February general meetup notes – Multi-site and Multi-tennet

Multis

  • McCreary on multitenancy: “a simple solution to a complex problem”
  • Me: “To make things simple, you must first make them more complicated.”

Multisite

References

Continue reading February general meetup notes – Multi-site and Multi-tennet

January Developer Meetup Notes – Intermediate CSS and CSS Preprocessors

When it comes to CSS Preprocessors, there are 2 big ones: Sass and Less. In Matt’s presentation he covers Sass stating that the two really have about the same features and Sass just has a bigger following.

Slides will go here when Matt sends them!

 Key Features of Sass

 Sass in WordPress

Automattic’s _s theme (pronounced “Underscores”) uses Sass by default. It is also a good reference of how to setup your Sass files for ease of use. Check out _s’s Sass folder here.

Useful Tips

  • Want to try out your own Sass code online? Check out http://sassmeister.com
  • Matt showed some of his code and noted that he keeps a Sass file called shame.scss for all of his “hacks” he is not proud of…I like the idea

December General Meetup Notes – WordPress Custom Post Types with Nile Flores

December’s General Meetup was lucky enough to have Nile Flores present on Custom Post Types.  Here’s Nile’s presentation.

Nile is a professional web designer and developer from Centralia, Il about an hour east of St. Louis. She covers it all, WordPress, design, SEO and more.
She’s a very active member of the WordPress community and a co-organizer of WordCamp St. Louis.  We thank Nile and everyone who came out for helping to make it yet another great meetup.
For our January meetup we’re going to be talking about theme structure and creating custom themes. Join us!

November 2014 General WordPress Meetup Notes – “How to Get in Trouble with CSS”

I put together some notes from our General Meetup last month. Thanks for everyone who braved the cold and came out. I had a blast putting this together and am looking forward to Nile’s presentation later in December.

Box Model

First, let’s talk about the Box Model. The best way to approach CSS is to understand that all it does is apply rules to the boxes that make up our webpages.

All HTML elements are containers or boxes. I demonstrated this by using the 3D view in Firefox. (Right-click on any webpage, and select “Inspect element”. The 3D view is the cube icon in the top right of the inspector pane.

CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, allow you to define the style of those boxes. Everything from the fonts being used inside, to images, borders, padding, margins, colors, even how text behaves alignment, size, orientation, etc.

Rules

You make these changes this by defining ‘rules’ to those boxes or elements in your CSS.

So let’s say we have an element. It’s a simple div and I want to give it some rules.

<div>
<p>Some text inside that’s a paragraph.</p>
</div>

First give element a name – either an ID or a class.

That element name is called a selector in CSS parlance. We’re saying, for each element named X select

<div class=''demoDiv">
<p>Some text inside that’s a paragraph.</p>
</div>

I can apply rules to that selector in a few different ways.

Three ways to define CSS (There are more, say with JS)

Here they are from worse to best

Inline

<div class=''demoDiv" style="background-color:green;">

In the <head>


In a separate file (also referenced in the head)

<link rel="stylesheet" media="all" href="demoStyle.css">

Why is this the best? You separate the presentation from structure (HTML) from content (in the case of WordPress, what’s in your database). You also can have both documents open side by side. You also don’t have to scroll up and down and up and down. And most importantly, because of CASCADING!

Here’s two examples of valid CSS rules being applied to a class and an ID respectfully.

.demoDiv {
rule:options;
rule:options;
}
#demoDiv {rule:options;rule:options;}

Difference between a class and an ID

See that “.” and that “#” – that tells us if something is either a class or an ID.

Does it make sense to identify multiple elements by the same ID? I think not. That’s what classes are for – to classify similar elements.

Cascading

The name Cascading is important! It’s how the browser determine which rules to actually apply. There are many factors at play, and that’s ok. There’s some logic to it al.

We’re going to talk about specificity and inheritance

At this point I’m going to let someone far smarter than I explain it. Check out this article on Smashing Magazine.

