He’s Hardcore (Contributor)

So yes, I know I’ve been terrible at posting here. Been incredibly busy (good busy!) over the last month or so. I’ve a few ideas for a post, but I thought I’d give a quick post on something that I’m excited to announce.

Last night, WordPress 3.9 dropped. A fairly large update to WordPress with a bunch of new features. You can read about these features in a post I wrote for the FireCask blog. But the cool thing for me? I’m in the credits.

wordpress three point nine

This is the first time I contributed to WordPress, so I’m delighted to have made it in the credits, even if it lead to a massive refresh of my WordPress Profile Page (I should link to it in the header). So yes, massively chuffed. Hope it continues!

So yes,  my code is helping run 20% of the internet. Scary, but chuffed.

A massive thank you to WP Contributor Day for getting me started on Contributing to WordPress (you can read about my day contributing here). If you want to contribute to WordPress, connect with the community, and have a lot of pizza and beer doing so, I suggest attending one.


WP Flipclock Released!

So today I’m delighted to announce the release of WP Flipclock!

This plugin is quite simple, as it adds a flipping clock to your site. So for example. Upto now you have been reading this post for this long:-

There are options where you can set it to be a count up/down clock, and from a specific date. You can also specify if you count down from days, minutes or hours.

It’s very simple, and needed it for a theme I was making, so thought I’d release the plugin out to the open as well!

Read the launch notes for how to implement it into your site, and if you like the plugin, give us a good review on WordPress.org. If you don’t and can think of another feature, check out the project on Github.

This plugin uses the Flipclock.js library from ObjectiveHTML.

The First WP Contributor Day in Manchester

So the weekend just gone I attended the first ever WP Contributor Day in Manchester. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to get started and more involved in the community that exists behind WordPress, and when the opportunity arose for a day of coding and contributing, in my adopted home town of Manchester, I jumped at the chance.

I’ve been keen for about the last 6-8 months for contributing to WordPress. But – like most – I just didn’t know where to begin. I’ve a local set up and am okay with version control systems, but that’s about it. I also know I can code okay, but wasn’t sure what sort of level of knowledge was needed, and whether I’d be completely out of my depth.

After a brief talk explaining all the ways in which people could contribute to WordPress from Jenny Wong, a talk by Graham Armfield on the accessibility team and an introduction on how to set up a local Vagrant based system from Mike Little, we then grouped off. Sadly my overconfidence in my set up did show as I was still a little lost, so after struggling for a little while with running commands from on my set up I bit the bullet and decided to join the team who were still installing Vagrant. I caught up and I was finally ready to go.

Well, after lunch.

So after lunch, I thought I should walk before running, and sat down, browsing the Core Trac for WordPress and finding a few patches to test. One of the first ones that took my eye was this one. It seemed like an easy one to test and correct if need be. After 20 minutes of replicating the problem locally, and then testing the patch fixed the issue, I commented and made my first contribution to WordPress, which was promptly Instagrammed. Boom! Job done, and I had a warm feeling inside me that I helped somebody out.


I cooled down the warm feeling with a “first contribution beer”, and then browsed for something else. Ticket 27039 was great, but it was a theme. I kinda felt like I cheated a bit so thought I’d look at a bug in the core I could test. Ticket 23988 provided this – an enhancement in the page that lets people know the comments that an edited comment applies to. A quick test and I could confirm the patch working as such, so another comment and another beer (can you see a trend here?).

That’s all about testing patches, but what about writing one? Ticket 25295 provided that first go – a suggestion that wasn’t patched where additional classes could be added to captions of images. Following a quick read of the guidelines on coding standards I knocked up some code that expanded the shortcode to include a “class” element, and submitted it for hopeful approval. From reading the discussion there’s a good chance the ticket will not make it into the main release, but if it does and if anybody wants to work on it, then hopefully I’ve given them a start.

After one more confirmation of a patch working (26758), we headed for a wrap up, before going to the pub to socialise and discuss the day.

Days like the WP Contributor Day in Manchester was exactly what I needed to get my leg up and started in contributing to WordPress. It was great, and everybody was so helpful. So a big thank you to Jenny & Mike for organising it, and I’m probably heading to the second one all being well. And so should you.

Does Google Need To Make Their WordPress Plugin Better?

I was listening to a recent episode of the excellent WordPress Weekly Podcast of WP Tavern (episode 134), which covered WordCamps.

One thing that piqued my interest was the discussion of the first plugin released by Google in the repository. On it, one of the panelists (I didn’t quite get who) mentioned that it “sucked”. Which is something I actually agree with.

The reason I believe it sucked was that it only did two things: Webmaster Tools verification and allowing to add Google Adsense to your site, both of which had a lot of plugins in the repository. The panelist then went on to discuss the number of other technologies that Google have that are criminally underrated in the WordPress Repository: Google’s two factor authentication (incidentally, I’ve been using Rublon recently, and it’s pretty good), and Schema implementation are both pretty under-represented, surely it would be better if Google focused on one of those plugins?

In two words, probably not.

To play devil’s advocate, I think the reason why Google’s first plugin is Adsense’s focus is that their core business revolves around advertising. It make sense that they become to the go to plugin for people wanting to put Adsense on their site.

Yes I wish it was more advanced and I believe there would be better things for Google to work on for WordPress Sites, but remember Google doesn’t owe you anything, from rankings, to mail client, to even what is in their WordPress plugin.

Such is the beauty of WordPress that the plugin’s open source nature that anybody can take the plugin to make it better (something I’ve been messing around with). So yes: as I recommended at my MWUG Presentation on SEO for WordPress: listen to Google, but question them.

Speaking at MWUG on 15th January 2014

So as announced on my Goals of 2013 post, one of the goals – start speaking – was a semi pass/fail, largely due to the fact that whilst I didn’t speak in 2013, I did book to speak in 2014.

This Wednesday, I’m speaking at Manchester WordPress Users Group on Wednesday evening at 6:30pm ish on an introduction to SEO with WordPress. The talk will cover some of the lesser known features of WordPress SEO, on how to improve your site in the eyes of search engines, and a very brief introduction on how to build SEO Friendly themes.

It won’t be the most polished talks, as it’s my first one, but I’ve been practicing and learning, if you want to attend it’s free to do so, and in MadLab in Manchester’s Northern Quarter (opposite Common). You can read more the agenda for the meetup here or subscribe to the Meetup here.

Hope to see you there!