WordPress Show and Tell

Tonight we welcome a few of our regular WordPress Austin members who graciously agreed to show off their websites and tell us a little about them.

 

Debra Schmidt, Cousins Count

A blog Debra started 4 1/2 years ago. It runs using the Thesis theme. Her audience is a few hundred people in her family; Debra is one of 67 first cousins. One of her challenges was that she had to sell her mom on the site and ensure everyone’s privacy. She has to be careful of which photos get posted because her audience is “fussy.”

Every family member has a category – all cousins “count”.

Debra is the only blogger – she’s the family chronicler. She’s written about 1200 blog posts. Her goal is to keep her family connected and find each other. Although people are also on Facebook, this is a more centralized way to find things. She posts memorials, weddings, photos… and writes whatever she wants about them. Fortunately she’s only had to take down a few things! :)

She used to be on WordPress.com but switched to a self-hosted site so that she could have ads and a few other features that aren’t allowed  using the free WordPress hosted option.

 

Eric Weiss, Skeptics on the .Net

He found that there was a lot of skeptical information on the web but not any centralized source of information. He organizes information by media type, subject matter, location. He has several volunteers who help contribute to the site, from several countries. He links to blogs, podcasts and other media.

Built on Newsy by Themify. He really likes the toolbar they offer.

In category views, the Alphabetical List plugin allows the posts to show in alpha order rather than in chronological order. Display Scheduled Posts gives you a shortcode to display all scheduled posts with the date that they’re scheduled to be posted. If you put it on a private page, you can see all the posts outside of the dashboard posts view.

Twitter Tools is a good plugin to post to twitter; IFTTT allows you to redirect your RSS feed to twitter, among other things.

He uses VaultPress, a backup and security option run by Automattic for $15/month. If your site gets hacked, they will fix it for you. He uses W3 Total Cache to help speed up his site.

Runs a separate blog which is an internal conversation among his volunters running the P2 theme. It’s great if you’re working on a collaborative post.

Even with his excellent presentation, the audience remained skeptical…. (just kidding!)

 

Lori Luza Austin No Kidding! and Austin ‘Canes

Lori wrote up details about her sites at her personal blog on loriluza.com, including the plugins she likes.

AustinChildFree.org runs on the Twenty Eleven (WordPress default) theme; AustinCanes.com runs on Weaver 2.2.4.

She uses these themes because these are non-profit organizations, and she wanted the sites to be easy to maintain and easy to change their basic look and feel even by someone who may not be very technically-inclined.

She uses AdRotate to manage her little ads on the site; they change monthly and the plugin sends a notification letting her know the ad is about to expire (in case she needed to bill someone). She recommends Events Manager for her calendars. It’s easy for people to book an event. She has noted that she’s not happy with how it displays the calendar.

Mobile Theme Switcher allows people to see the full site on an iPad.

Lori suggested doing a Creative Commons search on Flickr for free photos for your blogs. For backgrounds, she suggests bgpatterns.com as a fun toy to play with.

 


 

We discussed events calendars. Pat suggested amr events list and calendars .

Looking for themes? Themefinder from wpcandy.com

We ended the evening talking about themes and development tools. We talked about Builder, a WordPress theme framework, as well as various theme frameworks and the idea of building a custom theme.

 

WordPress Meetup: Q&A

Thanks to Clark Wimberly for setting up tonight’s meetup. See his notes at clarklab.net.

Look for the video online soon at Austin Tech Videos.


Using a staging server to deploy changes

Presented by Chris Lazan and Mark Kelnar of WP Engine

They demonstrated their staging system which allows you to upload plugins and themes and test them before making the changes live.

If you’re not using the WP Engine hosting, the best plan is to use phpMyAdmin to backup your site, work on the site on a localhost, and then upload it to the live site.

Bill Erickson has a great post on his site that details out the process to move a site from a local/development server to the live site.

 

What is a custom post type

Presented by Clark Wimberly

What is a post?

  • Posts – blog posts, which are the chronologically-based posts
  • Pages hierarchical organization
  • Attachments,  Revisions and Nav menus are also posts

Custom post types can add new content by allowing you to add additional types of posts.

When you register a new custom post type, it is separate from normal loops/queries. They won’t show in RSS or widgets unless you want them to.

Register a new custom post type in functions.php. You need to define just a few options but that’s it. The new post type will show up in your WP-admin immediately.

See Clark’s presentation for an explanation of how to create a custom post type. Justin Tadlock also offers a tutorial on how to set up a custom post type.

Themergency has a code generator for custom post types.

More info on custom post types at WP Beginner.

 

Keeping your HTML safe from the editor

Presented by Pat Ramsey

The problem: if you put HTML in your page/post, it can get corrupted if someone goes in to edit that page later. If you create a shortcode, you can place a marker in the page to some HTML that resides in your functions file rather than in your HTML code in the editor.

Shortcodes are text in [brackets].

He showed code for your functions.php file to create different shortcodes.

This is particularly useful for adding HTML to widgets. You can pop in a shortcode into a text widget rather than HTML code. You will have to enable this in your functions file.

You can read more about shortcodes on Bill Erickson’s site as well as the WordPress codex.

 

WordPress beyond blogging

Presented by Jo Carrington

Using WordPress as a content management system: allows us to define any arbitrary amount of content like posts and pages. Can use custom post types to create new content areas.

How to create custom post types with plugins.

Let’s pretend we have a bookstore website. We would need:

  • Posts
  • Pages
  • Books: Title, Publisher, Author, ISBN, Price (each of these is a field)
  • Staff: Name, Photo, Bio, Twitter
  • Events: Name, Time, Description

Two plugins:

Create the new custom post type with More Types. Then you can add additional fields with More Fields. You will need to edit your template file (php file) with a WordPress hook to get this information and display it. Go to the WordPress Codex for the get post meta code to add the code into your site.

 

What is the Loop?

presented by Nick Batik (our brave soul for the evening)

The WordPress loop basically does this:

 if there are posts

    while (there are posts)

    do something

end

 An example of the loop in the WordPress Codex – see the section “the World’s Simplest Index Page” for a simple example of the loop in action.

The loop is the core of every single page displayed on your website. Every page/post on your site will run the loop, even if there’s just one post.

Look at the template files for the default WordPress theme Twenty Eleven for different examples of the loop.

One suggestion from the group: the premium plugin Loop Buddy allows to modify the loop without getting into the code.