A Game of Thrones

Book cover of A Game of Thrones.

What can be said that has not already been said about A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin’s opening volume of his A Song of Fire and Ice epic?

The books and the television series that it has spawned have permeated American pop culture. At least half the people I know have watched it. Most of the other half can catch a GOT reference or two.

Like so many others, I watched the show first. It’s rare that I do this because I nearly always feel that seeing the show first ruins the book for me. I’m happy to say that this wasn’t the case with A Game of Thrones. While I knew the plot and had well-formed images of the characters in my head, these things didn’t detract from my enjoyment of reading the book.

I enjoyed the book so much, that I purchased and began reading A Clash of Kings, the second volume, on the same night that I finished the first book. I typically like to read a shorter work as a break between epic reads.

The first book primarily follows Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn Stark and several of their children, the family who rules over Winterfell and the north in the name of the king. It also follows Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf brother of the queen, and Daenerys Targaryen, the exiled daughter of the former mad king. Each of their stories intertwine and tell of a much larger set of events that will forever reshape the Seven Kingdoms.

The scale of this world is massive and any wrong turn could mean a character’s death or the fall of a great house.

What I like most about Martin’s writing style is that he gives a unique voice to every character. Each chapter of the book is written from a third-person viewpoint that follows a specific person. What he does better than anyone is make you feel each story from a different viewpoint. Much of it is subtle, but there are stylistic changes with each character that only a well-seasoned writer can achieve without feeling like you’re being jerked all over the place.

A Game of Thrones is much different than other high fantasy, which is a fantasy set in a fictional world other than our own with its own rules. Whereas most high fantasy tends to lean toward a noble hero or group of heroes going about to do noble things, things aren’t so cut and dry here. There’s a gritty realism that sets this story apart from the field. The good guys sometimes die. The bad guys sometimes sit on the Iron Throne. And, many of our characters are little more than children who are having to learn the shitty reality of life long before they should.

Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.

Tyrion Lannister

There are characters I love, such as Tyrion Lannister. I love him for his wittiness and how uniquely human all of his faults are. There are characters I abhor, such as Sansa Stark. She represents all the annoying qualities of any highborn lady, but I also feel the hard life lesson she must learn in this book more deeply than any other character.

In A Game of Thrones, battles are won behind closed doors as much as they are on the battlefield. The political maneuvering and deception kept me wanting more.

The world Martin has created is massive. The story is epic in scope. I can’t get enough of it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 stars.

How To Fix ‘503 Service Unavailable’ WordPress Error

One of the few very frustrating errors you’ll ever encounter when using WordPress is the ‘503 Service Unavailable’ error. This error can be quite confusing to most WordPress users as it could completely render your website offline without giving you any clear reason to what caused the error. There can be a few different causes behind the ‘503 Service Unavailable’.... Continue Reading

The post How To Fix ‘503 Service Unavailable’ WordPress Error is written by Editorial Staff and appeared first on WPKube.

Alex Mills Ends His Battle With Leukemia

Today, we are reminded that life is fleeting and that plugins, themes, and WordPress itself is built and maintained by humans. Alex (Viper007Bond) Mills announced that he is ending his fight with Leukemia.

Due to liver inflammation and GvHD, the liver is too damaged to continue with treatment and there are no further options. I don’t want to spend the rest of my time in the hospital so I am choosing to remain at home where I can be comfortable with family and friends.

Alex Mills

Mills is encouraging members of the WordPress community to fork and maintain his open-source plugins. Mills thanked his co-workers, members of the WordPress community, and his car friends for enriching his life. It’s a somber read knowing it’s coming from a person who is still alive but knows that their time is near.

I want to thank everyone who has given me moral support through these difficult times. It has meant a lot hearing all of the love and support pour in from my friends and colleagues from around the world. I have been so grateful for all of the opportunities that have been given to me in my life, professionally and personally.

Automatticians have really helped me grow professionally by giving me an amazing career for the past nine years. My car friends have helped me grow socially and provided me so many good memories and life experiences. The people that I have gotten to know in the WordPress community have been very supportive as well. I am amazed by how many friends I have made and how much they have been there for me. They all have enriched my life and helped me grow as a person.

Alex Mills

Mills is the author of the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin, has been a long-standing member of the WordPress community, and is the founder of FinalGear, a forum community fan site devoted to Top Gear. The community may have played a role in bringing the show to the US.

Members of the FinalGear community are weighing in on the news.

FinalGear has been a big part of my life for just over 13 years now, that’s damn near half of my life. It’s an incredible community that we’ve built up over the years, spawned from Viper’s work.

I’m really thankful that I stumbled across the community all that time ago and was able to get to know him, even having the pleasure of spending a weekend with him at the Ringmeet in 2015. Thanks to him, petrolheads who would otherwise probably never have met are regularly traveling the world together and he’ll always be there.

Fuck. Cancer.

Matt2000

A huge number of us owe Alex a massive ‘thank you’ for the FG Community. I speak from the heart when I say I have made lifelong friends from across the globe and enjoyed trips and experiences that I couldn’t have dreamed of 10 years ago. None of that would have happened had I not been searching for an obscure piece of music from a TG episode and stumbled into this place.

MWF

Some of you may remember the Viper’s Video Quicktags plugin created more than 10 years ago. It was essentially the precursor to native oEmbed support that arrived in WordPress in 2016.

If you have benefited from Mill’s code, work, or have been positively impacted by him in any way, please let him know by commenting on this blog post. Mills is in a unique position to see, read, and hear how much of an impact he’s had on so many people throughout his life and we’re in a unique position to tell him.


Alex, thank you for your contributions to open-source, for being an early member of the WPTavern forum, and a supporter of the site. Throughout all of these years, I pronounced your nickname as Viperbond007 instead of Viper007Bond. It rolled off the tongue easier heh. I wish I could have gotten a ride in that sweet Viper you picked up a few years ago. Getting that Viper is something that I know was a lifelong dream of yours.

Please enjoy the time you have left with as little pain as possible and I’ll meet you on the other side. Please leave the light on for me.

Prepping for the spring

Yet another weekend has gone by where I didn’t get into my tidying journey quite like I wanted to. I spent most of the weekend outdoors, getting ready for the spring season.

At the end of last week, I started working on a new and improved chicken run. Over the weekend, I mostly tightened up insecure areas and added posts to better hold things in place. In the following video, you can see most of the chickens scratching away.

Ideally, they could be completely free range during the day, but they’d be more likely to fall prey to a hawk. The run is situated under a thick canopy of tree limbs, which makes it harder for predators to see them from above or swoop down.

Gardening season is upon us now as well, so they can’t be roaming about. Right now, they’re working through all the bugs and worms in all the fall/winter leaves that we gathered. These will eventually get put into the garden and used for fertilizer and to condition the soil. They also get daily greens (weeds thrown in to supplement their feed), which makes for some super orange yolks. They’ll get more greens as the season continues to warm.

Panther, one of my cats, walking the border of the garden bed.

The other big project this weekend was putting together a small garden bed close to the house, which will hold carrots and/or onions.

I just bordered the bed with some old wood and logs. Inside, I added eight buckets of litter from the chicken coop and about a bucket of ash from a recent fire where we burned off some old wood. The toughest part of the job was clearing out all the weeds that had taken over.

Pink flowers blooming on a peach tree.

In other news, one of my peach trees is nearly in full bloom. I’m hoping we don’t get a late frost and lose the few hundred flours. I want little more than to taste fresh peaches from my own trees this year.

WordPress 5.1 is incoming, Gutenberg Phase 2 updates, and bonus links!

We have a big week ahead of us! WordPress 5.1 will be released this week and with it comes a lot of improvements for the Block Editor as well as a whole bunch of other improvements. I’m also updating you on Gutenberg phase 2. And of course, there are some bonus links as well. Let’s dive in!

WordPress 5.1 slated for this week

It’s only been a little over two months since WordPress 5.0 was released, but the next release, WordPress 5.1, has been progressing very nicely. So well, in fact, that it’s slated for the February 21st. That’s this week!

