If I Had to do it All Again

As I sit here tonight, at a bar, typing on the WordPress app (which will undoubtedly make my fingers cramp typing long form), I’m thinking about my life. What has made me a man, a developer, a friend, and lover (I can even get in Oxford commas on the app!) In exactly five hundred and […]

Ratings Rebuilt

Did your ratings suddenly change dramatically? Hopefully not, but if they did, it’s because the ratings for all plugins were recently reset and rebuilt earlier this week. All ratings now correspond exactly with existing, non-deleted, reviews.

As Otto put it:

Back when we launched the review system 2.5 years ago, we tied ratings to reviews. However, up until that point, we had existing ratings in the system. At the time, some argued that the ratings should be wiped and everybody start fresh. I argued for the opposite, that we should leave the existing ratings in place until such time as we had enough reviews in the system to build up a good body of ratings.

That time has finally come. What you see now is the ratings that correspond to your reviews. The data comes directly from the reviews themselves, and is accurate. Any ratings previously left over from the pre-review world are no longer available.

Additionally, the ratings now will accurately reflect the actions of the moderation team. If a review is deleted for whatever reason, then the associated rating for it will not be reflected in the results.

Please keep in mind, this means that all of the people who thought making sockpuppets to spam the reviews with 5-stars on their own plugins (or 1-stars on their competitors) have had the biggest swings. It should go without saying that you should never leave multiple reviews on your own product (we’re pretty sure you like it ;) ) and you should never attempt to hide behind proxies and fake accounts to leave reviews. Be honest. It works out better.

Five Years of Contributing to WordPress Core

Five years ago today, my first patch was accepted to WordPress core. Oh how the time has flown.

This last year has been one of my most exciting years as a part of the WordPress contributor community. At the end of September, I was given commit access to WordPress Core. I was excited to join a group that includes some of the smartest people I know, while also being terrified at the responsibility being handed to me. It’s been fun so far.

One of the coolest things in WordPress core that I worked on this year is the “Log Out of Other Sessions” button on the bottom of users profile screens. This seems like a simple button, but adding this iteration (which was a part of the 4.1 release) was the result of live user testing I organized as a part WordCamp San Francisco 2014.

In celebration, I made two commits to core today. One of them was to start user testing WordPress with PHP 7. I’m excited to see how we perform vs. the nightly builds there. The other introduced a new version of grunt-patch-wordpress which is one of my favorite parts of WordPress that I’ve been able to spearhead.

I’m lucky to share my committiversary with my partner who got her first props one year ago. I’m even more lucky that WordPress helped me meet her.

Five years of contributing is a long time. I’m especially happy that five years in, I’m more excited than ever to help build the software that powers so much of the web. Here is to another five years!

Getting Support Notifications For Your Plugin

When you have a plugin, it’s important that you get notified when people have support questions. We have a way for you to keep up to date on these things and have since the Great Plugin Refresh of 2012. But for those of you who missed the news or need a refresher, here we go.

All Plugins

We’ve always had a couple convenience views of plugin-committers and plugin-contributors, and these are still there as well. Committers are managed in on the Admin tab (i.e. people who have access to commit code via SVN), while contributors are taken from readme.txt (which is why it’s important for you to use the proper WPORG forum ID, capitalization and all).

Example URLS:
https://wordpress.org/support/view/plugin-committer/Otto42
https://wordpress.org/support/view/plugin-contributor/Otto42

Your username is case sensitive. Otto42 will work, otto42 will not. Not sure what yours is? Go to https://wordpress.org/support/profile/ (yes, that works for everyone) and look at the header:

Example of Otto's profile, his name is capitalized

The name in the grey header is capitalized, thus he must use a capital_O_dangit.

Since anyone can add you as a plugin contributor, I recommend following plugin-committer.

The RSS URLs for this look like https://wordpress.org/support/rss/view/plugin-committer/Otto42

At this time, we don’t have email for this.

Per Plugin

Every single plugin allows you to follow it by email. Go to the Support Page for your plugin, scroll down to the bottom, and you’ll see this:

Example of Email/RSS links

RSS and email. Done. Even if there are no posts you can register for those emails, so make that a part of your workflow.

Code Quality And Free Plugins

We have these regular discussions on Open Source, the future of WordPress and such. I’ve been discussing the global community aspect and the challenges with the self-made development titles, so let’s take a closer look at the community.

Growing WordPress

As I’ve said before, I’m all in when it comes to having an Open Source platform for everyone to use and play it. It’s great when it’s accessible for everyone and people can set up a website for free, even with tools like Softaculous which takes like 3 clicks.

And if we want to outgrow the blogging application of WordPress, we need to get serious about the real business projects out there. Drupal is widely popular among the governmental network, and Java, C# and Ruby are common choices for serious projects since business owners want a reliable and stable platform. We need a reliable ecosystem in place before we can offer WordPress for solid platforms of any kind.

Plugin and Theme Pricing

One of the challenges of building a viable ecosystem is having dedicated experts working on products. This means consultants and teams spending their time on a given plugin without having to worry about their rent or daily expenses.

This doesn’t rule out WordPress as being Open Source, nor the plugins being freely distributed. Pippin is a great example with his overview on EDD for 2014 for having a successful business model that brings revenue. Red Hat is a billion-dollar Open Source company as well (annually), so there are examples out there.

But having an example or two in the WordPress world is not enough. Having just a few companies over 10 people or so doing full-time WordPress development is concerning.

Case In Point

Most of the business owners, customers and newbies tend to attack WordPress on the pricing aspect, always pointing out the cheapest solutions available. This is degrading, and that is the reason why websites are being offered for $200 or so without taking any quality measures.

So let’s see an example of a free and beautiful plugin with about 14,000 downloads that people prefer and use. It’s shiny and it converts good, don’t get me wrong – we use it on DevriX too. But the difference is that we build a lot of things from scratch, or review the rest accordingly.

Helios Solutions Social Media Buttons is a free plugin that adds a floating bar with your social icons. It looks nice and it converts to followers on various social networks. And it’s mostly used for social media marketing, from people who are zealous about their SEO and often want to get on first page of Google with zero investment, using free tools and not spending money on content marketing or SEO services by professionals.

After installing the plugin and adding a link to any of your networks, you can view the source of your home page (or whatever page).

hs-social-media-header

Turns out that style snippets are directly injected into the head tag, but that’s okay. The interesting part is the HTML for your social widget – which is also in your head snippet.

If you took even a basic class on HTML, you will know that your content stays between your <body> and </body> tags. Scripts, styles and meta are in your <head>, the rest is in your body. That’s how browsers work and that’s been so for the past 20 or more years.

I’m not going to mention the broken inline style “top:px” which is invalid (having no number) or the indentation of the code, but getting back to SEO. One of the things big G cares about is valid HTML and CSS. Passing this page through the validator comes with a price:

  1. Error Line 118, Column 38: Element style not allowed as child of element body in this context. (Suppressing further errors from this subtree.)
    <style type="text/css" media="screen">
  2. Error Line 126, Column 7: Stray end tag head.
    </head>
  3. Error Line 128, Column 91: Start tag body seen but an element of the same type was already open.
  4. Error Line 128, Column 91: Cannot recover after last error. Any further errors will be ignored.
    …"home blog logged-in admin-bar no-customize-support fuelux masonry group-blog">

So, while taking care of your SEO and installing your shiny plugin, you reach to a fatal error where the validator pretty much gives up and says “please stop”.

It’s completely invalid markup and anything in your body remains non-validated. Google considers that a malformed page of some sort, can’t crawl it properly and isn’t keen on indexing it way too high either.

This is a simple example of a freely distributed plugin with close to 14K downloads to date. While it’s not transparent, it’s something that happens all the time. Security issues aside, but making sure that the code is in tact, performance is taken into account and the overall page structure isn’t malformed are standard things to check while building a solution.

Yet, lots of free products don’t do that. And they’re free – use them at your own risk.

Even worse, too many premium plugins are not optimized either. The competitive costs of themes worth as much as a decent dinner (or even less) affect the time for QA or bringing high-end engineers who have to spend enough time building the right framework and test it properly.

Keeping the prices so low and not rewarding the time of our consultants is not going to increase the quality. Supporting Open Source projects is part of the culture of free and open source software, and clients ignoring that rule later complain about all sorts of issues on their sites.

So, which one should it be – free with no commitment or giving back, or a quality product that helps your business?

The post Code Quality And Free Plugins appeared first on Mario Peshev on WordPress Development.

