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Archive for February, 2009

Top 50 WordPress Tutorials

NetTuts has put up a list post of fifty of what they consider the top WordPress tutorials. It includes some very helpful posts, including a few from their own blog that are definitely worth reading.

I found some to be more useful than others. Some tutorials are just learning one or two line PHP scripts that will help you add or remove features from your blog, while others are thousands of words long, and require almost a weekend course to understand.

If you are looking to modify your WordPress installation in new and interesting ways, it is worth checking out this tutorial list.

Categories: WordPress Tutorials

WordPress Theme: WPUnlimited

I have been trying out various WordPress themes for a long time now. I have commissioned some custom ones for myself, used both free and paid WordPress themes, and even released a few of my own. Today, I am releasing a new theme that solves many of my personal issues with WordPress themes, and plugins.

So yesterday, I finally officially launched WPUnlimited, a WordPress theme system that does many interesting things.

It takes things that people find normally complex, and tries to find a way to simplify them.

First off, I made sure uploading and displaying headers, and backgrounds was easy. Also WPUnlimited comes with various SEO options built-in.


WP Unlimited “Design” Tutorial from WPUnlimited on Vimeo.

Another important thing with this theme was to make sure that the main features that people normally require plugins for were no longer plugins.

Why would I do this? Well, because I wanted to put the onus on me to make sure features on your blog always worked. Plugins are usually delayed a while as WordPress versions come out, and I have always been frustrated by this. WPUnlimited includes many features, usually delegated to plugins like showing social media promotion buttons for Digg, StumbleUpon and more.

How much is WPUnlimited? Being that this is a theme that will constantly be developed, upgraded, modified, and supported, WPUnlimited is a paid WordPress theme. For a personal license you will be looking at only $59, which will allow you to install the theme on one blog, not including anything hosted locally on your computer for testing, get access to upgrades forever, and support. A developer license, which gives you access to using the theme on any number of blogs, including projects you develop is only $150, or less than three personal licenses.

Why should you care? If you are looking for a strong, easy to customize theme, that doesn’t leave you with WordPress theme files that don’t make any sense, then you’ll want to buy WPUnlimited.

If you want to make some money, I have set up an affiliate program that should entice some of you to help. I only want you to sign up if you think WPUnlimited is a good product because you shouldn’t sell what you don’t believe in. You can earn 40% on any and all sales you make, and 10% on all sales done by people you get to join the affiliate program under you.

If you want to learn more about WPUnlimited, please check out the site relating to the theme, and let me know what you think.

If you would like to see someone that has already started to use the WPUnlimited theme, check out Jim Kukral’s blog as he has begun to customize his own installation of WPUnlimited.

Categories: WordPress Themes

Blogger Appreciation Contest: Free Cell Phone

Bloggers have been hit pretty hard by the current economy, but Cell Phones (.org) has gone ahead and created a contest specifically for us, the hard working blogger.

Prizes:
1. 1st Prize: 1 year of your cell phone bill on us (Cell Phones . Org) – up to $1000
2. 2nd Prize: Free cell phone of your choosing (does not include plan, just the phone).
3. 3rd Prize: $100 off your your next purchase at Cell Phones .org – this is transferable and never expires.

Keeping your cell phone running is an expensive affair, but this contest should make this year easier on you.

You only have three days left to nominate yourself or a blogger you know. Check out the Blogger Appeciation Contest today.

If you live outside of the US, this contest is still open to you as well, so as a Canadian, I am doubly excited, as it is rare that a contest not only is for bloggers, but also open to Canadians like me as well. Good luck to everyone that enters.

Categories: General

Follow Nearly Every Automattic Employee on Twitter

First off, I wanted to say, “when did Automattic become such a big company?” I remember looking at their employee list, and seeing a dozen names, and it has ballooned much larger since then, but thankfully, even though many of them don’t blog consistently, they keep a strong presence on Twitter.

Raanan Bar-Cohen – Media Engineer
Ryan Boren – Engineer
Sam Bauers – Coderoo
Anthony Bubel – Happiness Engineer
Lloyd Budd – Digital Entomologist
Jon Fox – Title Pending
Noel Jackson – Stylist
Isaac Keyet – Design Junkie
Marianne Masculino – Happiness Engineer
Nick Momrik – Happiness Engineer
Matt Mullenweg – CBBQTT
Donncha O Caoimh – Murphy’s Quality Control
Thorsten Ott – Bug Zapper
Andy Peatling – Social Engineer
Michael Pick – Lightbulb Engineer
Warwick Poole – Systemologist
Heather Rasley – The Deputy
Mark Riley – Support Maven
Joseph Scott – Bug Exorcist
Alex Shiels – Code Bloke
Andy Skelton – Code Wrangler
Matt Thomas – The Detailer
Jane Wells – Libation Engineer

Of course there are about four or so missing from this list, as they don’t seem to have a Twitter account I can easily find, and this list doesn’t even include the project focused Twitter accounts or other accounts related to these people. This is just their primary Twitter accounts, so if you have wanted to follow them, now you can.

