What Happened When We Talked WordPress with the Experts

Sarah Hawk
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It’s that time of week again and this morning I spent an hour in our chatroom talking to WordPress expert Jeremy Ferguson about… you guessed it… WordPress. There were a lot of lurkers in this mornings session as well as a lot of first timers, so the chat was a little less organic than usual, but there were still some very interesting questions asked and a huge number of resources came out of the hour.

If you’re interested in getting into WordPress development, the list of resources below contains a number of must-reads.

Some good WordPress resources that came out of the session:

Jeremy’s WordPress Development course on Learnable

An article about developing WordPress themes

The WordPress Anthology from SitePoint

Digging into WordPress by Chris Coyier & Jeff Starr

A great tutorial for working with Thesis as a framework

Bones – the framework that’s not a framework

A useful plugin if you’re looking to implement membership features on your site

A plugin to limit login attempts for WordPress sites

An article on WordPress security in general

And one on moving WordPress

Shopp – an ecommerce platform for WordPress

Total Cache – a WordPress Performance Optimization (WPO) framework


And a couple of PHP resources that came up:

A PHP course for beginners on Learnable

The big purple book

If you missed the session today because you didn’t know about it, you can find out about upcoming sessions here or sign up for email notifications of upcoming sessions. Next week we have the much requested session on Regular Expressions at 4:00pm PDT on Thurs 13 June or find out what time it will be at your place.

If you want to see exactly what went down this morning, here is the full transcript:

[21:55] <HAWK> Welcome everyone – Jeremy Ferguson is our expert today. We’ll kick off in 5 mins but in the mean time, feel free to introduce yourselves

[21:57] <HAWK> And for anyone that doesn’t know who Jeremy is – this is his course on Learnable https://learnable.com/courses/wordpress-development-2745

[22:00] <dorthe> would you prefere to use a theme or ex thesis frame instaed

[22:01] <HAWK> We may as well kick off now. Thanks to jeremyf for his time today. If you haven’t been to one of these sessions before, it’s basically a bit of a free for all – throw in your questions and Jeremy will answer them

[22:01] <jeremyf> @dorthe I’ve used Thesis and Genesis as frameworks. Both are good for different reasons. I find frameworks excellent for taking care of the basic stuff and giving you ui dashboards etc

[22:03] <johnlacey> What would you recommend for someone wanting to learn WordPress theme development?

[22:03] <dotbdotb> so speaking of themes – what is your favorite starter theme?  i.e. bones, wp-bootstrap

[22:04] <jeremyf> @johnlacey make sure you are familiar with the codex themes of course.. http://codex.wordpress.org/Theme_Development

[22:04] <jeremyf> @johnlacey I often find it’s good to find a theme that is near where you want to end up

[22:04] <jeremyf> and look through it

[22:05] <jeremyf> looking at other people’s code is a great way to learn

[22:05] <jjjrrr> johnlacey check out digwp.com this book is awesome

[22:06] <jeremyf> @johnlacey working through a book can be good too, but often they get outdated

[22:06] <jeremyf> https://learnable.com/books/wpant1 is a good book by a friend of mine but it is a year or two old at this point

[22:06] <chris> What’s the best way to password protect a whole wordpress site?

[22:06] <jeremyf> dotbdotb I liked the thesis 1.x theme a lot; I also like the genesis framework and theems

[22:06] <johnlacey> I do have a number of Learnable/Sitepoint titles… both physical books and eBooks, but haven’t quite gotten around to reading them yet.

[22:06] <HAWK> Feel free to jump in with questions – at the moment we’re talking about the best way to get into WP (and resources)

[22:07] <wibbleie> what is your favourite plugin you regularly utilise?  For me it is Advanced Custom Fields, great for using WP as a CRM style site

[22:07] <jeremyf> dotbdotb – thesis 2.x is much different. I like it, but there is a learning curve and not everyone loes it

[22:07] <jeremyf> wibbleie – ACF is excellent .. I’m surprised it’s not core yet. I use it on every site. Yoast’s SEO and analytics plugins are excellent

[22:08] <Hola> So what’s the best way to get into wp?