The order you put your elements and their styles in your style.css don’t matter.

However it’s best practice to do high-level or ‘global’ settings at the top of your sheet, and put comments in as you go for the various sections.

At the top have global attributes like body, p, a, h3, etc.

Then sections:

  • header
  • navigation
  • sidebar
  • etc.

Order does matter in your rules!

One thing that does matter is the last rule of  a type will over ride the previous.

Example:

background-color: #000;
background: #FFF url(image.jpg) 0 0 no-repeat;

The color (should the image fail to load) will be white because it came last in this set of rules

Ok, what about WordPress!?

Let’s take a look at a CSS file from a theme like Twenty Fourteen

First, inspect and find an element in the stylesheet (using Chrome dev tools)

Child Themes

Even if you want to do nothing but tweak a few styles to an existing theme, USE A CHILD THEME. It’s easy.

If you assume you’re using Twenty Fourteen:

  1. Make a folder in your wp-content/themes/ directory. Give it a unique name.
  2. Create a file called “style.css”
  3. Edit header info to reference the parent theme.
  4. Activate your child theme.
  5. Edit CSS in that child theme’s style.css file to change (overwrite) the parent theme’s rules.

CSS Preprocessors

CSS Preprocessors were touched on at the very end of the night. Basically things like SASS and LESS allow you to define variables to your rules. When you’re ready to publish the preprocessor will render valid CSS from those variables.

Example:

@col-red: #f00;
@col-blue: #00f;
@font-family: Arial, sans-serif;
@font-s: 12px;
@font-m: 14px;@font-l: 16px;
h1 {color: @col-blue; 
font: @font-l @font-family;}
.blockQuotes {color: @col-blue; 
font: @font-m @font-family;
}

Preprocessors also allow for math functions to compute sizes across your entire stylesheet.

@base-size: 10px;
.small {
font-size: @base-size;
}
.medium {
font-size: @base-size * 1.2;
}
.large {
@_large: @base-size * 1.5;
font-size: @_large;
line-height: @_large + 4;
}

A few good reference articles:

  • http://alistapart.com/article/why-sass
  • http://blog.millermedeiros.com/the-problem-with-css-pre-processors/
  • http://blog.blakesimpson.co.uk/read/37-less-sass-the-advantages-of-css-preprocessing-explained

Additional Resources:

https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/CSS

Photo by Mikel via Flickr – Licensed under Creative Commons

WordCamp 2015

In case you haven’t heard, WordCamp 2015 is officially scheduled to take place Saturday March 14th and Sunday 15th at Washington University.

While we’re having the event in the same space as this year, the organizing team has some exciting new ideas that we’re going to be working hard over the next 16 weeks to bring to the WordCamp.

While we’ll still be posting news on this site, if you want to subscribe to the WordCamp specific mailing list, head over the 2015.stlouis.wordcamp.org, or follow the organizers on Twitter at @WordCampSTL.

See you all next March!

WordCamp San Francisco Viewing Party

We’re going to host a free viewing party for WordCamp San Francisco! They’re streaming all presentations across their two-day WordCamp. October 25-26.

This is one of the biggest WordCamps and their schedule is full of awesome presenters.

We’re going to use the amazing public space at Nebula Coworking at the corner of Jefferson and Cherokee St.. There will be two rooms, one streaming the Developer-focused track, the other the User-focused track.

We invite you to join us for both days. The presentations start at 11am (9am Pacific) each day so get there early! You can stay all day and hang out in between sessions, just like an in-person WordCamp. Check out the full schedule and RSVP today!

We’d like to have light breakfast options, snacks and drinks. If you can pitch in, please let us know. We’re also working on finding appropriate sponsorship.

For lunch we’re going to hit the town and enjoy the amazing restaurants along Cherokee. We’re working on getting some recommendations and menus for some of our favorite haunts.

This is a low-key event. Come as you are, relax, and soak up some amazing knowledge.