WordPress 5.1 will add a nice set of improvements such as Site Health notices, version 4.8 of the Gutenberg plugin which comes with a lot of improvements to the Block Editor. But, wait, there’s more! It will also have Multisite Support for Site Metadata, Cron improvements, a new JavaScript build process, and updated styles and text strings. Additionally, there are a lot of under the hood improvements. All of which you can find in the WordPress 5.1 Field Guide, published on Make WordPress Core.

As soon as WordPress 5.1 is released, we’ll see continued work happening on features for WordPress 5.2. This will include things like Gutenberg performance and UX improvements, Core Widgets converted to blocks (Gutenberg Phase 2), PHP Fatal Recovery (WSOD), and a further improved version of the Site Health Check.

Gutenberg Phase 2 progress

Gutenberg Phase 2 is well underway with converting Core Widgets into Gutenberg blocks. Phase 2 also includes converting the current Navigation menu into a Navigation block solution. The Navigation block is currently being discussed and there are mockups in GitHub that would benefit from your feedback. Go check them out and let your voice be heard.

Gutenberg 5.0 introduced additional blocks such as an RSS block and a Kindle block. It also introduced some improvements to existing blocks such as the possibility to define a custom focal point for the cover block’s background. Read more about all the other improvements now part of the Gutenberg plugin in the Gutenberg 5.0 release post.

Sharing is caring

Here’s list of a few interesting things I came across this past week:

Customizing Gutenberg Blocks

Customizing Gutenberg blocks is a relatively complicated thing to do, but there’s actually a simple way to start customizing Gutenberg blocks. You can do this by utilizing block styles. They take only a few minutes to pick up, and mostly just require you to know CSS. You can learn more about it over at the ThemeShaper blog.

Query Monitor 3.3

One of my favorite debugging tools has been updated. Query Monitor 3.3 now has new features that introduce related hooks section for each panel, allows for debugging of wp_die() calls, support for debugging JavaScript translation files. And my personal favorite, we now have the ability to move the panel to the side of your window.

Gutenberg Blocks Design Library plugin

Gutenberg Blocks Design Library is a new plugin that provides pre-built page designs using only the default core blocks that come with WordPress. There’s a free version that comes with 50 different designs that users can import from the growing library.

The post WordPress 5.1 is incoming, Gutenberg Phase 2 updates, and bonus links! appeared first on Yoast.

New WordPress tools, plugins & presentations to learn from

Today, I’d like to highlight a couple of valuable news items from the WordPress Community. We saw some great things happening with new solutions and updates to already existing plugins. Enjoy!

WPCampus Online

WPCampus Online happened on January 31 and featured a lot of great content. If you missed out or want to revisit the conference, the website has links to all the slides and speaker information on their schedule page. All sessions were recorded, just like the last time, and will be made available soon.

PublishPress

When you have a blog that needs an editor workflow – most times because you work with a multi-author blog – you’ll probably want something as nifty as the PublishPress plugin. Especially, now that it’s integrated into Gutenberg. PublishPress has introduced a very cool add-on called Content Checklist. It allows you to specify certain requirements your content should meet before it’s published. They have very cleverly integrated this in the new Block Editor’s pre-publish panel.

New tool: WP Acceptance

Our friends at 10up have released a beta of a new automation tool called WP Acceptance. WP Acceptance runs tests against either a local environment (it works best with WP Local Docker) or a WP Snapshot stored in the cloud. Once a working WP Snapshots ID is committed to the project, anyone on the team can run tests against the same database and permalink structure stored in the Snapshot. It’s available in beta now.

Central panel for Wordfence

Wordfence is a very popular firewall and malware scanner solution for your WordPress sites. In other words, it’s meant to protect your WordPress site and keep unwanted visitors out. They have announced Wordfence Central. Which essentially is a new central panel where you can manage the security of all your WordPress sites in one place. Once you’ve created an account on their panel, you’ll need to connect that account with your websites in order for you to control them all in one place. A huge time saver if you’re using Wordfence on a lot of sites.

Looks like a very handy solution and, quite frankly, makes me wonder why there are still not that many plugins using client dashboards like this.

That’s it for this week! Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments!

The post New WordPress tools, plugins & presentations to learn from appeared first on Yoast.

How to Add Social Proof to Your WordPress Website

Every business website invests a lot of time and money to carefully plan the perfect funnel to convert website visitors into customers. It takes a lot of work to drive people from your website homepage to the pricing page. And that’s only the first step of the process. Now you have to convince those potential customers to hit the “Buy”.... Continue Reading

The post How to Add Social Proof to Your WordPress Website is written by Editorial Staff and appeared first on WPKube.

WordPress plugin updates – Jan/Feb 2019

Over the Christmas break, I spent quite a bit of time rationalising my WordPress plugins including closing several plugins which I decided I won’t be updating, especially those with very lower viewers.

I’m hoping to be a bit more regular in updating my WordPress plugins this year and also fleshing out a much pending documentation for all of them.

I’ve managed to be fairly active on the updates and I updated four plugins since the start of the year. All these have had their respective release posts on the WebberZone blog. If you’re here for just my plugin updates, I recommend subscribing to the newsletter there.

Better Search

I released Better Search v2.2.1 on 20th January. This is a very minor update to fix a few bugs and compatibility issues.

Read the release post for Better Search v2.2.1

Contextual Related Posts

I released Contextual Related Posts v2.5.1 on 26th January. This was also minor release focussed on a few bug fixes/modifications. The only key feature addition was a new option to disable the creation of thumbnails and add srcset and sizes attributes to them.

My main focus for Contextual Related Posts v2.6.0 is upgrading the current settings interface to use the Settings API which I have already done for most of my plugins. This will be a major release and given the large user base of this plugin (60,000+ users, I’ve delayed this for a long time.

Read the release post for Contextual Related Posts v2.5.1

Top 10

I released Top 10 v2.6.0 on 10th February and a subsequent fix (v2.6.1) a day later. This was a major release with several new features, particularly focussed around the tracker and thumbnail.

The thumbnail changes were same as those for Contextual Related Posts as mentioned above. The tracker now loads in the footer and you can also choose to have this loaded on all pages. You can also turn off number formats wherever the count is displayed.

Tracker settings in Top 10 v2.6.0
Tracker settings in Top 10 v2.6.0

Read the release post for Top 10 v2.6.1

Knowledge Base

I released WebberZone Knowledge Base v1.7.0 earlier today. The main addition to this version is the shortcode [kbalert] that allows you to create an informative message / alert box in your content similar to Bootstrap.

Alert shortcodes in WebberZone Knowledge Base
Alert shortcodes in WebberZone Knowledge Base

Read the release post for Knowledge Base v1.7.0

The post WordPress plugin updates – Jan/Feb 2019 appeared first on Ajay on the Road called Life.


WordPress plugin updates – Jan/Feb 2019 was first posted on February 12, 2019 at 5:45 pm.
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Cleaning and gardening

A potato that is rooting out partially buried in soil.

I took the weekend off from fully following Marie Kondō’s advice on my tidying journey. I was struggling picking the right category of things to give the full KonMari treatment, but I knew I had a whole lot of junk that spanned multiple categories that just needed to be tossed.

I filled two of the trash cans (the big kind you sit next to the road for the trash man to pick up) over the course of Saturday’s junk-tossing marathon.

While I love Marie Kondō’s system and have been following it step by step, I felt like I needed to get a bunch of crap out of the way so that I could move forward. I had old, broken planter pots. Plastic totes that were cracked down the side. And, all sorts of other oddball things that were past their days of usefulness. I didn’t think it best to hold each of these items to see if they sparked joy. They simply needed to be thrown away.

It was a liberating activity because now I feel like I can better see some of the areas that I can focus on next.

On Sunday, I started this year’s gardening efforts. I plan to cut way back this year with the garden so that I can focus on other goals.

I pruned the peach and plum trees. Truth be told, I’m a little late on this. We seem to be getting an early Spring. One of my peach trees is already blooming, which may not be a good thing. Last year, the same thing happened, but a late frost killed all of the blooms. With any luck, I’ll get to eat a few fresh peaches and plums right off the front porch.

I also planted out a small bed of red potatoes. This is separate from the main garden. I had a lot of potatoes left over from last year’s garden that were already rooting out on a table and producing baby tubers. I figured I might as well go ahead and stick them in some soil somewhere. I planted about half a 5-gallon bucket, but there’s at least 3 times that many left to plant from last year’s crop.

