22 May 2013
As we inch closer towards the 10 year anniversary of WordPress, I've been browsing through a few different time capsule posts. Some of them really tap into my nostalgic center while others have me asking questions such as, what ever happened to the Flock browser that WordPress was excited about in 2005? It was described as being just like FireFox but with goodies. If memory serves me right, it was supposed to be a social browser. At any rate, here is a collection of memory lane posts related to WordPress.
Down Memory Lane With WordPress.com - Although this was published in 2009, it gives a great overview of the history of the WordPress.com front page over the years. It's filled with interesting tidbits such as when the WordPress.com website promoted the Flock browser.
Then & Now: How WordPress Companies Have Looked Over the Years - Published at the end of 2012, not only does this article chronicle the WordPress.org website but a handful of other notable sites as well such as Woothemes, StudioPress and ColorLabs.
A 10 Year Visual History of WordPress.org - While I created a comprehensive history of the WordPress.com domain, Joe Foley of WPMU.org published a visual history of the WordPress.org website which covers all 10 years the website has been around.
A Journey Through Five Years of WordPress Interface. - Published in 2008, Ozh compiled a number of screenshots together showcasing the changes that the WordPress interface has gone through since 0.7.1 to 2.7. Take note of WordPress 2.5 as many consider it one of the worst interface redesigns WordPress has been put through.
A History of Default WordPress Themes - WPLift also published a history of the default themes that have shipped with WordPress. Although these were far and few between, starting with TwentyTen, we can expect to see a new default theme every year.
Brief History Of The Theme Repository - These slides are from Chip Bennett's presentation at WordCamp Kansas City that delves into the brief history of the WordPress theme repository.
WordPress Archive Project:
While compiling this list of posts, I had a conversation on Twitter with a number of folks discussing the history of WordPress and how it would be cool if we could take various elements of WordPress and create a visual history such as the Login screen or the Post Writing interface. I was told by Siobhan McKeown that she is sort of working on a project like this. She currently has every version of WordPress installed on a local machine in order to create screenshots from one version to the next. It will be interesting to see where this goes.
Bryan Witherwax or @Tweeterwax notified me that their WordPress 10 year anniversary party in Seattle, WA will have a local host setup with every version of WordPress installed so that attendees can see for themselves just how far WordPress has progressed.
@wptavern We have some guys setting up all of the versions of WP on a local host for people to play with for our WP 10yr party in Seattle.
- Bryan Witherwax (@tweeterwax) May 22, 2013
Ryan Hellyer has put together a section of his website that shows off the WordPress 1.0 Post Writing screen as well as the index page right after WordPress 1.0 is installed. In the coming days/weeks, Ryan will be adding different versions of WordPress with static Administration and index pages so we can at least get an idea of what the workflow is like. If you don't see anything, it's because the changes have yet to propagate to your DNS server.
I'm also going working on a post that explains what steps to go through to install each WordPress version onto a local host. It's actually more difficult than you would think, especially for WordPress 0.7.1 which requires it's own unique PHP.ini file.
22 May 2013 7:35pm GMT
21 May 2013
iThemes, the company behind products such as BackupBuddy and the Builder theme are reporting that their headquarters as well as all of their staff are ok following the Tornadoes that ripped Moore, Oklahoma apart on May 20th. Not only has their company donated $2,000.00 to the Red Cross for relief efforts, but they are asking everyone to consider texting REDCROSS to 90999 which will donate $10.00 to the Red Cross to help support tornado relief efforts in Oklahoma.
21 May 2013 7:23pm GMT
One of the best things about WordPress is its third-party ecosystem of themes and plugins. If WordPress doesn't have the feature set you need out of the box, chances are very good that with just a few plugins, you can make the WordPress of your dreams. However, to new and veteran users alike, choosing which plugins to install is not always an easy task. Using this guide as a checklist ought to remove some of the challenges associated with choosing plugins. I'm not guaranteeing that you'll be able to pick the right plugins 100% of the time but by taking these factors into account before making a decision, your chances of success will substantially increase.
Factors To Consider:
Starting Point - On the left hand side of the Plugin repository are a series of links for extending WordPress. I highly suggest starting off with browsing through the Most Popular and Highest Rated plugins first, then move on to other options. The plugins within those two categories have stood the test of time and generally, have earned those positions.
Requirements - The minimum requirements information is supplied directly from the plugin author and is generally used as the first factor in determining whether or not a plugin will work with a specific site. The number of downloads can be used to determine the age of a plugin as well as it's popularity.
