Better Plugin Recommendations for WordPress

Nick Hamze, a collaborator and friend goes into detail about why the WordPress plugin ecosystem needs some proper curation. I couldn’t agree more, the new user experience for WordPress users, in this regard is just not that great. That’s why I was eager to work with Nick on building out a very simple plugin + API to power a better “Recommended” tab for the plugins page in your wp-admin.

The current API is pretty simple and simply pulls a curated list of plugins (literally powered by a text file) and fetches data for those plugins using the WordPress.org plugins API (which was probably the hardest part of this project, as it’s very poorly and sometimes inaccurately documented — perhaps I should blog about the pieces I was able to figure out on my own). However, if the idea is well received in the community, I’d love to expand on it further and include some plugins from outside the WordPress.org plugin repository in our recommendations, as I think there’s some great third-party plugins that new users should definitely know about.

If you work for a WordPress hosting company, Nick’s inviting you to get in touch and discuss adding the plugin to your customer’s installations. Both the plugin and the small API server that powers the recommendations are fully open source as well, so feel free to fork them to create your own set of recommendations.

Read more about this on Nick’s Secret Pizza Party blog post

Let me know if you have any thoughts in the comments 💭👇

WooCommerce Connect

For the last few months, I’ve been working on a new project within Automattic. I’m pretty excited that we announced the alpha testing phase for it today. It’s called WooCommerce Connect, and it’s a new way of delivering services to extend WooCommerce, the e-commerce plugin for WordPress.

With Connect, we’re simplifying the way that shop owners manage various services. Starting off with shipping today but eventually with various types of extensions, we’re bringing a better UX, less configuration, faster integrations and a modern codebase to the WooCommerce ecosystem.

You can read more about it in the official announcement, and help us shape the future by testing it out on your test or staging site today.

And if you’re a developer or just curious about the code, we’ve open sourced the plugin, which will eventually be included in WooCommerce core, so you can read it, get inspired and maybe even contribute to it. It does set a bit of precedent from a technological stack point of view as it uses React, Redux, Webpack, and other Javascript projects and integrates with Calypso components. You can read more about it in our developer blog post.

Make sure to sign up in the announcement post to get updates as we get closer to a final release!

I also gave a presentation about this and other tidbits about WooCommerce at WordCamp Vernon just a few days ago, the slides are at slides.jkudish.com and the video recording will be up in a few weeks.

What is code?

Bloomberg Businessweek recently released The Code Issue, a special double issue containing a single essay by writer and programmer Paul Ford. It’s a great insight into the daily lives of programmers. A bit technical in some parts, but I think the vast majority of people will understand most of the article. It’s long but well worth the read.

A really valuable insight for my friends and family who wonder what it is that I actually do. Minus the part where the author sort-of dissed WordPress 😉 — though that’s certainly a view of the programmer community as large and something we’re working on changing.

Pick up the actual magazine as I did (to read on the plane), or read it online here: http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-paul-ford-what-is-code/

Geneva WordPress Meetup

I’m currently on a fun little tour of Europe and I got invited to speak at the WordPress Meetup in Geneva, Switzerland this evening. I joined a group of about 20 developers, of all levels and talked about WordPress plugin development. We then opened up the floor for questions and had a great ongoing conversation about development in general, the WordPress ecosystem, the open-source nature of the project, multilingual solutions and I even taught the group some Quebecois swear words 🙂

The presentation is almost identical to one I gave in Winnipeg in the spring, the slides are available as a PDF from here.

Changing teams

One of the great things about working at Automattic is the flexibility that it allows. As a company, we work on many different things and we’re split into roughly 20 teams working on various projects and maintenance tasks. Occasionally a new team is formed to take over an existing set of projects or to start something new. Recently, a new partnerships team was formed at Automattic, and I decided to join it. As of last week, I’m officially part of the new team.

As part of the partnerships team I work on all the third party integrations that we have on WordPress.com and Jetpack; this ranges from things like connecting your blog to your Twitter or Facebook account, to making sure that if someone pins your blog on Pinterest it looks as good as possible! In addition to third party integrations, the team is also working on many of the APIs that we make available for developers to integrate with our systems.

Finally, I’ll also be doing more evangelizing for our platform; promoting our APIs and encouraging others to work with us and our platforms.

On a personal side, I’m excited for the change; it’s nice to work with new people once in a while, and it’s good to focus on more “project-y” type work as opposed to the daily grind of maintenance which I did a lot of previously.

If you’re a developer and think it’d be cool to integrate your project with WordPress.com or Jetpack, make sure you take a look at developer.wordpress.com or contact me if you want to chat about it 🙂

WordCamp Winnipeg

I am giving a presentation at WordCamp Winnipeg today. The presentation is pretty similar to the one I gave at WordCamp Victoria back in January; with a few small adjustments.

I’m showing power users and novice developers how to get started with plugin development. I think a lot of people don’t realize how easy it is to get started with plugin development or just how small and simple can be. It doesn’t require 100s of lines of code…

Many WordPress tutorials out there talk about copy this or that to your functions.php file in your theme. However, it’s just as easy to create your own functionality plugin; which makes for easier to maintain code in the future that isn’t theme dependant. I begin this talk with the basics of what a plugin is and how it’s structured. I then explain the hooks (actions and filters API), followed by a very simplistic demo. I then give some pro tips and talk about some of the most commonly used WordPress APIs in plugins, as well as promote coding standards. A second more in-depth demo is then presented. Finally, I discuss security in plugins and share some resources for developers and users to further learn from.

Here are the slides from the presentation, which you can also get as a PDF.

WordCamp Victoria: Plugin Development 101

Today I’m giving a presentation at WordCamp Victoria 2013 where I’m showing power users and novice developers how to get started with plugin development. I think a lot of people don’t realize how easy it is to get started with plugin development or just how small and simple can be. It doesn’t require 100s of lines of code…

Many WordPress tutorials out there talk about copy this or that to your functions.php file in your theme. However, it’s just as easy to create your own functionality plugin; which makes for easier to maintain code in the future that isn’t theme dependant. I begin this talk with the basics of what a plugin is and how it’s structured. I then explain the hooks (actions and filters API), followed by a very simplistic demo. I then give some pro tips and talk about some of the most commonly used WordPress APIs in plugins, as well as promote coding standards. A second more in-depth demo is then presented. Finally, I discuss security in plugins and share some resources for developers and users to further learn from.

Here are the slides from the presentation:

Let me know if you have any questions, using the comments below. And if you’re at WordCamp Victoria while you view this, come say hi!