Plugins on WordPress.org Now Show More Accurate Ratings Data

Ratings Featured Image
photo credit: Rating(license)

Those who host plugins in the WordPress plugin directory may have noticed a change to their plugin’s ratings. That’s because the ratings system has been reset and rebuilt by Samuel “Otto” Wood. The ratings now correspond exactly with reviews. According to Wood, the change has been two and a half years in the making:

Back when we launched the review system 2.5 years ago, we tied ratings to reviews. However, up until that point, we had existing ratings in the system. At the time, some argued that the ratings should be wiped out and everybody start fresh. I argued for the opposite, that we should leave the existing ratings in place until such time as we had enough reviews in the system to build up a good body of ratings.

A few weeks ago, Wood was checking out the ratings for the new WordPress theme directory when he noticed there were over 150K reviews. “Out of those 150K reviews, less than 10K are for themes” Wood said. This was enough to initiate the change and remove ratings not attached to a review. Since the system was rebuilt, some plugins have experienced 1 and 5 star rating swings, while plugins like WP eCommerce have seen its average rating rise from 2.9 to 3.4 stars.

In addition to displaying more accurate data, review spam has been neutralized. Review spam has been a serious problem for the past several years. According to Otto, this is no longer the case:

Ask any of the moderation team how many duplicate accounts they’ve seen to vote up their plugin and down those of competitors. Even though the reviews were removed, until yesterday, the ratings made by those accounts remained. This is no longer the case, and the ratings made by those spam accounts has now been effectively neutralized.

In summary, ratings and averages now reflect the most accurate data from the point in time reviews were introduced. Spam and fraudulent data hasn’t been lost or deleted but rather ignored from influencing the data set. Ratings that were added before mandatory reviews are also ignored.

By waiting two and a half years, Wood has avoided resetting the entire system which would have caused everyone to start from zero. This way, authors are able to maintain their ratings and reviews without starting from scratch. If you host a plugin on the WordPress plugin directory, let us know if your ratings changed, especially the average.

On WordPress Talent Shortage

Last week Andy Adams posted a great post – The WordPress Talent Shortage Might Be a Pricing Problem. I hadn’t met Andy before, noticed the post through Brian and Jeffro, but I read it three times and I do agree with a lots of his thoughts and conclusions.

I’d like to propose that the shortage of developers might actually be a pricing problem. Specifically, WordPress salaries and rates are not high enough to draw talent.

What is the level of our experts?

WordPress Development Experts

If we ignore the Job Title discussion or the issues with the community experts for a bit, the developer community in WordPress suffers a lot.

Developers are brave

General concepts such as unit testing were known for about a decade in other communities, and we started paying any attention over the last year or two in WordPress. WordPress.org is still on SVN (attempts on moving part of the process GitHub are made, and merging pull requests as well) and everything is moving slowly. I still see some UNIX groups and tools using CVS as version control, but that doesn’t make them anything other than dinosaurs.

However, the smaller ones that don’t have resources have the excuse for not moving data, but the platform running 23% of the Web is a different story.

There are only a few people with any practical development experience or any understanding of other developed industries – Java, .NET, Ruby or Python communities. There is so much more going on there that we look like some kids playing in the sandbox while the adults run corporations. And by a few people I actually mean a few thousand people more or less, probably 10-20K tops, but that’s about 1% of the people offering WordPress services as I pointed out in my last posts.

WordPress Development Rates

Some of the latest studies revealed by Matt noted about $50/hr on average for WordPress development freelancing and such. As Andy says:

I’ve never heard of a professional Ruby on Rails developer with rates under $100/hour.

In contrast, when I hear of a WordPress developer over $100/hour, it’s notable.

 

I don’t live in the States and that’s even valid here. WordPress development rates are way, way under $100/h and Rails guys are usually over $100/h.

Dilber Engineer Difference

A few people tend to disagree under Andy’s post, but let’s not forget that we are in the 1% of the community that are more vocal, read those type of posts and usually live a different live, so to speak. That doesn’t really represent the community AT ALL and has nothing to do with the actual average rates of any sort.

WordPress In The Long Run

If more and more people start offering WordPress services without any prior experience, things are not going to get much better. I’m all for allowing people to build their own small websites without having to pay, or just being able to learn how to blog, but not offering services without any experience. That’s simply wrong.

People think that I’m over-exaggerating. I actually meet people on a daily basis who were in finances, PR, any random business and decided to start offering WordPress websites to their clients. I saw one today. I met another one yesterday at the coffee shop. I heard a convo the day before, too. It’s happening on a daily basis.

Given the pricing issues in our community, that doesn’t help either.

I also know (personally) a bunch of core contributors or lots of plugin developers who left the project as they were either frustrated with the community standards (in terms of technical understanding or supporting open source projects), or got bored by the lack of any challenging or exciting improvements in the code or devops ecosystem, or just decided to stop playing games and take care of their families by using some platform with a better established business ecosystem.

And it pains me to say that I know several great developers who don’t do WordPress for a living since they can’t find a decent job that pays enough, and work in the bank industry or other places, being unable to help our community.

But there’s nothing we can do except working together on educating the people around us and be vocal about the quality of plugins and themes in our ecosystem. We get frustrated when people are joking with us during technical conferences, but there’s a reason for that. If we keep on supporting the poorly coded products and people offering services without any technical background, we shouldn’t be surprised by the outcome in two or three years from now.

And don’t be surprised if experienced developers start brainstorming (or already do) as Andy does:

The market rates for quality programmers are very high right now. I regularly see salaried remote positions for Rails and/or front-end developers with salaries over $100,000 and excellent benefits.

I’m not the best of developers, but I’m qualified to possibly land one of those jobs.

I’m faced with a tough call: do I abandon WordPress because the market is pulling me elsewhere?

The post On WordPress Talent Shortage appeared first on Mario Peshev on WordPress Development.

How to Show Recent Posts by Category in WordPress

Have you ever wanted to showcase your recent posts from each category in your WordPress sidebar? Recently, one of our users asked us for an easy way to display recent posts from a specific category in WordPress sidebar widgets. In this article, we will cover how to show recent posts by category in your WordPress sidebar.

Posts by Category

There are two ways to display recent posts by category in WordPress. The first method is fairly simple and beginner friendly because we will use a plugin to display recent posts by category in a widget (no coding necessary).

The second method uses a code snippet for our advanced DIY users, so you can display recent posts from a specific category without a plugin.

The only advantage to using the code method is that you are not dependent on a plugin, and you have a few more customization options. However the plugin method is EASY and has most of the customization options to satisfy 95% of the people such as show post thumbnail images, display post excerpt and control excerpt length, show the post date and number of comments, etc.

Having that said, let’s take a look how you can can show recent posts by category in your WordPress sidebar with the category post widget plugin.

Display Recent Posts by Category (Plugin Method)

First thing you need to do is install and activate the Category Posts Widget plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit Appearance » Widgets, there you will notice the new Category Posts widget in the list of available widgets.

Simply drag and drop Category Posts widget to a sidebar where you want to display recent posts by category.

Category posts widget settings

The widget options are quite self explanatory. First you need to provide a title for the category posts section and choose a category. After that you can choose other display options like number of posts, excerpts, featured image, etc.

Once you are done, click the save button to store your widget settings. You can now visit your site to see recent posts by category in action.

Display Recent Posts by Category without a Plugin (Code Snippet)

In this method, we will use a code snippet to display recent posts from a category.

First you need to add this code in your theme’s functions.php file or a site-specific plugin.


function wpb_postsbycategory() {
// the query
$the_query = new WP_Query( array( 'category_name' => 'announcements', 'posts_per_page' => 10 ) ); 

// The Loop
if ( $the_query->have_posts() ) {
	$string .= '<ul class="postsbycategory widget_recent_entries">';
	while ( $the_query->have_posts() ) {
		$the_query->the_post();
			if ( has_post_thumbnail() ) {
			$string .= '<li>';
			$string .= '<a href="' . get_the_permalink() .'" rel="bookmark">' . get_the_post_thumbnail($post_id, array( 50, 50) ) . get_the_title() .'</a></li>';
			} else { 
			// if no featured image is found
			$string .= '<li><a href="' . get_the_permalink() .'" rel="bookmark">' . get_the_title() .'</a></li>';
			}
			}
	} else {
	// no posts found
}
$string .= '</ul>';

return $string;

/* Restore original Post Data */
wp_reset_postdata();
}
// Add a shortcode
add_shortcode('categoryposts', 'wpb_postsbycategory');

// Enable shortcodes in text widgets
add_filter('widget_text', 'do_shortcode');

Make sure that you replace 'announcements' with your own category slug.