Categories: Microblogging, WordPress News

E-mail From Matt Mullenweg

This is probably the second e-mail I have ever received about WordPress from the WordPress project itself, so I thought it was worth mentioning.

Matt recently e-mailed everyone on the WordPress.org announcement list to let us all know that WordPress 2.7.1 has been released. The e-mail was entitled “Have some fun with WordPress two-seven-one”.

If you were living under a rock you might have missed our 2.7 release, which included the most significant interface update in WordPress’ short history and has been pretty well-received.

It’s also been pretty bug-free, which is why there was a longer-than-normal period of time before an update.

We won’t fault you for the rock thing, but for rockers and curmudgeons-who-never-upgrade-to-a-.0-release, our latest and greatest (2.7.1) is hot of the presses:

http://wordpress.org/development/2009/02/wordpress-271/

If you were on 2.7 already you might be able to just press a button (Tools -> Upgrade) and be on the new version in under 10 seconds.

I hope your Valentine’s day was filled with love and luv and chocolate,

Matt Mullenweg
http://ma.tt | http://wordpress.org

P.S. Plugin search no longer sucks:

http://wordpress.org/development/2009/02/new-and-improved-plugins-directory-search/

Definitely nice to hear from Matt outside of the normal blog posts and I thought the e-mail was a great way to give out a friendly reminder that WordPress has released what will be to many, a powerful and user-friendly WordPress version.

Categories: WordPress News

WordPress Plugin Search Improved

It looks like the WordPress folks have finally fixed the plugin search, though it still isn’t perfect, it has been much improved over what it was before.

Knowing that a big complaint with WordPress is its built-in search abilities, it didn’t surprise me when I found I couldn’t find plugins I wanted when WordPress added the plugin search and install tool right into WordPress core, but I knew that not having decent search for such a tool would negate its usefulness, so I am glad they took the issue seriously, and have improved the results substantially.

Interesting to me is the fact that they didn’t write their own search tool, but instead borrowed Sphinx, a free, open sourced MySQL search tool.

They have also committed to allowing search by author and tags soon.

If you want to read the full details, check out the WordPress blog, and let me know what you think of the new search results.

Categories: WordPress News

WordPress Growth and Potential Death

Like a developing country, WordPress has been growing at a phenomenal rate. I would liken the current WordPress community to the USA of the 1980’s. While there were issues, just as there are in the WordPress community today, the world watched as the USA became entrenched as the predominant power of the entire world. It’s military power was unmatched in size at the time.

But like most developed countries, something shifts, and their population contracts. Look at countries like Germany to see this effect. It isn’t a death of the economy by any stretch of the imagination, just a change that can have startling effects on the citizens over the longer course of time. For some, this can be the beginning of the end, which I would liken to the Roman Empire.

I have been giving much thought regarding the success of WordPress and if we can expect it to continue its current growth curve, and immediately, just like countless civilizations in the world have done through time, I expect that WordPress will hit its peak, plateau and eventually start to decline.

The decline phase might not be as pronounced as other blogging platforms have experienced, but it will come, and I believe that most of it will be due to the fact that the WordPress community can no longer cater to its “rockstars”.

Back when WordPress was younger, you would develop a theme or plugin used by maybe a few hundred people. Out of the users, a small percentage would need your help and support, and that would take a certain amount of time.

For example, let’s say that the average plugin and theme received five support requests per month, with each request taking five minutes from start to finish. That was around half an hour per month of support for something that was freely created, freely distributed and the community repaid such people by making them into their own Internet celebrities. People like Alex King, Michael H***, and many more were people that WordPress users came to trust, and befriend.

While I can’t say that the plugin and theme authors that made it to “rockstar” status felt they were being reasonably compensated through community credit and clout, there still was a transaction being made.

Today, if you release a good plugin or theme, you can expect thousands of downloads, all the way up to hundreds of thousands of downloads. I have no doubt that some of the more popular plugins receive hundreds of support requests every single day, but say for the sake of argument, that the average theme or plugin only receives ten times my first example, or fifty requests a month. At five minutes per request, we are asking plugin and theme developers to dedicate upwards of four hours per month on helping WordPress users with their problems.

This isn’t a small time commitment, and unlike the yesteryear, the community doesn’t recognize people the same way that they used to. I’d be hard pressed to name the authors of my favourite plugins today, where I visited, each and every day, most of the blogs related to my favourite plugin authors only two years ago.

Of course people will say that these developers and designers can charge for support, but most people know that it can be a death knell for all but the most popularly marketed brands from A-List developers and designers. Essentially, those that are working on WordPress today, aren’t able to extract the same “value” as those that were pouring their time into the platform long ago.

This will lead to an exodus of highly talented people in the next two or so years, as they move on to other platforms, or give up on developing and supporting their plugins. Of course the WordPress community will adapt to these losses, and only old guard like myself will notice the loss, but each time this occurs, the community is somehow diminished, leaving me wanting for a new, better platform.

