25 Jul 2014
WordPress.com introduced a new site logo feature today with the goal of standardizing the way themes present logo upload. When it comes to data portability, you're usually out of luck with logos. Ordinarily, when you change to a new theme, you lose your logo. Each theme developer has a different way of incorporating logo upload, but it's not portable across themes.
The new site logo feature allows you to optionally display the site's title and tagline along with the logo, which will automatically appear on any of WordPress.com's supported themes. All future themes will come with the site logo feature and WordPress.com developers are working to add support to previously released themes.
As WordPress.com moves to standardize theme support for site logos, the rest of the WordPress ecosystem may soon follow suit. The Jetpack team is considering adding the site logos feature into the mix after getting it running on WordPress.com, making it possible for self-hosted WordPress sites to enjoy logo portability. The availability of a standardized site logo plugin would improve data portability across the board, whether it comes through Jetpack or another community-supported plugin. It would also help theme developers everywhere to be more efficient when building products.
Brian Krogsgard recently published a piece proposing that WordPress.com and Jetpack should lead the way toward standardizing custom post types so that users can easily move from theme to theme without losing data.
But if you have a post type for a portfolio, or testimonials, or staff bios, or something more generic, it could be a great thing to standardize so that different themes could support the same post type, which would result in better transitions for users from theme to theme.
Standardizing CPTs also helps theme developers create designs that can be used with any number of third-party extensions. Two plugins may use the same prefix to create testimonials and the user has the option the select the one he thinks is best.
Standardizing theme support for logos is in that same vein. If you hope to be able to use this feature with self-hosted WordPress themes, keep an eye on Automattic's site logos repo to see where it goes. If theme developers can make it easier for users to move from theme to theme, they're likely to stick with WordPress and redesign more often.
25 Jul 2014 2:16am GMT
24 Jul 2014
It's no secret that BuddyPress sites attract a serious amount of registration spam. Plugins such as BuddyPress reCAPTCHA, BuddyPress Security Check, SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam, and BuddyPress Honeypot are either ineffective, inconvenient, or not well maintained. The often-recommended, though unfortunately named, WangGuard plugin is moderately successful at stopping BuddyPress spam, but is linked up to a commercial service.
When a new plugin comes along with support for combating BuddyPress spam, community managers take note. This week we've been following the Hashcash.io WordPress plugin, which utilizes a unique approach to eliminating spam on registration, login, and comment forms. Pavel Karoukin, the project's creator, has a strategy to capitalizing on spammers by using the proof-of-work concept in combination with open technologies to generate Dogecoin profits for site admins.
In the latest 1.0.6 release of the Hashcash plugin, Karoukin added support for BuddyPress and sites that use Thesis themes. The update adds the Hashcash unlock switch to the BuddyPress signup form, which uses a different registration process than the regular WordPress form.
The Hashcash plugin enables BuddyPress site admins to protect their registration forms in addition to login and comment forms. Keys for Hashcash.io are automatically generated within the WordPress admin, making it quick and easy to set up.
Essentially, Hashcash.io stops spammers by forcing the user's browser to do math. Hashcash plugin users have complained about the painfully slow mobile experience. Karoukin is currently working on an idea where calculations will be happening in the background, so that in most cases users will not be waiting on the browser. "Yesterday I brainstormed some ideas on how to make it even less painful for users (including mobile users.) The concept will stay the same, but UX will be different," he said.
As far as BuddyPress spam-blocking plugins go, Hashcash is a fairly simple and relatively unobtrusive way to ensure that no bots register for your network. It also has excellent support for accessibility guidelines. The developer is very responsive to feedback and is continually evolving the plugin to become a truly painless solution on the human user end.
If the project succeeds at reaching the critical mass required to make it profitable for website owners, BuddyPress site admins will be in a good position to capitalize on the steady onslaught of registration spam. In the meantime, the Hashcash plugin provides a decent method of deterring spam, even without the cash feature.
24 Jul 2014 6:58pm GMT
Earlier this month, WPBeginner hosted a huge giveaway to celebrate its 5th birthday. Alongside the giveaway, Syed Balkhi wanted to build two schools this year in Guatemala through the Pencils of Promise charity. To do so, he needed $50,000. He ended up with $50,584. Once the schools are built, Balkhi will travel to Guatemala to take photos and videos.
When asked if he was surprised by how well the campaign did, Balkhi said, "Yes I was really surprised that we had such a good turn around from the community compared to last year." I also asked him what he plans to do for next years charity event, "the goal for next year is to build 3 schools."