This code simply queries WordPress to retrieve 10 posts from a specified category. It then displays the posts in a bulleted list. If a post has a featured image (post thumbnail), then it will show the featured image as well.

In the end, we created a shortcode 'categoryposts' and enabled shortcode in text widgets.

There are three ways of displaying the recent posts by category using this code snippet.

First, you can simply paste the following code anywhere in your desired template file location (such as footer.php, single.php, etc).

<?php wpb_postsbycategory() ?>

Second and third method relies on using the shortcode in the widget area or inside your posts / pages.

Simply visit Appearance » Widgets and add a text widget to your sidebar. Next add [categoryposts] shortcode in the text widget and save it. You can now preview your website to see recent posts by category in the sidebar.

If you want to show recent posts by categories on specific post or pages, then simply paste the shortcode in the post content area.

By default, your list may not look very good. You will need to use CSS to style the category posts list. You can use the code below as an starting point in your theme or child theme’s stylesheet.

ul.postsbycategory {
list-style-type: none;
}

.postsbycategory img {
float:left; 
padding:3px;
margin:3px;
border: 3px solid #EEE;
}

Posts from a category displayed with thumbnails

That’s all, we hope this article helped you display recent posts by category in WordPress sidebar. You may also want to check out these most wanted category hacks and plugins for WordPress.

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

To leave a comment please visit How to Show Recent Posts by Category in WordPress on WPBeginner.

Press This Bookmarklet Generates Concerns of Copyright Infringement

Pres This Featured Image

Press This is a bookmarklet tool that was added to WordPress 2.6 in 2008. You can access the tool by browsing to the WordPress backend and select the Tools menu. It acts as a small app that runs in the browser to quickly share content on the web. Press This is in the process of being revamped in preparation for WordPress 4.2.

Press This Location
Press This Location

Because the bookmarklet uses content from the site being shared, it’s easy to infringe on a website’s copyrighted material. Daniel Bachhuber brought up the issue in Github where active development is taking place.

I’m not the best person to comment on this, but it seems like building a tool that automatically scrapes copyrighted materials should have an upfront discussion about said legal implications, and whether this is something we should promote.

To my knowledge, this is the first time the issue has been brought up since its inclusion into core. Stephane Daury, who is one of the project’s primary contributors explains that, the tool goes through great efforts to use values clearly defined by websites.

We also (now) make a greater effort to use values the sites have clearly defined and specified as being what they want their articles and content to be represented as when shared elsewhere, by detecting Open Graph and Twitter Cards tags, etc. This includes representations for thumbnails, embeds, etc.

Although it’s not documented in the conversation on Github, Michael Arestad reached out to Paul Sieminski, Automattic’s general legal counsel, and received word that, from a legal standpoint, Press This is fine. Richard Best of WP and Legal Stuff published a post on the issue and takes a similar stance:

It seems that a person in-the-know in Automattic has commented internally (no doubt in more detail than we see in the public online discussion) that Press This is fine. I agree. I thought it might be of interest to those following this issue to explain why.

The discussion revolves around the notion of ‘authorising’ an action that amounts to copyright infringement or ‘contributing’ to infringement (similar concepts which, in different jurisdictions, are called different things). It explains why there is no such authorisation or contribution here and why, therefore, Press This is fine.

The Press this bookmarklet is a convenient way to share content on the web, but it doesn’t prevent copyright infringement from occurring. Best makes an excellent point when he says that, it’s the end user’s responsibility to make sure they’re not infringing on anyone’s copyright:

It can, of course, also be used to infringe copyright, by copying a full article without permission or copying a full size copyright image without permission but, ultimately, Press This is simply a (pretty handy) tool of convenience. It’s the user’s responsibility to use Press This within the confines of copyright law (or run the risk of being accused of copyright infringement).

While Press This is a tool that makes it easy to share snippets of content on the web, it should not be used to re purpose entire articles or share full-size copyrighted images. As Voltaire once said, “great power comes with great responsibility.”

Content Audit update: new reset option!

There’s a new reset button at the bottom of the Content Audit plugin‘s settings screen. If you’re embarking on your second (or third) review of your site’s content, you can use this to clear the previous status attributes (outdated, redundant, etc.), the notes, and the assigned content owners.

screenshot-7 screenshot-8

The audit attributes themselves are preserved, so you can reuse them.

The plugin settings are also reset to their defaults, which clears the email notification schedule.

Feedback is welcome! Would it be helpful to select which items to clear — for example, keeping the owners, but clearing the attributes and notes? Keeping all the options except the email notifications? Let me know.

How to Add SSL and HTTPS in WordPress

Are you looking to move from HTTP to HTTPS and install a SSL certificate on your WordPress site? In this article, we will show you how to add SSL and HTTPS in WordPress.

Don’t worry, if you have no idea what SSL or HTTPS is. We’re going to explain that as well.

What is HTTPS and SSL?

WordPress Security

Every day we share our personal information with different websites whether it’s making a purchase or simply logging in.

In order to protect the data transfer, a secure connection needs to be created.

That’s when SSL and HTTPS come in.

HTTPS or Secure HTTP is an encryption method that secures the connection between users’ browser and your server. This makes it harder for hackers to eavesdrop on the connection.

Each site is issued a unique SSL certificate for identification purposes. If a server is pretending to be on HTTPS, and it’s certificate doesn’t match, then most modern browsers will warn the user from connecting to the site.

Google Chrome showing warning about an unsecure connection

Now you are probably wondering, why would you ever need to move from HTTP to HTTPS and install a SSL certificate?

Why do you need HTTPS and SSL?

If you are running an eCommerce website, then you absolutely need a SSL certificate specially if you are collecting payment information.

Most payment providers like Stripe, PayPal Pro, Authorize.net, etc will require you to have a secure connection using SSL.

Recently, Google also announced that they will be using HTTPS and SSL as a ranking signal in their search results. This means that using HTTPS and SSL will help improve your site’s SEO.

We already use SSL for our eCommerce sites like OptinMonster, Soliloquy, and Envira Gallery. We will also switch all content sites to SSL as well. We just added SSL for Syed Balkhi’s blog (our founder).

A site secured by HTTPs and SSL in WordPress

We’re often asked wouldn’t SSL and HTTPS slow down my WordPress website? In reality, the difference in speed is negligible, so you should not worry about that.

Requirements for using HTTPS/SSL on a WordPress Site

The requirements for using SSL in WordPress is not very high. All you need to do is purchase a SSL certificate.

Some WordPress hosting providers offer free SSL with their plans. Siteground, one of our favorite providers, offer a one year free SSL certificate with their “grow big” plan).

If your hosting provider does not offer a free SSL certificate, then you can ask them if they sell third party SSL Certificates. Most hosting providers like Bluehost sell them around $50-$200.

You can also buy SSL from providers like Godaddy.

Once you have purchased a SSL Certificate, you would need to ask your web hosting provider to install it on your server.

This is a fairly straight forward process.

How to Setup WordPress to Use SSL and HTTPS

If you are starting a new site and/or want to use HTTPS everywhere on your site, then you need to update your site URL.

You can do this by going to Settings » General and updating your WordPress and site URL address fields.

updating-urls

Now if you’re adding SSL to your existing site, then you need to setup WordPress SSL redirect from HTTP to HTTPS.

You can do this by adding the following code in your .htaccess file:

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} 80 
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://www.yoursite.com/$1 [R,L]
</IfModule>

Don’t forget to replace yoursite.com with your site URL.

If you are on nginx servers (most users are not), you would add the following to redirect from HTTP to HTTPS:

server {
listen 80;
server_name yoursite.com www.yoursite.com;
return 301 https://yoursite.com$request_uri;
}

By following these steps, you will avoid the WordPress HTTPS not working error because all your site URL and content will be on SSL.

If you want to add SSL and HTTPS on your WordPress multi-site admin area or login pages, then you need to configure SSL in wp-config.php file.

Simply add the following code above the “That’s all, stop editing!” line in your wp-config.php file:

define('FORCE_SSL_ADMIN', true);

This wp-config.php SSL trick works for single sites as well as multi-sites.

Setup SSL and WordPress HTTPS on Exclusive Pages

Now if for some reason, you only want to add HTTPS and SSL on specific pages of your site, then you would need the plugin called WordPress HTTPS (SSL).

First thing you need to do is install and activate the WordPress HTTPS (SSL) plugin.

Please note that this plugin hasn’t been updated for a while, but it works fine and is safe to use. See our guide on installing plugins not tested with your WordPress version for more information.

