WordCamp Asheville 2017 Speaker – Intro To Web Development and Modular Web for WordPress

I’m pleased to share that I’ll be speaking at WordCamp Asheville, not once, but twice! I’m presenting an Intro to Web Development for beginners as well as a lightning talk about Modular Web practices for WordPress.

wordcamp asheville 2017

My first talk will be the same as the one I presented at WordCamp Raleigh, but after having presented the content once and taken questions and discussing things with attendees, I hope it will be even better and more helpful. Overall the feedback was very grateful and the audience seemed to have learned a good bit. There were even a few people that came up to me to say it was the best presentation they had seen at the conference. So I am happy to present it again. Here’s the abstracts for each presentation:


So you wanna dev? Join the team!

Takeaways:

  • Learn to speak dev
  • Get familiar with concepts (and acronyms) you’ll need to dev
  • Learn about tools that will help you

Modular Web for WordPress (Lightning)

WordPress the CMS, meets the Modular Web. We need to stop thinking about a website as a collection of pages and templates, but as a set of modules and a system to manage them. Modules, like Legos, are interchangeable and can be combined fairly quickly to create an infinite number of results all while both showing variety and remaining consistent. With this modular paradigm shift, our workflows improve, our websites improve and our very well-being improves. Let’s explore how to use WordPress to manage site content using modules. We’ll see what this does for our development process and programming as well for our content management via the admin. We’ll discuss how to build and maintain a module library, and use it for every site you build. These principles have been immensely helpful in each team or project where I’ve put them into practice, so we’ll even take a look at a few examples and point out where to learn more.

Takeaways:

  • Learn the basics of Modular design for web
  • Understand the advantages to building sites modularly
  • See how to do it with WordPress

The second talk will be one I submitted as a full talk, but was asked to present it as a lightning talk. It will be tricky to squeeze everything into 15 minutes, but I’ll do my best. Developing modularly is something that I am passionate about. I think a lot of sites use WordPress as a CMS, and forget the system part of that. We should use the CMS to help us build flexible systems that are flexible. I’ve been preaching this idea of “Building Systems not Pages” for a long time and hope to inspire others to work smarter. There is a lot to cover, but having only a few minutes to do it in will force me to present the main and most important points only. I’m excited for the challenge!

Tickets are on sale now, so if you’re in the area, I hope to see you at WordCamp Asheville 2017. It will be the best $40 you spend!

Recapping WordCamp Atlanta 2016 – Day 0 – The Dev Workshop

Just off a busy but enjoyable weekend of WordCamp Atlanta @wordcampatl. I was able to attend the friday developer workshop and the Saturday sessions of the conference. Though I was a speaker at WordCamp Atlanta in 2012 (From Photoshop PSD to WordPress Theme), 2013 (Your firstborn child theme. Child themes 101+2), and 2014 (Custom Post Types or Choose Your Own Adventure), I couldn’t make it in 2015, I wasn’t selected this year as a speaker. However, I was also able to volunteer to help out and to take some photos and staff the Happiness Room. I also volunteered a couple weeks ago to speak at a WordPress meetup group (Modifying Your Theme’s Design – Learning CSS), so I feel like I was able to still give back.

2016-03-18 12.46.19

Overall

TLDR; It was a great conference and like always, talking to people was the best part, though there were some great informative and even entertaining sessions I attended.

Beginner WordPress Development – Workshop

Micah Wood Aaron Reimann

2016-03-18 09.16.25

The workshop was a great way for many to get started with WordPress development. Micah and Aaron went over from the basics of development through child-theming. I stepped up to help others get started, since we were all installing mamp to get a local wordpress install setup. Even with the famous 5 minute install it was taking most people a long time to get setup, though we can blame the wifi for most of the issues I believe. We then cloned Micah’s child theme demo from github into our theme dir and he get started through the demo. Follow along by reading his blog post length commit messages. It was great to help out! I even learned a few tricks about some WordPress hooks, the loop and template hierarchy.

I’ll share one tip many might not have realized when dealing with child themes. The difference between get_template_directory_uri and get_stylesheet_directory_uri.

I’ll post an update on Day 2 when I’ve had time to digest some more of the great presentations.

