Having recently been introduced to using WP-CLI, I thought it might be nice to spread the word a bit.
Even in a standard install, WordPress is a highly-visual platform. That not only makes for easy content creation, but site maintenance as well. Within a few clicks, you can install a plugin, run software updates and tweak any number of settings. However, there are situations where that visual interface can get in the way. For example, running large imports or other memory-intensive tasks can cause problems on slower servers. Plus, you don’t always get the fine grain level of control that might be necessary.
For those who want more control and the ability to carry out complex tasks, WP-CLI could be just what you’re looking for.
What is WP-CLI?
WP-CLI is a command line interface for WordPress. It provides the ability to maintain just about every aspect of your WordPress website without ever needing to login to the dashboard.
Like WordPress itself, WP-CLI is free software. To use it, you must first install it on your remote server or local machine. From there, you can put the power of the command line to work for your site.
But before you get too excited, a word of warning. This is a highly-powerful (and potentially dangerous) tool. Make a mistake and you might not easily recover
A very much tongue-in-cheek look at what will happen this year. Nothing will be the same!
2019 is upon us and it has me thinking big. And since everyone else out there is telling you what will happen in the new year, I’m going to do the same thing: But with a twist. You see, this isn’t any old set of predictions. No, these will be more like trekking up a mountain to see a soothsayer. But only way better, since you won’t suffer from the fatigue of having to climb thousands of feet just to hear my thoughts.
This old grumpy designer has read literally tens of these “predict the year ahead” types of articles. And I’ve discovered that, although they mean well, they’re neither very fun or useful. So, I’m here to change the narrative.
But before we begin, just a word of warning. These predictions are absolutely huge. Like you’ve never seen before. And they are completely tongue-in-cheek, so don’t wager anything of value on them.
If you want to know what 2019 will bring, you’ve come to the right place. So, settle in with a cup of your favorite beverage and prepare to be dazzled.
I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t take full credit for this one. Back in
Of all the amazing things the new block editor (aka Gutenberg) for WordPress can do, the ability to create custom blocks is right at the top of the list. This feature allows developers to tightly integrate their own content and layouts within the editor in a standardized way. While we lose a little bit of flexibility in terms of what we can do with the edit screen, we gain a more consistent UI. This can be a big help when training clients to use WordPress. Plus, it just looks cleaner than the Classic editor.
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Perhaps I paid too much attention to the process behind 5.0, flawed as it was. Was it worth stressing out over?
2018 has certainly been an exciting year for WordPress. The CMS celebrated its 15th birthday and released its revolutionary version 5.0, featuring the new Gutenberg block editor. It seemed like there was something new to discuss on a daily basis. A lot of it was controversial. As someone who uses WordPress and cares about its future, I followed the process to develop and release version 5.0 closely. There were all kinds of dramatic twists and turns in the story. Timelines for the release continually shifted, the choice of using React.js was put in doubt due to licensing issues and accessibility concerns arose.
So much was left up in the air and many of us on the outside were left to scratch our heads. That lack of certainty led many members of the community to vent their frustrations in one way or another. Personally, I took a liking to Gutenberg but was a bit perplexed by how everything was unfolding.
An Undue Burden
To be blunt, the whole situation was stressful. And, judging by the social media and blog posts I read, there were others who felt similarly.
For me, much of the concern was how this was all going to affect both my clients and workflow. Not knowing when Gutenberg would
A lot has been said about whether Gutenberg is "ready" or not. No doubt it will ship with some bugs, as everything does. But how many is too many?
We are finally (barring any last-minute delays) approaching the time when WordPress 5.0 is released. With it comes a certain new editor that has drummed up quite a lot of debate along the way. Unless you’ve been hiding under that proverbial rock for the past two years, you know that Gutenberg is going to transform WordPress the minute it’s merged into core. Of course, this process would go off-script without some last-minute drama. There have been a number of calls from some in the community (including yours truly) to further delay Gutenberg in order to squash some bugs.
Speaking from my own experience using the editor, the bugs tend to be minor annoyances. I’ve found that some tasks aren’t very intuitive while others seem to be missing altogether when compared to the Classic Editor.
Add all of these little annoyances up and it makes for a sometimes-frustrating user experience. But this doesn’t mean that Gutenberg is fatally flawed. It just needs more time to ripen on the vine.