Upon activation the plugin will add a new menu item labeled HTTPS in your WordPress admin. You can click it to visit the plugin’s settings page.

WordPress HTTPs SSL settings

The first option of the settings page asks you to enter your SSL host. Mostly it is your domain name. However, if you are configuring the site on a subdomain and the SSL certificate you got is for your main domain name, then you will enter the root domain. If your using a shared SSL certificate provided by your web host, then you will need to enter the host information they provided instead of your domain name.

In some cases if you are using a non-traditional SSL host and need to use a different port, then you can add it in the port field.

Force SSL Administration setting forces WordPress to use HTTPs on all admin area pages. You need to check this box to make sure that all traffic to your WordPress admin area is secure.

The next option is to use Force SSL Exclusively. Checking this box will only use SSL on pages where you have checked the Force SSL option. All other traffic will go to the normal HTTP url.

This works if you only want to use SSL on specific pages like shopping cart, checkout, user account pages, etc.

Click on the save changes button to store your plugin settings.

If you want to use HTTPS just for specific pages, then you need to edit those pages and check the Force SSL checkbox.

Forcing HTTPs on specific pages and posts

Once done, visit your page to ensure that you have all green light in Chrome and other browsers.

Chrome WordPress HTTPS error

That’s all, we hope this article helped you add HTTPS and SSL in WordPress. You may also want to check out our guide on when do you really need managed WordPress hosting.

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

To leave a comment please visit How to Add SSL and HTTPS in WordPress on WPBeginner.

WordPress 4.1.1 Released, Fixes 21 Bugs

WordPress 4.1.1 is available and fixes 21 bugs. According to Andrew Nacin who published the announcement, 4.1 was a smooth-sailing release and has been downloaded over 14 million times within the last two months. One of the bugs fixed is an issue where a tag and a category with the same name could get muddled and prevent each other from being updated.

WordPress 4.1 Download Count
WordPress 4.1 Download Count

Updates are slowly rolling out and if your site is configured to receive automatic updates, it should update within the next 72 hours. If not, visit Dashboard → Updates and click Update Now to manually trigger the update routine.

WordCamp San Francisco 2014 By Sheri Bigelow
WordCamp San Francisco 2014 By Sheri Bigelow

There are a handful of contributors to this release, but the one that sticks out is Kim Parsell. She helped fix an issue where an old image file needed to be removed from core. Reading the release notes and coming across Kim’s name generates a rush of emotions as I remember the events surrounding New Years day. For those who don’t know, Kim passed away earlier this year. In memory of Kim, The WordPress Foundation has created a traveling scholarship.

I think Nacin speaks for many when he says, “We miss you, Kim.”

Customizer Theme Switcher Approved for Merge Into WordPress 4.2

customizer-theme-switcher

The Customizer Theme Switcher feature plugin was approved for merge today during the regularly scheduled WordPress core development meeting. Lead developers and contributors in attendance agreed that there are no major blocking issues.

The Customizer Theme Switcher in WordPress 4.2 will make it possible for users to browse through themes that have already been installed and activate a new one on the frontend via the customizer. The idea is to unify the UI designated for customizing a site to create a more consistent experience for users on the frontend. In the future, the theme installation process will also be added to the customizer.

Many users initially had concerns about adding this feature to the narrow customizer UI. “I would like to see a full-screen iteration so it doesn’t feel like I am looking through a port hole,” Andrew Nacin said during the development meeting. His comment echoes the concerns of others who have doubts about browsing themes through the small customizer window.

In response to WP Tavern commenters who oppose the new feature, project leader Nick Halsey encouraged users to examine how the customizer will force developers to simplify their UIs:

I’ll also point out for everyone that while the Customizer controls window is fairly small, this is a balance with providing a reasonably sized preview of the front-end, and the narrow controls UI window is mobile-first out-of-the-box. Being forced to work with less real estate in the customizer controls forces developers to simplify their UIs and make things easier to use. If you’re shoving hundreds of options into the Customizer, you’re creating something that’s just as bad of an experience to use as if you’d done that in a custom admin screen.

In response to those concerned about the next step of adding the theme installation process to the customizer, Halsey assured users that they are planning on making the customizer controls area almost full-width. This will ensure a more pleasant experience while selecting a theme from a large collection. The theme switcher feature added to WordPress 4.2 will happen in the more narrow customizer pane, since it is most often limited to a small collection of already installed themes.

The Press This Revamp project is also currently under consideration for merge into WordPress 4.2 and contributors will be testing it over the next week. The merge window runs through next Wednesday, followed by two weeks of iteration before the first beta is expected.

HTML Import update: HTML in custom fields

The HTML Import plugin got a new feature this week: custom fields now have an option to allow HTML. This is useful for custom fields that are more than just a number or a short phrase. I worked on a site that had unique information in every page’s sidebar, and we needed to import the whole thing into a custom field.

The custom fields tab in HTML Import
The custom fields tab in HTML Import

The new option is simply a checkbox that makes the custom field obey the same HTML cleanup options as the post content. There is no way to specify a different set of allowed tags and attributes for the custom fields, so be inclusive when listing those under the Content tab.

The long-outdated user guide has finally been updated to include this and the other new-ish features in the last couple of releases.

Also, the plugin got a little shout-out from the Elegant Themes team, in their guide to converting a static site to WordPress. Thanks, Nathan!

Up next, I have a couple of sponsored features to add, and then I plan to replace the current clunky tag/attribute/value inputs with phpQuery. If you’re a developer and you’d like to contribute to this effort, please let me know!

WordPress 4.2 on Track to Expand Core Support for Emoji

photo credit: Twitter.com
photo credit: Twitter.com

Emoji characters were born in Japan in the late 90’s but took nearly a decade to break into global usage. They entered popular culture full force when select emoji character sets were incorporated into Unicode in 2010. Since that time emoji popularity has grown, and there’s no denying that they are mainstream and here to stay.

The good news is that better support for emoji will soon find its way into WordPress core. Last week, core contributor Gary Pendergast, unveiled a roadmap for better emoji support and detailed the current state of the feature plugin.

Pendergast has spent quite a bit of time immersing himself in the history of emoji and the requirements for their support. Pendergast filled contributors in on the status of WordPress core support for emoji:

As of r31349, WordPress partially supports emoji. ~60% of WordPress sites are running MySQL 5.5 or later (so can be upgraded to store emoji), and ~40% of browsers natively support emoji. Emoji are a wildly popular method of communication, so we can expect them to be heavily used as soon an they’re available. The problem is, 60%/40% means a really bad experience for a huge number of our users, who’ll try to use emoji, and fail.

Getting more WordPress sites to run on MySQL 5.5+ would be no small task, so the emoji feature plugin is working around this by adding a wp_encode_emoji() function to turn emoji characters into HTML entities for sites using the utf8 character set. This gets the remaining ~40% of sites nearly all the way there.

Twemoji Fallback

The feature plugin proposes that WordPress adopt the Twemoji image set as a fallback for browsers that don’t display emoji natively, which reduces the extra load, especially for mobile browsers. Twitter open sourced its Twemoji 872 character image set last November, simultaneously partnering with Automattic to bring emoji to WordPress.com users.

Pendergast reports that the plugin is close to being finished, with only a handful of remaining bugs to discuss. The plugin has already been briefly reviewed by the accessibility team and requires only a few minor changes. The issue of where to host the images is still under discussion, and Pendergast and contributors are considering different options:

They’re currently hosted on WP.com’s CDN, but we’re investigating other options for where to host them, probably the W.org CDN. Given that the wp-admin Dashboard also loads things from Google, I have no problem with hosting them on an external CDN. There will naturally be a filter on the URL, to allow local hosting for sites that don’t want to use the CDN.

WordPress is on track to provide more comprehensive support for emoji in the near future. Pendergast says the project is on target for the upcoming 4.2 release.

In the meantime, if you’d like to add emoji support to your self-hosted WordPress site, WP Emoji One is a good option. The plugin was the first to bring support for the open source Emoji One character set to WordPress posts and pages.

WordPress Job Titles and Skills – Where Do We Stand?

Since I’ve started my analytical research on the community, including the client’s side earlier this month, I’ve had plenty of examples within the broad community (all people building WordPress websites) for things that are quite alerting.

Problems in Our Ecosystem

NoSQL Expert

Some of the encounters include:

  • Contractors taking on assignments that they are obviously not capable of solving
  • Web design companies asking for their website to be built by an external company
  • WordPress service providers asking me for WordPress work when they found out that they aren’t capable of moving a site
  • People labeling themselves as developers, even though they touch no code whatsoever; well, maybe some CSS on the way
  • Advises following Nike’s motto or other relevant comments including: “Sign that, then figure it out – there are plenty of WordPress groups with people who will help you deliver this project”

The last one is incredibly common, and people seem to be welcoming that sort of behavior.