[22:08] <dorthe> I’ve tried to Work with Thesis and found this video tuturial which is a great way to start: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBcRjFbjohg&list=PLwdrgXlAazqugEHVhHCcb-NCli0VlDgHc&index=1

[22:08] <HAWK> Hola From earlier: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/11177072/Screenshots/roub.png

[22:09] <dotbdotb> thanks jeremy – for frameworks i have thrown in my lot with genesis – still getting used to that – it seems like thesis doesn’t have as much love from the hardcore wp community so i just never got around to trying it  Maybe I will check out 2.1 though 

[22:09] <wibbleie> Couldn’t agree more re: ACF and Yoast. ACF in the core would be great. There isn’t a site that I have worked on that wouldn’t benefit from better custom fields

[22:09] <dotbdotb> thy dorthe

[22:09] <jeremyf> @chris – password protecting a whole site is probably something easily done through a plugin.. if you are looking for membership features, look for at http://wordpress.org/plugins/membership/

[22:09] <zotek> where can i found newsletter and automatic sent coupon to a confirmed subscibers plug-in.?

[22:09] <jeremyf> @chris you can also make a particular page “private” and it will password protect it

[22:10] <jeremyf> zotek – newslettering is going to really depend on your newsletter provider

[22:10] <Seth> what is the thought on creating a site from scratch using html and css and then transforming that into a wordpress site? Is it always better to start with a theme and make a child from that?

[22:10] <jessirwin> Would people suggest Yoast to simply add Google Analytics to a site?

[22:10] <dorthe> have anyone used wp as an intranet

[22:11] <programmer> I’m installing WordPress right now during this session (locally)

[22:11] <jeremyf> zotek its tricky to do from just a website without service of some sort; many of them offer wordpress plugins that make it pretty easy from there

[22:11] <chris> favorite plugin: I recently started using Yoast SEO – really like it and found it easy to get up to speed with

[22:12] <Hola> Yeah will like to read what you guys think of Seth questions

[22:12] <johnlacey> Do you have any suggestions for working with WordPress on a local development computer?

[22:12] <kadiross> is there some coreses to learn how to make WP theme from Zero

[22:12] <jeremyf> Seth – the nice thing about using a theme framework is it covers a lot of the random templates you may not think of when you’re doing it from scratch.

[22:12] <zotek> just simple newsletter name: and email.. and when subscriber confirmed thier email they automaticaly recieve random number something like that

[22:12] <jeremyf> Seth many do prefer coding everything down from scratch, but I find using a framework that has my basic layout taken care of allows me to quickly add a skin to a site using css, filters, and actions

[22:13] <zotek> ok

[22:13] <Lucas1> Beside that, does anyone have any good chat plugins for wp? Free or not, just wanna know if you have any experience with them or.. yeah.. that sort of thing..

[22:13] <Seth> thanks for the response, much appreciated. So in saying that, is there a good starter theme for beginners to work with?

[22:14] <griffinartworks> starkers

[22:14] <jeremyf> johnlacey – working with a local dev environment you can get the latest releases of wordpress on nightlies. Get to know git. I’ve used xampp pretty successfully and even gotten it to work on google drive so it is mobile with only a little config change

[22:14] <griffinartworks> by vieqport industries

[22:14] <dotbdotb> i just built my first site with bones and I liked that as a starter theme

[22:14] <ryan> I’m afraid if I build my site in WP and I get hacked or something (seems they’re always getting hacked), or decide to migrate everything later, it will be a nightmare. Are my fears unfounded?

[22:14] <jeremyf> Lucas1 – I haven’t used any chat plugins on WP, sorry.

[22:15] <HAWK> ryan SitePoint is a WP site 

[22:15] <dorthe> HAWK do you collect the discussion and put it on Sitepoint later this week

[22:15] <jeremyf> ryan – I have definitely dealt with hacked sites.. usually they were not being properly maintained and updated. Also installing a login limit plugin is a good idea now as wel

[22:15] <HAWK> dorthe Yes – I’ll post a full transcript up later today on SitePoint, along with a list of resources that come out of the chat

[22:15] <dorthe> tx

[22:16] <jeremyf> http://devel.kostdoktorn.se/limit-login-attempts

[22:16] <ryan> thx!

[22:16] <MauricioOchoa> i work a local copy using mamp on mac everything is ok but I uploaded her http://clientes.mauricioochoa.com/ambientes/www/ and is all localhost how deal with it?

[22:16] <jjjrrr> i use better wp security for securing wordpress. is this a good plugin, are there better ones?

[22:16] <asc> multiple apis and wordpress easiest solution?