Ratings - Ratings are based on 5 stars where the average rating is shown at the top. Plugins can only be rated by logged in users. One of the recent changes to the plugin repository are plugin reviews. If you click on each star link, you can read all the reviews that go with that rating, very similar to Amazon.com. When choosing a plugin, don't just read the 5 star reviews, also read the 1 and 2 star reviews to get a balanced perspective.
Plugin Author - Sometimes, the plugin authors name will show up as a link. This link will take you to their WordPress.org profile that displays an overview of their earlier works in the plugin repository as well as a stream of their recent activity. This information can be used as an indicator on their recent development activity around their plugins.
Plugin Support - This area of the page shows you how many support questions have been asked in the forum specifically for that plugin. When viewing the plugin support forum, look for the number of threads that have [resolved] in the title, the plugin authors name as being the last poster and threads that have answers by someone other than the plugin author which is a sign of a healthy community surrounding the plugin.
Compatibility - This area of a plugin page describes whether or not a specific version of a plugin works with the current, or earlier versions of WordPress. Using the drop down boxes, you can select an earlier version of WordPress as well as an earlier version of the plugin to see if enough people in the community have reported on whether they work together or not. This information is based on community feedback, not by the plugin author.
Trustworthiness - Although this is not a consideration you can search for, downloading a plugin from the WordPress plugin repository does have its benefits. Before each plugin is allowed to be hosted on the repository, it must go through a manual screening process that checks things like obfuscated code, malware, spam links, and security. This is also the same process a plugin update must go through before it's also published to the repository to make sure nothing malicious is added after the first screening. For these reasons, I can't stress enough how important it is to download from the official repository versus somewhere else. That's not to say that plugins hosted elsewhere are not equally or more thoroughly screened, but with WordPress.org, you know what you're getting.
The Big Picture:
With over 25,000 plugins in the repository, it's becoming increasingly difficult to wade through them all to find the one that perfectly matches functionality with security, support, and reliability. For example, if you were to do a search for Backup or SEO, you'll be greeted with a ton of different options. Using the factors I've listed is this guide can substantially increase the odds that a plugin will work out of the box with little hassle. WPTavern.com uses about 25-29 plugins and most of them have been in use for over 4 years, with little to no trouble.
Advice From Other WordPress Faithful:
I reached out to a couple of people in the WordPress community that deal with the plugin repository on a routine basis either for their own interest or because they are in the business of working with clients. Here is their advice.
Al Davis of WPTeach.com - Check what version the plugin is compatible to, as this is a great indicator as to whether the plugin is still being actively developed. If you are unsure how the plugin is going to work on your site, browse through the support forums, see what kinds of issues others may be having and see if those issues are being addressed. Finally, have a look at the screenshots and FAQ if they are available and make sure the plugin actually does what you are looking for.
Angie Meeker, Organizer Of WordCamp Columbus and WordPress Consultant - My first piece of advice is to ask yourself (and your trusted WordPress adviser or the WP Support Forums), "Do I really need a plugin for this?" Many new users to WP are unfamiliar with some of its simplest built-in functions (ones you don't even need to know how to code to use). They go searching for a simple gallery plugin, not knowing there's one built into the Media Uploader. They search for a plugin to schedule posts, to password protect pages, or to post by email.
On finding what you want in the first place:
1. Search with as specific of terms as you can think of. "Rotating Image Galleries" is a better search than just "Image Galleries." Of course, this is true with all search.
2. Google "what you want to do + plugin + wordpress", and look only at search results in the repository (those with wordpress.org/extend/plugins/ in the url). I find that sometimes searching the repository from within is limiting.
Once you've found one:
1. Read the entire description, Installation, FAQ, and Other Notes (ALL of them). If there are Screenshots, look at them to get a hint of what the plugin does. Not all plugins have all of these areas completed, though.
2. Look at the "Requires Version X.X" and Compatible to X.X" If your installation is WordPress 3.1, and the plugin requires 3.5, then it's NOT the plugin author's fault when you install it and it doesn't work. Either upgrade your WP install, or don't use the plugin. If you're using 3.5 but the plugin says it's only compatible to 3.1, then there's no guarantee it will work with that forward version. It MIGHT, but there's no guarantee.
Sometimes, a plugin author knows for CERTAIN a plugin DOESN'T work with a newer version, and they'll make a note of it in the description. Remember, the authors of these plugins are not paid to create and update these, so if a plugin is not up-to-date, don't go berserk on the plugin author. Be polite and ask if/when there might be an update.