A while back – when forums were the “real thing” – there was a general moderation policy not to help students with their homework assignments as this was a form of cheating. Yet, now we help people with no experience to build entire solutions from scratch – not for themselves. And I’m not talking about giving a quick tip about a few lines of CSS for a specific problem, but helping them pick the right set of plugins, configure them, help them when something doesn’t work, make them look beautiful and answer every additional question they post when the client sends some feedback.

The Skills Discussion

I see that kind of examples everywhere. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Quora, some closed (premium) forums and groups that I’ve joined, local meetups and my own courses, too.

Facebook was the host of an intense discussion on Saturday (which was deleted a bit later due to the volume of nonsense) that started with:

What is a WordPress Developer?
Someone who installs WP, Themes, and configures plugins?
Or someone who codes custom WP solutions?

Most of the thread happened in a specialized group with a majority of community people, but still there were suggestions that a developer is pretty much someone installing plugins. And I find that oddly concerning for two reasons:

  1. It’s completely incorrect and presents the false idea to a client, and
  2. The real experts cannot be found when needed due to the hundreds of thousands of people misrepresenting their skills

Skills List

Chris and Tom both blogged about the difference between the different groups of skills, yet represented in a different manner. Chris also goes on to the topic of the evolution, where new technologies arise that make it much easier to build end solutions. People from different generations have a different perspective on the level of experience and the quality of each product, but it’s a common evolutionary problem as well.

Let’s quickly list some of the popular terms that are applicable while building a WordPress website:

Designer

A designer is usually busy with the creative part of a business – creating a mockup of the site, then building a PSD with the landing page and all of the internal pages as well. They specialize in color theory, usability, fonts and other aspects of the visual representation of a website. Later on, they can help with additional landing pages, promotions or other creative campaigns for a client with heavy focus on the visuals.

Frontend Developer

A frontend developer is responsible for the front tier. They convert a design into a WordPress theme, or create child themes, deal with HTML/CSS and JavaScript in order to create unique, slick and fast frontend interfaces. Since JavaScript is an integral part of the frontend toolkit, they can build galleries, portfolio collections and other components for listing, managing and representing data with JavaScript (examples for dynamic JS-driven components are the Media Library or the Customizer in the WordPress dashboard).

Backend Developer

A backend developer in the WordPress context is someone responsible for the operations part behind the scenes of the technological stack. They build custom plugins, extend existing ones, deal with user management, capabilities, connecting 3rd party APIs, design the database models. They dig into PHP, SQL, and other languages if needed related to storing the data in persistent layers, and presenting the right portion of it depending on the user-driven queries.

Software Engineer

Software Engineering Motivational Poster

Now, that’s a title that is a bit more broad, but the main idea is that an engineer sees the bigger picture and he can deal with the most complicated components. They can specialize in performance tuning or security, denormalize the database if needed, implement the right toolkit for the given scenario.

Think about it this way. A software engineer knows more than a regular developer and is also experienced in other vertical such as: database management, networks, plenty of APIs and libraries. They rely on the concepts of software development that is language agnostic – OOP, design patterns, algorithms, data structures, security, performance – which share common ideas across different languages and platforms. A good engineer can take the next level to a Software Architect, which would result in building the architecture for a large project, vetting the right APIs, and planning for the future development of the system.

Software Consultant

As Wikipedia says, a Consultant is:

A consultant (from Latin: consultare “to discuss”) is a professional who provides professional or expert advice in a particular area such as security (electronic or physical), management, accountancy, law, human resources, marketing (and public relations), finance, engineering, science or any of many other specialized fields.

The overall impact of a consultant is that clients have access to deeper levels of expertise than would be feasible for them to retain in-house, and may purchase only as much service from the outside consultant as desired.

Consultants are fast and efficient in their field, and they can assess a business situation and provide the best possible solution given the use case. They know enough about the ecosystem so that they could propose a plan tailored to the specific customer without affecting the work for any of the internal teams. A WordPress Consultant can work together with the software engineers and plan the right architecture, and advise on the right path – using the proper tools, server setup and more. A Technical WordPress Consultant can conduct code reviews and improve the process with time, working closely with both the technical team, and the management staff.

Still, Skills Are Complicated

While this was a rough definition of the skills related to the WordPress development process, they are not set in stone. Companies look for different talent, assign titles based on the work that needs to be done, and these could vary a lot. You can see a backend developer spending most time writing HTML/CSS or a consultant who helps with the customer management. But it either means that the employee has been hired with the wrong job description, or he/she is inefficient since that’s not their core competency.

However, some skills can merge. You can find a backend WordPress developer who’s extremely handy with HTML5 and CSS3. A designer can learn to convert PSDs into static WordPress themes. A WordPress developer can be on his way to an Engineer, or an Architect. Just as with everyone, none of us is a 100% extrovert or introvert, and nothing around us is completely black or white.

There Are Other Jobs Here

Also, this is the list of the most popular job titles working on a WordPress project from the technical side. Keep in mind that there are plenty of other divisions in a company, such as:

  • Support, QA or Customer Relationship for testing the product, dealing with small changes, working with customers and the dev team
  • Team leaders, Project managers and CXOs – the management personnel dealing with operations, the bigger picture, planning and the team management
  • System administrators, Network engineers, DevOps – people digging into the network architecture, server management, scalability on the server side and the toolkit for automation
  • Marketing, Sales, Copywriting – the promotional part of a business dealing with popularizing a product/service, creating content and dealing with the customer acquisition process

The list goes on, but that’s the second-level tier of people working closely with WordPress programmers on a WordPress project.

Different Level of Experience

One of the problems with WordPress and the job titles is that it’s hard to assess the different level of experience. A small design agency could label someone who can create post types a “Technical Guru”, while Automattic could hire as a junior someone with 4 years of industrial experience building extensive plugins and multisite platforms.

This is one of the challenges with the job definitions, especially given the vast majority of freelancers and small agencies with no prior experience in any technical industry. That non-educated title guess or lack of industry/market experience can be misleading for both parties.

Superior and General Titles

Computer Programming 101

The problem with a number of general titles is that they are overused and it is no longer clear what’s the real meaning and level of expertise.

Moreover, they are so general that it’s easy to be fooled into misusing them, seeing how many people just tag themselves in those categories.

WordPress Specialist

How many WordPress Specialists have you seen online, or at conferences? I’ve seen dozens, if not hundreds of them. However, Mike Little, the co-founder of WordPress, is labeling himself as a WordPress Specialist.

Here’s the thing – we all know that Mike Little knows a ton about WordPress, since the platform wouldn’t have been created if it wasn’t for him and Matt Mullenweg. But people with vague understanding of WordPress, or just specializing in installing WordPress plus downloading a theme, are also WordPress Specialists.

WordPress Expert

The same goes for WordPress Expert.

What is an expert anyway? Proficient in installing 10 plugins in 5 minutes? Expert in writing WordPress posts with 500 words per minute? Or someone with 50+ plugins managing a website with 10 million unique visitors a month?

WordPress Consultant

I have been consulting businesses on various technical topics for several years now. And I’ve met a few WordPress Consultants who “advise” people on installing WordPress or help them change the color of their button. It’s an overused term that’s poorly defined and misleading as much as the others.

It’s a similar thing with a WordPress Trainer, too – there are people teaching plugin development, working with Continuous Integration and Unit Testing, and others who coach people on installing WordPress and customizing themes. I do however support the Trainer title since all of the trainers are transparent with their experience and training programs which conveys trust and openness in the industry.

The New Title: Installer/Customizer/Implementer

In reality, WordPress and its famous 5-minute install makes it trivial for almost everyone to setup a WordPress website. Which is great for people starting with WordPress who would like to improve their skills, learn more and get better in what they do.

However, that seems so easy to them that they start offering services. Which is still okay if they help friends and family with small websites to start with, as long as they are open about it – they have to learn somehow, right?

I’ve interviewed over a thousand WordPress “experts” over the past 3-4 years and the majority of them have built a website or two and apply for jobs clearly stating “plugin development experience”, with requirements such as GitHub profiles for reference.

That’s why Tom mentioned the “WordPress Implementer” job title in his post. I think it’s fair to offer “WordPress Implementation” services for small clients and friends/family who need a simple blog or a 5-page business website to start with. Based on a discussion last week, a similar title may be “WordPress Customizer“, or “WordPress Installer” or even a “WordPress Administrator” for various tasks. They all clearly state what’s the type of work that will be done – installing WordPress, a few plugins and a theme, and potentially changing a few bits (options or a line of CSS here and there).