A Rush to the Presses
Gutenberg has been on the WordPress community’s radar since early 2017. In the time since, a lot of potential release dates were proposed. Therefore,
There are legitimate concerns about Gutenberg - but what do all of these bad reviews really mean?
Perception is everything. And when the perception of your product or service isn’t very positive, it can really throw a monkey-wrench into your plans for success (just ask Windows 8). Frankly, it can be very difficult to shake free from this kind of negativity. At the moment, that’s what we’re seeing with the WordPress Gutenberg editor. As of this writing, the new editing experience hasn’t been merged into WordPress core, but is available in the form of a beta plugin. WordPress 4.9.8 included a call to test the plugin, which led to a huge leap in usage. With that came a flood of reviews – many of them negative.
But how big of a deal are those reviews? This is, after all, a piece of software that is still technically in beta form. Still, it seems like there is pent up frustration when it comes to Gutenberg. One wonders how this bodes for its future.
A Long Time Coming
Since the editor’s first beta plugin release back in June 2017, it seems the whole idea of the Gutenberg project has garnered controversy. Some developers have been miffed by the process for building out the new feature. Others have expressed concern about the effects it will have on
I put Gutenberg to work on a real project to see how it would hold up. The results weren't that bad.
If you’ve been following all the fuss regarding Gutenberg, the new WordPress editor, you know that many users have formed a very strong opinion of it. But, all the drama aside, what’s it like to actually build a website with it? As WordPress 5.0 creeps ever closer, I decided it was time to finally see what Gutenberg is capable of. While I had done a good bit of testing (perhaps better described as playing around), I hadn’t yet included the plugin version of the editor into my standard workflow.
I figured I’d start off fairly small. So, I installed Gutenberg on a brochure-style site that I’m redesigning. Below are a few thoughts on my experiences, while keeping in mind that this is still beta software that has several bugs left to iron out.
A New Way to Work
Having previously seen the Gutenberg UI, there were some basic expectations I had as to what I would be able to accomplish – things that I wouldn’t easily be able to do with the Classic editor:
Easily rearrange content
Create simple multicolumn layouts
Reuse customized content blocks in multiple places
Suffice it to say that I didn’t expect (nor want) a full-blown page builder type
A look at how adapting our behaviors can result in a more secure website.
Web security has grown into one of the most important issues we face – right up there with design and development. And those of us who use an open source content management system such as WordPress are under even more pressure to tighten up security. The unfortunate fact is that, as time goes on, the task is only going to become more difficult. WordPress itself is the target of an array of automated attacks. Bots are attempting brute-force logins, script and database injections, along with a multitude of other malicious activities. But, while preventing bot attacks is vital, they’re far from the only threat that needs dealt with.
Indeed, there are other bases we need to cover. Beyond automated threats, changing human behavior may be an even more important step in securing a WordPress site. With that in mind, here are 5 things we can do right now to improve security.
1. Train Users in Best Practices
Part of a designer’s job description often includes training clients. But while we tend to focus on the basics of managing content, this is also a prime opportunity to talk about security. I know, it sounds like a potentially complicated discussion – but it doesn’t
Some simple code examples that enable developers to show content/features based on user roles.
When building a WordPress website, it’s often useful to provide content or functionality based on a user’s role or capabilities. For example, you may want to display some special content on your site – but only for administrators. That’s just one of many possibilities. It’s quite handy that WordPress has a built-in function to help. The current_user_can() function allows you to check the permissions of logged-in users. Based on that information, you can provide them with whatever special goodies you like. Conversely, you can also turn off certain items as well.
Keeping with the previously mentioned special content example, we’ll dive into a few basic snippets that let us add this functionality.
Example 1: Administrators Only
In this example, we’ll check to see if the logged in user visiting our page is a site administrator. If they are, a little welcome message will be displayed.
Before we go into the code, it’s worth noting that there is more than one way to check a user’s permissions. The WordPress Codex states that we can provide an existing user role inside the current_user_can() function, however, it’s not recommended.
A look at how WordPress changed the CMS landscape back in the day and how it impacts us today.
A look at some of the non-Gutenberg beta plugins looking to make their way into WordPress core.
