One of the things that seems to be unique to open source is many opt to share their annual reports of their business regardless of how the business performed over the year. Others also talk a lot about their mental health – again, regardless of if it’s good or bad. And when you’re part of a larger group of people who are doing the same thing, it’s really inspiring, educational, and also prompts you to aim to be a better friend and peer. An amiable goal by any measure.

In short, it’s something that’s really cool to see even if you opt not to disclose that information yourself.

However, one thing that we don’t see as much of – not because people don’t share it, but because it doesn’t seem to be as popular to share – is the idea of developer fitness. I know people are involved in all kind of things offline. For example, I know Sean Davis hosts a number of workout contests and is also involved in a number of different sports (most recently, racquetball based on his Twitter feed). I also know that Sunny Ratilal shares his FitBit progress throughout the week giving insight into his level of activity.

Cool, right?

Anyway, the point is that I know we’re all active in different ways but we don’t blog about it as much for whatever reason. And I get it: Talking about health, fitness, and exercising is boring. Or it can be boring.  It can also be a lot of fun depending on if you’re found the right kind of workout for you (more on this later).

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I don’t do a lot of audio work on my computer – I don’t podcast or have a vlog or anything like that. I do, however, participate in a number of Skype calls and/or Google Hangouts, and I also do a fair amount of screencasting.

Because of the latter, I have a couple of pieces of equipment that I use in order to make sure that I’m getting the highest quality audio possible.

This includes:

  • A Rode shotgun microphone (with a stand),
  • And a Blue Icicle for connecting the microphone to the USB port of my computer

It’s a simple setup, but it works. The thing is, if I have my headphones in and I’m working on my laptop, then I have three potential microphones available that the computer can capture audio:

  1. The microphone built into the display
  2. The microphone that’s built into my headphones
  3. My Rode Shotgun

And even though I can generally set the devices I prefer to use and leave them, all it takes is one mistake before I end up double and triple checking my settings for each call and each screencast.

Unfortunately, I made one such mistake before so now I check my settings every. single. time.

But, for the sake of screencasting, I even take it one step further: I use a small software tool called LineIn (and anyone familiar with audio inputs and mixing boards will understand the importance of knowing which device is capturing what audio at what level).

The LineIn Homepage

And it’s been a fantastic little application for making sure my levels are balanced and that allow me to hear what others will hear based on my system settings.

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/ August 13, 2015 / Comments Off on Hey Programmer: Don’t Be a Jerk

Hey Programmer: Don’t Be a Jerk

Cliff, a local developer friend, happened to share this on Twitter earlier this year. I’ve been sitting on this post until I found a good time to post it.

Of course, I don’t know what a “good time” is, but since I’ve had this drafted and I’m on the road right now, this seemed like as good a time as any.

Anyway, I thought that it was something that we could all read, learn from, and carry forward in our day-to-day interaction online.

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When it comes to working with WordPress themes and plugins, there’s a general rule of thumb that most experienced designers and developers follow:

Themes are for presentation, plugins are for functionality.

Sure, there’s a little bit of blurring of lines, but this is the goal for which we strive when working through our code. And yes, there’s a lot that can be said (and has been said) about themes that include a ton of features, options, bundled plugins, and so on, but that’s not where this is going.

WordPress Themes

Instead, I’ve been thinking about how this relates to general theme development, niche theme development, and using WordPress as a platform for application development.

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This post is really more of a quick tip than anything else, but if you’re in the business of building web sites or web applications in which users interact with the project and are used to using shortcuts throughout the rest of their applications, then you need to consider the case of what to do if the user presses enter.

If The User Presses Enter

That is, if the end user is using the project you’re working on in order to, say, submit information to the server via a form, then they shouldn’t necessarily have to manually use the mouse (or trackpad) to click on the ‘Submit’ button in order for their information to be transmitted across the wire.

If you’re an experienced web developer, then you’re likely familiar with using JavaScript to handle situations like this, but if you’re new to the business or just new to working with JavaScript then here’s the basics for handling this use case.

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Occasionally, I’m asked for two quick tips or suggestions that I have for those who are just getting started with writing WordPress plugins.

WordPress Plugins

The assumption is that they’ve done all of the necessary leg work to get to the point where they are comfortable writing code and working with WordPress, but they want to avoid some of the pitfalls that many (or most?) of us experience when we first get started on our own projects.

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/ August 7, 2015 / Comments Off on Why I Recommend Array Themes

Why I Recommend Array Themes

The WordPress theme market is at a weird place right now. Simply put, a lot of people will state the themes have now become a commodity. Sometimes, people consider this a bad thing, others consider it a more of a neutral fact that’s more or less a representation of where the WordPress economy currently sits.

Regardless of what your perspective may be, people still want to blog, people still need to have good-looking, functional websites, and people still need to have reputable places from which to purchase their themes.

And that’s why I dig (and recommend) Array Themes.

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In the previous post in this series, I showed how to add content to the post editor using a custom TinyMCE button. The problem with the approach, as we’ve covered thus far, is that the content that we’re adding to the editor is hard-coded.

We’re rarely going to want to be doing this, right? I mean, wouldn’t we rather grab input from the user and then add that to the editor?

My very own copy TinyMCE Editor. Show spectacular.

My very own copy TinyMCE Editor. So spectacular.

For some, this may be creating a shortcode based on some input, for others it may be grabbing input, making an Ajax call, and then putting the result of the request into the editor, or it may be something as simple as taking whatever input the user has provided in a prompt and then adding it to the editor.

Though the latter case is not likely something that is a realistic use case (after all, if they just wanted to put something into the editor, why not just, you know, enter it into the editor?), it’s something that will make rounding out this series a bit more complete because it will show how to connect displaying a prompt to the user, grabbing the input, then using the TinyMCE API to drop the input into the editor.

So that’s what we’ll do.

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Whenever you need to get the post type for a given post, there are a couple of ways to do this:

  • If you’re in the dashboard, then you can use get_current_screen() and then access the id property of the object that’s returned. You can read more about this in the Codex.
  • If you’re on the front-end (or even in the dashboard, really), you can use get_post_type. This is also covered in the Codex.

But what if you want to grab the post type of the post that’s currently being edited on the client-side (read: via JavaScript)?

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If you’re using functions such as add_menu_page or add_submenu_page to create pages in the WordPress dashboard, it’s pretty easy to get something up and going, but what if you’re looking to actually save WordPress submenu page options?

Submenu Page Options

That is, let’s say you’re creating a page in the dashboard that’s tied to a new menu item – perhaps something that’s being added to the Tools menu – and you want to display some options among some other text or some other element or set of elements that you’re displaying.

It’s completely possible to use the Settings API to do exactly that, but it may also be a little heavy-handed for saving a couple a small set of options.

Luckily, WordPress has a hook that’s available that makes it pretty easy to save information like this that’s completely usable outside of the Settings API.
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