WordPress Core Contributor and my WordPress Story

As I updated a WordPress site today (the new 5.0 version just shipped) I was proud to see my name in the list of core contributors! I’m listed as a core contributor in versions 4.9 as well as 5.0! I didn’t get around to sharing the news last year, but seeing my name in the credits as I upgraded today I realized I should share my WordPress story.

My name in lights ^

My WordPress Story

I share because as an aspiring developer over a decade ago, I fell into WordPress quite accidentally. I was studying in art school at the University of Georgia and creating my own interdiscipline degree with art, technology and animation. I happened to sign up for a Web design for Artists course to create a portfolio site because I was friends with the teacher. We learned flash and stepped into WordPress for blogging. I learned some coding from flash as well as the basics of HTML and CSS to customize the look of my kubric2 blog. The more I learned about coding online, the more I just ate it up!

I loved the immediacy of it all, in contrast to the long time required in my animation classes. For animation you must develop the story, the characters, do the modeling, and rigging and textures and lighting and keyframes etc etc etc, and then you have to let the computer render the animation to see the final. One of my final animation projects for a full semester project was literally half a minute long and it was a rendered movie file that I couldn’t even email because it was so large! It was a motion capture video and was still rather jumpy, but was pretty exciting stuff at the time.

In contrast, in my website class, my final project was viewable anywhere in the world and I could change the look on the fly. I even uploaded my animation so that others could view it online. I was excited for the new world of the internet! It was also interactive! You can do more than just watch it, you actually engage with it and touch (click) it and explore it. Though it can have some movement like animation, it’s a more simple type of movement.

Under pressure to support my pregnant wife, I found a job as a web designer and learned more about javascript and php on the clock. I’m happy that years later, I’m still using WordPress to build sites and grow my skills. WordPress has helped me make sense of web development and grow my career to support a growing family. I’m still extremely grateful and even fascinated by the open source community surrounding the software. I’m humbled to be included in the names of contributors. If I can do it, so can you. Keep working at it and chase your dreams.

My (small) Contributions

Last year, for 4.9, I was able to fix a bug I found in the media library where clicking on the edge of an image failed to select it. It was minor, but I found it annoying, so I created a ticket and after tinkering a while on it figured out how to submit a patch. I discussed the patch with some others and at WordCamp spoke with a committer who pushed it through!

I got involved with the early development with Gutenberg (the new block editor) on github. I figured out how to submit the pull request via github and participated in the wordpress slack discussions. That was a long time ago, but finally with the release of 5.0 Gutenberg is now included. That is until I got too busy to continue and then when I was about to pick it back up, I changed jobs. I know they have been small contributions, but I’m proud nonetheless. I have a goal to continue my contributions and perhaps even up the amount of code I’m able to share.  I feel like I’ve come a long way since those early years, as well as WordPress has come a long way.

My github handle in lights ^

How to fix “The called constructor method for WP_Widget is deprecated since version 4.3.0!”

Have you updated WordPress recently to find notices warning you of something related to your Widgets? These notices will show up if you have your site in debug mode (which you should in your local environment, but not on your production website) with the setting in wp-config.php.

Notice: The called constructor method for WP_Widget is deprecated since version 4.3.0! Use


instead. in /wp-includes/functions.php on line 3457.

Screenshot 2015-09-17 13.19.49

Here is an example of what you likely have currently in your functions.php file to register your existing widget(s) (in old functions.php on the bottom) and then an example of how to update the widget class with the _construct update (in new functions.php on the top).

A Developer’s Guide to Contributing to WordPress Core

Here’s a great post from the team at delicious brains, the same team who brings us WP Migrate DB Pro for all our wordpress database migration needs (and do a bang up job I might add). They discuss all the in and out of working with trac and the ticketing system as well as setting up a development site for testing and running unit test, making (and submitting) code patches and using svn to manage it all. It’s an awesome post full of meaty details on how to start getting involved, since if you’re new to it all, it certainly is a lot to figure out on your own. Give it a read and dive in to work toward your own contributions!

basics for finding things to work on, how to handle the WordPress source code, how to submit your work and what you might expect to happen from there.

via A Developer’s Guide to Contributing to WordPress Core.

