WordCamp SF 2010

I know this post is quite delayed, but I wanted to get it out there anyway. Last year I went to WordCamp SF and attended several of the sessions. This year I went to WordCamp SF 2010, but things were a little different. I ended up spending most of my time at the Genius Bar helping the attendees with WordPress. The Genius Bar was organized by Lloyd Budd, and while I only volunteered for a single session there, I found it hard to pull myself away from helping the various interesting people that showed up. The questions ranged from how to scale up because of a large influx of traffic, to “How do I get downstairs?” (hint: we were downstairs).

Following the WordCamp event, my wife and I went to one of the best food and wine events we’ve ever attended. It was at a place called One Market, and was put on by The American Institute of Wine & Food. We had lamb starting with the tongue and cheek, working our way back to the leg. Each course was paired with one or two wines from the Zacherle or Fisher labels, and the wine makers were there to talk about each wine and answer our many questions (who knows what a “brick” is in wine making, and why some wines need fewer bricks than others?). It was a beautiful, fancy, entertaining dinner.

When we finished that, we caught a cab over to the Automattic Lounge at Pier 38 to catch part of the WordCamp after party. Talk about a shock to the system. We left a place where lamb was being served to people in suits and fancy dresses who were seated at tables with linens and full silverware sets, and within minutes we were at a party with blaring music and full of geeks, many of who had consumed considerably more alcohol than recommended. We spent a little time saying hi to everyone, having a few laughs at the expense of the imbibed (you know who you are), and I got my picture taken with several people (I’m not sure any of them knew who I was, they just seemed to like posing with someone and getting their picture taken). We left relatively early, around midnight, and headed back to the hotel. I knew from the year before that the developer day was going to be my personal favorite part of the event, and I didn’t want to be falling asleep at the laptop all day.

The following morning I arrived back at the Pier 38 lounge to find that I was the first to arrive for the developer day (I was a few minutes early). Ryan Boren was the next to show, but we ended up having to wait a little longer until someone with keys arrived. I’m not sure people really got the “unconference” thing, as everyone kept wanting to know what was scheduled for when, and where things would be happening. The basic idea is simply “find people that want to discuss what you want to discuss, form a group, and discuss it.” Eventually a group of us formed at one of the tables and began working on WordPress 3.0. I’m sure I can’t name everyone, but I know Dion Hulse, Ryan Boren, Andrew Nacin, Matt Martz, Pete Mall, John Jacoby, and Ptah Dunbar were all there. Dion and I spent several hours on an elusive bug with a rather simple fix, and it was really great to finally get to put faces with the names and handles that I see regularly on IRC, mailing lists, Trac, etc.

After the dev day coding, several of us walked down to Gordon Biersch, had dinner together and tried not to talk about WordPress too much (although Andrew Nacin’s like a machine…you just can’t stop the man!). So, what do you think we would do after a long day of coding? Well, we’re geeks, so we walked to one of the hotels were a few of the guys were staying, went up to their lounge, and started doing some more coding. As a guy who works from home and tends to work only with remote programmers, it was really nice to spend some time with people that understood what I was saying! I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again next year.

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Google Summer of Code 2010

It’s official (and has been for a few days, I’m a little behind schedule), the 15 students selected to work on WordPress this summer as part of the Google Summer of Code have been announced. The lineup is pretty great. There are some names on the list that will be familiar to those who are already involved in the WordPress development community. Andrew Nacin for example was given WordPress core commit access in February. Also,
Justin Shreve and Daryl Koopersmith both participated in last year’s GSoC (quite successfully).

This year there are a lot of great students and projects. I’m definitely excited to see what happens with all of them. However, I’m most excited about the student that I’m going to be mentoring. Jon Stacey is going to be implementing stream wrappers into the WordPress file API. He did a similar project for Drupal as part of GSoC last year, and this year we were able to woo him over to WordPress.

Not only does the project have great potential, but since stream wrappers were introduced in PHP 5, it will help push WordPress toward PHP 5 as a minimum requirement (which I’m all for). So good luck to Jon and all the 2010 GSoC students.