[22:17] <jeremyf> MauricioOchoa – there is a setting in wp-admin under /wp-admin/options-general.php

[22:17] <dotbdotb> ryan – http://codex.wordpress.org/Hardening_WordPress  also get a good malware scanner or service

[22:17] <jeremyf> MauricioOchoa where you set the url of your site

[22:17] <asc> where should i start with trying to bring apis into wordpress install basically like songkicks

[22:18] <dorthe> jeremyf which plugin for payment over the internet would you prefere for wp

[22:18] <jeremyf> MauricioOchoa – you can also set it as a constant to override if you can’t get into your site .. http://codex.wordpress.org/Editing_wp-config.php (look for WP_SITEURL)

[22:18] <MauricioOchoa> no acces to wp-admin I guess I can change config.php

[22:19] <jeremyf> MauricioOchoa – if that still doesn’t fix everything, sometimes plugins keep the hostname in their settings so you’ll want to search your db for instances of the old name

[22:19] <jeremyf> MauricioOchoa definitely take a look at http://codex.wordpress.org/Moving_WordPress .. there’s a script that can do much of the work for you

[22:20] <jjjrrr> MauricioOchoa maybe here are some hints for you http://codex.wordpress.org/Moving_WordPress

[22:20] <jeremyf> @jjjrrr – I don’t know of a better security plugin, sorry

[22:20] <johnlacey> So many links. lol. I look forward to Hawk publishing the transcript so I can go over them all carefully.

[22:20] <Seabee> Migrate DB plugin (and pro version) – use it all the time

[22:21] <Hola> What is this bones some of you keep mentioning?

[22:21] <jessirwin> I use Backup Buddy when moving sites to different servers. It’s a commerce plugin but makes the job so simple.

[22:21] <jeremyf> dorthe – for payment I favor Shopp – full disclosure, I”ve been doing tech support for them for a few years. I’ve worked iwth it since their 1.0 version

[22:21] <jeremyf> dorthe – excellent cart system, full featured, easily customized.. https://shopplugin.net/

[22:22] <Seabee> Love Cart66, not tried shopp

[22:22] <jeremyf> dorthe – i’ve used a few other ecommerce systems, all are pretty much fine

[22:22] <dorthe> is it better than system from woocommere

[22:22] <jeremyf> dorthe – at this point it’s about who’s been around longest

[22:22] <programmer> If I set up a wordpress database locally, will it be hard to change the name if I move it to a server?

[22:22] <MauricioOchoa> There is currently no text in this page. You can search for this page title in other pages, search the related logs, or edit this page.

[22:22] <jeremyf> dorthe – woo I’ve only used a little.. Shopp has really been my best experience

[22:22] <dorthe> tx I’ll check it out

[22:23] <HAWK> I think we’re on top of all the questions at the moment, so if anyone has something else to raise, go for it…

[22:23] <asc> apis in wordpress?

[22:23] <asc> any pointers

[22:24] <dotbdotb> i have been using foxyshop and foxycart for stores – any experience with those?

[22:24] <chris> Any suggestions for streamlining creative layout editing? any experiences setting up something like Coda for local editing? other suggestions welcome

[22:24] <dotbdotb> also wondering about programmer’s question

[22:24] <jeremyf> foxyshop and foxycart is pretty good, yes. Really it seems like the biggest factors are support and documentation – it’s all php, you know? shopping carts do what they do. 

[22:25] <dotbdotb> jeremyf tru dat

[22:25] <jeremyf> Hola – I think bones is this: http://themble.com/bones/ - seems like a bootstrap concept ; a framework that’s not a framework

[22:25] <jeremyf> i haven’t tried it yet

[22:26] <jeremyf> programmer – I wouldn’t say it would be hard to change, it’s pretty much just one variable, but make sure you test everything well. One thing htat can be tricky is links in content

[22:26] <Hola> Yeah I just googled it cheers I will have a look later

[22:26] <jeremyf> programmer I try to use relative links when possible so I don’t have to go back; but you can take care of it with a quick db search

[22:26] <programmer> Okay. Got it installed and configured.

[22:26] <dotbdotb> i am just about to launch a bones site 

[22:27] <dotbdotb> i want to try wp-bootstrap next though because a lot of people i respect love it

[22:28] <jimjam_app> Hi any recommendations for caching in WordPress on heavy traffic sites? but also how do u get round the caching if you have say a news feed on the home page that you want to update in real time and bypass the cache?

[22:28] <jeremyf> chris – I tend to be a text editor and ftp kind of programmer. If I’m working with a consistent designer and cranking out similar sites, I’ll create a basic template to start with and edit down

[22:29] <jeremyf> chris – I use sublime text right now for editing code

[22:30] <jeremyf> asc – it’s usually best to do your external api coding in a plugin.. I will always create a class and put all of my api functions in it, then make a workflow function for the actions.. See the class files for details on how that looks

[22:31] <ryan> what’s the best place for a web “designer” (not programmer) to learn WP and get up to speed with php?

