Looking at Thematic for new projects

I built a number of WordPress themes based on the Sandbox theme.  Unfortunately I think it is time to migrate to a new theme framework.  I need to update a couple themes and I’ve been putting it off knowing that continuing to invest in Sandbox was probably a dead end.

After reading a bit and finding a book I like, Wicked WordPress Themes, I’ve decided to develop a child theme based on Thematic for my Middle School web project.  I should have bought the book from Amazon.com, it was $15 cheaper than my local Barnes and Noble but I wanted it immediately.

WordPress and Google Apps

I am starting on a new project to help our middle school.  The athletic teams and PTA do not have any sort of web presence so information is scattered across lots of web sites and it changes from year to year.  My wife is running the Boosters Club this year and asked me if I’d help put something together.  My work with the MacDolphins swim team has been a good experience for this as I want to assemble something that is sustainable and easy to add content to.

I’ve decided to use Google Apps for as much as a I can as (a) it is free and (b) it is unlikely to go away.  My plan is to use WordPress for the web site and Google Apps for pretty much everything else.  I am hoping to integrate some of the Google Apps content, in particular, calendars, on the web site.

WordPress 3.2 compatibility?

The simple answer is:  I don’t know.  Usually I try to at least smoke test wp-SwimTeam before a new release of WordPress goes out but I haven’t gotten to it yet for 3.2.  We’ve had two swim meets in a row postponed due to weather which means all of the pre-work has to be done twice.  Bleh.  Tonight’s forecast doesn’t look much better either.  I will try and run some tests before the end of the week but for now I recommend staying on 3.1.4.

WordPress 3.2 will require PHP5

WordPress 3.2 beta is out for testing and with it comes several requirements.  The two notable requirements are PHP 5.2.14 or newer and MySQL 5.0 or newer.  I will likely move to 3.2 for wp-SwimTeam development once it is released and I’ve done some testing with it.  I’ve been running under PHP5 (5.2.14 and 5.3.x) for a while now so I don’t see this as an issue but it might be for people running on older web hosts.

Using the WordPress auto-updater?

WordPress has a nice built in feature to update plugins when there is a new version available.  Because wp-SwimTeam isn’t hosted in the official WordPress plugin repository, I haven’t been able to take advantage of this feature.

I have set up projects in the official WordPress plugin repository for both wp-SwimTeam and phpHtmlLib.   I am working on a process where the plugin updater will work by adding the code into the WordPress repository when Iam ready to release it.

Currently the version of the code in the WordPress repository is the same as what is available for download although the version number reported is wrong (1.0.553 vs 1.2.553).  The “553” is the critical part of the release number because it represents the Subversion commit number (build number) that the release is based on.

If you see a “plugin out of date” message within the WordPress Dashboard, it is because I am working on this process.  The latest and greatest release will likely be available first as a download on this site but when I reach what I consider a “stable” release, I will also make it available through the WordPress plugin repository.  Stay tuned as this flushes out.

Potential Bug follow up

I had some airplane seat time over the last couple days and had a chance to look into the potential bug thatI posed about a couple days ago.  I have not discovered the source of the bug yet, I am even more convinced it is from a plugin conflict of some sort.

However, in the process of trying to find it I enabled some WordPress debug features and found a bunch of little things wrong with wp-SwimTeam.  Prior to WordPress 3.0 most of these either didn’t happen or didn’t matter and the end user never was exposed to them.  I have spent a fair amount of time cleaning them up as they DO matter in 3.0.x and still have a few more to do.

I hope to have a new release out by the end of the week.

Why is my web site so sloooooooooow?

I apologize for how slow this web site has been lately.  I don’t visit it myself too often when I am not actively working on wp-SwimTeam so I was somewhat oblivious to it.  My sites are hosted with GoDaddy and I’ve never really had an issue with their shared hosting service.  It is cheap, easy to administer, and for the low volume traffic I tend to get, more than adequate.

I called GoDaddy this morning to see why my sites was loading so slowly – I am seeing page load times of 30-40 seconds which is just plain silly.  It looks like another web site that I happen to be sharing the “shared” server with is consuming all of the resources.  GoDaddy is going to monitor it and see what is up.  I expect it will remain slow for at least a few days.  Hopefully they’ll figure out what it is and do something about it but they did tell me that if the other site isn’t violating their TOS, there isn’t much I can do about it.  They also suggested I look into a WordPress caching plugin.  I don’t have near the volume of data nor traffic to warrant a caching plugin but if the situation persists, I’ll look into it.

Bleh.  Even on a shared server there ought to be some expectation of “reasonable” performance.  I will continue to monitor the performance and see what I can do about it.

Calendar-Plus renamed to Enhanced Calendar

I just received the approval from the WordPress plugin repository for Enhanced-Calendar.  The WordPress plugin I previously called Calendar-Plus will now be known as Enhanced-Calendar.  Once I get the code all checked in and the proper structure, it should be available from the plugin repository.  Hopefully that will happen in a day or two.

Working with WordPress 3.0 multisite

I started playing with WordPress 3.0’s multsite functionality this week. I have a number of WordPress blogs for various things and they are a nuisance to keep updated. I had looked at WordPress-MU about 18 months ago when I did the CASL Ambassadors site and determined that it had more limitations than I was ready to deal with so I just went with a separate WordPress installs.

WordPress 3.0’s multisite functionality is pretty straight forward and it only took a little while to set it up.  I followed the instructions found in the this post on WpEngineer.com.  I wanted to use the subdomain setting but it appears the hosting plan I have with GoDaddy.com won’t allow it so for now, I am using subfolders.

Now that I have things up and running I need to start moving my sites.  The first one I moved is for Photos.  I want to share photos with my family and host them on Flickr but I have never liked the lack of presentation that Flickr has.

I found an interesting theme called AutoFocus which tiles posts across the front page of the blog.  I am slowly going back in time to create a post for each of the sets I have stored in Flickr.  I had to create a work-around for the post image to appear on the front page.

AutoFocus uses the first image attached to a post as the image display on the blog front page.  My posts don’t have one, at least I don’t want them them.  I want the post to contain the oEmbed Flickr gallery and the thumbnails using the Flickr Gallery plugin.

What I ended up doing to get it to work was to add an image via URL from Flickr and then add the tag attribute  style=”display: none” to the IMG tag.  Works like a champ!