Tom McFarlin

Software, Development, and WordPress

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Don’t Forget Procedural Programming in WordPress

TL;DR: As much as I like using object-oriented programming for writing code, it’s not the only way to write code. The same goes for WordPress-centric code, too. When writing solutions for WordPress, don’t set out to write everything in an object-oriented way. Don’t forget procedural programming in WordPress.


For the last few months, I’ve been writing a handful of small utility plugins (for lack of a better word) for WordPress. These are things that are designed to do at least one of the following:

  • add a feature that I wish exists but doesn’t,
  • improve functionality of the administration area to make achieving a given task easier,
  • introduce functionality that’s easier for a sites that have a large database of users,
  • and more.

As someone who’s historically been one to go on and on about why we should be using object-oriented programming, I’ve not been doing much of that in these plugins.

Instead, I’ve been using some features of PHP, like namespaces and autoloading, to keep the code running in its own area to prevent potential conflicts with other plugins. I’ve also been using PSR12 with procedural programming.

For as much as I’ve written about object-oriented programming, I don’t think I’ve written enough (and I certainly won’t do so in a single post 🙂) about procedural programming.

But that doesn’t mean now isn’t as good as time as any.

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Installing, Configuring, and Setting Up Xdebug in Visual Studio Code

TL;DR: This is everything that needs to be done to install Xdebug with a Homebrew-based environment and to work with the software within Visual Studio Code.


Though I’ve recently become a fan of using Ray (1, 2) for much of my lightweight debugging, this doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s important to have Xdebug installed and configured in Visual Studio Code.

If you follow the steps I’ve outlined starting in the previous post, it’s relatively easy though it still requires a little bit of manual work to get started.

This is how you can set up Xdebug with a Homebrew-based configuration and Visual Studio Code.

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Installing PHP 7.4 and PHP Monitor for WordPress Development

TL;DR: How to uninstall PHP 8.1, install PHP 7.4, why you should do so, and one extra utility to helps manage PHP packages and modules.


When I wrote about how to fix WordPress, PHP, MariaDB, and Homebrew, I didn’t cover some of the other larger issues that I experienced when working backwards into the solution.

I need to give Ihor a hat tip here because he and I spoke about this more on Twitter regarding the relationship between WordPress, PHP 7.4, 8.0, and 8.1.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t clarify the following:

  1. I was running PHP 8.1.
  2. WordPress is not compatible with PHP 8.1
  3. WordPress is [allegedly] compatible with PHP 8.0 but I’ve not tested it or my tools against this version because I wanted to have full compatibility.
  4. I downgraded my system to PHP 7.4.27 until I get my entire set up configured as I like. Then I’ll start upgrading components.

So if you’ve followed the aforementioned post, here’s a more complete set of things I’ve set up to make sure everything is working well together – including things I’m working on writing about 🙂.

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How I Set Up My 2021 MacBook Pro

TL;DR: Here’s how I set up my 2021 MacBook Pro along with links to all the software and the method by which I install them (either via the Mac App Store, Homebrew, or Direct Downloads).


The last time I wrote anything about setting up a new machine was in 2017 and it was specifically for a MacBook Pro and WordPress development. Though I shifted much of my work to a Mac Mini in 2018, I’m now using a 2021 16″ MacBook Pro as my primary machine. And though I still work in software development and primarily work in the WordPress economy for a living:

  • I use a handful of different tools,
  • I use a handful of the same tools,
  • I have different tools for productivity as well as for personal use.

And how I set all of this up has changed, too.

Since it’s been about four years since I’ve written anything like this, now’s a good time to document my current set up both for reference and to share with the rest of you who find this kind of stuff interesting.

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Introducing Digital Minimalism in 2022

I’m not, nor rarely have been, much of a procrastinator. If there’s something that needs to be done, I try to take care of it in a timely fashion. Sometimes it’s easier than others, but on the whole I dislike putting things off.

To that end, I’ve used the methodology of Getting Things Done for years with the help of a couple of utilities, like Things, all of which are beyond the scope of this article.

You can read about the workflow in the article linked above. The purpose of mentioning it to show that even when I lean towards procrastination, I have a plan for how to tackle something.

To that point, there’s been book of which I’ve been aware for roughly three years that I’ve deliberate put off reading. Perhaps I’ve even avoided reading it for reasons that I’ll soon explain.

And that’s Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University.

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