I could’ve finished the afternoon with some more tidying, but I got a bit tired. After a few months of little-to-light labor, my muscles were a bit unprepared for the work I put them through.

The Well of Ascension

The Cover of 'The Well of Ascension' with the book's heroine, Vin, gripping her dagger in a fight.

My feelings about The Well of Ascension, the second book in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, were hard to pin down.

The vast majority of the book is a solid 4-star read. But, the final few chapters are as good as it gets in fiction. During most of the novel, I was wondering if all the buildup and misdirection—we know Sanderson is going to tighten all those threads by the end—would pay off.

Sanderson delivered. And, I’m here once again to sing his praises.

At this point, I’m almost of the opinion that Sanderson can do no wrong. He’s a master of the craft. Even when he’s not at his best, his writing keeps me in a warm and cozy comfort zone.

The story picks up a year after the events of The Final Empire. The Lord Ruler is dead by the hand of our heroine, Vin. Eland, her love interest, has been crowned king and set up a system of government with representatives for each group of people in the kingdom. Sazed is traveling and imparting his knowledge upon the former skaa slaves. There is now a religion that teaches about Kelsier, the savior, the man who’d given his life for the the cause.

Luthadel, the city and seat of power that King Eland holds, is under threat by more than multiple enemies, one being his own father. There’s a new and mysterious Mistborn in town. Oh, and you remember that tiny problem of The Deepness from the first book that we never got the full details on? The one that the Lord Ruler said he was holding at bay? Yeah, it might be back.

Our merry band of thieves have now found themselves in new roles. They must learn how to hold an empire together or lose everything that Kelsier had fought and died for.

The political maneuvering that took up most of the book’s plot was interesting. It was a sharp turn of events from The Final Empire. Overthrowing a government is one thing. Keeping one running may prove an impossible task. Much of the focus was on the politics of running and maintaining a kingdom with a war right at the front door.

The Deepness and The Well of Ascension seem to be a secondary plot while everything else is going on. We’re only given bits and pieces throughout. While the new kingdom focuses on the threat of downfall in its infancy, no one has dealt with the much bigger problem underneath it all.

Vin is still growing. But, those old feelings of distrust come back. I struggled a bit with is the teenage angst from Vin. Some of it is understandable because she’s a teenager who’s still trying to find herself. But, the self-doubt dragged on a bit for me. We’d already seen her grow from a scared girl who hides in corners into a powerful woman in the first book. She’s still one of my all-time favorite characters from any work.

Is the payoff, the climax, enough to give this book the 5 stars I hold for only the most enjoyable reads?

Almost.

But, I must rate Sanderson against Sanderson. It was missing a little bit of the magic of the first book, but I’m excited to see where the third installment takes us.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 stars.

Display Your WordPress Site Statistics: Complete Guide

Just to be crystal clear, this post is all about displaying basic statistics about your site, not about your visitors. So if you are thinking something like, "duh, just use Google Analytics or whatever," then imagine a giant buzzer sound telling you that you're incorrect. Sure, Google Analytics gives you information about your visitors, like how many, where from, how long, and so forth. But GA et al do NOT provide information about your site itself. Things like the number of registered users, number of posts and pages, number of comments, and all the other cool little details about your site. That is what we'll be covering in today's DigWP tutorial. So grab some popcorn and enjoy the show! ;)

(more…)

Gutenberg 5.0 Adds New RSS Block, Amazon Kindle Embed Block, and FocalPointPicker Component

Version 5.0 of the Gutenberg plugin was released yesterday with a new RSS block. Riad Benguella, the project’s technical lead for phase 2, published a demo of the block and its settings. Users can set the number of items displayed and also toggle on/off the author, date, and excerpt.

RSS is still relevant today as one of the linchpins of the open web and Gutenberg makes it possible to easily place a feed inside a post or page. (This feature was previously limited to widgetized areas.) The creation of this block is part of a larger effort to port all of WordPress’ existing core widgets over to blocks.

Version 5.0 also introduces a new Amazon Kindle embed block, providing an instant preview from an Amazon Kindle URL. WordPress already has oembed support of Amazon Kindle URLs but it was missing from the Embeds section of the accordion in the block inserter.

One of the most exciting additions in this release is a new FocalPointPicker for the Cover block. It allows users to visually select the ideal center point of an image and returns it as a pair of coordinates that are converted into ‘background-position’ attributes. The result is that the user has more control over how the image is cropped. This feature solves so many problems users have experienced in cropping and displaying images in their WordPress themes and content. The FocalPointPicker was created as a reusable component so that developers can use it to build other blocks with the same capabilities, providing an experience that is consistent with core.

Focal point picker

The changes included in Gutenberg 5.0 are immediately available for those running the plugin on their sites but only for WordPress 5.0+. This release drops support for earlier versions of WordPress. The updates in Gutenberg 5.0 are planned to be rolled into WordPress 5.2.

Do we need advanced starter themes?

Screenshot of the Atom editor with a file from the Mythic starter theme.

Theme authors dont need new advanced starter themes. The most common issues in themes submitted to http://wordpress.org are still the basics: licensing, escaping, translations, and including script and styles. Encourage themers to learn the basics first.

Otherwise they will not understand the code they are including in their themes. If you are working on a starter theme, please look at what theme authors really need help with. Because it is not the build process.

~ Carolina Nymark

It’s a sentiment that I’ve heard before. I’ve addressed it to a degree on the Theme Hybrid blog last year. But, I mostly think it’s a misunderstanding of what this new crop of starter themes brings to the table.

I largely agree with the notion that the most common issues in themes submitted to the official WordPress theme repository cannot be addressed by simply providing more “advanced” code. However, there’s still a place in the WordPress ecosystem for developers who need more than the basics.

I struggle with the term “advanced” in this context. What we’re really talking about is utilizing newer and modern features of Web development. “Modern” does not necessarily have to equate to “advanced,” lest we run afoul of taking for granted everyday features not available 10 years ago. While modern starter themes are not the answer for everyone, they can improve development in many ways.

In this post, I’m going to address some of the concerns brought up in the Twitter thread quoted above and cover some of the reasons why I believe modern starters can be advantageous.

Also, I’m writing this post from the viewpoint of my own starter theme, Mythic. I cannot say whether all other modern starters handle things in the same way.

Translations

Mythic utilizes the Node WP i18n project to handle the translation process. Here’s a few of the things it does:

  • Recognizes the textdomain defined via the Text Domain header in style.css.
  • Adds textdomains where they’re missing.
  • Replaces incorrect textdomains in use.
  • Builds the POT file for translators.

The theme simply offers a wrapper command for this to simplify the process to the point where the theme author doesn’t need to figure out how to configure it. They just type in a command and watch the magic happen.

Of course, Mythic also wraps all of its text strings in the appropriate translation functions.

Escaping and sanitizing

Many basic starter themes just give you a jumping off point. What you do with the code after that is up to you. With Mythic, that’s not the case. By using its built-in tools, it can help you build better themes beyond the starting line.

Mythic integrates directly with the WP Theme Review Coding Standards. With a one-line command, it will analyze all of the theme’s files and spit out the results, pointing out the exact file names and line numbers where there are issues. It does this without the theme author having to learn how to configure an extra tool or use another plugin.

This is as good as it gets for a starter theme addressing common issues such as escaping on output and sanitizing on input. Outside of leading by example within the theme code, there’s little more that any starter can offer.

Mythic also has style and JS linting built in, so it can let you know when you’ve done something wrong in those areas.

Modern PHP

While Mythic currently has a minimum PHP version of 5.6, I plan to bump that beyond PHP 7 at some point in the future. This is important because taking advantage of some newer PHP features means the code is better structured and clear.

For example, type and return type declarations improve code by making sure accepted and returned data are of the appropriate type. Let’s look at a basic math class with an addition method:

class Math {
	public static function sum( int $x, int $y ) : int
	{
		return $x + $y;
	}
}

The Math::sum() method takes two parameters: $x and $y. It only allows an integer to be passed in for either of those. And, because we set a return type declaration of int, we’ll only ever get an integer back. Using modern techniques like this makes your code much better. In many cases, it makes it safer because you know 100% for sure what type of data to expect.

