Concepts for Custom Theme Development

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If you’re new to WordPress development, there’s a couple techniques that will be incredibly useful when building themes for a specific company or purpose. Most WordPress themes available are built for general use, but when adapting it for a specific site it’s usually necessary to hardcode at least a few specific elements rather than make everything dynamic.

For example, it might make sense to hardcode the menu if it requires a lot of custom styling. It might make sense to query for specific pieces of known content. Certain pages may have a lot of art direction or targeted styles that would be incredibly difficult to build a custom UI for.

If you’ve already built a few custom themes, it’s likely know a many of these tips already- but hopefully there’s a few gems that will be useful for your toolkit. Continue reading

Theme Repository Data

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Aaron Jorbin just released a script called the “WordPress Theme Directory Slurper“, a command line PHP script which downloads the latest stable version of every theme in the WordPress.org theme repository. You can find more information about it in the GitHub repository.

I had a number of questions about the themes on WordPress.org, so I ran the script this morning a slurped all the themes. It took 112 minutes to run and downloaded nearly 4GB of theme code. Here’s what I found out. Continue reading

Version Control and Deploys with WP Engine

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It’s taken me a bit of time to figure out the best way to version and deploy sites with WP Engine. I still don’t have a perfect solution, but it’s now much better than using an SFTP GUI to move the files from local to staging.

Version Control

In terms of version control, I like to have the active theme in its own repository. This is generally where the bulk of custom development work happens, and this makes it easy to view the commit history, open issues, and reference code. If custom plugins are needed for the site, I also like to have those in their own repositories for the same reason.

For everything else on the site (WordPress core, third-party plugins, and media) I think it’s important to have backup points (especially before plugin/core upgrade in case a rollback is required), but I don’t necessarily need to have that versioned with something like Git.

If you’re not like me and prefer to have the entire site versioned in one repository, then git deploys work great with WP Engine. You can even set the gitignore file to ignore specific third-party plugins, media, and core so it just tracks your custom plugins and themes- but those all still need to be in one single repository that is tracked from the root of the WordPress directory. Continue reading

Angular + WordPress JSON API

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I’ve been wanting to get more familiar with the JSON API proposed for WordPress core and also with Angular (a javascript framework), so I decided to start building a little web app idea I’ve had for a while.

I’ve started small. My first experiment was just to see if I could connect to the JSON API and output a list of most recent posts. To do this, I built a basic theme with only the essential components: a stylesheet, a functions.php, an index.php, and the custom javascript.

You can find it on GitHub here. Continue reading

Administering WordPress from the Command Line through WP-CLI

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Working with the command line can be intimidating if you’re used to a nice graphical user interface (GUI), but it’s worth getting familiar with. There’s a lot of mundane tasks in web development can be automated with good set of scripts and shortcuts.

It’s also often much faster and simpler to accomplish a task with the command line, and in this respect WordPress is no exception. WP-CLI makes it possible for you to get your WordPress related tasks done with the help of a set of commands.

You might have a natural question in your mind: if the WordPress admin interface is so gorgeous and user-friendly, why would someone like to use the command line interface? There are two key reasons:

  • People find keyboard faster than the mouse: Instead of using mouse, a power user always prefer to use keyboard shortcut to accomplish a task. In general, using keyboard shortcuts is 3 times faster than clicking a mouse.
  • Automation:To make several commands execute automatically, you just need to put them into a single text file. Automation saves a lot of your precious time.

So in this guide, I’m going to give you a taste of WP-CLI: a command line interface for administering WordPress sites. Continue reading

Add a Page Select to the Customizer

I’ve been working on a new theme that allows users to select certain pages in the customizer, and then display those pages out on a “showcase” template. I think this is pretty useful functionality and wanted to share how I implemented it.

Add Settings, Controls and Sanitization

First, we’ll need to the page select boxes to the customizer. In the code below, I add a new customizer section called “Showcase”. Then, I loop through the add_setting / add_control functionality in order to display four distinct page select boxes.

I’ve also created a function called “prefix_get_pages_array” which returns an array of all the pages to be used both by the controls and the sanitization function. You’ll notice it sorts the pages alphabetically, and indents sub-pages slightly with an em dash when output in the select box. Continue reading