There is also nothing wrong with people eager to learn – and they have to start somewhere. The motivated ones can become WordPress Developers and then move up the ladder, but for the hundreds of thousands of people simply offering installations a better suited term should be used. The other alternative is having a “WordPress Person” title for every single human offering WordPress services. And we know that we are all using the WordPress Core, the large collection of themes and plugins and products by 3rd party authors offering development services, so having a clear outline is essential for their work and ability to afford to contribute back to WordPress in the long run.

The post WordPress Job Titles and Skills – Where Do We Stand? appeared first on Mario Peshev on WordPress Development.

Excellent Primer on the WordPress REST API Project

Rest API Primer Featured Image
photo credit: The Poor Man’s Racehorse?(license)

In the past two years, there’s been a lot of discussion surrounding the WordPress REST API project. If you’re not familiar with it, Brian Krogsgard published a great article that explains what it is, how to get involved, and the possibilities it opens up to developers. Krogsgard believes the REST API is “the most exciting project for the platform since custom post types were introduced in WordPress 2.9 and 3.0.”

While the article does a good job explaining what the API is, I find it to be developer heavy for my understanding. I think it’s a project that I won’t truly understand how great it is until I use products built with it.

For additional information, read our interview from 2013 with Ryan McCue, project lead for the WordPress REST API. In the interview, McCue explains why the API is such a big deal and lists a few practical use cases. There’s also a great presentation from WordCamp San Francisco 2014 by Sam Hotchkiss, that explains how APIs like the REST API are changing the internet.

A Look Back at 16 Automattic Acquisitions Since 2007

Since Automattic was founded in 2005, it has acquired several businesses, services, products, and people. In August, the company will be 10 years old and I thought it would be interesting to see if the acquisitions the company has made are still around. The list is organized from earliest to latest.

Gravatar

Gravatar Logo 2 Gravatar stands for globally recognized avatar and is an image that follows you around on the web. This eliminates the hassle of maintaining a visual identity across multiple communities. In 2014, what was supposed to be a Gravatar mobile app, morphed into a Selfies app for Android. Although Gravatar is supported in a number of applications, I think there’s still a lot of work to do before it becomes a globally recognized image. Gravatar was created by Tom Werner and acquired in 2007.

BuddyPress

BuddyPress LogoBuddyPress was conceived in 2008 by Andy Peatling and started out as a set of plugins to add social networking features to WordPress MU (multi-user). In March of 2008, BuddyPress was acquired by Automattic and Peatling joined the company as an employee. Peatling is not as active in BuddyPress core development, but thanks to John James Jacoby and the community surrounding it, it’s still an actively developed project. BuddyPress 2.2 was released in February and features a new member type API and several bug fixes.

IntenseDebate

IntenseDebate LogoIntenseDebate is a third-party commenting service that showed a lot of promise of being a premiere service to replace the native commenting system in WordPress. It synced comments from the service to the local database to ensure no comments were lost. The service introduced a plugin eco-system in 2009, that I think if given more time, would have helped the service fly past the competition. Unfortunately, development on the service came to a halt somewhere between 2012 and 2013.

IntenseDebate was founded by Isaac Keyet and Jon Fox in 2006 and was acquired by Automattic in 2008.

Polldaddy

polldaddylogo2Polldaddy is a platform agnostic service that lets users create surveys and polls. Polldaddy was founded in 2006 by David Lenehan in Sligo, Ireland and was acquired by Automattic in 2008. Between 2006 and when the company was acquired, about 1 million polls were created and 195 million votes were collected. At the time of Polldaddy’s acquisition, Automattic had about 20 employees.

Blo.gs

blogs logoBlog.gs is a directory of recently updated blogs founded in 2002 by Jim Winstead. In 2005, the company was acquired by Yahoo! and in 2009, transferred to Automattic. According to the announcement, Automattic planned to beef up the service, “We’re looking forward to beefing up the service and giving it a refresh, while continuing its reputation for reliability.” The site’s design hasn’t changed in years and features like search and ping submissions are broken.

After the Deadline

afterthedeadlinelogoAfter the Deadline is a contextual spell checking service created in 2009 by Raphael Mudge. Out of all the acquisitions Automattic has made, Mudge has one of the best acquisition stories I’ve read. After publishing a comment on a Hacker News article showing off how AtD works, Mullenweg got in touch with Mudge and acquired the company in 2009.

Mudge stayed with the company for a few years, but moved on to focus his energy on a new passion, cyber security. AtD is actively developed and is available as a module in Jetpack.

Plinky

PlinkylogoPlinky is a service created by Thing Labs that inspired users to write content. Every day Plinky displayed a prompt with a question, idea, or challenge. Writers answered the challenge using the Plinky editor which made it easy to add rich media and send posts to social media services. Plinky was acquired by Automattic in 2010. In 2014, user registration was disabled and the service was placed into archive mode.

Code Garage

Code Garage LogoCode Garage provided backups, security scanning, and crisis control for WordPress sites. Customers could monitor 5 websites for $25 a month which was more affordable than VaultPress which charged a flat fee per site. Code Garage was founded in 2010 and acquired by Automattic in 2012.

In May of 2013, Code Garage migrated customers to VaultPress and promptly shut the service down in July. As part of the acquisition, Peter Butler, one of the company’s founders, joined Automattic to work with the VaultPress team.

Simperium and Simplenote

Simperiumlogo Simperium is the creator of SimpleNote, a note taking app that is synchronized across platforms. Simperium is a data synchronization service that allows developers to move data everywhere it’s needed. The company was founded in 2010 and acquired by Automattic in 2013. At the time of acquisition, Simperium had over 140 employees making it one of the largest acquisitions of talent. Simperium and SimpleNote are still available to use.

Poster

Poster Mobile AppPoster was a slick, easy to use, WordPress mobile app for iOS that was founded by Tom Witkin and acquired in 2013. After the acquisition, the app was removed from the App Store and Witkin joined the mobile team at Automattic.

Frederic Lardinois, who wrote about the news on TechCrunch, described the app as, “one of the most elegant and smarter mobile WordPress clients.” The WordPress mobile apps continue to get better, but it’s unclear which improvements have been influenced by Witkin or Poster.

Lean Domain Search

Lean Domain Search LogoLean Domain Search is a service that allows users to find and register domain names. One of its signature features is the domain name generator which suggests domains based on a word or phrase. Lean Domain Search was created by Matt Mazur in 2012 and acquired in 2013. When users find a domain they like, Lean Domain Search provides an option to register it and create a new blog on WordPress.com. Thanks to the acquisition, the service is still available and free to use.

Lean Domain Search Results
Lean Domain Search Results

 

Cloudup

cloudupCloudup is a free file-sharing service founded by Thianh Lu and Guillermo Rauch in 2010 and acquired in 2013. According to TechCrunch, the acquisition was supposed to help Automattic improve two particular features on WordPress.com. The media library used for uploading visual content and co-editing to give multiple users the ability to edit a post at the same time.

Immediately following the deal, the team was tasked with revamping the post editor and replacing the media library on WordPress.com with Cloudup. Although Cloudup has continued to add new features, it has yet to replace the media library or add the ability to edit posts at the same on WordPress.com.

Longreads

longreadsLongreads is dedicated to finding and sharing the best long-form stories on the web. Longreads was founded by Mark Armstrong in 2009 and acquired in 2014. Longreads operates under a paid subscription model with plans ranging from $3-5 per month.

Scroll Kit

scroll-kit Scroll Kit allowed users to create web pages without writing a line of code using a powerful visual editor. It made headlines when co-founder, Cody Brown, recreated the famous Snow Fall piece from the New York Times. Brown said he made the replica site in only an hour, “The New York Times spent hundreds of hours hand-coding ‘Snow Fall.’ We made a replica in an hour.”

Founded by Kate Ray and Cody Brown, Scroll Kit was acquired in 2014. According to an announcement on the Scroll Kit website, Ray and Brown joined the WordPress.com product team. Scroll Kit shut down its service and users had three months to export their content. I’ve never used Scroll Kit, so it’s hard to determine what improvements are influenced by Ray and Brown. We questioned whether Scroll Kit’s editor would be added to the theme editing experience on WordPress.com. As a WordPress.com user, I haven’t noticed any major changes to the theme editing experience since the acquisition.