This is just a small sample of how using more modern features can make theme coding better. PHP is becoming a nicer language to work with.

Prefixing / Namespacing

One of the major problems for a long time (and it’s still sometimes an issue) is developers not prefixing their function and class names.

With Mythic, that’s a non-issue. Because we use namespaces out of the box, developers must learn how namespacing works to even build with the theme. Otherwise, they’ll get fatal errors during the development process. There’s no getting around it because of the way the theme is set up.

Forcing theme authors to use namespacing by nature of the system design instantly solves one common issue.

There’s a few folks on the WordPress theme review team who have an aversion to namespaces, a feature implemented in PHP 5.3. It’s time to learn. The standard way of “prefixing” is baked right into the PHP language.

Composer

Mythic teaches you how to use Composer, which is the standard used by nearly the entire PHP world outside of the WordPress bubble. Composer allows you to pull in packages when you need them instead of reinventing the wheel or copying/pasting third-party libraries into a theme sub-folder.

Here’s a few of the packages that I offer for theme dev that work along with the starter:

Code reusability is one of the cornerstones of smart development. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when there’s an existing project that already covers your needs with other folks maintaining the code base and fixing bugs.

But, you don’t really get the benefits of those things without using more modern tools.

The build process

It’s a mistake to not look at the build process as something that can help address common theme development issues. Build scripts are powerful tools that can improve code if you use them.

It took nearly a year to create the Mythic starter theme. My mindset throughout the entire process was improving theme code for the next 10 years. A major part of that was looking at how the build process could help theme authors with common problems. The other devs who worked on the project and I spent more time refining the build process than any other piece of the puzzle.

Why? Because we believe in efficiency and following standards.

Like it or not, build tools are a part of the modern development workflow. And, they can actually improve code.

WordPress.org vs. literally everywhere else

While I’ve coded Mythic to play nice with WordPress.org’s rules—some of which are unnecessary hindrances to improving how theme authors build upon the platform—it’s only a tiny fraction of the themes that exist in the world. The best theme authors I know are not submitting themes there. They’re building custom sites for clients. Mythic’s primary audience is for those developers.

It’s easy to look at the problems faced by the WordPress theme review team and think of those issues as universal. And, perhaps they are when talking about free and commercial themes. However, in my experience, these issues are far less common with the types of developers who’d use Mythic for their client builds.

If we want developers to be better, I recommend challenging them to learn modern techniques, tools, and features. Many of them force you into coding to standards by design.

Variety is the spice of life

The Underscores theme is a nice jumping off point for someone just getting into theming. It’s the de facto standard for themes that come into the official repository. It’s done wonders for making theme code better over the years. Even I encourage first-time theme authors to use it rather than my starter.

But, once you need to tackle some more advanced things, you may find that you need a bit more.

That’s where Mythic and other modern starters come in. They offer that upgraded developer experience that’s lacking from “simpler” starters.

How To Fix ‘Fatal Error Maximum Execution Time Exceeded’ WordPress Error

Have you been getting an error in WordPress that says “Fatal Error Maximum Execution Time Exceeded” whenever you try to perform a task like updating a theme or a plugin in WordPress? Worry not. You’re not alone. Many WordPress users have encountered this error while performing various tasks and updating WordPress or plugins. This is a common error that can.... Continue Reading

The post How To Fix ‘Fatal Error Maximum Execution Time Exceeded’ WordPress Error is written by Editorial Staff and appeared first on WPKube.

Modula Gallery: WordPress plugin review

A screenshot of the Modula Gallery plugin on the front end displaying several 'magical' images.

I got the opportunity to spend a few days playing around with the Modula Image Gallery plugin for WordPress, created by the team at Macho Themes. Over the past week, I’ve tested it against several themes and the results have been good. It’s easy to see why the plugin has garnered an average 4.5 rating on WordPress.org.

TL;DR: If you’re looking for a gallery plugin that will serve any needs you have, Modula is one of the easiest-to-use gallery plugins you can install for WordPress. The interface blends well into the WordPress admin and the front end output worked across every theme I tested against.

What’s covered in this review

In this review, I had a chance to test the primary plugin and its pro add-ons.

All three of the add-ons are available with the purchase of “pro” upgrade. Check out the differences between the lite and pro versions.

Custom grid: The bee’s knees

Edit screen in the WordPress admin for the Modula Gallery plugin.

If I was going to sell you on one feature, this would be it. Custom grids are awesome.

Have you ever put several photos in a gallery and wished that you could arrange them so that they fit just right? There are things like Masonry grids and such. However, those don’t usually offer fine-grained control over the output of the gallery images.

By selecting “Custom Grid” for the “Gallery Type,” you get 100% control over the alignment of each image. This feature allows you to drag and drop images anywhere that you want them. Then, you can resize the images by clicking on the bottom corner and dragging to your desired width or height.

Being perfectly honest, I probably lost a good hour or so just arranging gallery items for the fun of it.

The best thing of all is that the custom grid option is packaged with the free version, which is the sweetest feature the plugin offers. And, if customizing the images on the grid isn’t your thing, the plugin can automatically handle this via the “Creative Gallery” type.

The good stuff

Screenshot of the Modula Gallery plugin's front end output. The images show forest scenes.

Aside from the awesomeness of the custom grid option, there are two things that stood out to me.

Nice interface

Everything about using Modula Gallery feels right. Without reading a single doc, I was able to quickly figure out how to use the plugin. Modula fits right in with the core WordPress admin interface. There’s not a whole lot of guesswork about how to create galleries.

Theme integration

I was expecting to completely break this plugin as I tested it with over a dozen themes. That’s the nature of building plugins that have highly-custom front end output. But, I couldn’t do it. The Modula Gallery team has done a great job making sure that the plugin’s galleries look and function great across a variety of theme designs.

Modula Pro

Screenshot of the edit image popup with the filters option.

The Modula Pro add-on opens up a whole new world of possibilities. You get the following when upgrading to the pro version:

  • 6 Lightboxes
  • 12 Hover Effects
  • 4 Loading Effects
  • Filters
  • Unlimited images
  • Dedicated support
  • Video and Speed Up extensions (see below)

The lightboxes, hover effects, and loading effects are standard fare. They’re the bells-and-whistles that I don’t care much about. I’m just fine with the stock features. However, they offer a nice upgrade for folks who want to customize their galleries.

Filters is where the real power of the pro plugin comes in.

The filters feature allows you to categorize your gallery images. In turn, these appear on the front end as a list of links above the gallery for the end user to filter images on the fly. When a visitor clicks on a filter, the photos are rearranged to only show those images with a given filter.

Modula Video

Video gallery front end output of the Modula Video add-on.

The video gallery extension isn’t something that I think I’d personally use. I’m not one to post many videos. However, I could see it being useful for an animator showing off a portfolio of shorts or a band listing their music videos.

This is the one feature that I needed to read the docs to figure out. Fortunately, the video gallery docs were easy to follow. I had assumed that you uploaded a video to add it to the gallery. Instead, the plugin requires you to enter a video URL when editing an image. Not a bad way to go, but it was a source of confusion for me from the outset.

I’d like to see how the feature would work in reverse: click an “Add Video” button and have the user add a thumbnail/image for the video.

On the whole, video galleries aren’t really my thing. But, the feature works well and would serve those who need video support.

Modula Speed Up

The Speed Up extension offers integration with the ShortPixel API for on-the-fly image optimization, which is a pretty sweet addition for pro users who need their galleries to load faster. ShortPixel can compress images sizes down by 100s of Kb at times.

The second feature of this add-on is integration with StackPath’s Content Delivery Network (CDN). This allows you to offload images to faster servers than you’re likely to be using for your site and serve up your images at much faster speeds.

All Modula Pro users can get this with no extra cost.

I tend to optimize my images offline using a photo editor. However, it can be a tedious process and one that not everyone will do, especially when uploading multiple images to create a gallery. With this extension, it certainly takes the hassle out of it.

The downsides

While I feel like I’ve been writing a love letter to the Modula Gallery team thus far, the plugin does have things I don’t particularly care for or that could be improved.

Social icons

I dislike having the social icons when hovering over individual images. Social sharing is probably best handled on the article/post itself. I can’t imagine ever sharing an individual gallery image as a site visitor. But, I suppose some users may enjoy this.