Categories: WordPress News

WordPress Gallery “White Screen of Death”

We have all heard of Windows’ Blue Screen of Death, but have you heard of the WordPress White Screen of Death? It is an error that has popped up from time to time since WordPress 2.5, and various people have seen it, but it isn’t as common as other WordPress errors, so the bug has never been squashed, but there appears to be much talk over this error in WordPress Trac, leading up to WordPress 2.8.

Have you ever seen the following:

screen-capture-2

If you want more information on this error, and want to track its eventual fix, look at Ticket #8806 in WordPress Trac.

Categories: WordPress News

Popular Ideas for WordPress 2.8

As much progress is quickly being made towards WordPress 2.8, many people are wondering what the next version of WordPress is going to bring. Everyone has become quickly used to the new administration panel design, but are there features still missing that people want?

Definitely, and the WordPress Ideas section is a continual list of the need of WordPress to continue its development further.

Some of the most popular ideas currently include:

  • Trust me when I edit HTML
  • Make it faster
  • Open ID Integration

I am not concerned with OpenID, but the other ideas are definitely on my top list when it comes to WordPress. It was recently discussed in depth on WordPress Weekly, that WordPress needs work in the speed department.

What are your most important enhancements? What is WordPress missing for you? Just because it isn’t on the top of the ideas list, doesn’t mean it isn’t important, so have your say in the comments below.

Categories: WordPress News

Sponsored review: Woo Themes

To say that WordPress has taken over the blogging word by storm is a vast understatement. WordPress has managed to become a name that is synonymous with blogging itself so much so that when you talk about blogging platforms, the first thing that comes to mind is WordPress.

One reason for this popularity is the ease in which a person can use the WordPress system. Blogging has never been easier with it. You can write to your heart’s content and embed whatever media you want (graphics, audio, video) without having to learn very complex programming skills. It is blogging made easy.
WordPress is also highly customizable. With the proliferation of many blogs using WordPress you will be amazed at how people have managed to create different templates for their respective blogs. But then personalizing a blog using WordPress is a tad harder. It is not rocket science but making everything work and checking if what you’re doing is correct can be a chore especially for people who have to juggle a lot of responsibilities.

It’s a good thing that online services that offer WordPress templates have begun to emerge. This is the kind of service the busy blogger really needs. One such site that offers many WordPress templates is Woo Themes. The guys at WooThemes advertise their WordPress Templates as being “packed with features”, possessed with clean layouts, a good color palette and neat typography.

WooThemes claims to serve the needs of any kind of niche website. The site also boasts of collaborating with industry leading designers in producing their beautiful themes and templates. Among the designers they work with are Elliot Jay Stocks, Matt Brett, Veerle Pieters & Dan Rubin. Looking at the samples of the themes and templates that Woo Themes is offering, you can clearly see how professional it looks. These are not the designs of bored programmers.

At the moment, WooThemes carries 20 templates, but the team has promised that more themes will be released this year. The company’s promise is to release one theme every month. Every WooThemes them also has a custom backend that has been made so that you don’t need to touch the template code anymore. There is also a theme options page for additional customization and custom write panels for making additional custom fields. WooThemes claims that each one of their themes have been coded perfectly and maximizes the use of WordPress.

WooThemes institutes a slightly different model for getting WordPress themes from their site. Aside from the regular option of buying a theme, WooThemes has also started the WooThemes Club. This club, which are available in a $150, three-month single user and $225, three-month developer subscriptions, allow you to access all of the sites current and future themes. This option is a great solution for people who operate a number of blogs and want to get a “bulk rate” for using WooThemes many themes. It is also a convenient solution for users who frequently change their mind about the theme that they want. Instead of being stuck with a purchased theme that they suddenly don’t like that much anymore, they can just readily swap the theme for another within the three month period. As previously mentioned, people who don’t want to join the club can still buy the themes on an individual basis. A single license theme costs about $70, while a developer theme (with unlimited licenses) will set you back $150. The various options are a great way of catering to the different needs of bloggers and website owners.

WooThemes also prides itself with its after-sales support. They have instituted a customer service department that will help users if they have any problems implementing the theme they bought for their website. I think this is a very clever and customer-oriented idea. Most sites leave you to your own devices as soon as they get your money but WooThemes has taken the extra step to make users feel that they’re not in this alone. Aside from this, users can also get to read about and share tips, tricks and suggestions from other WooThemes users in a forum they have built just for this purpose. The WooThemes blog is also a helpful resource for using the different WooThemes templates while also providing valuable information and news on the company and the blogosphere.

WooThemes is also creating a bit of a buzz for their very friendly business practices. Recently, the company decided to make their previously “for sale only” theme, the BlogTheme, available for free download. But the guys at WooTheme, obviously thinking of their clients who have previously bought this theme, announced that the people who had bought the BlogTheme before can exchange the theme for another one in their catalogue or they can opt for a straight refund. I admire them for this initiative.

Categories: General