Presenting at WordCamp Atlanta – Child Themes

The presentation? Your firstborn child theme. Child themes 101+2.

I’m speaking at wordcamp atlanta this afternoon about themes and child themes. I’ll update this post with post-presentation notes.

Learn how to mod themes the right way. Using child themes you won’t loose your edits when there’s a theme update. (101) We’ll go over the advantages and how to set up a child theme. (102) Plus we’ll cover some tricks to make the process a bit easier.

Slides on slideshare

Presentation video via wordpress.tv

Packery Preview, from Metafizzy & descended from Masonry

David Desandro / metafizzy, maker of masonry and isotope of which I’m a big fan and user of has been busy with a new project called Packery.

Packery, looks to be a child of Masonry. As you would expect it seems to be pushing things much further and addressing a few pain points of masonry. He’s boasting in this blog post that it will optionally support grid layouts, and give you the option to go grid-less for a more haphazard looking layout. It will allow filling holes and adding elements on the fly, but most impressively… We’ll have drag and drop support (including touch support and multitouch support)! You drag an item around the grid (or non grid) and watch live as elements reposition to embrace the newly placed item! Very cool and I can’t wait to play with it.

Read up on the Packery preview from Desandro on his Metafizzy Blog.

Add Parent Page Slug and Parent Template to WordPress Body Class

Add CSS body classes for the parent page on all child pages and the parent page template on of a WordPress site with this body_class filter. Ever need to style all child pages of a parent page in the same way or have you wanted to access every child page of a parent page via css selectors for styling? What about selecting all pages that are descendants of a page which is using a specific template?

body_classes_htmlBuilding large websites gets complicated, even in WordPress. Large sites usually mean there are many subpages and sections to the website that may need to be styled similarly. I’ve found it helpful to add a page’s parent page slug to the body class to allow me to alter or target the page or group of pages via css. By default the themes I’ve used have been generous in adding classes to the html body element for easy css selection rules. Things like the post slug, page template, logged in status, page vs post (or custom post type), post id, author… you get the idea. While half the time I don’t need half of this and the other half the time I find myself needing more.

Place this code into your functions.php file and your html body element will have a couple additional classes if they apply. It will have a class delineating the slug for the parent page on all child pages as well as a class delineating the template used by the parent page. This lets me apply styles to a whole sibling-section of a site pretty easily by just targeting the parent-slug on the body. Also adding the template of the parent in case I needed to use that.

post_parent_classesWalking through the code here we’re filtering the body_class function is how we are able to add this. We name our own function and give it a $classes parameter. Then throughout our function we can add classes to this $classes array and they will be output with the rest of the body classes. We need to hook into WordPress at the body_class function with add_filter and specify the hook and specify our own function to be called. In this case we grab the page properties of post_parent and the template of that parent. First set the post variable to reference the global scope, and then check to see if the post is a page with is_page. Then if the post object has a value for the parent (post_parent) we add the parent’s name to the classes array. Then we get the _wp_page_template meta data from the parent to find the template it’s using (if there is no template specified, then it returns default). This is added to our classes if it exists and then we return the classes array to the original body_class WP core function.

[cc lang=”php”]
// Body class adding page-parent
function cc_body_class( $classes ) {
global $post;
if ( is_page() ) {
// Has parent / is sub-page
if ( $post->post_parent ) {
# Parent post name/slug
$parent = get_post( $post->post_parent );
$classes[] = ‘parent-slug-‘.$parent->post_name;
// Parent template name
$parent_template = get_post_meta( $parent->ID, ‘_wp_page_template’, true);
if ( !empty($parent_template) )
$classes[] = ‘parent-template-‘.sanitize_html_class( str_replace( ‘.’, ‘-‘, $parent_template ), ” );
return $classes;
add_filter( ‘body_class’, ‘cc_body_class’ );

There are many more classes we can add to the body_class and like I said, sometimes you need more than what’s already provided and sometimes you need nothing. It all depends on the theme you’re using, what it provides and what your specific site and design require. What other classes have you wanted to see here? How have you filtered body_class to fit your site’s needs?