3. Perhaps one of the most useful things you can check out: the Support Forums for a plugin. Plugin authors don't HAVE to give support for plugins in the repository, but many do. Look at the support threads submitted. How many people submitted the same questions? Does it seem like those questions are simply user error (like maybe they didn't read the instructions?) or are they asking about a bug or a problem with the plugin? If there are bugs, is the author responsive to correcting them or providing hints at how users can make corrections? Does the author respond to questions? In my opinion, these point to a plugin author who is vested in the success of his/her plugin, and that usually equals success for you when using it.
4. Reviews: These are a recent addition to the WP Plugin Repository, so don't be surprised if many plugins don't have many or any.
5. Lastly, clicking on the plugin author's name will take you to a list of all the plugins that author has submitted to the repo. It stands to reason that a plugin author whose overall portfolio has quality ratings, good reviews, maintains the support forums for his/her plugins and keeps the plugins up-to-date probably creates plugins the community can trust.
Marcus Couch co-host of the WordPress Plugins A-Z Podcast also has some bullet points worth checking
1) How long has the plugin been around? What is the update cycle?
Nothing is worse than committing to a particular plugin and having the developer drop support after just a few version revisions. An active developer assures you that the plugin will receive update attention throughout the various WordPress Core updates that come along several times a year. A developer that frequently updates along with WordPress versions is a quality to look for when choosing between plugins to install on your live sites.
2) Does this plugin play well with the rest of my plugins?
If you've ever owned an aquarium, you know that some fish don't play well with others, often leading to complete breakdown of the natural order and balance of the tank. Plugins are the same way! Make sure that the plugin you are going to install does not "overlap" functionality and cause issues in the performance of others.
3) Plugin vs Plugin Race
If two plugins exist that perform essentially the same function, install them both but activate only one. Run a site load comparison with sites like Pingdom.com and other data load measurement tools. Find out which plugin is more efficient with loading time and use the results to make a determination if one of the plugins takes too long to load or drains too much system memory.
4) Shortcode Dependency
When deciding to use a plugin that relies on shortcodes, understand that somewhere down the line you might want to remove that plugin. This means that there could potentially be thousands of instances of [shortcode] throughout your page and post content.
Is there a great community behind the plugin? There are so few plugins with thriving, rabid communities, but it's always a huge bonus when a large base of plugin fans can gather with the developer and help to improve a plugin and it's core functionality. Once you start using a plugin on a regular basis and find that there is an active community associated with it, PARTICIPATE! I've had many plugins programmed with exactly the functions that I needed simply because I asked the developer to include them in future revisions.
I realize that some of the information in this post is redundant but Angie provides real-world expectations and views. Scott Reilly clearly sums everything up into one paragraph.
When choosing an appropriate plugin from the Plugins Directory it's often best to take various factors into consideration rather than just any single factor. The plugin author, the number of support threads replied to in the past two months, the nature of the types of support threads being created (and the nature of the author's responses, if any), the number and nature of the reviews being given (or lack thereof), the last update date, and the rating can all play a factor in making a decision.
If you can contribute anything else to this guide for choosing which plugins to install, please do so in the comments.
21 May 2013 6:44pm GMT
In an effort to figure out where resources should be applied to improve the documentation efforts of the WordPress project, there is an open survey that will be ongoing for the next few weeks. The survey is composed of 12, easy to answer questions which shouldn't take longer than 5 minutes to answer. Along with this survey, there have been renewed efforts by a handful of people to get the various documentation projects up to date. To keep tabs on everything going on documentation wise for the WordPress project, you should subscribe to the Make WordPress Documentation website.
Speaking of documentation, how many of you have actually changed something on the Codex whether it be a typo, a bad link, or corrected information? I've made at least a few changes, such as typos and fixed a couple of broken links but nothing major. Just like many other aspects of the project, documentation is one of those thankless jobs. You can log into the Codex, make some changes and unless you brag about them, no one will ever know. However, documentation is one aspect of the project that impacts users for generations. While correcting a link or adding a paragraph of information is not critical to the Codex, it does provide a warm fuzzy feeling when you think about how many people may come across a page that you fixed so that instead of loading a 404 page which doesn't help anyone, they get the information they were looking for.
Just for fun, I asked my twitter followers to tell me in 140 characters or less, why documentation is important to WordPress. This was one of their responses.
