On Frameworks Coming to the Rescue

WordPress FrameworksMy last two talks at WordCamps have been about Frameworks vs. Parent/Child Themes vs. Starter themes and why you might choose one over another, given any particular project. It’s not the most exciting topic, but it’s one that’s relevant to a good number of WP Devs out there.

If you have worked with WordPress theme development for any length of time, then you know what tools work best for you. Maybe it’s Roots Theme every time; maybe you’re a Genesis Person; or maybe you roll your own every time. That’s great.

For the last year or so, I’ve been building everything from a starter theme. I love the control that I have and that I’m really building something from very little. It’s been more satisfying, as a theme dev and also has forced me to learn a lot more about WordPress than I would have thought; and continually humbles just how much more there is to learn. That’s a good thing.

Well, this week, a friend and mentor of mine came to me in a bit of a bind. You know the kind: “Dude, we need this site built in a week and the budget is X dollars where ‘X’ doesn’t quite match up to the amount of time and headache the project is likely to exact upon your already hectic schedule. I, as a general rule, turn down this type of work. In this case, I just couldn’t. This is someone who gave me a lot of their time and experience when I was really coming on board as a business person back in 2010. With a sigh I said, “Sure, buddy, let’s hash details.” The good thing was that everything was available. FTP Access, cPanel access, design PSD, content. Awesome! I like that! They even had a theme up and running, too. It just needed to be “finished.” Well, digging into the thing was awful. It was the shoppica theme, which you can buy on ThemeForest… But don’t. Just. Don’t.

The theme was firing off a ton of errors while the site was in debug mode and there were plugins loading directly from the theme that was causing conflicts with other plugins… Gah! You know how this can go, right? If you’ve built sites for clients, you’ve been in the trenches and know how this goes. And so did I. I’ve travelled down the deep and dark paths of “poorly built” themes and regretted the journey each time. I said, no way, not again and I began to weigh my options…

Take the existing design and put it in Underscores and go; or take a framework and go that route. Underscores was appealing, but I’m not a fast developer by any stretch. Not at all. I knew that to rebuild the design from a starter theme was going to take a good 7 or so days of work (considering I have other projects I’m working on, too) but this was due in 5 days. I know the Genesis Framework rather well and it had been my trusted tool of choice before I started using Underscores. It was a no brainer. It’s as though I reached into the closet and pulled out my trusty hi-tech plasma sword. All told, I rebuilt the site in about 10hrs with some pretty heaving customizations to the homepage and also adding a means to create landing pages (leveraging Advanced Custom Fields Heavily). I was pretty damn relieved and my friend was, too, obviously.

The moral of the story here, and one of the reasons why I just love the WordPress eco-system, is that there are just so many cool ways to skin a cat (don’t actually skin a cat though, that’s kinda fucked up). It’s not as though my route was the best one to take, but it did work for me and it really came down to knowing my tools and getting out there and using them. In this instance all the stuff that makes working with a framework great (having set typography, pre-made grids, basic responsiveness etc) really ramped up my ability to deliver in a timely fashion. This is why we, as developers, SHOULD be experimenting with the various tools available to us.

Whatever You do, Keep Moving…

tempSomething could literally fall out of the sky and hit you in the head and end your day… Probably your life, but we’re not being grim, so we’ll just say “day.” Keep moving.

You’re not happy with your job, it helps you pay your bills, gives you medical, but you aren’t keen on the job for whatever the reason, keep movin. Find something else.

If your heartstrings tug you in a direction that you’re unsure about and you don’t “go” you’ll always wonder “what if…” If the desire is strong enough to take a risk, pull the trigger and keep moving. It’s just something you gotta do for you.

What am I getting at here? Whatever your “hustle” is keep it moving. A Tribe Called Qwest Does it better than I do, but you get the point. Keep moving. There will always be excuses and always be reasons to stand pat, or to stop “working your hustle.” And what do I mean by “hustle?” I mean whatever it is that motivates YOU; whatever that thing is you’re working on or working toward, keeping working on it, keep moving “IT” forward.

It seems simple enough. But it hasn’t been for me.

