress at the moment, and Singh said that it seemed all of them were either bloated or very limited in options. MediaPress is currently the most advanced gallery/album solution for BuddyPress, even though it's still in beta. I tested the plugin and found its UI to be fairly intuitive. It fits in like a natural part of BuddyPress. Check out the live demo to see it in action.

In the future, Singh plans to add support for WordPress (non-BuddyPress) sites and bbPress. If you'd like to help test the MediaPress beta, you can download it from BuddyDev.com.

24 Oct 2014 5:13am GMT

23 Oct 2014

feedWordPress Planet

Matt: FB Rooms

We're not trying to build the next Snapchat - we're trying to build the next WordPress.
- Josh Miller from Facebook

Uh, okay! From the Verge's article Facebook's new Rooms app brings bite-sized forums to your iPhone.

23 Oct 2014 8:15pm GMT

WPTavern: JSTOR Launches Online Daily Magazine Using WordPress

In a strategic effort to make academic journals more relevant to your average reader, JSTOR has launched an online daily magazine. The digital academic library offers full-text searches of 2,000+ journals, e-books, and primary sources. JSTOR Daily will serve to bring more context to current events by connecting readers to relevant scholarly publications found within the JSTOR library.

The site's authors tackle various complex issues, such as stem cell research, marijuana and public health, world hunger, and more, by providing backstory using research from JSTOR's wealth of scholarly publications.

"JSTOR is primarily a digital library, and we haven't produced our own content before, so this is a real shift for the organization," editor Catherine Halley told NiemanLab in a recent interview. Publishers of the new daily magazine selected WordPress to power the site, which currently publishes two to three short posts per day, interspersed with longer feature stories twice per week.

jstor-dailyJSTOR Daily's design uses a slightly modified version of SimpleMag, a magazine theme sold on Themeforest. Based on a quick view of the source, you can see that the site also utilizes common plugins, such as Jetpack to power subscriptions and stats, Gravity Forms, Add to Any, Google Analytics Dashboard for WP, and W3 Total Cache.

The site is currently still in beta, as JSTOR experiments with its content strategy. Ordinarily, JSTOR serves its library content via paid subscriptions, though access is licensed mainly to academic institutions and their students. However, content linked within JSTOR daily has to be freely available to readers, since the purpose of the publication is to maximize JSTOR's academic archive. Therefore, the publishers opted to make any timely or otherwise compelling content available for free, when linked within one of the stories. If you're interested in getting your news mixed with a healthy dose of in-depth academic research, subscribe to the JSTOR Daily bi-weekly newsletter or add the site to your favorite feed reader.

23 Oct 2014 6:40pm GMT

22 Oct 2014

feedWordPress Planet

WPTavern: Unsplash Plugin Brings One-Click Stock Photo Uploads to the WordPress Media Library

Unsplash, the free stock photo site, quickly became popular with designers, due to its tasteful curating of images. All of the high resolution images on the site are carefully selected, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a bad photo among them. Unsplash gradually grows its collection by adding 10 new photos every 10 days, all of which are available under the very permissive Creative Commons Zero license.

Unsplash WP is the first plugin created to bring these images into WordPress. With one click you can upload stock photos directly into the media library without having to leave the admin. Since Unsplash photo licensing allows you the freedom to copy, modify, distribute and use the photos without permission, you can use the images in your commercial endeavors, designs, blog posts, or anywhere on your site.

Once installed, you can add Unsplash photos from the plugin's settings page or within the page/post editor. You have a few options for setting the upload image width and height, as well as the number of images per page. When editing content, you'll find a new Unsplash Uploader button:

unsplash-button

When you click on the uploader, the most recent Unsplash images will be displayed in lightbox. You can toggle between recent, oldest, and random to select images to upload.

unsplash-media-library

The images you select will then be added to your media library for use. You'll have to switch back to the media upload button to insert them into your content. The plugin will need to be able to write temporary images into the wp-content/plugins/unsplash-stock-photo-library directory for image processing, prior to uploading them to the media library. If you see the little red warning on an image, it means that you will need to check your server permissions before it will work.

check-permissions-yo

Unsplash WP was created by Darren Cooney, author of the Ajax Load More plugin. After testing it, I was impressed by how smoothly it performs as well as the convenience of not having to leave the admin.

My only concern is that, with the growing popularity of Unsplash, some of the photos begin to look cliché and commonplace after you've seen them used on dozens of sites across the web. Ultimately, the best and most unique photographs are the ones you take, because they are tied to your own experience and perspective.