Three schools equals $75,000 which will require more companies to become platinum sponsors. However, Balkhi is not worried for two reasons. There will be more WordPress companies this time next year and existing ones will likely be larger.
The event is becoming an annual tradition with each year promising to be bigger than the last. The success of this charitable event is another indication of how the WordPress community can rally together to support a great cause.
24 Jul 2014 4:50pm GMT
After nearly two years at WebDevStudios acting as a development lead, Brian Richards is stepping down to spend more time on his side project, WPSessions. Richards is the lead developer of the Startbox theme framework and is one of the organizers of WordCamp Grand Rapids set to take place August 15-17, 2014.
WPSessions was launched in 2013 and provides high quality content to help train the greater WordPress community. Richards pays presenters for their expertise and time to give high quality presentations on an ongoing basis. Since the launch, there have been sessions on how to be a better presenter at WordCamps, working with BuddyPress, and security for developers.
The success of the site has even surprised Richards, "I had no idea WPSessions would catch on like it has. I thought it would just be a fun little thing for me to do on the side and learn lots of cool things." The site generates revenue by selling tickets to each session. The majority of sessions are priced at $30. However, the site offers a VIP membership account that allows members to download the entire library of sessions, participate in the community, and learn directly from professionals. VIP membership is $24.75/mo, making it cheaper than purchasing tickets to each session.
A Chance To Win A Trip To WordCamp San Francisco 2014
To thank VIP members that have supported the site, Richards is hosting an incredible give away. He will give one lucky VIP Member a $2,000 USD cash prize specifically so they can join him at WordCamp San Francisco 2014. Richards describes his first time at WordCamp San Francisco as "beyond amazing" and wants to pass on the opportunity to someone else. He'll also purchase three VIP's a full-year membership to any other training site of their choice, up to $350 per membership.
The giveaway is exclusively for VIP members. WPSessions has a maximum of 100 VIP accounts available. Richards told the Tavern, "only half of those are filled." Even if all the VIP slots are filled, the odds of winning a prize are 1 in 25.
The drawing takes place on August 1st but everyone who registers as a VIP Member by 11:59pm PST on July 31st, 2014 is eligible to win.
The Future Of WPSessions
WPSessions continues to evolve and will soon offer courses. "So far, most presenters have been almost as excited about this as I am," Richards said. The first of these courses is Writing Your First Plugin by Pippin Willamson. In the future, a members only forum will be created to discuss courses, sessions, and client work. It will also be used to generate ideas and provide insight into what type of material members want to see. There's also a members only discount section in the works.
When asked what he thinks is his competition, Richards said, "I don't know if I have any competition, to be honest. I think of WPSessions as more of a compliment to things like WebDesign.com, BobWP, WP101, etc, not a competitor." The site has the support of several thought leaders in the WordPress community such as Chris Lema.
WPSessions has a simple focus - to educate you by bringing incredible talent together to focus on specific topics you need to know. They could charge much, much more, but their focus isn't on money as much as it is education.
Richards left a senior position at one of the most well-known WordPress development firms to focus on WPSessions. Despite not making the same amount of income, he's committed to making sure the site becomes the best education resource for new WordPress users and developers alike. What started out as an experiment is turning into an opportunity for Richards to achieve one of his lifelong dreams.
24 Jul 2014 3:21pm GMT
What caused the problem with movie theaters is not Netflix, but YouTube. What is making the old temples crumble is not smaller temples, but it's rather this kind of polytheism - you know, you make your own gods.
24 Jul 2014 3:01pm GMT
Way back in 2011 Google released Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich"), a major update that substantially improved the platform both for developers and for end users. This left developers with a problem: how do they take advantage of all the new features without leaving users of older devices stranded?
For most developers the answer has been to support both older and newer devices. This requires a lot of work, but it's worth it when it means many more people can use your software.
The downside is this approach slows development, resulting in longer delays between releases. It also means developers sometimes don't take advantage of the latest Android features, because doing so requires more time and testing to make sure the app continues to work on older devices.
We've followed this approach for quite a while with WordPress for Android, supporting everything from the latest devices to ones running Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread"). At the same time we've been seeing the usage of our app decline on Gingerbread, to the point that it's now less than 10%.
This means over 90% of our users are paying a "Gingerbread tax" - waiting longer for new versions and not seeing features that take advantage of their phones - so that we can continue supporting older devices.
We've decided to abolish this tax. Starting with version 2.9 of WordPress for Android - due later this month - new versions will only support devices running Android 4.0 or later. If you're using an older phone, the previous version of our app will still appear in Google Play and you'll still be able to use it.