 

Modifying Your Theme’s Design – Learning CSS: Atlanta WordPress Users Group Presentation

Here’s my presentation for the Atlanta WordPress Users Group to continuing their discussion on theming. The meetup gives you a first hand look at modifying your Theme’s look and feel. We’ll be showing you how to make typical changes to existing themes. We will not be showing you how to create your own theme from scratch, though we will have a meetup later in the year to do that.

During this meetup we discussed:

• What is CSS and why do we use it?

• What are ‘typical’ modifications to themes and how to make them

• Using ‘inspect element’ and/or ‘firebug’ to find and test

• Correct way to change Fonts

• Simple color theory and design

Here’s the slide deck for the presentation

The presentation overviews the internet, teaches us how to spell HTML and other web programming “languages” that come together to form a WordPress website, like HTML, CSS & PHP. We even discussed web development tools like FTP clients and which text editors to use. We went over what makes up a wordpress theme and then the concept of child themes. Discussed the process of creating your own child theme with just a couple files and that you can create a child theme for any theme out there. We demoed how to view source and dissect any website, but more importantly, how to inspect elements on your site and live-edit the css for any element. Then to write these CSS rules to our theme to lock in the edits in your child theme.

If you have any further questions that you would specifically like reviewed, leave them in the comments below and I’ll respond.

We created a child theme for twentysixteen

We created our own child theme and discussed the benefit to creating a child theme over other ways to modify a WP theme. Our twentysixteen child theme did wonders for the look:

Screenshot 2016-03-10 08.32.56

We explored the code to create our own WordPress child theme

Here are the code snippets for review

https://gist.github.com/circlecube/e5605fab0327105a1efd

Every Browser is the New IE (to me) – daverupert.com

Maybe one day the Web will be perfect and complete and I will not need to reach for polyfills. However, if that happened I think I’d stop being interested the Web because it would then be a stagnant pond and not a surfable ocean.

Source: Every Browser is the New IE (to me) – daverupert.com

Screenshot 2015-08-03 08.19.16

Dave brings up that as web developers, we’re quick to complain that that shiny new feature doesn’t have enough support to rely on it and that there should be some sort of global consensus or priority of features so that the most important new features are added to browsers and make all our lives easier. That quote at the end hits the nail on the head though, if it were easy and uniform, then we’d collectively get bored. We thrive on solving problems so much it seems we’ve created more problems.

URL Structure FTW – Pretty and Readable Permalinks

I noticed that the clearleft.com site has very clever url structure. You can read the urls like a sentence. Like their about section is “/is” and their capabilities is ‘/does’, and their portfolio section is “/made” , so clearleft.com made code for america. Check the urls listed here and you’ll notice that they read like a sentence. These urls were made intentionally for humans!

Screenshot 2015-07-31 14.15.00

 

Although they are missing an opportunity I think, their blog is clearleft.com/thinks/, but then they just use a post id for the url. http://clearleft.com/thinks/298, I was hoping it’d be clever. If it had the title of the post, it’d make more sense.

Something to think about as we create sites.

I then looked around a bit and found a talk about some of this, here it is and the relevant bits:

If you really want to take this content-first approach to its ultimate limit, something I like to do, if I ever get the chance to do this on products is I like to start with the URLs; really bring it down to the most basic webiness of what you’re building is, what is the URL structure, which is something I think people don’t think about enough. And yet, URLs are so, so important. Some people treat them like an implementation detail of the web, like, “oh yeah, we’ve got native, we’ve got the web, web has URLs, whatever,” whereas I think it’s the most powerful part of the web. In fact, once you have the name of something and once you have the address that you can pull up on any device, as long as it’s connected to a network, that is amazing. That immediately makes it part of this huge, big, chaotic mess of a web. It was Tim Berners-Lee who said, when you have a URL, it’s part of the web, it’s part of the discourse of humanity, this giant Library of Alexandria that we’re all collectively building.

URL design as a skill is something I feel we’re losing, which is a real shame because I will admit, I’m a URL fetishist. I love a good URL. But I think, rightly so, because they are this fundamental unit of the web. Kyle Neath who works at GitHub—where they have beautiful URLs—he said:

URLs are universal. They work in Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, cURL, wget, your iPhone, Android and even written down on sticky notes, they are the one universal syntax of the web.