More details coming soon. Volunteers are needed. Sponsors are needed. Get in touch!

October General Meetup Notes

 

Thanks to everyone for coming out Wednesday night.  It was a really good turn out and we had some interesting discussions and questions.  I didn’t have slides to share so I thought I’d write a quick post to summarize everything we went over and aggregate the resources/links that were discussed. So without further ado…

The Basics of Theme Customization

In the broadest of terms, there are three “levels” of customization that we talked about.  They are, from easiest to hardest:

  1. Customizing using the built-in WordPress customizer
  2. Using a child theme to customize presentation
  3. Creating a copy of an existing theme and modifying

Using the built-in customizer

This approach, while also the easiest, is the most limited in scope.  For an option to be customizable via the customizer the theme developer needs to add functionality via the theme’s functions.php file.

The customizer can be accessed via the “Appearance” menu in the WordPress admin menu.

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 10.28.10 AM

The options that appear on this page vary from theme to theme, but most themes that include this functionality allow you to customize background colors, links colors, menu, widgets, and other similar things.  Certain theme “ecosystems” like ThemeForest or Elegant Themes, or frameworks like Genesis, have custom theme options that are independent of the built-in WordPress customizer but function similarly.

Building a Child Theme

If you’re looking to go beyond the basic customization allowed by the customizer (either built-in or custom), the recommended way to do this is to create a child theme.  Child themes inherit all of the functionality and presentation from the parent theme with the exception of the customizations you make.

We covered the basic steps to create a child theme:

  • Create a new folder in the wp-content/themes
  • Create a style.css file and copy the required header information from codex and modify for your new child theme.
  • Create a functions.php file and copy the code snippet from the codex that will tie your child theme to the parent theme.

Once you’ve done these steps, log in to your WordPress dashboard and activate your new theme.  If  you’ve done everything correctly your site will resemble the parent theme.  After you’ve verified that the new theme is working, feel free to add any of the custom CSS, HTML or PHP to make the theme your own.

ProTip: Use Chrome/Firefox/Safari inspector tools to find css and edit it “on the fly”.

A quick warning about using child themes; when the  parent theme updates there is a small chance that the developer may change something that breaks your customization (i.e. renaming an element’s id or class), but this isn’t considered to be a “best practice”  so you should mostly be fine.

“Forking” an Existing Theme

The most advanced way to customize a theme is to create your own theme by copying an existing theme and modifying  its theme files.  At the least, you’ll have to edit style.css so WordPress won’t attempt to update your new theme if the existing theme is updated.

If you purchased the theme  from Code Canyon, Theme Forest, or another, there may be some ramifications if you distribute the theme.  I would consult the license that came with the theme for specifics.  All the themes found on wordpress.org are open source, but it is a good practice to always give credit to the original author.

tl;dr

Useful plugins:

  • What The File – “adds an option to your toolbar showing what file and template parts are used to display the page you’re currently viewing”
  • Page Builder – “Build responsive page layouts using the widgets you know and love using simple drag and drop”

Relevant Codex Articles:

Helpful Sites:

  • WP Test – “A fantastically exhaustive set of test data to measure the integrity of your plugins and themes”
  • Stack Overflow – “a question and answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers”
  • WordPress Stack Exchange – WordPress specific section of Stack Overflow
  • GenerateWP – “The easiest and the fastest way to create custom and high quality code for your WordPress project using the latest WordPress coding standards and API’s”

Thanks again to those who came out to the meetup, I hope to see all of you again next month or at the WordCamp San Francisco watch party.  Feel free to reach out to me on twitter with any questions, I’m @coderaaron.

STLWP Code of Conduct

A Code of Conduct for a community as vibrant and successful as ours might seem rather strange, but we want to put in writing our intent and make public our thoughts on inclusion and equality.

We want to ensure that folks from all walks of life feel included in any of our events or activities.