Parka

Brute Protect LogoParka is the parent company of BruteProtect, a service that provides brute force login protection for thousands of sites. Parka was established in 2013 by Sam Hotchkiss and acquired in 2014. All seven Parka employees joined Automattic and are part of the Jetpack development team.

As part of the acquisition, BruteProtect pro services became free to use. BruteProtect is undergoing a transformation as it’s merged into Jetpack as a module. Merging with Jetpack will give millions of sites free brute force login protection making the web a safer place.

Code For The People

CodeForThePeopleLogoCode For The People is a WordPress development agency based in the United Kingdom and a long time partner of the WordPress.com VIP program. Founded by Simon Dickson and Simon Wheatley, Code For The People was acquired in 2014. All six employees joined Automattic and will help out the VIP team during European hours.

This acquisition is historic for two reasons. The first is that CTFP is the first WordPress development agency to be acquired by Automattic. Second, CFTP employee John Blackbourn was leading the development cycle for WordPress 4.1 when the acquisition occurred, turning him into an Automattic employee.

In addition to talent, they also obtained CFTP’s Babble plugin, an open source multilingual tool, that will continue to be maintained by Automattic. According to TechCrunch, Mullenweg says Babble was a key part of the deal.

Thoughts and Observations

While going through the list of acquisitions Automattic has made over the years, a few things occurred to me. For all the great talent Automattic has acquired, it’s difficult to determine an individual’s influence on WordPress.com products. For instance, as an individual, Tom Witkin created an awesome mobile app for WordPress. Since being acquired, I can’t tell which improvements in the WordPress for iOS app are the result of his work.

Whether it’s due to time, difficulty, or other factors, certain items in some of the acquisition announcements have failed to materialize. A good example is the Cloudup acquisition. Nearly two years after the deal happened, WordPress.com and the self-hosted version still lack the ability to co-edit a post at the same time. There’s also no improvements to the media library I can trace back to the Cloudup team. It’s unclear if these are items still on the priority list or if they’ve been discarded.

Another thing I noticed is that I didn’t recognize most of the businesses, products, and services acquired until after the acquisition announcement was published. It indicates Mullenweg has his eye on up and coming properties doing awesome things in the space. Unfortunately, in some instances, it means the product or service is shut down by Automattic eliminating any opportunity to use it. Poster, Blo.gs, and Scroll Kit immediately come to mind as things I’ll never  have the chance to use.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. We’re at the beginning of a new year and with Automattic raising $160M in 2014, it’s only a matter of time before we read about the next acquisition. Who or what do you think the company will acquire next?

Customizer Theme Switcher Officially Proposed for WordPress 4.2

This week, Nick Halsey officially proposed the Customizer Theme Switcher feature plugin for merge into WordPress 4.2. Halsey summarizes the goal of bringing theme switching into the customizer: “By integrating themes directly into the Customizer, live-previewing workflows are greatly simplified, and the relationship between themes and theme/site options is clarified for the user,” he said.

Halsey explained that the new UI is part of a long-term plan to move all the “Appearance” functionality into the customizer. “The future roadmap includes Menus, Theme-Install, and iterations on widgets that would allow the customizer to entirely replace those admin screens for most users,” he said.

His proposal includes a video that demonstrates how a user might scroll through the customizer to browse and preview available themes.

It’s important to note that if this feature plugin is cleared for merge, users will not have to search for and install themes from the narrow customizer pane. The Customizer Theme Switcher is intended for previewing and activating themes that have already been installed. Contributors on the project are proposing that WordPress 4.2 redirect the “Themes” link that appears in the frontend admin bar to the customizer, instead of the backend.

In the future, Halsey plans to integrate theme installation into the customizer, but this is a larger effort that will be added to the project in a later release. Coming up with a UI that doesn’t make this a cramped and inconvenient experience is going to be a challenge.

For more technical details on the proposed core changes and merge implementation, check out Halsey’s post on the Make/Core blog. If you want to test out the new UI for theme switching, you can download the Customizer Theme Switcher plugin from WordPress.org.

The feature plugin merge window will be closing the week of February 25th, and the official release is targeted for the week of April 22nd. Updates on whether or not the Customizer Theme Switcher is approved for merge will be available within the next few weeks.

The WordPress JSON REST API Explained

Have you ever heard of that “JSON REST API” thing folks in the WordPress community seem to be talking about, looked around endlessly for a decent explanation, and finally gave up, muttering “WTF?!?” at the computer screen? Fear no more. Brian Krogsgard has you covered with the only explanation that, you know, actually makes some kind of sense in that sort of human logic that we tend to like when someone explains something to us.

The post The WordPress JSON REST API Explained appeared first on Justin Tadlock.

Tackling the Issue of WordPress Derivative Works

GPL License Plate Featured Image
photo credit: BenFrantzDalecc

In 2009-10, there was an intense debate between the co-creator of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg, and the founder of DIY Themes, Chris Pearson. The debate centered on whether or not Thesis needed to be 100% GPL licensed. Thesis lifted lines of code from the core of WordPress, which some people claimed made Thesis a derivative of WordPress. Pearson disagreed with the assessment which lead Mullenweg to insinuate he would take the matter to court.

Five years after that memorable debate, Richard Best of WP and Legal Stuff, has published a thorough analysis of WordPress themes, the GPL license, and what is a derivative work. His post is a breath of fresh air and the best I’ve read so far on the subject. Best doesn’t sell themes or plugins in the WordPress ecosystem giving him a neutral position to discuss the matter. He also has a legal background, but does not offer legal advice through his site.

Determining what defines a derivative work is complex, but according to Best, no one truly knows the answer to the question:

The reason we don’t truly know the answer is that the courts haven’t decided a case that is squarely on point (there are potentially analogous cases, of course, but – as far as I’m aware – no GPL or similar case directly on point).  It is only the courts (in the absence of legislative intervention) that can finally determine the matter.

Courts might apply what some might say are orthodox notions of what it means for something to be a derivative work or they might incrementally (some might say dangerously) develop the law on this point but we just don’t know. And even if the courts of one country made a definitive ruling on the point, courts in other countries – where other lawsuits might be commenced – could decide differently. As a result, uncertainty remains.

The debate against Thesis never went to court, but it spawned several conversations throughout the WordPress community, like this one from Chip Bennett. This is why some people rallied for a court case to settle the matter once and for all. As far as WordPress is concerned, I think it’s unlikely a court case will ever take place.

Influence Instead of Lawyers

Mullenweg has other ways of influencing people to license their WordPress products 100% GPL which doesn’t require a lawyer. A good example is when Jake Caputo was banned from speaking or participating at WordCamps because he didn’t license his themes 100% GPL on ThemeForest.

After going back and forth in public debates, ThemeForest eventually added the ability for authors to choose between split-license and 100% GPL. After changing the license on all of his products to 100% GPL, Caputo was allowed to speak at WordCamps again. It’s this type of influence that prevents arguments from reaching the court system.

Only a Court Can Decide

There aren’t many posts these days debating the merits of GPL and WordPress. Best does a great job explaining why (emphasis mine):

I think the GPL/theme debate has reached the stage where it’s fair to say that a significant proportion of the WordPress community now frowns upon premium theme providers who either don’t GPL-license at all or (probably to a lesser extent) split-license their themes. That might not be good for business and that, for some, may be the bottom line.

For some people, this frowning may be caused by a particular view of what the GPL requires but for others – and I think this is a particularly important point – it may be caused by a recognition of the enormous opportunities that WordPress makes possible and the open source spirit and generosity that pervades much of the WordPress community. I think we’ve reached the stage where, for some people, this is more about a community norm than it is about a strict reading of the GPL (not to mention the tedium of listening to more and more competing GPL arguments when, ultimately, only a court can decide).

If a debate like the one in 2010 were to happen again, I think we’d see a huge outcry from every corner of the community for a court case to settle the matter. After all, without that, everything else is a moot point, right? If you sell commercial WordPress themes and plugins, I highly encourage you to read his post. Also read his thoughts on a somewhat related topic, the assumptions of GPL and automatic inheritance.

Content Marketing For Business Benefit

One of the things we did at DevriX in 2014 is focusing more on content marketing. Back in 2011-2013 we kept maintaining a 10-page website with no content since we believed that there are way too many sites out there sharing WordPress tutorials or business tips.

Wrong. Ever since we started our tutorials section, we kept growing our visitors base, together with our list of followers and people sharing our resources. Admittedly, there’s a lot of work that we need to improve and increase our quality, but we’re working in that direction and the numbers are quite positive.