We'll be honest: our developers - including myself - are happy about this because it'll make us more productive. But the thing we're the happiest about is that it will result in a faster, smaller, better app for the large majority of our users.
24 Jul 2014 12:15pm GMT
We're pleased to bring you WordPress for Android Version 2.8, which offers the following improvements:
- App startup time has been reduced, and the Statistics screen will load faster.
- The app is now available in Turkish, English (UK), and offers improved support for Traditional Chinese.
- Samsung users will now be able to use the app in multi-window.
- Notification and Comment screens have been reworked to enhance the user experience on small tablets.
Check out the GitHub milestone for more info.
Download it now from Google Play.
Be sure to follow WPAndroid for all of the latest updates.
24 Jul 2014 12:15pm GMT
The WordPress for Android 2.9 release is now available in the Google Play Store. This release includes some exciting new features, enhancements, and bug fixes.
Blog discovery is a new feature in the Reader that lets you:
- Find new blogs (based on recommendations).
- Preview a blog and read posts before following it.
- Manage your tags and blog subscriptions.
Publish Icon Button
We replaced the publish icon button with a contextual text button. Whether you're saving a draft, publishing or scheduling a post, or updating one, this new button will display your action, depending on your current task.
Faster Notifications and Stats Refresh
We updated the Notifications feature to use Simperium technology, which will sync your notifications quickly and efficiently.
We also know you love viewing your Stats, so we improved them to refresh faster than ever before.
- Reintroduction of the refresh button in all refreshable views, along with the pull-to-refresh gesture.
- Pull-to-refresh tip bar has been replaced by a less aggressive, self-hiding message.
- Save dialog has been removed, and all posts are now auto-saved when you close the edit post view.
- Reblogging interface redesign in the Reader.
- Sharing image, video, text, or link via WordPress for Android now remembers the previous choice.
- Posts and pages auto-save feature has been improved.
- Fixed bugs related to statistics (only affecting Jetpack users) and image handling.
- Reader improvements to fill gaps in time between two syncs.
- As we announced earlier, we dropped Android 2.3 support. Current (2.9) and later versions need Android 4.0 or later.
- New translations: Hebrew and Basque.
- SNI (Server Name Indication) support.
- Minor bug fixes.
A big thanks to all of the contributors who worked on this release: @beaucollins, @daniloercoli, @maxme, @nbradbury, @roundhill, and @sendhil! You can keep up with the development progress at http://make.wordpress.org/mobile and can also follow the app on Twitter @WPAndroid. If you need support or want to send us suggestions, please visit our forums.
24 Jul 2014 12:15pm GMT
The latest update of WordPress for Android is now available. Version 2.7 brings some great new features along with it. Read on to find out more!
You can now refresh content in the app by using the familiar pull-to-refresh gesture. Just swipe down on any screen in the app and you'll get the freshest content available for that screen.
We also worked hard on making the app perform faster and more efficiently behind the scenes:
- Your stats have been optimized to load and scroll faster than ever before.
- Posts and Pages now support infinite scroll so you can easily load more content.
- Media upgrades let you see content faster and scroll more smoothly.
- We improved the post editor - it now uses less of your device's memory when adding media to a post.
This release includes many more small enhancements and fixes. Curious what they are? Check out the GitHub milestone for more info.
Excited for the update? Download it now from Google Play.
Contributor Thanks & What's Next
Up next, we want to focus on post drafts and even better media management.
Be sure to follow WPAndroid for all of the latest updates.
24 Jul 2014 12:15pm GMT
The latest update to WordPress for Android includes a new reading and setup experience, as well as significant updates to the user interface. Here are some of the highlights of this release.
The app Reader has been completely redesigned, and now provides a much-improved, native reading experience. You'll definitely notice its speed - posts appear in a snap, and images fade in as they load. You can also view users that have commented or liked posts, as well as edit the list of tags that you follow. We've revamped the like, reblog, and comment interfaces to make it easier than ever to respond to posts that strike your fancy.
Redesigned Blog Setup
When signing in to the app or creating an account on WordPress.com, you'll notice a brand new user interface that makes it super-simple to start blogging. If you keep multiple blogs on your account, they will all be automatically added for you. You can also hide whichever blogs you don't wish to work on in the app.
We've given the app a facelift, including a new color scheme, a refined navigation drawer layout, and sharp-looking lists in notifications, posts, pages and comments.
You'll also notice some changes to the post editor, with larger images and a new Post Settings area where you'll manage post data such as status, post formats, and categories, among others. The post content area will now go full screen while you are editing, to give you maximum space to focus on your content. Give the app a try here:
Download the update today from Google Play.