As some of  you know I had some health issues (nothing serious) over the holiday months (from October thru December) that hampered me in a few ways. My eyes were bothering me. I have a recurring inflammation called Intermediate Uveitis. It’s generally a symptom of something else, to put it simply. Fun things like Rheumatoid Arthritis could cause it or other equally non-fun afflictions for that matter. Also, my back had “given out,” that is, my back pain was to a point where I couldn’t run with my running group after my half marathon in Long Beach. I tried and it hurt and I was hobbled. My back sucked.

After a couple of months of blood-work, x-rays, MRIs and a scare with an STD (when it rains, it pours. No, I didn’t actually have one, if you wanted to know. Funny story for another time, I assure you) it was concluded that the only thing wrong with me was my shitty jokes and the fact that my self-deprecating humor is “too effective” and that I should “knock that off.” Okay. Fair enough. So what, then?

Nothing was wrong, I was still sore, so I kept moving. I kept walking, not running, but I walked when I could. I limped up and down hills, watching asshole runners pass me by as I secretly scolded their running form (that’s not ‘Good Form Running,’ son!). I was angry at myself; at my body. Here I am, 37, and the “getting old” thing is hitting me. Hard. Break out the teacups because this fucker is going to have a pity party!

Because of how my body felt and how I felt, personally, I took myself out of some of the things that were most important to me: My running group and also out of the social circles of my good friends. I stayed away, rather than kept things moving…

But walking helped… Eventually. I did realize that you have to keep moving. You don’t have to be fast, sometimes you just have to be slow and stubborn as long as you keep it moving.

When I did rejoin my running group, I couldn’t keep up with anyone; I still can’t. Everyone’s progressed so far beyond me that it a) makes me proud of them and b) makes me want to punch myself in the head. But it’s okay. Everyone falls and that’s fine, as long as you get up and keep moving.

Today I ran 12 miles with my fellow ‘Snails.’ It wasn’t my best run, but it was fun and the most I’d ran since October. So I was really happy with myself! But that wasn’t the only thing I did this week. This week, I decided to end my working relationship with the school I’ve been working at. That’s where all my time and attention has been. But the call of being an entrepreneur never left and now seemed like a good time to leave it behind and “work my hustle” full-time. It’s scary and uncertain; but it’s going to be alright.

The only thing I could tell anyone is to keep working, hustling and moving. At the end of the day, that’s the only advice I’ve got.

Just keep moving…

Recent Linkage, the New Year Edition

Just some recent links that caught my interest of late

PushBullet: https://www.pushbullet.com/ – An Android app that helps you push content like links, addresses, files and images from/to your phone and from/to chrome, or from/to a friend also using it. Pretty cool and free… Much better than Chrome to Phone…

Screenshot_2014-01-12-14-21-20~2

NutCache and DuetApp

In my annual review of work and things, tools and stuffs I always look at what tools are out there and if there’s anything new and I found two things that were interesting, although I don’t plan on using them…

NutCache: An online and free online invoicing, project management tool. Nice interface, but not enough of the parts I want and not much in the way of integrations for 3rd party services. That said, it’s free and looks solid.

Duet App: DuetApp is a self-hosted solution for task and project management. Well designed, simple and client user interface. It’s not something I can use; but it’s along the lines of Pancake app, which I’ll link to below. I think this is ideal for the smaller freelancer that doesn’t need all the bells and whistles… It’s 49 bucks, but I don’t think that model will help make a sustainable product. We’ll see…

Bonus Link
Pancake App: Kind of like DuetApp, but it’s been around a few more years, has more development. It’s also self-hosted and has more features than DuetApp. It also has a pretty radass importer to help you import your invoices, clients, projects etc. Definitely worth a look. Again, the same sort of issue with the price/biz-model. That’s a post for another time.

For what it’s worth, for those wanting to know, I use Cashboard and, honestly, it IS really good.

WordPress

— Solid article on leveling-up your WordPress Dev skills: http://logoscreative.co/grow-as-a-wordpress-developer/

— Siteground and ManageWP Integration?: https://managewp.com/hosting-partnership-programme

Four Days into the New Year… So What?