Set Default Terms for your Custom Taxonomies

Custom Taxonomy Default Term(s) for when it’s left blank

After looking through the WP codex and various plugins, I couldn’t find anywhere to set a custom taxonomy default term. WordPress has allowed us to create custom taxonomies for a while. Before we only had categories and tags hard coded in core. One feature from those days that didn’t seem to make it to the custom taxonomies of today is the possibility to select a default taxonomy term if none are selected. Did you know about this feature? Odds are you did, even if you didn’t realize it. Have you ever seen that ‘uncategorized’ category? That was the default category added for any content that didn’t have a specific category and was left, well, uncategorized.
An annoying feature if you weren’t expecting it, but nice to have if you took the moment to actually set up your default properly. I was working on a project recently with custom post types and custom taxonomies and suddenly needed this feature, but it didn’t seem to exist, so a few google’s later I found this nice snippet from Micheal Fields. Adopting the hook and adding some to allow for custom post types I wanted to share it here for my own safe keeping as well as the benefit of the community.

To Code Custom Taxonomy Default Terms

[cc lang=”php”]
* Define default terms for custom taxonomies in WordPress 3.0.1
* @author Michael Fields http://wordpress.mfields.org/
* @props John P. Bloch http://www.johnpbloch.com/
* @props Evan Mulins https://circlecube.com/circlecube/
* @since 2010-09-13
* @alter 2013-01-31
* @license GPLv2
function mfields_set_default_object_terms( $post_id, $post ) {
if ( ‘publish’ === $post->post_status && $post->post_type === ‘your_custom_post_type’ ) {
$defaults = array(
‘your_taxonomy_id’ => array( ‘your_term_slug’ )
//’your_taxonomy_id’ => array( ‘your_term_slug’, ‘your_term_slug’ )
$taxonomies = get_object_taxonomies( $post->post_type );
foreach ( (array) $taxonomies as $taxonomy ) {
$terms = wp_get_post_terms( $post_id, $taxonomy );
if ( empty( $terms ) && array_key_exists( $taxonomy, $defaults ) ) {
wp_set_object_terms( $post_id, $defaults[$taxonomy], $taxonomy );
add_action( ‘save_post’, ‘mfields_set_default_object_terms’, 100, 2 );
This code hooks to ‘save_post’ and fires when the post is saved. It will check the post status and only execute if the post status is set to publish. My addition will also check the post type against your custom post type. Then it sets the default for any taxonomy that you want to set a default for. Either a single term or multiple terms can be set as the default taxonomy term. If you want multiple default terms then you just use a comma separated list. This hook will then load the existing taxonomies and if they are not yet set on the post it will set them to your designated default(s). It’s nice and flexible as you can have multiple taxonomy defaults set quickly in the defaults array. Thanks Michael!

Set Default Terms for your Custom Taxonomies via Michael Fields » Set Default Terms for your Custom Taxonomies.

WordCamp Presentation Slides: From Photoshop PSD to WordPress Theme

from photoshop to wordpress theme presentation

Here are my slides for my WordCamp Atlanta presentation, From PSD to WordPress Theme: Under the skin:

This presentation covers how to get from a photoshop design to a theme in WordPress. The sample theme I use in the presentation is actually live at http://psd2wp.circlecube.com. I’m not trying to teach css or html here. I more wanted to focus on the process I usually go through in creating a site or theme. Let’s work on this PDS template design called Corporate Clean, which was designed and published by Zsolt Kacso. I saw this done by a drupal theme shop and figured the wordpress world could use the same. (Also check out Corporate Clean for Drupal http://drupal.org/project/corporateclean and download the design they link to on that page: http://mttdownloads.s3.amazonaws.com/projects/kaolti/corporateclean_psds.zip)
corporate clean wordpress theme from photoshop

First, What is a Theme?

It is all the files that control the front-end and visual side of a site. It is all the files that control the front-end and visual side of a site. Major benefit to a theme (or a CMS overall) is separating design and content, which is the goal of standards based web design. Themes are made up of a combination of files: css, html, php, javascript, images…

The basic structure of a theme is usually something like: Header, Content, Aside(s) and Footer.
We know what types of files or templates we need to include in our theme by using the Template Hierarchy is how WordPress determines which template to use on each page. It looks for template files with specific names in the current Theme’s directory and uses the first matching template file listed under the appropriate query section below. (See Joost De Valk’s Anatomy of a WordPress Theme Infographic).