@wptavern Same reason documentation is important to anything: so people will know how to use it.
- Sallie Goetsch (@salliegoetsch) May 20, 2013
21 May 2013 12:40pm GMT
20 May 2013
A picture I took at WordCamp Dallas 2008.
Why on earth? Well, it's the same and different for each one. Jeff wanted to step back from WPTavern and had an offer but I thought it wasn't really fair given the years and effort he had put into the blog. Even if he wasn't going to be part of the WordPress world anymore I wanted him to go out of it with the best deal possible. For Mark, the context was similar except I don't think he talked to any other buyers because his priority was having it in good hands - someone who would keep it around. I have a high regard for the great historical context WLTC provided, being there with WordPress from pretty much day one. So each was purchased by Audrey and went into hibernation.
Neither was done to be a business or make any money and there are no plans for ads or sponsors on either site.
In 2008 when I also first met Mark.
Why haven't I posted anything until now? Well, I've been very busy - Automattic, WordPress, et al. Also the original plan was to just archive them both.
Convinced by Scott, I reached out to see if Jeff would be interested at taking another crack at making a first rough draft of history for the WordPress world. I recall fondly the days when I used to be more nervous about doing an interview with Jeff than the NY Times because I knew he'd have much more in-depth and nuanced questions given his deep understanding of WP. I'm looking forward to seeing that again in the WP blogosphere.
What's the plan? Currently: put WLTC into archive mode, and reboot Tavern to be a "third place" for the WP community. We'll show off the latest and greatest with bbPress and some newer WP features like post formats. Longer term it might make sense to roll Jeff's (and anyone else who is interested) work into some official news resource WP.org, but haven't really decided anything there yet. Consider this a grand experiment which I'm as interested to see the results of as I'm sure you guys are.
Any questions I could answer?
No related posts.
20 May 2013 11:51pm GMT
I have a suggestion for WordPress 3.7 that I believe is a UI element to the media library. I have a number of images within the media library. When I do a search for a specific image e.g. Codex which I know is the exact file name, the search is performed with no sign that anything is actually happening. Sometimes, it takes so long for any images to show up that I start running scenarios through my mind such as I broke the site or it can't find any images. Then, suddenly, the search results pop up. So I'm requesting that a spinning circle or other visual cue be displayed when a media search is taking place. It's better to know that something is happening versus looking at a blank page that gives the user no clue as to what's going on.
I was pointed in the direction of Ticket 22754 as being related but I don't think so. If anyone comes across a ticket where this is already being addressed, please share it in the comments. I searched through Trac myself and came up empty.
20 May 2013 5:06pm GMT
If you live in the Northern Ohio area, make plans to stop by Water Street Tavern in Kent, OH Saturday, May 25th from 7PM-10PM to help us celebrate the 10th anniversary of WordPress. There will be a cash bar, good food and from what I've read, there might actually be some WordPress swag. This event is an excellent opportunity to wear the special 10th anniversary t-shirt.
If you don't live in Northern Ohio, check out the following list of WordPress parties taking place this weekend to see if one is happening near you.
20 May 2013 4:15pm GMT
It now looks pretty certain that Yahoo has pulled off a deal to buy Tumblr for 1.1B. The relationship between WordPress and Tumblr has always been pretty friendly: Tumblr's own blog used to be on WP, WordPress.com supports Tumblr as a Publicize option alongside Twitter and Facebook, our Akismet team sends them daily emails of splogs on the service, and there's healthy import and export traffic both ways. (Imports have actually spiked on the rumors even though it's Sunday: normally we import 400-600 posts an hour from Tumblr, last hour it was over 72,000.)
News like this, whether from a friend or a competitor, is always bittersweet: I'm curious to see what the creative folks behind Tumblr do with their new resources, both personal and corporate, but I'm more interested to know what they would have done over the next 5-10 years as an independent company. I think we're at the cusp of understanding the ultimate value of web publishing platforms, particularly ones that work cross-domain, and while Yahoo's all-cash deal by some metrics, like revenue, is very generous, I think it's a tenth of the value that will be created in these platforms over the coming years.
20 May 2013 3:38am GMT
19 May 2013
18 May 2013
The Wall Street Journal interviews Annise Parker on Houston and calls it "The Modern American Boomtown". I think Houston is the most under-appreciated city in North America, as anyone who's hung out with me for more than a few hours has heard me preach.
18 May 2013 1:18pm GMT