However, if you simply need to quickly prototype a design and want to have a bunch of nice images at your fingertips, Unsplash WP is an excellent plugin that will save you quite a bit of time. Download it for free from WordPress.org.

22 Oct 2014 10:27pm GMT

WPTavern: Tickets Still Available to Watch The WordCamp San Francisco Live Stream

wcsf

This weekend, the annual WordPress conference known as WordCamp San Francisco will take place. It's the only conference to feature "The State of the Word" presented by Matt Mullenweg. If you can't make it to the event, there are still plenty of live stream tickets available.

Live stream tickets cost $10 and allow you to enjoy the conference from the comfort of your home. However, if you buy a Live Stream Plus T-Shirt ticket for $18, you'll receive a T-Shirt immediately following the event. When purchasing tickets, make sure you log into your WordPress.org account.

An alternative to purchasing a live stream ticket is to check your local WordPress meetup as several of them are having live stream watch parties. If you're a meetup organizer having a viewing party, please add the event in the comments. You can also follow the event by monitoring the #wcsf and #wcsf14 hashtags on Twitter.

Sarah Gooding and I will be in attendance during the weekend of festivities so if you see us, stop and say hi.

22 Oct 2014 9:22pm GMT

WPTavern: BuddyPress 2.2 Will Add Support for Composer

composer-support-buddypress

BuddyPress lead developer Paul Gibbs committed support for Composer to BuddyPress core this week. Developers who want to check it out can find the json file at: trunk/src/composer.json.

If you're not yet familiar with Composer, it's essentially a tool for dependency management in PHP. It is designed to manage packages on a per-project basis by bringing in any dependent libraries that you declare in the composer.json file. The dependencies are then automatically installed in a vendor directory or other specified location inside your project.

BuddyPress is not yet listed on Packagist.org but should be added soon. Once it's listed there, it can easily be declared as a dependency after the next version (2.2) is released.

{
    "require": {
        "buddypress/buddypress": "~2.2"
    }
}

BuddyPress 2.2 is expected in mid-January 2015, according to Gibbs' reply in the ticket to add Composer. He plans to configure Packagist to pull from http://plugins.svn.wordpress.org/buddypress/.

Because BuddyPress is identified as a WordPress plugin in its json file ("type": "wordpress-plugin"), composer/installers will by default send it to the wp-content/plugins directory.

If you can't wait two months, and you're dying to use BuddyPress with Composer right now, there's an alternative method. I spoke with WordPress Composer evangelist Andrey Savchenko (@rarst) regarding the news. He suggests that in the meantime developers could use wpackagist, which provides a mirror of the WordPress plugin and theme directories as a Composer repository.

{
 "require"     : {
  "wpackagist-plugin/buddypress": "~2.1"
 },
 "repositories": [
  {
   "type": "composer",
   "url" : "http://wpackagist.org"
  }
 ]
}

If you search for "WordPress" on Packagist, you'll find many other projects, which can also be easily added into your next BuddyPress project. Composer support makes it easy to create a master composer.json file for your projects, that will save you time by allowing you to load all of your dependencies in a matter of seconds.

22 Oct 2014 10:32am GMT

WPTavern: How to Increase or Decrease The Font Size in The Visual Editor

Visual Editor Font Size Featured Imagephoto credit: Mr Ush - cc

If you use the visual editor to write posts or pages, you'll know that the font can sometimes be hard to read due to its size. Some themes use a tiny font in the visual editor and unless you know how to apply CSS changes, you're stuck with it. Luckily, there's a plugin available specifically for the purpose of adjusting the font size in the visual editor called Visual Editor Font Size.

Developed by Nikolay Bachiyski, Visual Editor Font Size adds a meta box to the post editor. After installing and activating the plugin, check the screen options on the post editor and make sure the box next to Visual Editor Font Size is checked. The meta box has a plus and minus button to increase or decrease the font size. There's also a sample of text to indicate how large or small the font is and the revert link resets the text to the default size.

Visual Editor Font Size Meta BoxVisual Editor Font Size Meta Box

Although it works fine in WordPress 4.0, I'd rather see the size adjusting buttons added to the TinyMCE editor. The editor is the first place I look to manipulate content in the visual editor and when I didn't see any additional buttons, I thought the plugin was broken. This plugin is great if you don't have the CSS knowledge or access to make the appropriate changes, but it's not the best way to solve the problem.