As a platform, WordPress is continually looking to add features that will both keep its existing user base happy as well as attract new recruits. And over the years, that has led to some very popular additions such as Custom Post Types, Custom Fields and Widgets. Each of these examples have become such staples of the WordPress experience that it’s difficult to remember a time when they didn’t exist. But each one started out as just an idea. These days, there are no shortage of potential additions vying to make their way into WordPress core. The neat thing is that you can test out these new features before they become official (provided they get that far in the process). Testing is as simple as installing a beta plugin.
Here are 5 such plugins that, while you haven’t heard much about them yet, may just make their way to the big leagues someday. Please note that it’s recommended you install them on a staging or test site, rather than a live one.
Offering two-factor authentication has become pretty much standard throughout industries like banking and even social media. In a time when we face the reality of compromised data, two-factor provides user accounts with
As Gutenberg nears release, there are many lessons to be learned from the often chaotic process.
WordPress 5.0 is on the horizon. Yes, we’ve been saying it for months. But now we really are on the brink of its full release. The journey to get to this point has been quite a wild ride. During the buildup, we’ve heard just about every argument for and against the new Gutenberg editor. And we’ve had loads of controversy (which hasn’t stopped, by the way) about one thing or another. Some people aren’t happy with process for storing data, while others think the whole concept is flawed. Then, there are all of those pre-release negative reviews. In all, it’s a lot for both web designers and users to digest.
Today, I think it’s important to look at this milestone release in another light. Instead of cheerleading or criticizing, let’s have an honest discussion about what WordPress and its community can learn from this experience.
With that, the following are a few lessons I believe that the development and launch of Gutenberg can teach us.
Change is Hard
Perhaps the most obvious lesson here is that change can be a very difficult process. And, when you’re talking about software that runs over 30% of websites, it’s especially tough.
Important items to consider when building member-based sites with WP.
The idea of a membership website is quite broad. Really, it can be anything from an organization that charges members for access to content or a simple community bulletin board. In between, you’ll find all sorts of niche requirements. In many ways, it’s akin to eCommerce in that there are any number of ways to approach a build. Using WordPress as your base platform provides a number of plugin-based options. Over the past several years, I’ve had the experience of using several of them to build in membership capabilities for a variety of websites. Each one presented unique challenges, including some that didn’t match up with the functionality offered by the chosen plugin.
All told, there are a lot of things to consider. So, before you decide which path to take, think about the following factors. They’ll help you develop a plan of attack for your project.
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Types of Available Memberships
The first thing to look at is what type of memberships the site will offer. For instance, you’ll want to determine if there will be single or multiple levels. The
There are some outstanding groups out there ready to help with a variety of WordPress related issues.
Part of what makes working with WordPress so much fun is that you get much more than a free, open source CMS. You also become part of a tremendously welcoming and helpful community. Information regarding just about any aspect of the software you want to learn is most likely available for free. And when you have questions or run into trouble, there’s a good chance that someone out there is willing to help. It’s no surprise, then, that Facebook is home to some outstanding groups dedicated to WordPress in one way or another. Some are quite general in nature, while others cater to a specific niche. Here are six groups you’ll want to check out, depending on how you use WordPress.
The Advanced WordPress group is one of the most interesting out there. It boasts over 30,000 members, and the list includes some of the most influential names in the world of WordPress. Like the other groups on this list, membership is closed – meaning a moderator has to approve your request to join. Posts are also subject to moderator approval, which helps to keep the content relevant. And, as its name suggests, you’ll find some very advanced discussions regarding code, design and
Using the Health Check plugin makes troubleshooting a potential theme/plugin conflict easier.
Whether you’re building a new WordPress website or applying updates to an existing one, troubleshooting issues can be a very time-consuming process. It can also be a bit risky – especially if you’re dealing with a live site (one more good reason to set up a staging environment, when possible). In general, pinpointing a problem requires that we take the following steps:
Switch to a default theme, such as Twenty Seventeen;
Disable all plugins and reactivate them, one-by-one;
After activating each plugin, refresh your site on the front end to see if the issue you’re dealing with appears;
These steps are necessary, as they will help you determine if your theme or one of the plugins you’re running is causing the fuss. But to do this on a live site, you’ll need to throw it into maintenance mode or face the prospect of allowing visitors to see your mess.
Fortunately, there is now a way to troubleshoot a site without the side effect of downtime. Thanks to the free Health Check plugin, you can perform the steps above in a manner that is confined to just your specific user account. Here’s how it works:
Let’s Get Healthy
Health Check was developed
A look at ways to replicate some commercial plugin features, but without the extra cost.