My hope is that the social icons are either disabled by default or that a switch to enable/disable all of them at once instead of individually is added.

Theme integration: Bottom margin

With some themes, any text displayed immediately after a gallery, such as a new paragraph, can butt against the bottom of the gallery. This is going to depend on the theme itself and how it handles its vertical spacing. From a plugin, this is tough to handle because there’s no good way for the plugin to know how every theme handles margins for all its elements.

Edit and trash buttons

When creating a gallery, the edit and trash image buttons look similar and are placed directly next to each other. On more than one occasion, I accidentally trashed an image when attempting to edit it.

Gutenberg integration

The one feature I wanted most for this plugin is integration with the WordPress 5.0 (Gutenberg) wide and full alignment classes. This would allow for galleries that stretched outside the content area, giving the images more breathing room.

These classes are added via theme support to the new Gutenberg editor. If your theme supports these classes, a quick workaround is to add the [modula] shortcode into a Custom HTML block like so:

<div class="alignwide">
[modula id="1000"]
</div>

Of course, manually handling this is not ideal. Christian Raiber of Macho Themes tells me that this is a feature that he’d like to see added to the plugin. I imagine there’s a good chance we’ll see direct Gutenberg integration.

The final call

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Macho Themes on a few occasions in the past. I’ve reviewed their code, helped them dig up bugs, and provided advice for making the user experience better on some of their projects. What I’ve learned about the team is that they’re super responsive to feedback, continually improving what they do. I’ve seen that in the way they’ve responded to me as well as how they’ve responded to users.

We don’t so much buy into products as we buy into people or the companies they work for.

I reported a handful of minor bugs. After mentioning how inconsequential one was, I was told, “It still matters to us, any small bug should be fixed.” That’s the sort of people you want working on the products that you use.

Modula Gallery is a cool plugin and one that I’ll use on client sites going forward. More than that, I trust that the people behind the plugin will continue to improve it over time.

Modular Gallery: WordPress plugin review

A screenshot of the Modula Gallery plugin on the front end displaying several 'magical' images.

I got the opportunity to spend a few days playing around with the Modula Image Gallery plugin for WordPress, created by the team at Macho Themes. Over the past week, I’ve tested it against several themes and the results have been good. It’s easy to see why the plugin has garnered an average 4.5 rating on WordPress.org.

TL;DR: If you’re looking for a gallery plugin that will serve any needs you have, Modula is one of the easiest-to-use gallery plugins you can install for WordPress. The interface blends well into the WordPress admin and the front end output worked across every theme I tested against.

What’s covered in this review

In this review, I had a chance to test the primary plugin and its pro add-ons.

All three of the add-ons are available with the purchase of “pro” upgrade. Check out the differences between the lite and pro versions.

Custom grid: The bee’s knees

Edit screen in the WordPress admin for the Modula Gallery plugin.

If I was going to sell you on one feature, this would be it. Custom grids are awesome.

Have you ever put several photos in a gallery and wished that you could arrange them so that they fit just right? There are things like Masonry grids and such. However, those don’t usually offer fine-grained control over the output of the gallery images.

By selecting “Custom Grid” for the “Gallery Type,” you get 100% control over the alignment of each image. This feature allows you to drag and drop images anywhere that you want them. Then, you can resize the images by clicking on the bottom corner and dragging to your desired width or height.

Being perfectly honest, I probably lost a good hour or so just arranging gallery items for the fun of it.

The best thing of all is that the custom grid option is packaged with the free version, which is the sweetest feature the plugin offers. And, if customizing the images on the grid isn’t your thing, the plugin can automatically handle this via the “Creative Gallery” type.

The good stuff

Screenshot of the Modula Gallery plugin's front end output. The images show forest scenes.

Aside from the awesomeness of the custom grid option, there are two things that stood out to me.

Nice interface

Everything about using Modula Gallery feels right. Without reading a single doc, I was able to quickly figure out how to use the plugin. Modula fits right in with the core WordPress admin interface. There’s not a whole lot of guesswork about how to create galleries.

Theme integration

I was expecting to completely break this plugin as I tested it with over a dozen themes. That’s the nature of building plugins that have highly-custom front end output. But, I couldn’t do it. The Modula Gallery team has done a great job making sure that the plugin’s galleries look and function great across a variety of theme designs.

Modula Pro

Screenshot of the edit image popup with the filters option.

The Modula Pro add-on opens up a whole new world of possibilities. You get the following when upgrading to the pro version:

  • 6 Lightboxes
  • 12 Hover Effects
  • 4 Loading Effects
  • Filters
  • Unlimited images
  • Dedicated support
  • Video and Speed Up extensions (see below)

The lightboxes, hover effects, and loading effects are standard fare. They’re the bells-and-whistles that I don’t care much about. I’m just fine with the stock features. However, they offer a nice upgrade for folks who want to customize their galleries.

Filters is where the real power of the pro plugin comes in.

The filters feature allows you to categorize your gallery images. In turn, these appear on the front end as a list of links above the gallery for the end user to filter images on the fly. When a visitor clicks on a filter, the photos are rearranged to only show those images with a given filter.

Modula Video

Video gallery front end output of the Modula Video add-on.

The video gallery extension isn’t something that I think I’d personally use. I’m not one to post many videos. However, I could see it being useful for an animator showing off a portfolio of shorts or a band listing their music videos.

This is the one feature that I needed to read the docs to figure out. Fortunately, the video gallery docs were easy to follow. I had assumed that you uploaded a video to add it to the gallery. Instead, the plugin requires you to enter a video URL when editing an image. Not a bad way to go, but it was a source of confusion for me from the outset.

I’d like to see how the feature would work in reverse: click an “Add Video” button and have the user add a thumbnail/image for the video.

On the whole, video galleries aren’t really my thing. But, the feature works well and would serve those who need video support.

Modula Speed Up

The Speed Up extension offers integration with the ShortPixel API for on-the-fly image optimization, which is a pretty sweet addition for pro users who need their galleries to load faster. ShortPixel can compress images sizes down by 100s of Kb at times.

The second feature of this add-on is integration with StackPath’s Content Delivery Network (CDN). This allows you to offload images to faster servers than you’re likely to be using for your site and serve up your images at much faster speeds.

All Modula Pro users can get this with no extra cost.

I tend to optimize my images offline using a photo editor. However, it can be a tedious process and one that not everyone will do, especially when uploading multiple images to create a gallery. With this extension, it certainly takes the hassle out of it.

The downsides

While I feel like I’ve been writing a love letter to the Modula Gallery team thus far, the plugin does have things I don’t particularly care for or that could be improved.

Social icons

I dislike having the social icons when hovering over individual images. Social sharing is probably best handled on the article/post itself. I can’t imagine ever sharing an individual gallery image as a site visitor. But, I suppose some users may enjoy this.

My hope is that the social icons are either disabled by default or that a switch to enable/disable all of them at once instead of individually is added.

Theme integration: Bottom margin

With some themes, any text displayed immediately after a gallery, such as a new paragraph, can butt against the bottom of the gallery. This is going to depend on the theme itself and how it handles its vertical spacing. From a plugin, this is tough to handle because there’s no good way for the plugin to know how every theme handles margins for all its elements.

Edit and trash buttons

When creating a gallery, the edit and trash image buttons look similar and are placed directly next to each other. On more than one occasion, I accidentally trashed an image when attempting to edit it.

Gutenberg integration

The one feature I wanted most for this plugin is integration with the WordPress 5.0 (Gutenberg) wide and full alignment classes. This would allow for galleries that stretched outside the content area, giving the images more breathing room.

These classes are added via theme support to the new Gutenberg editor. If your theme supports these classes, a quick workaround is to add the [modula] shortcode into a Custom HTML block like so:

<div class="alignwide">
[modula id="1000"]
</div>

Of course, manually handling this is not ideal. Christian Raiber of Macho Themes tells me that this is a feature that he’d like to see added to the plugin. I imagine there’s a good chance we’ll see direct Gutenberg integration.

The final call

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Macho Themes on a few occasions in the past. I’ve reviewed their code, helped them dig up bugs, and provided advice for making the user experience better on some of their projects. What I’ve learned about the team is that they’re super responsive to feedback, continually improving what they do. I’ve seen that in the way they’ve responded to me as well as how they’ve responded to users.