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The Xavisys WordPress Plugin Framework

A few months ago I was chatting with Joost de Valk and he was talking about a new plugin toolkit that he was making. The basic idea was to make a flexible base that he could use to build on for all his plugins. It would handle all the tasks that are common to all his plugins (options page, dashboard widget, etc) and still be easily extended so each plugin could handle more specific tasks as well. Now his plugins (at least some of them) use his toolkit.

It was a great idea, and I finally got around to writing one for my own plugins. I built it as an abstract class (and a tiny CSS file) that I extend for each plugin. Here you’ll get to see a quick tour of what the framework does. Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in seeing a walkthrough of how it was built, and feel free to download Efficient Related Posts to see it in action.

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Efficient Related Posts 0.3.4 Released

We just released version 0.3.4 of the Efficient Related Posts plugin for WordPress. It uses the new Xavisys Plugin Framwork (I’ll post more info on that soon), which gives it a nice new options page, links to the support forums, etc. We also did a lot of the work toward internationalizing it, and hopefully it will be fully translatable int he next version (coming soon).

If you want to request a feature, or need support, go to the Efficient Related Posts Support Forum. More information is available on the Efficient Related Posts page.

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Twitter Widget Pro 2.1.3 Released

The new Twitter Widget Pro support forum has turned up some great ideas and has helped catch some easily missed bugs. This latest release of Twitter Widget Pro includes a bugfix that removes a duplicate closing tag for the title link, which was caught by someone in the forums, as well as an enhancement that makes the date format a per-widget setting (also suggested int he forums).

If you want to request a feature, or need support, go to the Twitter Widget Pro Forum. For more information, go to the Twitter Widget Pro page.

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Twitter Widget Pro 2.1.2 Released

There was a small formatting issue introduced in Twitter Widget Pro 2.1.0 where there were no spaces between the tweet and meta data or between the date of the tweet and where the tweet was from (such as “from TweetDeck”). When I added the shortcode functionality I had to remove a lot of the excess whitespace so that the formatting built in to WordPress didn’t mess up the formatting of the widget when it was embedded in a post or page. I just released version 2.1.2 that fixed the spacing without messing up the formatting for the shortcodes.

I also added in some links to the WordPress Twitter Widget Pro Support Forum to make it easier for you to ask questions or make suggestions or requests. For more information, go to the Twitter Widget Pro page.

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Twitter Widget Pro 2.1.1 Released

Recently, a Twitter Widget Pro user (alx) asked on the support forum for a new feature. He wanted to be able to have all the links open in a new window, and that’s a great idea! I just released version 2.1.1 of Twitter Widget Pro with this exact feature. If you want to request a feature, or need support, go to the Twitter Widget Pro Forum. For more information, go to the Twitter Widget Pro page.

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10 Great WordPress Plugins

One of the greatest things about WordPress is how extensible it is through it’s plugin system. There’s a plugin for almost everything. There are more than 4,400 plugins just in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory and there are plenty more that aren’t in the directory. Unfortunately, sometimes there are so many plugins that it makes it hard to find the best WordPress plugins in the massive sea of options. Here are some of my favorite overall plugins.

  1. Akismet
  2. Simple Trackback Validation
  3. Headspace2
  4. Clean Slugs
  5. Google XML Sitemaps
  6. Twitter Widget Pro
  7. WP Super Cache
  8. Sociable
  9. Subscribe to Comments
  10. Twitter Tools

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Twitter Widget Pro 2.1.0 Released

I just tagged a new version of Twitter Widget Pro which includes an oft-requested feature, a twitter-widget shortcode. You can now embed a twitter widget into any post or page by simply dropping in a shortcode like [twitter-widget username="xavisys"] to embed a widget like this:

To read more about how to use the shortcodes and to download the plugin, go to the Twitter Widget Pro page. For support, go to the Twitter Widget Pro Forum

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CSS Trick: Turning a background image into a clickable link

There is an updated version of this which is better optimized, especially for mobile browsers. Please check out Turning a background image into a clickable link – Take 2

One of the things I most often get asked by people trying to master HTML and CSS is “How do I make a background image clickable?” It’s easy to wrap a regular image tag in a link, but what if your design or situation required that you use a background image? It’s actually quite simple. Just follow these steps and I’ll show you how to make a clickable background image like this:

BlueDog Web Services

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