One of the most amazing features of WordPress is its priceless price tag. In other words: It’s free. That provides virtually anyone with an opportunity to learn the CMS and all its inner workings without investing a dime. At the same time, it enables our voices to be heard – regardless of our financial status. The same also applies to a whole lot of WordPress plugins. Most are free and offer up a variety of functionalities. However, there are also some amazing commercial plugins that go the extra mile. They include professional-grade features that bring our sites to that next level.
But sometimes you don’t need everything a commercial plugin has to offer. There are situations where perhaps one particular premium feature is all you need. It may not even be 100% necessary, but would still make life easier.
Today, we’re going to let you in on a little secret. There are indeed ways to get that one little feature you’re after without spending money. No, it’s not through anything unseemly. Rather, it’s by employing a piecemeal approach and, in some cases, a little elbow grease.
Curious? Read on to enhance your penny-pinching ways.
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Part of a developer's job often involves integrating 3rd party services. But now it looks as though some of those providers are changing the game on us.
For years, web designers have relied on free tools from the likes of Google, Facebook and other large companies to enhance the things we build. We have happily used these offerings to analyze site statistics, serve up fonts and integrate social media. Just about any type of high-end functionality these companies have to offer has been readily available to us – usually without any upfront monetary cost. But things are changing. Google, for one, is now requiring us to add billing information to our accounts if we want to continue to use their Maps API. And the recent revelations of the whole Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal have shaken the very foundation of trust when it comes to securing user data.
Of course, those aren’t the only examples of the changing landscape that one can find. But they do represent a sort of bait-and-switch of the ideals that these companies like to preach. And it leaves a sour taste in the mouth of those of us who have helped to spread this technology in our web projects.
There Was Always a Catch
Whether or not we realized it at the time, many of these “free” services we have added to websites had a cost attached to them. The companies
For those times when you really didn't mean to click that button (or when a client can't make up their mind).
It’s happened to all of us at one time or another. We work hard to build a website that is nearly flawless (in our eyes, anyway) and then a client comes along with a “suggestion” that blows it all to bits. Then, there are those times when we ourselves make a boneheaded mistake that means we’re going to have to rip things up and try to piece it back together again. Not so fast. When working with WordPress, there are indeed some built-in features, best practices and plugins available that can help us in these moments. Perhaps they can’t fix everything, but they can at least make the task easier to manage. Here are a few notable selections that you’ll want to check out the next time $#!% happens.
Tips and Tricks
Use Post Revisions
Raise your hand if you’ve ever made a huge mistake while editing a page or post (both of my hands would be up if I weren’t currently typing). The good news is that WordPress Revisions can easily bring back previous versions of a page – leading to a major sigh of relief. One thing to note is that, when creating custom post types, you have the option of whether or not to keep revisions. It might be worth turning
My take on the recent issues with malicious code in plugins and the importance of getting the word out to users.
In case you missed it, three widely-used WordPress plugins were recently found to have malicious code included with recent updates. Display Widgets, Fast Secure Contact Form and SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam were each removed from the official WordPress Plugin Repository due to SEO spam discovered by users. One thing each plugin has in common was that they were all previously trusted and generally considered secure. More recently, they were sold by their original authors to a new developer, who used these popular plugins to spread payday loan spam posts. In fact, security plugin company Wordfence recently reported that up to 9 plugins have been found with malicious code added through various means.
While many web designers and developers have become more proactive in securing their sites against typical threats like brute force attacks, etc. – malicious plugins appear to be a whole new ballgame. We’re used to defending against security holes, but not authors who are intentionally trying to propagate malware. And in the case of the plugins mentioned above, immediately updating to the latest version was the worst thing we could have done since that was how the code was installed.
Some practices that will put you in a bad position as your site ages.
There’s a reason why so many people have turned to WordPress over the years. It’s flexible, relatively easy to use and boasts an amazing community of contributors. That means you can build a website with nearly endless potential in terms of look and functionality. On the downside, it also leaves a lot of opportunities for future problems. The truth is that it’s incredibly easy to set yourself up for disaster – especially when you’re first starting out. Because WordPress essentially puts the world at your fingertips, there is great temptation to add mass quantities of plugins or even click that “Update” button without first thinking of the consequences. That, along with a host of other actions, can blow up in your face down the road.