That’s so important to remember: written down on sticky notes, written on a Post-it. They’re for humans. URLs are for humans. Yes, they’re used by machines to fetch a resource, but they’re very much for humans to use. URLs should be hackable, guessable, readable.

 

Adactio: Journal—Instantiation

There needs to be a cultural change in how we approach building for the web. Yes, some of the tools we choose are part of the problem, but the bigger problem is that performance still isn’t being recognised as the most important factor in how people feel about websites (and by extension, the web). This isn’t just a developer issue. It’s a design issue. It’s a UX issue. It’s a business issue. Performance is everybody’s collective responsibility.

Source: Adactio: Journal—Instantiation

Great article (as always) by Jeremy Keith about why the web is so slow and painful to use… hint, because we built it that way!

CSS Dig

A chrome extension for analyzing your CSS. Check your properties (and reuse – are they following DRY principles?) and your CSS selectors (and their specificity).

Analyze your CSS in a new way. Consolidate, refactor, and gawk at the 37 shades of blue your site somehow ended up with.

Take a look at all your CSS properties, their frequency and variations. Have too many shades of blue? Inconsistencies often means confusion for your developers and irregularities for your end users.

Are your selectors long? Using lots of IDs? Specificity wars are frustrating and piling on new CSS will only make the situation worse. Find potential problem areas and make a plan to fix.

via CSS Dig.

How to use solid web principles to justify what you were going to do anyway | A List, A Fart

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but mockery must be the biggest sign of mainstream… And this is a good thing, alistapart.com, the de facto web publication for web professionals, now has a parody site: alistafart.com. Tongue in cheek, and sarcastic, but sadly, sometimes not very far from the truth…

In this era of the web, there are generations of designers and programmers who have gone before us. Web design is being taught formally in schools and universities, and we draw knowledge from centuries of art, industrial design, and typography. Like never before, there is a wealth of great web principles that we can use to justify doing whatever it is we already wanted to do.

via How to use solid web principles to justify what you were going to do anyway | A List, A Fart.

What screens want

Great read if you haven’t yet read it yet:
Frank Chimero : What screens want : http://frankchimero.com/what-screens-want/

web and interaction design are just as much children of filmmaking as they are of graphic design. Maybe even more so. After all, we both work on screens, and manage time, movement, and most importantly, change.

So what does all of this mean? I think the grain of screens has been there since the beginning. It’s not tied to an aesthetic. Screens don’t care what the horses look like. They just want them to move. They want the horses to change.

Designing for screens is managing that change. To put a finer head on it, the grain of screens is something I call flux—

and more

Movement, change, and animation are a lot more than ways to delight users: they are a functional method for design.

These examples are essentially animated wireframes, but extra detail isn’t needed. Designing how things change and move is enough for us to understand what they are and the relationships between them. You don’t need the heavy-handed metaphor, because the information is baked into the element’s behavior, not its aesthetics.

A designer’s work is not only about how the things look, but also their behaviors in response to interaction, and the adjustments they make between their fixed states. In fact, designing the way elements adapt and morph in the in-between moments is half of your work as a designer. You’re crafting the interstitials.

We’ve been more aware of this interstitial work in the past few years because of responsive design’s popularity and its resistance to fixed states. It’s a step in the right direction, but it has made work crazy frustrating.

Please read the full article: http://frankchimero.com/what-screens-want/

In this ever-changing industry in which we work in

I’m constantly excited by the web design industry because as it is such a young field, we are still making up the rules and discovering as a community what processes are best. At the same time, the technology driving the field is changing so fast that just when we start to settle into a routine it all gets flipped on it’s head and we’re reconsidering everything again.

Have humans ever had to change up what they do as fast and often as we do? Our craft exists in a never-ending state of flux. It won’t settle down for a while, if ever.

&

Sometimes I dream about being able to master something without the ground constantly shifting under my feet. The status quo feels like a warm blanket sometimes; who wouldn’t want their world to act more or less predictably?

via The Pastry Box Project | 7 February 2013, Ben Sauer of Clear Left.