Background Images and the Customizer

The WordPress Customizer does not have a built-in control for setting background images. The background feature simply consists of four different controls:

  • background_image (WP_Customize_Background_Image_Control)
  • background_repeat (radio)
  • background_position_x (radio)
  • background_attachment (radio)

For this feature, the Customizer also loads javascript that reveals the radio fields once an image has been uploaded. And on the front-end, inline styles are used to apply the background image to the body tag.

If a developer wanted to build additional background image options, the simplest option would be to take the same route: register four settings, load four controls, add custom javascript to show/hide fields if an image is set. Repeat as needed.

However, I started experimenting with a single control and thinking through how that could be implemented.

Issues with Current Implementation

Trac is a great place to find feedback on a particular WordPress feature, and there were a number of suggestions for background enhancements:

Prior Art

The Make Theme by Theme Foundry implements some of these suggestions, including UI changes:

make-theme

The Kirki Toolkit also implements a background control, which supports repeat, size, attach and position.

Custom Background Control

I haven’t completely finished the custom background control I’ve been working on, but I feel like it’s time to share and open it up for collaboration. Here’s what it does now:

  • A single control generates all the field markup (image, repeat, size, attach, position)
  • The control also saves an attachment ID if a setting is defined (making it easier to generate alternate sizes)
  • The control automatically loads the javascript to hide/show the select fields

At the moment, six settings need to be registered (with their defaults and sanitization) if all the fields are going to be displayed. This still feels like a lot of syntax and I’d like to simplify it further- perhaps by saving all the data into a single serialized array for the theme_mod or option setting that is registered.

It also doesn’t address cropping, alternate UI ideas, or retina- mainly just because I haven’t had a chance to explore it yet. But it does have support background-position-y (added to the position field) and background-size (new select field).

I’d love for other people to take a look at this control and give me any thoughts, feedback, or pull requests. You can find the Custom Background Control on GitHub along with all its documentation.

Check out the project here.

Unit Tests for WooCommerce Extensions

I am completely new to PHP unit testing, but I decided it was time to learn after discovering a critical bug in a small WooCommerce extension I had built for a client.

The extension I built added a feature that allowed administrators to limit specific coupons to new customers only. I had done some manual testing and made sure that new customers could use the coupon and existing customers could not. But there was a logic bug I missed that prevented existing customers from using any coupons, even ones that did not have the “new customer” restriction.

After finding the bug, I knew there were several use cases I would need to check every time an update was made to the plugin:

  • New customer should be able to apply a coupon
  • New customer should be able to apply a coupon with a “new customer” restriction
  • Existing customer should be able to apply a coupon without a “new customer” restriction
  • Existing customer should *not* be able to apply a coupon with the “new customer” restriction

Obviously, checking this manually each time would be rather tedious- which is why I turned to unit tests. Continue reading

Purge Old Slug Redirects

When the url of a published post is updated in WordPress, the previous url slug is saved into a meta key called _wp_old_slug and a 301 redirect is created automatically. In most cases this is exactly what you would want to happen, but there are rare cases where it can cause a problem.

I hit an odd edge case when upgrading to WordPress 4.4 on WP Engine. At some point the slugs for two WooCommerce products had been swapped, so the _wp_old_slug for ‘product-1’ was ‘product-2’, and ‘product-2’ was ‘product-1’. This should have caused an infinite redirect immediately, but for some reason those rules were ignored until the WordPress 4.4 upgrade. Continue reading

Limit Search Form to Specific Post Types

If you’d like to limit the search form on WordPress site to specific post types globally, there’s and easy way to do that:

// Change search function globally to search only post, page and portfolio post types
function prefix_limit_post_types_in_search( $query ) {
if ( $query->is_search ) {
$query->set( 'post_type', array( 'post','page', 'portfolio' ) );
}
return $query;
}
add_filter( 'pre_get_posts', 'prefix_limit_post_types_in_search' );

But let’s say you want to have a specific search form search limited to one post type, but allow other search forms to search all post types?

Most tutorials I’ve run across suggest that you re-create all the search form markup and then add a hidden input to the form like this:

/* Hidden input field that can be added to search form */
<input type="hidden" name="post_type" value="portfolio">

You can then conditionally load that hidden field on the specific templates where where it is needed.

However, if you’re using get_search_form() and don’t want to completely replace all the search form markup, an alternative would be to do a string replace before outputting the form:

<?php
// Output a search for that only searches portfolio post types
$search = get_search_form( false );
$find = '</form>';
$replace = '<input type="hidden" name="post_type" value="portfolio">' . $find;
$search = str_replace( $find, $replace, $search );
echo $search;
?>

For more reading on how this filter works, you can read the great inline docs in the WordPress codebase itself.

Better Blockquotes

screenshot-1

WordPress has a button in the editor for adding blockquotes to a post. But what if an author wants to add a citation? Unfortunately, it’s not possible without a little HTML knowledge.

This is a problem I’ve thought about a bit when designing DevPress themes (what markup should I be styling for?), but it’s also come up on a few client projects recently. Citations are a pretty common use-case, and it would be great if they were easier to add.

My solution was to build a plugin that replaces the existing TinyMCE button for blockquotes with an enhanced one. Continue reading

Command Line PHP Script for Zendesk API

Command line scripts can be excellent tools for fetching and quickly parsing data from an external API.

I recently wrote a script that allows you to search Zendesk tickets for a specific query term, and then returns a list of all associated e-mails. It’s something that’s impossible to do through the Zendesk UI (without a ton of clicking and copying), but really useful.

I thought I’d share it as a Gist in case anyone else might find it helpful.