Below are some of the most important things for designers and site owners to avoid when it comes to building and maintaining a WordPress website.
1. Use Plugins to Solve Every Problem
The sheer amounts of WordPress plugins we have to choose from can make us feel like the proverbial kid in a candy store. There are plugins for virtually any type of functionality you can think of – both major and minor.
An interview with Aaron Campbell, head of the WordPress Security Team, on his recent WordCamp Lancaster talk.
Our brains are capable of some amazing feats. Yet, they work in different ways that can reflect in our personality. For instance, some of us gain contentment from putting ourselves out there in the crowd, while others prefer a quite room all to themselves. We’re a species of extroverts and introverts. One is not better than the other – just different. However, when running a design business, you might think that being an extrovert is preferable. If you’re predisposed to going out and making new connections, that would seem to be an advantage over those who aren’t as keen on networking. But that’s not necessarily the case.
Consider that some of the world’s most successful people are introverts. We’re talking about the likes of Albert Einstein, Bill Gates and JK Rowling – to name just a few. They’re proof that you don’t have to be extroverted in order to find success.
Recently, I attended a talk at WordCamp Lancaster (US) that really shed some light on the subject. Aaron Campbell gave a fascinating presentation on succeeding as an introvert. Campbell, who leads the WordPress Core Security Team, spoke from the heart – having
Some thoughts on how freelancers can leverage Gutenberg to make a little extra money this year.
Part of being a successful web designer is taking advantage of new opportunities. Some we have to hunt for, while others sort of fall into our laps. With the new Gutenberg editor for WordPress, due to be released as part of WordPress 5.0, we find one of those golden opportunities coming our way (although, some may see it more like an oncoming freight train). This is a big change in how content is created and managed. And with an enormous user base about to be affected, there is going to be a need for experts to step in and help out. While we’re at it, we might as well make a little cash as well. Let’s look at some Gutenberg-centric ways to boost your revenue.
Train Clients in the Ways of Gutenberg
While web professionals are quite aware of Gutenberg, many of the average WordPress users out there are not. It’s safe to say that these folks are in for a bit of culture shock once they lay eyes on this very different way of doing things. This is where you come in to be that knight in shining armor.
Offer to train your clients either individually or as a group. It could be done through a webinar or in person. Show them the basics of what Gutenberg can do and how they can
Mr. Schoppe's recent commentary has created a bit of a stir. He was kind enough to speak with me about Gutenberg (he actually likes the idea).
Within the WordPress community, it’s been hard to ignore all of the hype surrounding Gutenberg – the new content editor being developed for the world’s most used CMS. Currently available in plugin form and scheduled for inclusion in WordPress 5.0, the first thing you notice about this newfangled way of creating a page or post is that it provides a very different experience from what we’re used to. Needless to say, the reaction has been mixed. That’s to be expected whenever such a dramatic change is made to a venerable piece of software like WordPress. With so many designers and developers making a living off of working their magic with it, there’s no way something this big was going to go unnoticed.
The whole situation has already been written about ad nauseam, but we wanted to bring the perspective of someone who brings specific concerns to the table. Today, we’ll introduce you to one developer whose commentary touched a nerve within the community, along with some within the WordPress development team.
His name is Greg Schoppe, a Vermont-based WordPress developer. His post, entitled “You called it Gutenberg for a Reason.. That Doesn’t
Some tips on how to build a WooCommerce site with future flexibility and security in mind.
WooCommerce has become the de facto solution for running an ecommerce website with WordPress. This is especially so since Automattic (the company of WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg) took over the wildly popular plugin in 2015. The fact that WooCommerce is free (with the option to use free extensions or buy commercial ones) and fairly easy to set up is very attractive to those looking to sell online without breaking their budget. It’s possible to build an online shop that looks and functions similarly to the upper echelon of online retailers.
But this particular path of ecommerce has its own requirements and challenges. WooCommerce is a different animal than the likes of Shopify, Miva or other SaaS providers. There are things you need to be aware of in order to make the most out of your site, along with maintaining security and stability.
Let’s take a look at some of the hidden secrets to winning with Woo:
Test Updates on a Development Site First
Because your WooCommerce shop could also be running alongside any number of different WordPress plugins, updates aren’t always a smooth process. Bugs not only show up in new releases of Woo, but conflicts can arise with