If the theme you're using doesn't have a visual editor style applied to it, contact the author and send them this link. It's a Codex article that explains how to add a style to a theme specifically for the visual editor. When executed well, the content in the editor will look identical to what visitors see. Stargazer, by Justin Tadlock, is an excellent example of a theme where the content in the visual editor is the same style that's seen by visitors.

22 Oct 2014 9:36am GMT

WPTavern: Comparing The Photo Publishing Experience of WordPress For iOS to Facebook and Twitter

Welcome Home Featured Imagephoto credit: angusf - cc

In late September, WordPress.com published the first in a series of short videos that shows how easy it is to publish content from a mobile device. In the 15 second video entitled "Welcome Home," a user is seen taking photos with an iPhone in various locations. Near the end of the video, the user taps the WordPress mobile app icon and sees a post with one of the images captured by the phone. What's not shown is the process of publishing the photo.

The take away from the video is that it's easy to publish photos to WordPress.com from a mobile device. With that in mind, I was curious what it's like to perform the same task with other social networks on a mobile device. The following is my experience using WordPress For iOS for this specific task and how it compares to using Facebook and Twitter.

The WordPress For iOS Process

The first thing I do is take a photo with my phone. Next, I load the WordPress For iOS app. I tap the Pencil icon in the lower right corner and make sure to select my WordPress.com account. I give the post a title which is normally related to the image, then write some content. Writing a lot of content on the iPhone is not an ideal experience so I usually keep it short.

Next, I add an image to the post. Selecting a photo from the phone and uploading it to WordPress is an easy task. After the photo is inserted, I head into the Options area. From here, I assign a Category and relevant Tags. I preview the post and if I like what I see, I tap the Publish button.

WordPress For iOS Post PreviewWordPress For iOS Post Preview

While I'm not forced to assign a Category or Tags to posts, it's a good practice and one I've already established with the site.

The Facebook on iOS Process

I open the Facebook app and select Photo. I'm given the choice to either select a photo from the phone's media library or to take a picture. The ability to use the camera to take a photo for a post is a distinct difference between the Facebook app and WordPress. I usually have an image ready to publish but when I don't, taking a photo within the app is a nice convenience. After selecting a photo, it's uploaded to Facebook where I then add context for the image.

With the Facebook app, I can add other data to the post such as location, the people I was with or who are in the photo, and my mood. Most of the time, the additional information doesn't apply to my photo. After adding some context, I tap the Post button. Boiled down to the simplest procedure, I can publish a photo post on Facebook in five steps.

  1. Open App
  2. Select Photo
  3. Choose or Take Photo
  4. Apply Context
  5. Post

I don't have to worry about assigning a category or tags to Facebook posts.

The Twitter on iOS Process

I open the Twitter app and tap the button to write a new Tweet. I tap the button to add media and similar to Facebook, I can either choose from the phone's media library or take a photo. After selecting an image, I add context, then tap the send button. I don't have to worry about tags or categories.

Not The Simplest, But The Most Future Proof

WordPress For iOS isn't the simplest way to share photos with the world but it's the most future proof. It may be more work, but an added benefit to using WordPress.com is its Publicize feature. When a post is published, WordPress.com can send it to both Twitter and Facebook. This is an ideal way to share photos to the widest possible audience while maintaining full control of your content.

Facebook and Twitter are islands where you have no control and the carpet can be pulled out from under you. But at WordPress.com, you have a place to call your own and if you desire, you can pack up your content and leave. This is what the message "Welcome Home" means to me. What does it mean to you?

22 Oct 2014 8:30am GMT

WPTavern: Initiatives Being Developed Alongside WordPress

Opportunity Featured Imagephoto credit: {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester} - cc

While it's easy to focus on WordPress core development, there are a handful of satellite projects to keep an eye on. There is so much happening around the WordPress project, it's tough to keep up. This post highlights some of the satellite projects and initiatives that are being developed concurrently with WordPress.

Feature Plugin: Improve Image Editing

Led by Siobhan McKeown, the Image Flow project is aimed at improving the image editing experience in WordPress. It's a feature that will likely not be removed, so the team is doing what it can to improve it. In the most recent meeting, the group discussed various wireframes and will be making changes based on community feedback. The group meets every Friday and uses Google Hangout to conduct meetings.

Scalable Dropdowns

Created by Helen Hou-Sandi, the scalable dropdowns project is focused on addressing some long-standing issues with dropdowns in WordPress, specifically for users and pages. An initial meeting has taken place on IRC and as a result, several issues have been opened on Github for work and discussion. If you're interested, review the issues on Github and contribute where you're able to. Questions related to the project can be asked here.