A wordpress specific term that took me a while to get used to was “the loop”

There are many different roads to a WordPress theme.

All themes are not created equal. There are different type and diffrerent qualitiy levels of themes. We can group them into these main areas though (some of which overlap):

  • Free – benefit, it’s FREE. Only problem is there’s not a great vetting process and a lot of themes out there aren’t good quality themes you’d want on your site (even if they look nice from the front).
  • Premium – although WP is open source software as in free, not all themes are free, some will cost you.
  • From Scratch – It is possible to make a theme from the bottom. This could be beneficial if you have something specific you’re not likely to find out there already.
  • Customized – A direction many take is acquiring a theme (be it free or not) and them customizing it to make it suit them. Not a bad if you’re starting from something that is nicely done, and you know how to get from a to b.
  • Standalone – Traditionally all themes were standalone packages, and the theme folder will contain all associated files.
  • Parent-Child – Since WP 2.7 we’ve had the ability to have parent-child relationships in theming! This means that you can have a theme you want to base yours on and separate any modifications you make to it into a “child” theme that will inherit everything else from it’s “parent”.
  • Frameworks – Frameworks are themes that have been designed to be used as a starting point or a parent theme. Some have feature rich options pages that allow you to build a theme or site from within the WordPress admin. These really help theme developers to avoid repeating the same code in every theme they make. One caveat to this is that if you’re new to WP, you need to learn all the wordpress specific code as well as any additional code for the theme framework . It complicates the learning curve a bit, but it has long term benefits of speed and ease.

My preferred theme route is using a theme framework. My preferred framework is thematic. Thematic is the ultimate in SEO-ready themes, it is a highly extensible framework which features 13 widget-ready areas, drop-down menus, grid-based layout samples, plugin integration, shortcodes for your footer, and a whole lot more. Thematic as of now is about to get a significant update as well. Resources for thematic include forums, guides, diagrams, tutorials, thematic4you …

Before getting into the design, let’s talk one more fundamental wordpress term: hooks

Hooks are spots in the code that are flagged for us to easily customize how our site or theme functions. To visualize, think about all the thousands of lines of code that gets executed to load a page on a site (yes, there are thousands), and think of it like each line of code is like someone in line at the gracery store checkout . They’d be lined up in order of execution. Hooks are like people in the line that are holding a sign allowing you to cut in line at that precise position to run your own code. There are action hooks and filter hooks in wordpress. Action hooks are for executing your own action at that spot in line, and a filter is about changing something in the line right there. Like if you wanted to insert some ad at the end of every post. You could either add an action that would place it there, filter the post content and add it to the content itself (and you could even filter the content before it goes to the database, or before it’s rendered onto the page). More on action and filter hooks here.

Returning to that added complexity of using a framework, many frameworks will add their own hooks on top of the wordpress hooks. So on top of learning any wordpress hooks you also need to learn the ones specific to your chosen framework where you need to access them. So once you get used to using one framework it may be painful to leave and loose and invested learning in that one. Check these diagrams of thematic structure (blue mandela.com and visualizing.thematic4you.com) including hooks for an visual representation. And the thematic guide to filters and hooks.

Getting from a design in photoshop to an actual WordPress (thematic) child theme while trying not to reinvent the wheel.

The Technical – Actually making the theme

Once you install thematic in your wordpress site, look at the theme directory (/wp-content/themes/thematic/) and you’ll see that thematic comes with a ‘thematicsamplechildtheme’. It’s nice that they thought of this, it gives us a great starting place! We copy that folder, rename it to whatever we want, and place it in the theme directory (sibling to thematic itself). Like so:

thematic child theme directory

The thematicsamplechildtheme has 3 files in it: the style.css, functions.php, readme.txt. I added the screenshot.png file (it will automatically get pulled into the backend as the image of the theme) and made some edits to the stylesheet. Later we’ll add all our styles to the css here, but for now we need to understand that the comment block in the file communicates the details of the theme to wordpress. We need to edit the css file so it reflects our theme properly. The block of text in the comment is formated in a specific way that wordpress will read it and it’s actually pretty self explanitory! All we need to do is update the details. Take special notice of the Template line (it’s what tells WordPress that this theme is a child theme using thematic as the parent), here’s what I’ve done:

[cc lang=”css’]
Theme Name: Corporate Clean : A Thematic Child Theme
Theme URI:
Description: Thematic Child Theme Presentation
Author: Evan Mullins
Author URI: https://circlecube.com/circlecube/
Template: thematic
Version: 1.0
Tags: Thematic
Thematic is © Ian Stewart http://themeshaper.com/
Corporate Clean Design by Zsolt Kacso http://kaolti.com/ http://www.behance.net/kaolti/frame/1498151

Once we have this in place, we go to the appearance section in our wordpress dashboard and select our theme. Then we can then make our edits to our stylesheet and see them live on our site!

theme chosen for use on site

Before we go opening a can of CSS, let’s look at a couple things and think big picture. We haven’t yet mentioned what this ‘functions.php’ file is. This is the section where we will do any php related to our theme, in other words our hooks! That includes any wordpress or thematic hooks. This samle theme actually has a couple snippets we can uncomment and a sample filter.

Process & Workflow

My purpose in this presentation was never to show you how to slice a photoshop document into web ready images or how to write CSS. I just wanted to help people get more familiar with or started with building themes. I want to talk a little about my process because when I started theming, while I understood the tech (as in css/html) (although I still had and have lots to learn), the process around theming was somewhat of a mystery. I usually follow a loose workflow/cycle when I’m making a site:

  1. Layout – Wireframe, get content areas (widgets) blocked out. Getting the right content in the right places, or creating the right places to put the content.
  2. Structure – Info Archietecture, get the proper post types and think through any needed templates. Getting the right content types. Ideally we should put this code into a theme functionality plugin to separate the functionality from the visual style. Some think it’s best to put that into a plugin so the theme can be changed. But that’s beyond the scope of this presentation, so I’m just going to show you the code to do it and include it in the theme for now.
  3. Style/Design – CSS, using images and styles to get things visual. Getting the right content looking right.
  4. Interactive – JS, making any client-side scripts lively. Getting content interactive.
  5. Population – The plain old and sometimes even boring, data entry.
  6. Rinse and repeat! This is loose and a cycle, I jump through each of these phases numerous times for each element.

Each of these phases contain different tasks, I’ll include some examples and point out some resources. I don’t want to focus on the exact things to do for any and every situation, but talk more about the way to do things. Basically teach to fish, rather than feed you a few fish.

I think I’ll leave that for another day though. This has gotten quite long!

Video via WordPress.tv

Speaker at WordCamp Atlanta 2012

I’m proud to announce that I’ve been asked to speak at WordCamp Atlanta this year! WordCamp will be held this weekend and hosted at SCAD Atlanta! My session is titled: From PSD to WordPress Theme: Under the skin. Obviously, I’ll be focusing on themes. We’ll look at what they are, what they can do, how to make one and we’ll also go through the process of creating a theme in my presentation. I know that’s a lot, but I’ll do my best to get it all covered in my time. I’m really excited since this is my first speaking gig at a conference (and also a bit nervous). I’ll be sure to post my presentation slides here as well as submit them to the wordcamp site. I even hear they are attempting to record all sessions to post on wordpress.tv, so I may have a post with that too. Here’s the official session description:

We’ll cover how to get from photoshop to WordPress. There are many different roads to a theme. We’ll go over a few possibilities and then cover getting from a design in photoshop to an actual WordPress child theme while trying not to reinvent the wheel.

Are there any questions you want covered in the presentation? Ask quick and I’ll do my best to work them in!

UPDATE: Here are my slides for the presentation: WordCamp Presentation Slides: From Photoshop PSD to WordPress Theme!