[22:31] <HAWK> ryan Learnable ;)

[22:31] <ryan> good answer

[22:32] <ryan> more specifically?

[22:32] <HAWK> Are you totally new to PHP?

[22:32] <ryan> i’m solid with my HTML, and a newbie at php

[22:32] <jeremyf> jimjam_app – ive used http://wordpress.org/plugins/w3-total-cache/ but have found it a little frustrating to use with multiple editors who are not hip to caching.. It can be integrated with S3 etc though and configured to go on at big traffic hits I believe

[22:32] <ryan> I want to be more confident in my WP development abilities and not get into a jam

[22:32] <jeremyf> jimjam_app – you also should be able to get aruond it in certain instances with the settings or a filter / action

[22:33] <dotbdotb> my vow for this month is to finally read the PHP Novice to Ninja book – I have been hacking around too long!!!

[22:34] <HAWK> ryan This is a great beginners PHP course https://learnable.com/courses/php-mysql-web-development-for-beginners-13

[22:34] <jeremyf> ryan – You definitely will want to read up on PHP – I actually had a pretty good class in a web certification at a community college. That can be a good, quick way to learn and make yourself accountable. If you don’t want to take a class, there are any number of tutorial websites and the big purple book, etc

[22:34] <ryan> thx

[22:34] <jeremyf> ryan – of course .. learnable.com has php classes as well

[22:34] <KB> big purple book what?

[22:35] <KB> I actually recommend the learnable class in my university php classes -__- It’s much more beginner friendly

[22:35] <jeremyf> http://www.phpbook.sheersoftware.com/

[22:35] <jeremyf> ^big purple book

[22:36] <jeremyf> Another great way to learn php is to look at WP core files and theme files

[22:36] <programmer> I know my username should NOT be admin, but I put in another secret name, and then I put my own name in for Nickname. Then I set Display name to my real name. Is this good?

[22:36] <jeremyf> you can’t really break it – just play and see what happens. Google error messages when you get trouble

[22:36] <Jerry> 1008 pages — that’s big!

[22:37] <MauricioOchoa> there is a easy way to migrate from localhost to my server?

[22:37] <jeremyf> programmer – yeah I think that’s the best practice

[22:38] <jeremyf> programmer – the nickname and display name aren’t that relevant, really – they appear in a few places, depending on your theme

[22:38] <jeremyf> MauricioOchoa – it’s the same as moving between any servers.. follow this : http://codex.wordpress.org/Moving_WordPress

[22:39] <MauricioOchoa> Right now it seems to be so long way, editing wp-config.php, and all database

[22:39] <jeremyf> yeah – it shouldn’t take terribly long

[22:43] <HAWK> Calling for more questions – if you’re sitting on one, now is a good time

[22:43] <Felipe> Hi there, just a question… is possible to load a footer for different websites (different url), from one common source hosted in a fixed location ? thanks!

[22:44] <programmer> If I post something, it seems to show the nickname.

[22:44] <jeremyf> Felipe – if you want a common image, you can do that pretty simply. Otherwise, it’s probably best to duplicate the code in each individual theme I’d htink; depending on what you are talking about.

[22:44] <dotbdotb> I just enrolled in jeremy’s course – jeremy when are you going to be back like this that If i have any questions

[22:45] <jeremyf> dotbdotb – you can post questions to the course adn I will answer there

[22:45] <HAWK> dotbdotb There is a discussion section in the course

[22:46] <HAWK> Things are slowing up a bit. We have 15 mins left in this session so please make sure you ask your questions now if you have any

[22:47] <jjjrrr> when will be the next talk?

[22:48] <HAWK> jjjrrr I run them each week – next up is Regular Expressions

[22:49] <HAWK> When this chat room is closed you’ll find the schedule at https://experts.learnable.com

[22:49] <jessirwin> Is the regular expressions session for absolutel noobs?

[22:49] <Felipe> Hi jeremyf , thanks, that is th method that I am using actually :)

[22:50] <johnlacey> Yay. Regular Expressions session starts at 9 am (my time). The coffee might have reached my brain by then. ;)

[22:50] <HAWK> Well… if no one has any more questions for Jeremy, I’ll cut him loose to go and enjoy his evening :)

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