Meta, Date, and Taxonomy Query Improvements

Boone Gorges is leading the way towards improving WP_Meta_Query, WP_Tax_Query, and WP_Date_Query. The improvements are slated for WordPress 4.1. According to a recent project update, most of the proposed changes Gorges listed in the initial post have been made.

Inline Documentation

Shortly after WordCamp San Francisco 2013, the inline docs team began working on providing inline documentation to every hook in WordPress. The team successfully completed documented every action and filter hook as part of the release of WordPress 3.9. In a recent meeting, the group discussed options for adopting a documentation standard for core JavaScript.

WordPress Training

The training initiative is a proposed curriculum that covers everything from explaining what a theme is, to creating and altering child themes. The group is working on various training modules that make up each class. In their most recent meeting, the group discussed the status of modules in progress, infrastructure for testing modules, and a team training sign up form. If you're interested in contributing to this project, the team has meetings every Tuesday 18:00 UTC in the #wordpress-getinvolved IRC channel.

Opportunities to Contribute

I've only scratched the surface with the number of initiatives available to contribute to. Whether you have a special interest in accessibility, UI, mobile, support, themes, or translations, there's a project that could use your help. The best way to stay informed of new and existing initiatives is visit Make.WordPress.org.

22 Oct 2014 4:06am GMT

Matt: Retina 5k Mac

imac-retina-step1-hero-2014 To me one of the most meaningful shifts in computing the past few years has been how the resolution of displays is getting higher and higher, and interfaces are starting to become resolution independent. I feel like when pixels disappear there's less of a wall between people and the technology, it starts to blend and meld a bit more. It's something I've been personally passionate about since the first retina iPhone, tirelessly beating the drum at Automattic to make everything we do shine on hi-DPI screens, or leading the WordPress 3.8 release that brought in MP6 project to make WordPress' aesthetics cleaner and vector-based.

I'm sitting in front of a Retina 5k iMac right now typing this to you. (It was supposed to arrive on Friday but came a few days early.)

It's the most gorgeous desktop display I've ever seen, breathtaking at first and then like all great work becomes invisible and you forget that there was ever a time when displays weren't this beautiful. (Until you look at some lesser monitor again.)

I've been using 4k displays, the Sharp and the ASUS, with Mac Pros for a few months now, and to be honest they come close, but this takes the cake in every possible way, including the design and aesthetics of the computer/display itself which is laptop-thin at the edges. If you've been on the fence, and you're okay with the tradeoffs an iMac has in general, get one. I can't wait for them to do a 5k Thunderbolt display (but it sounds like it might be at least a year away).

P. S. If you're looking for a gift for the iMac that has everything, consider a slipper to keep its feet warm.

22 Oct 2014 12:42am GMT

WPTavern: Monster Widgets for bbPress and BuddyPress Make It Easy to Test Core Widgets

photo credit: massdistraction - ccphoto credit: massdistraction - cc

The original Monster Widget plugin is a handy tool created by Automattic to assist theme developers with testing. Essentially, it allows you to quickly drop all core widgets into your sidebar at once, saving you the trouble of having to add them individually.

Now you can get the same for bbPress and BuddyPress, thanks to a two new plugins from @mercime, a contributor on both WordPress sister projects.

The BuddyPress Monster Widget makes it easy to populate your sidebar with all of the BP core widgets, including the following:

The widgets are pre-configured to show a set number of blog posts, members, friends, etc. The list of widgets displayed can be altered by using the 'buddypress-monster-widget-config' filter included in the plugin.

buddypress-monster-widget

The bbPress Monster Widget plugin allows you to add all of the bbPress core widgets to your sidebar in one instance, including:

The bbPress Monster Widget also comes pre-configured with a set number of topics and replies displayed. The default list of widgets can be altered by using the 'bbpress-monster-widget-config' filter.

When creating a theme for public distribution, it's important to make sure you know how the core widgets are going to look with your theme applied. This is especially true for community-oriented sites that utilize bbPress and BuddyPress, because the widgets often play a big part in connecting members to recent activity on the site. Download the bbPress and BuddyPress monster widgets from WordPress.org to make it quick and easy to test the core widgets.