Snow via Javascript & Canvas – Tis the Season

After playing with the settings in my experiments I found a few settings I liked and wanted to develop further. The first was snow! An added bonus I was able to work on a project just for the holidays and used much of this code in it! I looked around the web and saw a couple interesting examples of snow, but nothing that stood out to me. I used couple images and pulled them into the canvas in place of the dot (choosing one of 3 flake graphics), and learned how to apply a rotation to that graphic from somewhere online (I think stackoverflow, but now I can’t find it again to link it. The physics settings are hardcoded now and the update function doesn’t check the dot y position against the top of the page, since the snow should all be moving down with the gravity, it could be moved up with it’s floating, but I just wanted it to come down on it’s own. Then to get the rotation we need to save the context state, more to the flake center, rotate it and then move back to the canvas origin, draw the image and restore context. This process sounded complicated and took a bit to get things in the right order and the whole time I was scared it would be too processor intense for a good amount of snowflakes, it seems to do just fine! interactive physics animations via javascript & canvas | snow application example: check it out!

[cc lang=”javascript”]
$(function () {
var canvas, context, width, height, x, y, radius = 25, clickX, clickY, drag = false;
var total_dots = 150;
var fps = 24;

canvas = $(“#canvas”)[0];
context = canvas.getContext(“2d”);
var dots = new Array();
var drag_i = -1;
var gravity = .05;
var friction = .98;
var bounce = -.96;
var wrap = true;
var float = true;

var imgs = new Array();
var img1 = new Image();
var img2 = new Image();
var img3 = new Image();
img1.src = “snowflake_1.png”;
img2.src = “snowflake_2.png”;
img3.src = “snowflake_3.png”;
imgs[0] = img1;
imgs[1] = img2;
imgs[2] = img3;
var this_dot = {};
for (var i=0; i < total_dots; i++){ createDot(); } function createDot(x, y, r, vx, vy){ var this_dot = { x: typeof(x) != 'undefined' ? x : Math.random()*canvas.width, y: typeof(y) != 'undefined' ? y : Math.random()*-canvas.height, radius: typeof(r) != 'undefined' ? r : 25, scale: Math.floor(10 + (1+50-10)*Math.random()), vx: typeof(vx) != 'undefined' ? vx : Math.random()*3-1, vy: typeof(vy) != 'undefined' ? vy : Math.random()*3, //this will pick a digit 1, 2 or 3 and set it as the src value, this could also be a Math.floor(Math.random()*3)+1 to really be random src: (dots.length % 3) + 1, r: 0, vr: 0 }; dots.push(this_dot); } draw(); $("#canvas").mousedown(function (event) { createDot(event.pageX - this.offsetLeft-25, event.pageY - this.offsetTop-25); }); $("#canvas").mouseup(function (event) { drag = false; drag_i = -1; }); function update(){ for (var i=0; i < dots.length; i++){ if (drag_i != i){ var this_dot = dots[i]; if (float){ this_dot.vx += Math.random() - .5; this_dot.vy += Math.random() - .5; this_dot.vr += Math.random()*.01 - .005; } this_dot.vx *= friction; this_dot.vy = this_dot.vy * friction + gravity; this_dot.x += this_dot.vx; this_dot.y += this_dot.vy; this_dot.r += this_dot.vr; if (this_dot.x > canvas.width + this_dot.radius){
this_dot.x -= canvas.width + this_dot.radius*2;
this_dot.vr = 0;
else if(this_dot.x < 0 - this_dot.radius){ this_dot.x += canvas.width + this_dot.radius*2; this_dot.vr = 0; } if (this_dot.y > canvas.height + this_dot.radius){
this_dot.y -= canvas.height + this_dot.radius*2;
this_dot.vr = 0;

function draw() {
context.clearRect(0, 0, canvas.width, canvas.height);
for (var i=0; i < dots.length; i++){ var src = img1; if (dots[i].src == 1){ } else if (dots[i].src == 2){ src = img2; } else { src = img3; } context.save(); context.translate(dots[i].x+dots[i].scale/2, dots[i].y+dots[i].scale/2); context.rotate(dots[i].r); context.translate(-dots[i].x-dots[i].scale/2, -dots[i].y-dots[i].scale/2); context.drawImage(src, dots[i].x, dots[i].y, dots[i].scale, dots[i].scale); context.restore(); } } setInterval(function() { update(); draw(); }, 1000/fps); }); [/cc] Follow the whole Interactive Physics Animations via Javascript & Canvas series.