Always a work in progress

Yesterday I was able to change out the theme to this site. I spent most of the day just fiddling and trying to get things to just work. I took a theme from the free repository and scrapped a lot the unused files.

Yeah.

There were quite a few that I didn’t really need. Many of which were WooCommerce ones. Maybe I’ll get back to that one day but for now, this site will be for just random code things I guess.

The thing I do need to get working is the SCSS compiling because there are a lot of classes that are not really being used. And then getting the JS minification as well. I went the super old school way and just copy-pasted code from one file to another. It was fun getting back to basics. The fun part was actually getting to use a decent header image that I took a long time ago.

Being able to use a photo of my own definitely makes it more fun too. I honestly don’t recall when I took the photo but I do know that I wanted to use it for something.

I’m sure there are more things I probably missed along the way but for now it works and the site is a bit faster too. I do want to improve on that little but that’s going to be for some other time.

ūü§£

Extra or missing characters

The other day I was tinkering with a random test site and was driven to near madness. Why? I kept forgetting to add the ending semicolon. Every single time. It wasn’t that I would miss the key stroke it was that I just legit didn’t press the thing.

I spent a minute or two every time I would press enter to try and run what I was doing and it would give me a new line. Nothing would happen and I would just stare at the command line. Like, what did I just do? Why isn’t it returning what I know should be returned? Why was I forgetting the simple thing to enter the semicolon at the end of my statement? You’d think after the first 10 times I would have realized, right?

No.

I still did it an hour later and that’s when I realized that I really wasn’t pressing the button. That damned key. My finger just didn’t want to press it. It was afraid of it. It ran from it.

Okay, but really it was because I forgot what I was actually doing and where it was begin done on. I was futzing around with random MySQL queries on the command line and I would forget the ending semicolon.

Yeah. I really did get so used to using a GUI tool that I nearly forgot the syntax. This is now me sighing. This is now me laughing because it really was a simple a mistake that can easily be missed and forgotten. Now, granted it took me 2 hours to retrain my brain to do that but that’s 2 hours of muscle memory that will be super useful down the line.

Keeping count of reviews

I hate posting this but I have to do it; sort of a status check for myself. To see where I stand and where I can be better. We all do it. I choose to do it publicly.

I can’t recall when I said I wanted to have my review count to be at 500 by the end of the year but I did. What review count you ask? Theme review of course. Since the beginning of the year I wanted to allot more time to reviewing and helping release more themes.

I can’t help it, I like to help when I can. It hasn’t been easy for me only because of the way I try and balance work and everyday life at the moment. I get home from work and I just want to review more themes when I should be sleeping.

As of this writing the tally is around 330 themes that I’ve looked over and read just about every single line of code. There are some that I glance over but for the most part I read all the code and of course look for key things when it comes to new themes.

I’m glad I’m keeping a good pace so far and will try and post an update when I finally reach that 500 theme mark.

Making a few commits

Let me give you a little bit of a back story first.

2 years ago

I began posting on the WordPress.org forums to help people out. I would only post on things that I knew for sure I knew the answers to or would help out. It felt like it at the time. Who knows really. It was, after all, two years ago. Not only that I would only really post at most twice a week. It was fine only because I didn’t have a goal in mind.

Yes and no. I had a goal in mind: to help; to share my knowledge. A lot has changed since then of course. Now, I have a slightly different goal in mind: make a career out of helping people. Yes, it may sound a little cheesy but it is true. A lot of it does stem from working at Starbucks. Many of the ‘regulars’ know that I won’t lie to them and will try my hardest to find something they will like. Now, I’m getting a little sidetracked.

Push forward

Over those last two years I kept mentioning a theme I was working on. Funny thing is I did and I didn’t. Part of that reason was I kept putting it aside. I would do a theme review, post a solution to the forums or see how I could help out somebody in the IRC channels. You know what? I loved every encounter and every sentence I wrote and read. So really it’s hard to be upset. I learned a lot from it all. Not just WordPress but programming in general.

Yes, I did also pick up a few other things along the way like the basics of SVN and Git and how to create a simple repository with those tools.

It’s safe to say the last two years I have been fairly busy. I have reviewed more themes, posted more often on the forums, make an attempt to post on IRC more frequently and have the honor of being one of ¬†the Theme Review Team reps. It’s been an awesome year for me so far.

Say what?

Up until recently I never really said much about my theme. Yeah, I posted one or two photos of what it might look like but never any code. Okay maybe some code but never really said it was.

I began my theme with one thing in mind: simplicity. It sounds overly repetitive since a lot of themes claim the same thing. You know what? That’s fine. Over time I realized one thing: I don’t want complete simplicity. It would be nice to have but I don’t think I would achieve it without deleting the entire project. I mean how much simpler can you get with no code?

So, here goes, what I have been working on/off for the last year or so: Solea

Yeah, it’s not finished. There are a few things missing here and there but you know what? It can be expanded upon.