22 Oct 2014 12:00am GMT

21 Oct 2014

feedWordPress Planet

WPTavern: Compass: A Free Starter Theme for WordPress Built with Hybrid Core, Bourbon, and Neat

photo credit: Theresa Thompson - ccphoto credit: Theresa Thompson - cc

The life of a frontend developer has changed a great deal over the past few years, with the introduction of new technologies for authoring CSS and automating tasks. We're starting to see that trickle down into every new WordPress starter theme.

These days you've got to npm install allthiscrazystuff just to get started on a project. Once you've gone through the setup, you're ready to work more efficiently with many of the more boring tasks automated for you.

Compass is a new WordPress starter theme that incorporates a host of modern web development technologies to help you create themes faster while staying in line with WordPress coding standards. The folks at Flagship, a soon-to-launch theme shop, released Compass for free earlier this month, claiming that it is "the most advanced WordPress starter theme in existence."

Note: The Compass theme name keeps with the company's nautical vibe, but it's not to be confused with the open source Compass CSS framework built with Sass.

Out of the box, the theme is fairly plain but, thankfully, not hideous. Obviously, it's a starter theme, so the point is to provide the basics for getting started on your own beautiful creation.

compass-starter-theme

Sass, Bourbon, and Neat with Composer Support

Similar to the Some Like It Neat starter theme, Compass features support for Sass, Bourbon, and Neat. The theme uses Composer to manage dependencies for PHP, allowing you to declare the dependent libraries for your specific project to have them installed for you.

Grunt

The Flagship team has worked hard to create what they believe to be the most advanced and robust Grunt workflow available for WordPress theme development. You'll need to install Node.js to run the Grunt task runner with the Compass theme, although many theme developers will likely already have it installed. Some of the tasks will also require external command-line applications, which you'll need to install as global Node.js packages.

Once you're ready to roll, you'll be able to automate an amazing number of tasks associated with theme development, including things like auto-prefixing CSS properties, tidying up style.css to match the WordPress Coding Standards, generating the RTL style sheet, optimizing images, and much more. Here's a short sampling:

Check out the documentation on GitHub for the comprehensive list of available tasks included in the Compass theme.

Hybrid Core

Compass is built on top of Justin Tadlock's Hybrid Core, one of the oldest and most developer-friendly frameworks for building WordPress themes. The Compass release post explains why Flagship went with Hybrid Core:

There are so many things that are going to be necessary on nearly every project, and they're regularly done poorly in many of the themes that we've used and tested. Justin has done an amazing job of doing things "the WordPress way" and has been building and iterating Hybrid Core for many years.

The framework handles functionality that most themes commonly require, such breadcrumbs, grabbing media, integrating microdata like schema.org, pagination, theme layouts, and translation.

Like many other new starter themes, Compass also offers support for the Theme Hook Alliance project in an effort to provide a common set of entry points for plugin and theme developers looking to extend the theme.

Although Flagship hasn't yet officially launched, the site shows a preview of a few planned themes that were built using Compass as a starter theme.

flagship-themes

The theme shop will soon launch with a unique pricing model that doesn't involve bundle or theme club pricing. Each theme is priced at $199, with a $99 annual fee for support. The Compass starter theme that they use to build all of their products is open source and available to developers for free on GitHub. Check out the Getting Started guide for documentation, including video tutorials on installing the tools and working with Compass.

21 Oct 2014 7:40pm GMT

WPTavern: Easily Edit a Post or Page Using The Slash Edit Plugin

Slash Edit Featured Image

If you're not a fan of the admin bar or it's disabled and you want a shortcut to edit posts in WordPress, you might be interested in a new plugin called Slash Edit. Developed by Ronald Huereca, Slash Edit adds the ability to edit the following items by adding /edit to the end of a url.

To load the appropriate editing interface, visit a post or page while logged into WordPress and add /edit to the end of the url. It can also be used as a shortcut to login to the backend of WordPress.

Huereca works in an environment where the admin bar is consistently disabled. He created the plugin to provide a convenient way to edit pages or posts without having to search for them in the backend. "I thought, wouldn't it be cool to just add "/edit" to the end of a post or page and be redirected to the right place in the admin panel?"

Huereca doesn't know what else could be added to the plugin to fulfill its basic purpose. "I'm not sure how much farther this plugin can go, but the WordPress community is ingenious as far as feature requests, so I'm eager to get feedback on the base feature set." I tested the plugin on WordPress 4.0 and it works as advertised. To keep tabs on development, you can follow the project on Github.