We don’t so much buy into products as we buy into people or the companies they work for.

I reported a handful of minor bugs. After mentioning how inconsequential one was, I was told, “It still matters to us, any small bug should be fixed.” That’s the sort of people you want working on the products that you use.

Modula Gallery is a cool plugin and one that I’ll use on client sites going forward. More than that, I trust that the people behind the plugin will continue to improve it over time.

Sending Positive Vibes to Alex Viper007Bond Mills

Alex Mills, the author of several plugins, including the popular Regenerate Thumbnails plugin, published an update on his fight with cancer and it’s not looking too good.

The blood test had been showing a fraction of a percent and then later 3%. That was obviously trending in the wrong direction but the hope was increasing my special medication would keep things in check. It didn’t.

The bone marrow biopsy came back at a spotty 20% (amounts varied by area). This is not good at all as it means the leukemia has morphed into yet some other form that my donor immune system is having trouble keeping in check, either due to a change or being overwhelmed.

Alex Mill

Please join me in sending positive thoughts and vibes to Alex as his battle against Leukemia ramps up.

The life-changing magic of organizing buckets and cables

My hand holding an old telephone wire in its original plastic with a background of more cables.

Exciting stuff. Buckets and electronics cables. Right?

With Marie Kondō as my tidying angel, I had major plans for the weekend’s organizational sprint toward the glory of having a perfectly tidy home. But, my body had other plans. I came down with a bit of sickness. It was nothing major—just enough to make me feel unmotivated to do much of anything.

I know one of the best ways of forming good habits is to always perform the habit when you’re supposed to. No skipping. No cheating. After four weekends of using the KonMari method to tidy my home, tidying is becoming more of a habit for me, but it’s not yet ingrained. I didn’t want to blow my current progress by missing a planned tidying opportunity. So, I went for two smaller categories: buckets and cables.

Over the years, I’ve somehow accumulated about 30 or so buckets. I garden, so they come in handy. Buckets sound easy. Get rid of those with missing handles or those with other breaks. Organize them. It’s the cleaning that’s hard. Most of them needed a good washing. That’s when I realized how weak my body was from whatever ailed me. I muddled through the job and feel great that the problem is out of the way.

I kept about 15 buckets. That leaves me 12 for covering my cabbage plants in the event of a late freeze with a few to spare.

The electronics cables were a breeze in comparison. How many old USB-to-some-device and telephone wires does one need? I started with four small boxes and knocked them down to a single box. I also managed to find two missing Nintendo game system cables that has kept me from breaking out the old SNES or N64 for retro game nights.

Most of the things in these categories were less about “sparking joy” and more about needs. At this point in the process, it feels natural to know what things I need to hold onto, even in these oddball categories.

I’m coming off a three-hour nap as I wrap this post up. I feel a bit rejuvenated for the moment. Maybe come next weekend, I’ll have the energy to tackle something bigger.

WordPress newsletter recommendations, related events, and Gutenberg writing tips

We’re diving a bit deeper into some of the options to make better use of the Gutenberg editor in this edition of my roundup. Additionally, I’m highlighting two WordPress related events as well as two very different, but highly recommended WordPress newsletters.

WordPress Newsletters

I’d like to highlight two very different kinds of WordPress related newsletters: MasterWP and Post Status. But first off, congratulations to Alex and Ben for publishing their 100th weekly MasterWP newsletter. Together with Post Status‘ newsletter, they are my favorite two WordPress related newsletters. Whereas MasterWP is free and focuses on subjects touching the WordPress ecosphere, PostStatus is more focused on the smaller bits of news happening in the WordPress world.

Both come highly recommended if you’re looking for regular WordPress news.

WordPress Related Events

Not technically just WordPress related news, but I did want to share that YoastCon is this week. And in case you missed it, YoastCon is an SEO & Online Marketing conference that goes deeper and wider than most other SEO conferences. And, there still are some tickets available if you’re looking for a jam-packed SEO conference.

Speaking of conferences. It looks like the sixth edition of PressNomics is in the making. Having attended the fourth edition myself, I can definitely recommend PressNomics as a WordPress event. It’s more geared towards WordPress business owners – or as they say: “for those that power the WordPress Economy” – as opposed to your regular WordCamps, but again, highly recommended for anyone working with WordPress on a day to day basis.

Gutenberg writing tips

Since Gutenberg landed in WordPress Core as the new Block Editor, I’ve focused on extending Gutenberg quite a few times in all kinds of different ways, but I realized this week that I’ve not yet actually shared some useful tips on how to use Gutenberg. So, I thought it’d be good to share three Gutenberg related tips on how to actually put it to good use.

Distraction Free writing mode

One of the things I absolutely love about the new editor is how you can set it to use a distraction free writing mode. Now, of course, we already a version of this in the classic editor, but the new version deserves to be reintroduced.

This is how you make the best use of the Block Editor:

  1. Activate the Top Toolbar Option

    When you open the new Block Editor, you can access the settings menu via the three dots on top of each other in the top right of your screen (It’s right next to the Yoast toolbar icon). Under View you have to option to activate the Top Toolbar option by clicking on it.
    This will move the hovering toolbar you’d normally see for every single block move to the top toolbar. The first big part of the distraction is now gone.

  2. Active the Fullscreen Mode

    In that same menu as where you found the previous option, you’ll also find the option Fullscreen Mode. Clicking on it will set your editor in the desired distraction-free mode by going fullscreen. You now no longer have the WordPress Dashboard menu on the right or any of the other normal WordPress distractions.

  3. Hide Settings (optional)

    The last thing left to do is optional. I don’t use it myself personally, but if you truly want to remove all distractions and just write, then there’s one thing left to do. By clicking on the gear icon in the top right of the Gutenberg toolbar you’ll hide the settings sidebar on the right.

That’s all you have to do to get the most out of the new distraction-free mode.

Gutenberg Keyboard Shortcuts

There a few keyboard shortcuts I use daily that I’d like to share.

  1. Just by typing 1. as the beginning of a new paragraph, the block editor will turn that into a numbered list item.
  2. Just by typing an asteriks (*) + a space, the block editor will turn that into a list item.
  3. Instead of clicking on the circle with the plus icons to start looking for your next block, you can actually type the forward slash ( / ) as well.
  4. Just by typing anywhere between two or six hashtags in a row + a space, the block editor turns that into a corresponding header. Meaning: ### + space will turn the block into a H3 header.

Moving multiple blocks around

Whenever you find yourself wanting to move a couple to a different position in the editor, just select the blocks you want to move with your mouse. Once you release your mouse button you’ll see that the blocks are all highlighted with a blue background. Right next to the top one on the left, you’ll find the normal Move Up and Move Down arrows and they will move around all the blocks you’ve selected.

That’s it for me this time around. If you know of any other smart ways of using the block editor, do share those tips here in the comments.

Site Health Check postponed to 5.2

WordPress 5.1 Beta 3 was released just before the weekend and with it came a notice about the new Site Health Check featured. Unfortunately, it’s being postponed to the WordPress 5.2 release as stated in the Beta 3 release post:

Some potential security issues were discovered in the implementation: rather than risk releasing insecure code, the team decided to pull it out of WordPress 5.1

WordPress.org News

The post WordPress newsletter recommendations, related events, and Gutenberg writing tips appeared first on Yoast.

No-guilt KonMari

Old bible opened in the middle with a red bookmark string.

There’s no need to let your family know the details of what you throw out or donate. I especially recommend that clients avoid showing their parents.

I broke one of Marie Kondō’s rules. Now, I’m realizing why such a rule is so important.

My parents have been on board with my tidying journey. I’ve talked with them over the weeks that I’ve been on this adventure. It’s all wonderful until that moment they realize that you’re getting rid of something that they personally believe should be special to you.

For me, it was an old Christian bible that my parents had given me. Being perfectly honest, I didn’t even realize it was from them. Growing up in a religious family and within the Bible Belt of the U.S., you tend to accumulate bibles in 30+ years. I had about 10 lying around (and have had more at times). I kept one that was from my grandparents that I’ve had since I was a small child because I have fond memories of the time it was given to me. I also kept one from my Bible As Literature class in college, which has translator notes that I find interesting from a literary and historical perspective.