WordPress 3.6 in April

The most recent version of WordPress got delayed but I feel it is for the good. The reason this time is because the features are not quite the way the community would like. There are some minor issues but will be fixed within the time span.

The reason I’m pretty pumped about this next major release is for ¬†two reasons:

Post Formats

Why post formats? They have been around for some time now. The reason I’m pretty pumped about it is because this is one thing that not many people know about it. It has been dormant for some, like myself until about a year ago. Have yet to use all of them and experiment with them all.

Media support

Media support is going to be one of the bigger one since I know there are sites that use WordPress more as a CMS than blogging/publishing tool. The thing that really got me very excited was the introduction of mediaelements.js to core.

WordPress now has video and audio playback?
WordPress now has video and audio playback?

Seeing those little brackets around the words audio and video made my heart leap a little bit. Almost brought a little teardrop to my eye. The reason I got super excited was because when I first started this personally run blog I was on the lookout for a plugin that was able to do video playback. I love taking videos and would love to be able to expand on that a little more as my web experience expands and progresses.

What does that mean for other people?

For other people it means that they will be able to expand a little more. I think sites that already use video or audio will be happy in that they will be able to use one less plugin. I will keep wondering as to how many more sites will be using the support to their advantage and how many developers will encourage the use.

Theme reviewing

I recently got a chance to assign my own themes in the WordPress Theme Trac in order to review submitted themes. I am beyond elated and feel a little honored at the same time. Some people may not understand what that means to me but I’m not too worried about that.

What this means to me is that I can now go in and review newly submitted themes and give feedback to the developer about the status of their theme. Approved or not. Sounds a little simple but there is more to it. I look over the implementation of both functionality and presentation of content.

The nice thing is that I am learning more and more about how WordPress works and feel even more confident about my coding skills to the point where I may just try to apply for an entry level web developer job or support staff job at Automattic.com since they have a happiness engineer job have been eyeing for some time now.

To top things off I have been in a better mood more and more these past few weeks. A lot of it is knowing that I can make a difference and actually seeing it. Motivation has been pretty clear in not only my everyday life but a bit more at work. I know, slightly branching off but it is on my mind. Always will be no matter what job I do.

WordPress has slowly become my learning annex and I love it. I have learned a lot since I first began looking at the code and working with Theme Development. This coming year will be full of good things and I can feel it.

One more week

Earlier today when I got home from work I did my usual routine of updating to the most current development version of WordPress, made sure all other applications were up to date and opened up my code editor (Notepad++) to view and edit my theme files. Since I was wide awake I tried my hand at experimenting with Git and TortoiseGit¬†on my main computer. One thing leads to another and I managed to delete my theme. I hadn’t made the last commit of adding my modified gallery shortcode.

Needless to say I am kicking myself pretty hard. What this means now is that I am starting over with a new repo but still with SVN and not Git. Git will be for my next project theme. The reason I am starting over is because I deleted the working copy and didn’t realize that I hadn’t added all the files and hadn’t made all the commits I needed to be in sync.

In about one week WordPress 3.5 will be launching and I am pretty stoked about it. The reason is because the way media is uploaded has improved. I feel this is a huge step in the right direction for WordPress development and adoption. People want to be able to share not only their stories but some want to share photos, videos and sometimes audio. The uploader is fairly easy to use and the user interface is elegantly designed.

But enough drooling about what is to come more about what I was trying to get across: patience. I have plenty of it and sometimes I feel I have too much of it. In one week I will make an attempt to rebuild all the code I lost and have it all finished by the time 3.5 launches. This should be manageable since I know what files I need this time after having tested file hierarchy with my previously deleted theme.

Today I created all the empty files and committed that to the repository so I can code away and make the final commits when I am satisfied with the code; that way I won’t have so many commits and a lot versions to go through down the line if I ever have to see why I did what I did.

My new addiction

No, not a drug; although some people may consider it a drug. Over the last few weeks I have been more driven to learn about web development. One of the things that I have learned is to document everything. I pretty much have tried to document every little detail of my learning process and I love every minute of it.

So far, one of the greatest things that I have learned was from viewing a WordPress video about theme development. The lesson was to use a version control system and commit wisely. I have since started to learn how to work with SVN and am in the midst of learning how Git works. Both are phenomenal tools that are great to know.

But really, what I was really trying to say is that I recently have spent – what seems to be for some – an unhealthy amount of time online. I have frequented the WordPress.org support forums and been looking at random WordPress themes from the repository to get a glimpse of how other developer code for their themes. It has been insightful and good.

Truly the best lesson out of it all is documenting everything. I think that is why I have been more and more compelled to blog about it all. It’s not really about sharing but learning by doing it so it sticks better.

In a way my digital addiction just may very well lead me in the right direction of what I really love to do. I say this because I really have learned a lot communication and development. Socialization and communication is a powerful medium not to be taken for granted. The way we interact with one another has drastically changed and will continue to change. Social media and sites have played a huge role in my life and I feel that it will be a great fit for me down the road.