In the hopefully rare occurance that a jerk sneaks in, we can also point to this in order to help deal with unpleasant situations.

Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the St. Louis WordPress Community Code of Conduct.

This is a living document and is open to feedback.

August 2014 General WordPress Meetup Notes

We had a great turnout this month – even with the Cards game happening just a few blocks down the street. Thanks to everyone who came out!

Main Event

The main topic of the night was covering some handy tools that help you keep tabs on your WordPress site. We covered Uptime Robot, Infinite WP, and Google Analytics.

Uptime Robot

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 9.56.48 PMThis handy website lets you know when your site is down. When a site is down that means that visitors aren’t able to see the site and won’t know why! By using Uptime Robot you can setup alerts to be notified via email or SMS when your site is inaccessible.

This is a free service and you can track up to 50 sites! They don’t have to be WordPress sites at all – this works for any site you’re interested in tracking. The service is hosted, so there isn’t even an installation process. Just sign up, add your sites, set how frequently your site should be checked and wait!

It’s also super handy if you have multiple sites across clients. You can know before they do when a site is having an issue. You can quickly figure out what’s going on, and let your clients know preemptively!

Infinite WP

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 9.58.41 PM

Infinite WP makes managing plugins and theme updates across multiple separate WordPress installations a breeze. You install a simple client on your web host, a plugin on each of your sites, and away you go!

Infinite WP will let you know when your sites have an update available and you can update by site (all plugins at once), by plugin (this plugin on all sites where its installed), or even piece mail – one at a time. There are a ton of add-ons for Infinite WP that extend it’s capabilities even further.

A recent update also brings easy backups to your sites. So your workflow could be something like:

  1. Get a notification of an update via Infinite WP
  2. Backup your Dev/Test site.
  3. Update your Dev/Test site to make sure things are hunky-dory.
  4. Backup your Production site(s).
  5. Update your Production site(s) without leaving your beach chair.

All of that without leaving Infinite WP.

Google Analytics

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 10.05.20 PM

We could have easily spent multiple evenings covering the various ways you can leverage Google Analytics it’s that powerful. In a nutshell Google Analytics allows you to keep track on how visitors get to your site, what they do on your site, and some demographic information like geographic location and what browser it uses. It becomes even more powerful when you get into developing campaigns and set goals for your visitors.

Say for example you’re promoting a big event or a new item in your store. You can send out emails, tweets, and Facebook updates with a specific URL that will tell you, in Google Analytics, which outlet lead to that person arriving at your site, and what percentage of visits turned into ‘conversions’ – someone did something you wanted them to do like sign up for a newsletter or buy something.

Google has some great resources on getting started with Google Analytics. Integration with WordPress is a snap with numerous Google Analytics plugins. My particular fave is Google Analytics for WordPress by Joost de Valk.

Bonus Tools

A few other tools that were mentioned in the similar vein that we didn’t get to spend a lot of time on are listed below. Take a look and you might find a handy addition to your utility belt.

IFTTT – Hook up WordPress to hundreds of other services all with simple to create ‘recipes’. Want your Instragram photos to automatically publish to your blog? Easy peasy .
 

Piwik – Don’t like Google? Want to host your own analytics? Pwiki’s your solution.

Woopra – A real-time analytics package. See who’s on your site right this minute. Some say better than Google Analytics!

Next Month

In September we have the talented Gregory Ray taking us through the best practices and dark art secrets of Hardening WordPress. Join Gregory and the gang on Wednesday, September 17th at Lab1500.

Photo by Dean Gugler – Licensed under Creative Commons

More WordCamp St. Louis Videos

Two more videos have been published from WordCamp St. Louis 2014! This time we have Konstantin Obenland talking about options, transients, and theme mods – Oh My!

We also have the delightful Tom Harness and Leigh Caldwell who share their experience and advice on how to leverage your business’ blog like a rock star.

Keep track of all our great presentations as they come online at WordPress.tv!