The mobile team isn't stopping here! We have pretty big plans for the months to come and the rest of 2014. You can keep up with the development progress over at http://make.wordpress.org/mobile. You can also follow the app on twitter @WPAndroid.
24 Jul 2014 12:15pm GMT
Both themes are for portfolio websites, and both themes use a custom post type for the portfolio.
For years we've been talking about the importance of not "locking in" users to CPTs bundled with themes. At some point, that gained decent adoption, but people still tended to just package the same code that was in their theme and put it in a separate plugin - a fine practice for sure. But it's not a practice that makes it much easier to go from one portfolio theme to another; rather it's a good way to be able to keep your content and support it with custom templates in some new theme.
What does it mean to standardize custom post types?
At its core, a custom post type requires a registration name. It's common practice to prefix custom post type names, just like is best for any other WordPress thing. For example, if you have two eCommerce plugins installed (because people do strange things), it wouldn't be ideal for both to register a post type named "product", because a conflict could exist.
However, for many things, standard post type names make for better portability between themes. If you're running eCommerce, it's pretty specific to a particular eCommerce plugin. But if you have a post type for a portfolio, or testimonials, or staff bios, or something more generic, it could be a great thing to standardize so that different themes could support the same post type, which would result in better transitions for users from theme to theme.
WordPress.com and Jetpack can lead the way
WordPress.com and Jetpack have a great opportunity on this front. WordPress.com has a ton of websites and is a significant player in the theme market; most WordPress.com theme makers also release their themes for self-hosted installs.
As more WordPress.com themes begin to support more than blog-style content, WordPress.com is slowly enabling support for more custom post types. This means that WordPress.com - and Jetpack, it's WordPress.org bridge - can lead the way in establishing some standardized custom post types for WordPress.
Bailey and Designer are great examples of this in action. Forefront, a business theme by Automattic, also has support for testimonials, which would work for their self-hosted version as well.
Current support for standard custom post types
Currently, Jetpack and WordPress.com support four post types:
- Food menus
- Portfolios (coming in the next version)
Really only portfolios and testimonials are mainstream styles of content. The other two were pretty theme specific add-ons, which Jetpack really just supported to aid transitions of .com users moving to .org.
There are many common post types that Jetpack and WordPress.com could continue to enable, including but not limited to the following:
- Staff / Bios
There are many relatively common types of custom post types. And I'm beginning to think that some just don't need prefixes, which would make them more transportable.
This is the kind of common support that is easy to make global, or non-prefixed, and also easy for developers to opt out of. If, for some reason, a developer had a common CPT use case that wouldn't work well ported elsewhere, they could still use a separate plugin with a prefixed post type, and theme users could account for that when they decide to use the theme.
But for many common post types, I think not prefixing could be the way of the future; and I think Jetpack and WordPress.com are in a good place to support that.
What about metadata?
One of the concerns for this proposal is around meta data and custom fields. A custom post type often requires custom meta data fields to be registered, which are pretty core to the heart of the post type.
Barring a more structured core meta data api, this is a tricky issue. Different plugins name, store, and handle meta data much differently from one another, even if the field is relatively similar. For instance, a "job title" custom field could be handled many different ways from one implementation to the next, making common support for a custom field tough.
I don't really have the answer to this. Do we prioritize what is important to standardize versus what is not? So, is the post type important to save but the metadata not so? I don't know, and I lean towards not believing that. So maybe this dream of mine is limited to the most basic of fields in CPTs, or maybe Jetpack could strong arm the custom field naming conventions too. I'm not sure.
Build for the majority
No matter how we determine the specifics of standardization, it's important to remember that we work for the majority. We need to make this easy on the end user, and as seamless between different themes and plugins as possible. That's why I like what The Theme Foundry and Array have done with their new themes. They are making their stuff "just work" whether their user is on .com, .org, or moves from one to the other. Or, you could even go from one of their themes to the other, and it will work.
I talked to Jetpack team lead at Automattic, George Stephanis, and he says their reasons for the support are mostly practical:
The main reason that we're shipping the CPTs that we are is for compatibility with WordPress.com. If there's a CPT we use on WordPress.com, it's going to be abstracted out of the theme it's meant for, so that other themes can use it as well, so we try to get them shipped in Jetpack for users that want to move seamlessly between the self-hosted and WordPress.com ecosystems.
I talked to Mike McAlister about my concept, and he agrees as well:
I agree with this argument. If they [Jetpack] don't, no one will and we continue down the road of non-standardization.