Don’t get me wrong, I still would love to get a degree in computer science one day but for the time being I am beyond happy with how my life is going. I am learning new things in PHP, HTML, CSS, and just the web in general everyday and I am slowly getting the confidence to apply for a job I know will better suit me and the lifestyle I want to lead.

My WordPress theme

I finally, finally got the ball rolling on what will be my theme and theme structure for this site! I am so excited about this. After having read so many posts about templates, CSS, OOCSS, SaSS, PHP and just about any random acronym you can possibly think of I finally have a name for the theme and the look.

The name is actually inspired, of course, by Flamenco. I am calling the theme: Sole√°. The name is a the type of comp√°s, or time signature that is in one of two forms. 3/4 and 6/8 time is a simple way of putting it but there is more to it. It doesn’t really follow the basic musical pattern but I’ll let you research that on your own if you want to really learn more about Flamenco music.

I am slowly learning how to work with TortoiseSVN as my local version control and will try to gain more knowledge with github with this theme as time progresses. I know that my second theme will be a lot easier to work with once I get the hang of my workflow and work area.

Photoshop is a great tool and I love using it. Notepad++ and I have been getting along more and more and Chrome has been very dear to me in this learning process. Forums and web articles I have read are great and taught me not only new techniques but also helped improve my way of thinking about programming.

The theme is a simple theme with very few images to cut load times. The colors I have chosen are black, a dark blue, a grey tone, and blue tone as an accent and for emphasis for certain elements like links and some headers.

The only images I chose to use are for the header and maybe a divider for the bottom of the article when being viewed as a list of and not a single view. The one view that will be a little tricky to finagle will be getting the gallery the way I want.

There are so many ideas that I want to use for the gallery format postings but I think I may just go ahead and implement a simple one. Click on an image and it takes you to the single image page and not having a modal window with the gallery of images; that version I’ll try to implement for the next theme or maybe as an update.

The reason I am wanting to release said theme is because I want to learn more about web development and I hope to share my learnings with the community as well as others. So in the next three, or four weeks, please don’t be alarmed if I start posting three things in one day about code. It will serve as a way for me to organize my thoughts and ideas as well as sharing my pains with the world and hopefully some people gain some insight how to code for their own projects down the road.

Keeping WordPress on my mind

I keep posting on this about how code is becoming a part of my life and yet I have yet to actually post any of it; It is really depressing to see and read. So, here goes: With the project I have been working on (my site) I have been working with how WordPress handles its files and queries. It has been good seeing and interacting with it all. A good, and quick, example of how it works is here.

With that in mind I have thought about how I want certain things to look on the front page of the site. So, this would entail that WordPress will look for one of many pages. The first one it will look for is

home.php

and then it will look for

index.php

if it doesn’t find the first file. That is, of course, if I am using WordPress as a blogging tool otherwise it will look for the

front-page.php

if I have it set as a CMS (Content Management System ).

The files I have created so far are the basic ones that WordPress needs to be read/seen in the Appearance panel. They are comprised of

style.css

and

index.php

which are the two minimum required files. The front/home page so far will of course have a featured/sticky support but will be able to use the excerpt if the post has it filled out otherwise it will just post the entire content. That little snippet looks like:

<div class="entry-content"></div>
<pre>
    <!--?php if( has_excerpt() ) : the_excerpt(); else : the_content(); theme_linked_pages(); <span class="hiddenSpellError" pre=""-->endif;?>
</div><!-- .entry-content -->

The next stage will be creating the look of how an individual post will look like. That file is called:

single.php

. It will look fairly close to the¬†homepage¬†layout but of course there are going to be subtle differences. I’m debating if I really want a sidebar on the entire site but I know it will be useful for simple navigation.

Now, WordPress uses functions as template tags. Case in point:

the_content()

. It displays the content of the post when used inside of a WordPress loop. I have created a simple

functions.php

file that will house all my custom functions for the theme. In that file I inserted:

function theme_setup () {
        // Add post format support
        add_theme_support( 'post-formats', array('aside', 'image', 'link', 'quote', 'status') );
        // Add theme support for custom background
        add_theme_support( 'custom-background', array('default-color' => 'fff' ) );
        // Add theme support for Post Thumbnails
        add_theme_support ( 'post-thumbnails' );
        // Register the menu
        register_nav_menu ( 'primary', 'Main Menu');
    };

What that little snippet does is create support for post formats, custom background support, thumbnail support and creates a menu holder for my theme. I’ll explain those things down the road ‚Äď hopefully.

Now, up until recently I have only really posted photos of what my site will look like. This has been a great experience on how my site will look like when I actually start posting more and more code since I am using a plugin to create the syntax highlighting. Taking a turn into the code side of web development will be a great thing for me. Now to explore more about theme development and WordPress.