Publish For Profits

Jennifer Bourn gave a talk at WordCamp LA named “Publish for Profits – Leverage Your Blog and Create Content That Attracts New Prospects and Clients

It’s an insightful reference for content marketing and blogging for business matters.

One of my first experiments with content marketing was in 2009 when I built a site for the optics industry. I had a long meeting with my client discussing the benefits of content marketing, Google indexing, social media and similar things since most of their competitors weren’t focusing on that.

The weekly blogging started with the site launch, and few months later our client was in the top three Google results here for “optics”. They shared incredibly valuable content for visual impairments, lens, and other health tips for their audience. They significantly increased their customer base and their content was shared a lot. Everywhere.

Consultants and Tutorials

While the smarter organizations hire copywriters and content marketers, this is not exclusive and doesn’t rule out entrepreneurs, consultants and freelancers. Plenty of successful influencers spend time blogging, writing tutorials and sharing their experience. It’s a great way to establish yourself as an expert, and dozens of leaders in our WordPress industry became popular mostly because of their online exposure.

I have met hundreds of experts who complain about their lack of exposure. They have spent 10+ years in their field, and they try to do some freelancing on the side, but they can’t find clients. They keep on waiting for referrals.

But here’s the thing. Most experts hang out with their colleagues and friends from their industry. It’s like looking for clients at a WordCamp. Imagine how many agencies and freelancers attend these. Then compare that to another event for a related industry that is not focused on WordPress, but it’s still likely for people to use WordPress for their websites or blogs.

KISSmetrics and Neil Patel

I read a few posts by Neil Patel in 2014, and I subscribed for all of his blogs and sites of his. He is the co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar and KISSmetrics and his articles are always top quality. He writes about different forms of marketing a lot on his blogs and as a guest blogger, sharing tons of examples, charts, stats, and case studies of his.

KISSmetrics PricingOne of the best resources of Neil’s that I’ve read is How Does Content Marketing Actually Get You More Sales?. Since content marketing is more popular for cheaper products and services, most high-end companies tend to focus on sales force instead and outbound marketing. Neil combines the best of both words with KISSmetrics by generating valuable content, turning regular readers to ambassadors and guest writers, and inviting potential customers to try out KISSmetrics or share their contact details.

And then the sales guys jump in. It’s one thing doing cold emails or cold calls for random target groups, but it’s much more powerful to focus your effort on people who recognize your brand, enjoy your content and sign up for your resources.

Their professional plan is at $2,000 a month and they offer a custom enterprise layer. It’s tough selling that virtually, but they do it – and they are good at selling it.

Content Marketing Frameworks

Another blog I read is Buffer’s, and they’ve blogged about 4 Powerful Content Marketing Frameworks to Jumpstart Your Blog Traffic. While blogging could be a hobby, it may as well be a science and a full-time job, which is why Copyblogger are also so successful.

So there are different ways to channel your knowledge into a piece of content that is valuable, well-structured and helpful for your readers. There are other, custom ways to do it, but if you learn the theoretical ways to get better, you can combine some of those approaches into a tailored method that works best for you.

One of Neil’s research studies states that the most popular posts are 2,000 words long or more. Since the number of websites out there is growing constantly, and more and more businesses invest in content marketing, it requires more time and attention not only to build quality, but expand that with more case studies, examples, quotes and so on. Longer content usually ranks better.

That’s why I use two different strategies when building a blog strategy for our customers.

Quality From Day 1

This is a standard approach that many business owners prefer. In order to keep your authority, you can start slowly, by building one piece of content every week or two. It takes more time, and it takes many months before you can grow your blog. All of your articles are top notch, but it’s hard to rank and get people on board until you generate a good number of posts at first.

Quantity Turns to Quality

That’s another approach that we tend to take sometimes. Since Google loves new content, you can start with quantity first. I’m not talking about terrible content with filler words, but you can certainly start with shorter posts or well-crafted posts that can be better. After building 50 or more of these, you can mix the top quality ones with the other type, for example – 4 shorter posts a week and one incredible entry. After passing the 100 mark, you can go back and edit your old posts. Switch your published date to “last modified date” in your theme and edit your posts over and over again. You can continue with the mixed strategy until all of your posts are top quality. That approach is a bit risky if your quality isn’t good enough, but with the right balance you can provide enough value at first without being the number one resource in your industry, until you grow your base enough to reevaluate your old content and make it shine.

What is your content strategy?

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Social Power and Blogging

One of my Bulgarian friends just posted a presentation for her university students and friends here about blogging. One of her slides includes a powerful rephrasing of a famous quote that I love.

I-think-therefore-I-blog

Blogging and sharing your own thoughts and ideas via social media networks is a powerful way to build your network, reach out to people and aggregate the type of content that you need in a quick and efficient way, without having to browse thousands of sources.

I joined an initiative by Dre and Brad from WebDevStudios that requires daily blogging. I tend to blog a lot lately, in our company blog, here, guest blogging and building all sorts of content to repay for my silent 2014 despite of the fact that Matt mentioned me in his top resources.

Power Is a Double Edged Sword

When I started blogging in 2006 or so, I had two goals at first:

  1. note my challenges at work and document them for future reference, and
  2. write content that I need to share/discuss with multiple people

Occasionally I search in my blog for code snippets, solutions or best practices of mine, or share a link to friends whenever I’ve elaborated on my philosophy before.

And power is a double edged sword. The word is usually associated with negative examples, such as war leaders or mad scientists willing to take over the Universe. I’m a great fan of power myself for one simple reason: the more influence and manpower I have, the more I can contribute back to the world, win my battles with the bad guys, and bring justice whenever needed.

Think about the Jedi Masters from Star Wars: power is a pure necessity in order to change your environment. The problem is that often power is delegated to greedy and cruel leaders who fight for it, while the common courtesy and values – religious and family ones – teach you to be patient and obedient.

Power of Blogging

You know the influential bloggers from our industry. They spend a lot of time to share their wisdom and their experience with everyone else, which naturally brings them higher on your list of people who you follow, learn from and respect. Chris Lema has a great post named How I grew my blog to 1 million page views in 18 months, explaining the process and the benefits of blogging regularly and sharing your knowledge. This is what Open Source is all about, and given the fact that WordPress is a blog platform in the first place, this is a great opportunity to join the blogging community.

I’ve had clients contacting me through my blog, companies offering me free licenses for their products, or event organizers reaching out for speaking opportunities. I’ve even participated in different events for bloggers, including driving the latest Ford Focus 2012 back in 2011 – a test model, for 10 days with all expenses covered as long as I share my honest opinion – which I did, with all the feedback – with my readers.

Patience is a Virtue

The most common response I get from people who aren’t interested in blogging is: “I won’t get any readers for anything that I write about”. While this may be true at first, blogging takes time – just as it takes time to become an expert in your field, build your network or your email list, grow your portfolio etc.

Blogging requires motivation and organization. Even if you’re not a daily blogger, you need some schedule. Keeping track of your ideas, taking notes, bookmarking other posts that you would like to reply to, or share a different perspective on a subject.

I have a note app for sticky notes where I share all of these, or I write random titles for things that I would like to cover. I also ask my email subscribers here for anything that they’re interested in, and occasionally reply in blog posts as well.

I made an experiment last note, resharing some of my old posts from 2013 and 2014. I got three times the number of shares and retweets on most of my entries, since I managed to grow my network over the past year and a half. I reached out to people who found these incredibly valuable, and I’ll conduct the same experiment next year. While some content may be newsy, many posts are evergreen and they will still be meaningful a year or three later. Some thoughts have a different meaning since the context changes, and your perspective could be valuable for that new world, too.

What is your blogging schedule? If you don’t blog regularly, what is stopping you from doing it?

 

The post Social Power and Blogging appeared first on Mario Peshev on WordPress Development.

WordCamp Europe 2015 – Call For Papers

The application form for WordCamp Europe 2015 speakers is now open and the instructions are available here – Apply to speak at WordCamp Europe 2015.

WordCamp Europe is one of the largest WordPress events in the world, and gathered over 800 WordPress fans together last year. This year’s host would be Seville, Spain – a great and friendly location that would gather over a thousand people during the event ( Jun 26 – Jun 28).

Photo Credit: Margarit Ralev from http://www.localancers.com/

Photo Credit: Margarit Ralev from http://www.localancers.com/

Last year’s event was here in Sofia and we were truly touched by the opportunity to hang out with WordPress fellows from all around the world. As a WordCamp Deputy I was lucky to interview several new organizers who joined the party here in Sofia and decided to organize a WordCamp on their own!

Take this incredible opportunity and apply to speak at WordCamp Europe 2015 now!

 

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