21 Oct 2014 3:06am GMT

20 Oct 2014

feedWordPress Planet

WPTavern: Jason Schuller to Re-Enter WordPress Theme Market with Niche Admin Designs

pickle-preview

Jason Schuller, the original founder of the Press75 theme company, has been off the radar for a few years as he pursued experiments with alternative publishing platforms. He officially exited the commercial WordPress theme business earlier this year when Press75 was acquired by Westwerk, following a sharp decline in the shop's monthly revenue.

Prior to selling his company, Schuller had begun to focus more on his experimental projects, Dropplets, Leeflets, and Cinematico. Over the years, he had become disillusioned with the software, as he watched WordPress become increasingly more complex. This frustration, coupled with the weight of complex frameworks that started devouring the WordPress theme market, essentially vaporized his passion for the software and pushed him out to make something new.

Earlier this year, in an interview with Jeff Chandler, Schuller expressed his dissatisfaction with trying to make WordPress do what he wanted and said that he wouldn't be concentrating his efforts on WordPress in the immediate future.

Video Preview of Custom WordPress Admin for the "Pickle" Project

In his never-ending quest to simplify publishing online, Schuller has once again picked up WordPress to experiment with creating a radically simplified admin design for Pickle, his restaurant-themed HTML template.

A short video preview of my #WordPress admin redesign for "Pickle": http://t.co/lvQtgIaAWP #design

- Jason Schuller (@jschuller) October 20, 2014

Traditionally, making a template like that editable in WordPress ends up being a complex thing for your average user to navigate in the admin. The preview video shows how Schuller has re-imagined the admin for his niche one page template.

pickle-admin

He has essentially removed the admin, de-registered all the styles and many of the components, in an effort to create a custom CMS for this particular template. The result is a better correlation between the content editing experience and the actual website, with simplified action buttons.

If you watch the preview, you'll hear Schuller summarize why he created the simplified admin:

This is my biggest issue with WordPress right now. It doesn't scale backward for minimalist websites like this. The CMS should reflect, in my opinion, what you're trying to accomplish with your website, and all of these unnecessary components of WordPress just really don't need to be here unless you need them for what you're trying to accomplish.

Schuller said that it took him approximately two days to customize the WordPress admin to suit his template. "I'm nearly finished with it. It's going to launch as a downloadable theme first and then I'll be launching a hosted version as well," he said.

The theme will not be launching on Leeflets but rather on a new domain, yet to be determined, bringing Schuller back into the WordPress theme market. Why is he returning?

"With this particular project, I really just wanted to get my vision out of my head as quick as possible," he said. "With that in mind, I couldn't see creating a custom CMS just for Pickle, so I figured WordPress would be the best way to do that quickly. Plus, you still can't ignore WordPress's reach."

I asked Schuller if the Pickle admin theme is a one time project or if he plans to create more niche admin themes to accompany his designs. "If Pickle goes well, I have a few other niche admins in mind for specific templates," he replied.

"My goal is really simple - to help my customers/users create and manage websites. If WordPress helps me do that in an efficient way, I'm all for it. But I'll be doing it my way this time around," he emphasized.

Schuller's minimalist approach to the WordPress admin is something that he hopes will be easier for his target market to wrap their brains around. The popularity of the Pickle template is what spurred him on to create an editable version using WordPress. "I wasn't expecting much when I released the Pickle HTML template," he said. "But it was an instant hit. There are quite a few people helping restaurants create websites with it. That's what triggered the idea to make a WordPress version."

At the moment Schuller is in touch with his market on a very small scale, but he hopes that it will expand with a successful launch of the Pickle theme. "My hope is that the WordPress version makes it even more enticing for businesses looking for a minimalist website/solution."

Schuller has identified a problem that many developers are hoping to solve. WordPress core is moving towards bridging the separation between the editing experience and the display of the content, with improvements to the customizer and experimental projects like the frontend editor. Others hope that the new JSON REST API will make it easier for developers to create custom admins.

These changes cannot come soon enough, but will they be fully able to provide a more natural editing experience for users? Those, like Schuller, who have wrestled with dissatisfaction, have a decent shot at creating a revolutionary editing experience for the 10 year old platform. His inspiring work on the Pickle admin breaks WordPress out of the box and forces developers to look at the content editing experience in a new way.

A more modular admin that can easily be scaled back for minimalist websites is something that would allow developers to truly customize the CMS for any niche template or project. The WordPress admin then becomes a chameleon of sorts, able to disappear into its surroundings with the content in focus. Schuller's Pickle experiment is a good example of this, and likely part of a trend that we'll see more in the future.

20 Oct 2014 10:14pm GMT