And I also asked Corey McKrill - developer at The Theme Foundry - about the details of their integration, and they took it a step further, by using the Jetpack CPT but not requiring it:
We believe the theme should "just work", so we didn't want it to require the full Jetpack plugin as a dependency. However, if the user does have Jetpack installed, the theme will use the code from the plugin, rather than the internal version. (We did something similar with the Infinite Scroll functionality in our Oxford theme.) And of course, in terms of content portability, if a user creates a portfolio with Bailey and then switches to a different theme, they can install Jetpack to continue having access to their projects.
Corey also makes the good point that this notion of building on plugin functionality isn't limited to custom post types; they did the same for infinite scroll in Jetpack. It does make me a little nervous to have CPT registration in the theme; but since it's not locking the user in, this decision does make life easier on the user and give the most flexibility.
More thinking to do
There are details to work out; perhaps we need to create some best practices and standards around registering common post types. I sort of like the concept of adding common names to the reserved post types list, but basically in the opposite sense - like recommended post type names.
I don't think this is a standard where there's a huge role for WordPress core to play. I think it's mostly a decision that can be made by the market, and the biggest players in it. Obviously, Jetpack carries huge weight, but they aren't the only ones. I'm interested in what other theme and plugin makers think, and also what developers think about chaining functionality to plugins like this.
24 Jul 2014 4:50am GMT
23 Jul 2014
Cloudways has a great article profiling the Advanced WordPress Facebook group. Written by Matt Cromwell, who is one of the group administrators, it explains how the group was formed and what its purpose is.
Being a web developer or a designer (or both) can be stand-alone job for some individuals. Even if you work in an office environment, you're probably the only one in your department that does what you do. That's why so many people look for interaction and a sense of community online in groups like the Advanced WordPress Facebook group.
In order to participate, you need to be approved by a moderator. Advanced WordPress is a closed group so posts will stay within the group. With over 20 administrators and 7,400 members, the discussions are lively and well moderated. I've been a member for a few months and have really enjoyed the variety of topics and conversations. I've even managed to help solve a few problems for people.
There's only one problem I have with the group. It's hard to locate past discussions without having to wade through the entire archive to find them. Unlike a forum that contains a structured way of navigating past conversations, the Facebook group does not.
Other Places To Discuss Advanced WordPress Topics
If you're looking for other places to hangout and discuss advanced WordPress topics, there is the WP Hackers Mailing list which is still active and the WordPress Development section of Stack Exchange. There's also the WordPress subreddit. I unsubscribed to the mailing list a few years ago due to the number of discussions that turned into arguments. However, it appears as though the list is populated with a new group of active members, so the number of bike shed arguments may no longer be a problem.
Are you a member of the WordPress Advanced Facebook group? If so, what sort of value have you obtained out of being a member? What other places exist to discuss advanced WordPress topics?
23 Jul 2014 11:25pm GMT
Earlier this year, Automattic's Toni Schneider asked Gravatar users what platform should be first to receive the Gravatar mobile app. No details on the purpose of the Gravatar app were revealed at the time but it turns out that the team has been busy developing a photo app.
While working on the Gravatar app, they realized that people don't want to change their gravatars every day, so they decided to put their efforts toward an app that is likely to be used more often. According to Schneider, the planned Gravatar app "morphed into a Selfies app," which is now available for Android featuring the tagline "Put Your Selfie Out There."
We noticed that taking pictures of ourselves to update our Gravatars was something we only wanted to do every month or so, but then we started taking selfies and sharing them with each other and that became a daily and very fun habit. So our Gravatar app morphed into a Selfies app, and it's now ready for the world to play with!
The app was not built using the WordPress API or the WordPress.com API but is powered by a yet-to-be released Gravatar API, according to Automattic employee Marcus Kazmierczak.
For those who don't have an Android device, the Selfie app opens with an invitation to take a selfie, which you can then filter and share to a public stream.
Users can authenticate via Google in order to easily create an account. The Selfie app has a social aspect built in that allows users to post reactions as a caption or photo response, designed to create "mini stories."
The release post, titled "Something Funny Happened" gives the impression that creation of the Selfies app was something akin to a happy accident. Automattic says the app is still in its infancy and has not yet confirmed when the intended Gravatar app will be available. Reaction has been mixed. While some see it as an interesting experiment on mobile, others wonder why Automattic is using its highly skilled talent to "democratize selfies."
Selfies is an interesting choice for Automattic to release, as their app experiments are usually tightly integrated with its core products and services or built to showcase WordPress as an application framework. From the sidelines, this app appears to do neither, although it certainly has the fun factor built in. If you want to test the Selfies app, you can download it from Google Play and leave feedback on the app's P2 blog.
23 Jul 2014 10:18pm GMT