I suppose my parents (my father is who I’d talked to) expect that I should have that same sentimentality about something they gave to me. I’d like for the book go to a church or someone who will actually use it rather than gathering dust.

I’m of the firm belief that books should be read.

During the conversation with my father, I felt guilty, which is the opposite of any feelings I should be having during this process. What I realized is that I didn’t feel guilty about discarding the item. I felt guilty for making them feel sad. Given the choice right in this moment, I would still make the decision to discard the item because it does not spark joy for me.

I have many items from my parents that do spark joy. I have photos, birthday cards, and other miscellaneous items that I could never part with. Those are the things that are important to me. Those things are what I’ll have to remember my parents by when I’m an old man looking over his life. I won’t look fondly upon one bible of a dozen that I dragged from home to home over the years in a cardboard box.

Holding onto things is tightly ingrained into Western culture, even when those things are long past their usefulness in your life. The process of letting go is tough. It’s made even tougher when you allow others to project their feelings into how you’re going about your own journey.

Marie Kondō stresses “don’t let your family see” in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s best to take her advice.

Guilt should play no role in what you decide to let go of. It only adds weight to your shoulders while you’re in the process of becoming lighter. The process of decluttering is as much mental as it is physical. Don’t allow others to hold back your progress.

And, don’t let your family see.

The Five Day Novel

Cover of 'The Five Day Novel' book.

Want to plan, draft, and revise a novel in five days?

That’s exactly what Scott King did. And, he outlined his journey in The Five Day Novel.

Over the years, I’ve grown a small collection of writing books. Not many. Just enough to remind myself that I need to keep plugging away until I publish that first novel. I’ve made a vow to myself to read more about the craft from other authors, which is something I need to do on a more regular basis.

After winning NaNoWriMo last year, I’ve become more interested in the topic of writing more words in less time. Every writer has their own process, but I think most of us want to be able to write faster if we can. That’s why The Five Day Novel appealed to me. I didn’t want to take on the challenge of writing a novel in five days, especially after having experienced how tough it was to write a novel-length work in thirty. I wanted some insight into how someone could punch out that many words in such a short time.

The best part about the book was reading the author’s journey. After seeing his struggles, I thought, I’m right there with you, buddy. It’s no small feat to write 50,000 words in a month. It’s insanity to try it in two days, which was the time he took for the first draft (the other days were reserved for outlining and revising). I wouldn’t recommend such a feat for anyone but a seasoned genre author.

The thing I’d really hoped for was more practical advice. While King did provide some good tips (e.g., turn off the Internet, have a soundtrack while writing, eat good, sleep well, and exercise), he didn’t bring anything new to the table. Most of the practical advice was what you’d find in any blog post from 100s of authors rehashed over the Web. It’s not that it was bad advice. These are good things for anyone to do in any creative endeavor.

I suppose a budding novelist makes these book purchases looking for that one piece of advice that will change everything and magically turn them into the next Stephen King. And, it’s always a little bit of a letdown when you don’t get the magic bullet to make it happen. Who knew the secret to writing a novel in five days is to simply hunker down and do the work? 😁

One of King’s focal points is that if you want to be a writer, then simply be a writer. And, that means you must actually write stuff.

The book stands on its own well enough if you go into it simply wanting to follow King’s journey to writing a novel from start to finish in five days. But, don’t expect much more than that.

If you’ve never written a novel and want to finish that first draft to get a feel for the process while learning about yourself as a writer, I recommend No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty instead. It has far more practical advice for getting over the humps in the process. And, it’s a pretty funny read at times. It’s helped me both times I attempted National Novel Writing Month with getting my word counts up.

⭐⭐⭐/5 stars.

How to Add Social Share Buttons in WordPress (Beginner’s Guide)

Do you want to add social share buttons in WordPress? Social media websites are where people spend a lot of their time on internet.

You can use social media to build user engagement and bring new users to your website. The simplest way to do this is by adding social sharing buttons to WordPress posts and pages.

In this article, we’ll show you how to easily add social share buttons and display share counts in WordPress. We will cover couple of different ways to do this, so you can add social buttons above and below post content or make a floating share bar..

How to Add Social Share Buttons in WordPress - Easy Way

Why You Should Add Social Share Buttons in WordPress?

Social networking is one of the most popular online activities today. It is estimated that by the end of 2019, there will be around 2.77 billion social media users around the globe. (Source)

That’s why social media marketing is now a crucial part of any businesses’ growth strategy. If you want to reach more potential customers, then social media platforms are highly effective channels to communicate with them.

The problem is that when you share your content on your own social media profiles, tit only reaches a limited number of your own followers.

The best way to reach people who don’t follow your business on social media is by adding social sharing buttons to your WordPress site.

Social share buttons prompt your website visitors to share your content on their social media timeline. This allows your content to be seen by their friends and followers who can then add comments, like, and re-share it.

Adding social sharing buttons to your website can help you:

  • Get more traffic to your website
  • Increase your social media following
  • Generate more leads and sales
  • Build social proof and brand recognition

Having said that, let’s see how to easily add social share buttons in WordPress.

Adding Social Share Buttons in WordPress

For this tutorial, we’ll be using the Shared Counts plugin. It is the best WordPress social media plugin available on the market.

Using this plugin, you can easily add social share buttons in your WordPress posts and also display the share counts. The best part is that it is optimized for performance and doesn’t slow down your website.

Unlike other social sharing plugins, Shared Counts uses a unique caching method to have minimal impact on your website’s speed and performance.

The first thing you need to do is to install and activate the Shared Counts plugin. For detailed instructions, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

After you’ve installed the plugin, you need to go to Settings » SharedCounts menu to configure plugin settings.

Shared Counts WordPress menu

Next, you need to scroll down to the ‘Display’ section and choose the share buttons you want to display. By default, three buttons are selected (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest).

Shared Counts Plugin - select social share buttons

You can click on the white area in the field to add additional share buttons that you want.

Add social share buttons in Shared Counts

Next, you can choose the share button style from the dropdown menu labeled “Share Button Style”. Shared Counts plugin comes with 8 beautiful button styles.

Shared Counts share button styles

After that, you’ll need to select the theme location where you want to display the social share buttons. You can choose from 3 options: Before Content, After Content, and Before and After Content.

Theme Locations for Social Share Buttons

Lastly, you need to select the supported post types. It has ‘post’ selected by default.

If you want to display share buttons on your pages and other post types, then you can check the box next to page option.

Supported Post types Shared Counts

Don’t forget to click on the Save Changes button to store your settings.

Once done, you can visit any post on your website to see the social sharing buttons in action. Here’s how our demo website looks with the ‘Classic’ button style on default Twenty Nineteen theme.

Social Share Buttons by Shared Counts

How to Display Social Share Counts in WordPress?

As the name suggests, Shared Counts plugin can also show your social share counts without slowing down your website.

To enable social share counts, you’ll need to go to the Shared Counts settings and set up the share count source.

On the Shared Counts settings window, you’ll see the ‘Share Counts’ settings at the top.

By default, you’ll see the None option selected for ‘Count Source’ which means that share counts are not being retrieved and displayed.

Share Counts Source none Shared Counts

To show the social share counts, you can choose from two sources.

Share Counts Source Options

The SharedCount.com is the recommended option for the plugin. If you choose this option, the counts are retrieved from the SharedCount service API. It allows fetching all counts with only 2 API calls which is the best for performance.

If you choose the ‘Native’ option, share counts are retrieved from the respective social service, like Facebook API for Facebook counts, Pinterest API for Pin counts. This method can slow down your site because it will require multiple API calls.

We recommend choosing SharedCount.com as your count source. Next, you’ll see a field for SharedCount API key.

Shared Counts API field

You can get the SharedCount API by signing up to for a free account on SharedCount.com website.

Register for SharedCounts com

Enter your email address and a password. Then click Create Account.

Create SharedCounts.com account

The website will now send a confirmation link to your email address. You need to click the link to verify.

SharedCounts.com account verified

Once your email is verified, you need to log into your SharedCount account and navigate to your account at the top right side of the screen. There, you’ll see your email address and a dropdown icon next to it.