Happy New Year! Now buzz off! =)

So it’s a new year and I don’t really do the resolution thing. But there are some things I’m trying to get done this year and hopefully I can accomplish them. If I don’t, then that’s okay, too. But having an eye that looks ahead, toward the future, isn’t a bad thing…

That said, there are some things I’d like to accomplish this year

Stop Using Use Less Profanity in Readme Files


Isn’t she cute? That’s my niece! In addition to being cute she kinda just reads whatever she sees… Yeah, that’s one reason. The other reason is for people contributing to your projects on Github who are having to cleanup my profanity-laced tirades… Sorry.

Do Something Artsy

There are two artsy-type projects I want to kick up this year. One is to at least begin doing an online comic of some sort… The other thing is doing a Children’s Book. Don’t worry. I’m not going to be the one writing it. Actually, this is something I’d like to do with me mum. She doesn’t know this yet, of course and I have just the story for us to work on.

Travel About a Little More…

I’d like to leave the country this year… Nowhere in particular. That is all.

Build a WordPress Product

This is the year that I actually build something for WordPress to sell. Actually, I’m going to have Nathan Tyler do all the hard work, while I rake in the cashes.

Reconnect With Some Muther F*****rs

I’ve been hermitting quite a bit this last half of the year. On the one hand I hate that, because I enjoy peoples’ company; on the other hand, I hate peoples’ company. But I need to make a better effort of it…

Find some interests to dedicate some time to…

One thing I recently began doing was taking up Spanish on my own. I’ve always wanted to be able to have a conversation with my Grandparents and I’ve only got one left; he turns 482 this year, so I should get on that. But I was able to have a few short conversations with him over Christmas, which was pretty cool. =)

Be More Involved…

I don’t know what this means to me yet. Last year, I really wanted to give more and I think I did. I was involved in a few different non-profit projects (Website Weekend LA, GiveCamp and WordCamp LA). I’d like to keep that up.

Step Out of my Comfort Zone a Little More…

TBD

Be Healthier, Get Stronger, Do MOAR Health Sh*t

My habits aren’t awful, well, except when they are… I ran a lot last year, but really stumbled October on… My health/back have been up and down and it’s been frustrating. But I’m resolved to keep at it and keep working. A full marathon is still in my sights this year and further defining my one pack!!

No Blacking Out This Year

No joke. A few times this past year I drank to excess and couldn’t remember anything about the evening. That’s just embarrassing. I recently did this at WordCamp Las Vegas. No Bueno, kids. Not only do you look like a buffoon, but you end up losing shit like your dignity and $300 pair of glasses and then plunking down on large bar tabs apparently… No thanks.

Okay, okay. SO one could consider these resolutions… I’d rather not think about them that way, but these are what they are, whatever you want to call them.

Justin Tadlock’s ‘Whistle’ Plugin…

I thought I’d share this useful little nugget of plugin wizardry, from Justin Tadlock called “Whistles,” which you can download here. What is/are Whistles? Whistles is a plugin that provides simple management and creation of Accordions, Tabs and Toggles. Most people like these features and make use of them on their WordPress sites. A lot of people (myself included at several points) have used plugins like “Styles with Shortcodes” or “All-in-One Shortcodes” to handle this. The problem with these plugins is that they tend to include a bazillion other shortcodes beyond what you actually need. Bah-hooey, I say!

## Is it any good? I think so. Instead of placing a bunch of content into your shortcodes…

Whistles you simply add ‘Whistles.’ And, really, Whistles are a kind of like a Custom Post Type and each Post can represent a single tab, accordion or toggle. A single Whistle is just like any standard Page/Post; you can insert any type of content from video embeds, to images and just plain ol’ text. Definitely worth checking out. In fact, I may add this plugin to ‘Some Like it Neat.’ We’ll see…

I think this is a really clever solution to the issue of an ‘all in one’ shortcode plugin solution. I think it’s clever because it doesn’t follow the route of other plugins before it that provide a thickbox with dropdowns and text areas to allow for input of content which is then output into the editor as a mixed bag of shortcodes and content; it’s kind of a mess and sucks to maintain. Tadlock’s approach is, to me, more intuitive in that it “feels” more like Core WP. You have a post type, add a whistle, assign a group and then add said Whistle to your posts or pages. It’s so gosh darn clever! Love it!!

Have you checked it out? What are you thoughts?