SharedCounts.com account

Next, you need to click the drop-down menu and select ‘Settings’. From here you’ll find your SharedCount API key.

SharedCounts.com API key

You need to copy the API key and go back to your plugin’s settings page on your WordPress site. Now, go ahead and paste the API key in the ‘SharedCount API Key’ field.

Insert SharedCounts API key

Below that, you’ll see some other settings related to social share counts. You can review and change them if you like.

If you want to show the total counts, then you can check the box next to ‘Count Total Only’ option.

We also recommend checking the box to hide empty counts instead of displaying a zero (0).

Share count options

Next, you will see a new ‘Total Counts’ field in the Display section. This allows you to show total share counts alongside your share buttons.

Add Total Counts button Shared Counts Plugin

Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save changes’ button to store your settings.

You can now visit your website to see the social sharing buttons with share count for each blog post.

Adding Social Share Buttons on Selected Pages

Typpically social share buttons aren’t usually added to WordPress pages however sometimes you may want to enable them on some specific pages.

If so then, you can use the Shared Counts shortcode: [[shared_counts]].

You can add this shortcode anywhere on your website to display the share buttons.

To add shortcodes in WordPress, there is a shortcode block in the WordPress block editor.

Shortcode Block in Gutenberg Editor

You can simply add the block to your content area and then paste the Shared Counts shortcode.

Insert Shared Counts Shortcode

Using the shortcode, you can add social share buttons really anywhere on your site.

Adding Floating Social Share Bar in WordPress

The Shared Counts plugin allows you to add social share buttons above content, below content, or both above and below content. These share buttons are static and not visible all the time.

Another popular way to display social sharing buttons is by adding a floating social sharing bar. It is a social sharing menu that sticks on users’ screens as they scroll down.

Unlike the standard sharing buttons, the floating social share bar will be seen the whole time a user reads your article. Making them more noticeable and helping you boost social sharing.

Some user experience experts argue that it makes your website look bad as it fills out the white space. However, if you can keep it clean, then it can be quite useful.

For the floating social share buttons, you need to install and activate the Sassy Social Share plugin.

Upon activation, the plugin will add a new menu item labeled ‘Sassy Social Share’ to your WordPress admin sidebar. Clicking on it will take you to the plugin’s settings page.

Select your button style

First, you need to choose an icon style. The plugin comes with square, rounded, and rectangle buttons. You can choose styles for both the floating social share bar and the standard share bar.

Next, you need to switch to the ‘Standard Interface’ tab. From here you can enable or disable the standard static social sharing buttons.

Standard sharing buttons

We recommend using either floating or static social buttons. Using both of them will be an overkill and may create a bad user experience.

Next, you need to switch to the ‘Floating Interface’ tab and check the box next to ‘Enable Floating sharing interface’ option.

Floating social share plugin settings

After that, you need to choose the social media websites you want to display. You can add or remove buttons and rearrange them by simple drag and drop.

Once you are finished, click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your settings.

You can now visit your website to see floating social share buttons in action. Here’s how it looked on our demo website.

Floating social share buttons

We hope this article helped you learn how to add social share buttons in WordPress. You may also want to learn how to add social media icons to WordPress menus and how to add the social icons to the sidebar.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post How to Add Social Share Buttons in WordPress (Beginner’s Guide) appeared first on WPBeginner.

Reminder about Behavior

This really shouldn’t need to be said however, based on three recent incidents, it is clear we need a reminder.

You are responsible for your own actions and choices. If you decide to do a thing, you are assuming responsibility for the outcome and, like it or not, the repercussions fall on you and you alone.

When you work with a team of people to support and maintain your plugin, everyone is required to follow the plugin and forum guidelines. Choices made by the team will impact the group as a whole, for good or ill.

Recently a company was banned due to having never briefed their employees on the plugin guidelines. This led to a new, un-monitored employee, egregiously violating the guidelines, harassing and abusing the volunteers of the forums as well as the end-users, who were just trying to get help with the plugin.

The company had been warned about this kind of behaviour before. In fact, they had been issued a final warning. As this was a repeat of the exact behaviour they’d been warned on, their plugin was closed and the company prohibited from hosting anymore.

Sadly this isn’t the only time that’s happened in the last 4 months.

If you work with a team of people, the company/group is responsible for each other. If one person in your group/company violates the guidelines, it’s the whole group who will suffer as you’ve demonstrated an inability to manage your team. The same is true if a rogue intern or SEO marketer spams the forums. They’re doing those actions in the name of the company, which makes the company accountable for their actions.

Don’t hire random people from companies like Fourer to do your marketing. Don’t let people loose in the forums without making sure they understand the guidelines and our expectations.

Abuse, name calling, harassment, stalking, and spamming the forum moderators is not permitted behaviour by anyone. Users are banned for this, and developers will find their companies and all plugins similarly removed. We feel it’s unfair of people to put the burden of monitoring and managing their team on the volunteers of the forums and the plugin team. This is especially true of companies.

Please make sure the people who work with you understand not just the guidelines, but the stakes. Quite often we find an enthusiastic intern is the cause of sockpuppeting, or a well-meaning SEO consultant who took the wrong lessons to heart and made a readme filled with spam.

If we have to contact you multiple times about your behaviour, or that of the people you’re working with, we’re simply not going to permit you to use our services any longer.

#guidelines, #policy, #reminder

The life-changing magic of tidying DVDs

A stack of binders with DVDs and two plastic totes with TV shows.

A couple of weeks ago, I sorted several hundred books following Marie Kondō’s system for tidying. It was my first big collection of material items that needed a serious KonMari makeover. While it was tough in some ways, it was a downright breeze in comparison to this weekend’s challenge: DVDs, Blu ray discs, and a couple of useless HD DVDs that I at one point thought would be win the format war.

Lesson #4 under Kondō’s direction is komono (miscellaneous items). This is the largest category and encompasses many sub-categories. It’s best to break each of the sub-categories down and tackle them one at a time.

For me, movies and TV shows on DVD is the largest collection of things that I own. I thought it best to handle this job first with the hope that everything else would seem easy in comparison.

Because I’m taking this journey on the weekends only, I actually failed to finish sorting my entire collection in the span of two days. I vastly underestimated how much work it’d be. I got a lot of good work in over the weekend, and it helped me figure out some different ways to tackle the collection.

Does it spark joy?

The question Kondō asks about each item you own is whether it sparks joy.

I’ve been building my collection for going on 18 years. I’ve rummaged garage sales, flea markets, and bargain bins for cheap DVDs. If it even seemed remotely watchable, I’d pick it up. If there’s anything that I’ve ever truly hoarded, it was DVDs. I’ve slowed down a lot in the past couple of years, mostly only purchasing movies and such that I really wanted. But, I’d still pick up the occasional cheap flick.

A while back, my collection had grown so big that I had to start organizing them into smaller sleeves or binders. The movies comfortably fit into a few boxes, but my TV collection was unreal (as shown in the photo at the beginning of this post).

Whether something sparked joy for me didn’t seem the appropriate question. My collection makes me happy. I enjoy always having something available to pick up and watch from a wide variety of genres.

The question I asked myself is whether I’d ever watch a particular movie or series again.

That proved to be a good gauge in deciding how I felt about holding onto something. On the first day, I blew through the movies. I had well over 100 films that I knew for a fact would never be placed in my DVD player again. They’d served their purpose and provided the joy necessary in the moment that I first watched them.

Where I hit a roadblock was with the TV series on the second day. I simply ran out of time to get into the more organizational aspects of the KonMari system. I mostly finished discarding shows that I wouldn’t watch again, but I’d like to do another solid pass.

Going forward

One of my major plans is to rip all of my movies and shows onto a solid storage system with backups. That’s going to be a time-consuming and likely years-long job that goes beyond KonMari.

It’s something I need to do because DVDs, no matter how well you take care of them, don’t necessarily last forever. And, it’d be a lot easier to play them on a computer or over the network (maybe with something like Plex Media Server).

My current plan is to make a vow to not watch anything unless I’ve first ripped it. That way, I can hold myself accountable to this enormous task of cataloging the collection. I figure I’ll get around to everything eventually as I cycle through my movies and shows.

In the meantime, I’m going to jump into another sub-category of komono next weekend and continue down this journey.