Jetpack 1.9

Pretty significant Jetpack update out today. Exciting things coming from Automattic for self-hosted WordPress.org sites!

Jetpack: WordPress Security, Performance, and Growth

Jetpack 1.9 is here. That’s right, it’s time for another big helping of Jetpack awesomeness. This release brings you Toolbar Notifications, Mobile Push Notifications, Custom CSS for mobile themes, a JSON API, and improvements to the Contact Form.

Notifications adds a menu to your toolbar that lets you read, moderate, reply to comments from any page on your blog. Plus, if find yourself on TechCrunch, GigaOm, or any of the millions of other sites running on WordPress.com, you’ll be able to view and moderate comments on your own site from the toolbar there, too.

Mobile Push Notifications for iOS: Users who link their accounts to WordPress.com and use WordPress for iOS 3.2 can now get push notifications of comments.

Custom CSS can now be applied to mobile themes.

The WordPress.com REST API is now available in Jetpack. That means developers can build cool applications that interact with…

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WordCamp Montreal 2012

Today I’m giving a talk about how to become a better WordPress developer at WordCamp Montreal. It’s (hopefully) a resourceful talk for developers of all levels (form beginner to advanced devs). Here are the slides that go along with the presentation. Also available as a PDF and on slideshare.

WordPress Plugin Development Cookbook

WordPress Plugin Development Cookbook Book Cover

Last march, Yannick Lefebvre, fellow WordPress developer from the Montreal WordPress community asked me if I would be willing to be a technical reviewer for a book he was writing. I was delighted by the opportunity and decided to take part in the project. And so for a few months, Yannick worked incredibly hard on getting a chapter ready every few weeks while I was giving him feedback on the code samples and explanations provided within his writing. It was definitely a unique experience since I don’t typical review literature in my day-to-day work.

The book has just been published, and you can grab a print or ebook copy over at Packt’s website. I received my copy today, and it looks great:

WordPress Plugin Development Cookbook Book Cover

WordPress Plugin Development Cookbook Technical Review

Thank you Yannick for asking to participate in the making of this book. It was a great learning experience and a true pleasure to be part of the project.

Theme Weekend recap

This weekend was the first ever Vancouver WordPress Theme Weekend. I was happy and excited to be part of the organizing team along with Morten Rand-Hendriksen, Angela Chich and Pauline Lai. We had a total of 20 attendees, divided into 4 teams of 5.

On Saturday morning, we divided up the teams and then brainstormed some ideas. The teams had just under an hour to decide on theme ideas. Each team ended up picking a niche they wanted to gear their themes towards. The four niches were: recipes, restaurants, fine art artists and film festivals. It then took most of day 1 for ideas, wireframes and designs to get fully fleshed out. Coding began at the end of day 1 for most teams.

Working on UI and designs

Working on UI and designs

Throughout day 1 we gave themers several opportunities to present their progress, and ask questions & feedback from other attendees. On day 2, we minimized interruptions and let everyone work hard on their themes… writing html, css and php.

Working hard on building a theme

Working hard on building a theme

In addition to the organizers, we had 3 floaters, Christine Rondeau, Catherine Winters and Andrew Ozz who helped teams with any questions or issues they encountered; mainly technical questions but essentially anything that came up.

On saturday morning, I gave a quick Github 101 presentation. The presentation was well received but unfortunately the whole concept of version control was over the head of most attendees who were either advanced users or novice developers. Everyone was eager to learn but in the end encouraging everyone to use Github was more of a hassle than it was worth. We ended up dropping the idea and everyone was free to work with the files whatever which way they pleased.

Github 101 presentation

Github 101 presentation

Overall, the weekend was a success. None of the teams 100% completed their theme but they did get very close. After all, most people wouldn’t be able to build a fully-fledged theme in 2 days, yet they did get a whole lot done in just about 15 hours of work. Regardless, everyone learned something and more importantly, we, as the Vancouver WordPress community got together, got to know each other better and collaborated together. That’s an experience that I think truly represents what WordPress is about and I hope to see more WordPress local groups organize and encourage this kind of hackaton-style activities.

I’d like to give huge thanks to the WordPress foundation for helping us with costs (mainly feeding everyone both days), the Network Hub for giving us the space (and giving us beer at the end of day 2!) and the Pink & Yellow NFP Society for helping organize and take care of the finances for the event.

You can find the finalized code for the themes on Github, more photos (all photos by Morten) from the event on Flickr, and tweets from the event at #ThemeWeekend.

#ThemeWeekend

June 30th and July 1st 2012 is the first ever Vancouver WordPress Theme Weekend. I’m part of the organizing team and I’m giving a quick intro to Github, which is where we’ll be hosting all of the teams’ themes. You can check out the slides of the GitHub intro below or download them as a PDF.

Please check out all details for the event at wpyvr.org/theme-weekend

Developer Tools

The WordPress.com VIP team released a set of very useful developer tools. If you’re a WordPress developer, you absolutely should run this.

Enterprise WordPress hosting, support, and consulting - WordPress VIP

One of the great things about developing for WordPress is the number of tools available for developers. WordPress core ships with a bunch of useful features (e.g. WP_DEBUG) with many more built by the community (like our own Rewrite Rules Inspector and VIP Scanner) that make development and debugging a breeze. The hardest part is getting your environment set up just right: knowing what constants to set, what plugins to install, and so on.

That’s why we built-in the Developer plugin. It’s your one-stop resource to optimally configure your development environment by making sure you have all the essential settings and plugins installed and available.

If you’re a WordPress developer, we highly recommend installing this plugin in your development environment. You can download the plugin from the WordPress.org Plugins Directory or directly from your WordPress Dashboard (Plugins > Add New).

Here’s a quick walk-through:

If you’d like…

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Theme Weekend

Twenty design­ers, devel­op­ers, and Word­Press enthu­si­asts will gather at The Net­work Hub in down­town Van­cou­ver for a two-day week­end event on June 30th and July 1st, 2012 to col­lab­o­rate and build Word­Press themes. I’m helping organize and run the event. We’re calling it Theme Weekend and you’re invited!

Take a look at the details on the WP YVR community website.

Great article by my coworker Daniel Bachhuber on how Automattic can open source more of its work.

I liked this comment by Mark Jaquith, which summarizes pretty well how I feel about it personally:

“What I’d like is for more future Automattic projects to be designed to be Open Source. Even if not completely. There are ways of designing things so that the base code (the framework) is Open Source, but the things you privately build on top of it don’t have to be. Doing things this way will likely lead you to design better frameworks that will not only be externally useful, but will serve the company better. Underscores is a great example.”

Polyglot (un)conference #polyglotconf

Today I attended the first annual Polyglot (un)conference in Vancouver.

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Unconferences are similar to traditional conferences; the main difference being that all the sessions are voted upon by the attendees and decided day-of. The last unconference I attended was not very well organized and took too long to get going. I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t the case today. Part of the voting was done online ahead of time using uvoice and organizers really took charge in getting things going in the morning.

In computer lingo, polyglot is the concept of writing programs in several different programming languages. The polyglot conference brought together developers from all kinds of backgrounds. Lots of ruby, .net, JavaScript, and erlang folks were in attendance. To my own surprise, not many people at the event work with PHP.

I also got the impression that many of the web developers who were here see WordPress as more of an amateur and hackish platform. I’m obviously deeply entrenched in the WordPress community so it’s interesting and even somewhat refreshing to get different perspectives; regardless whether the feedback is good or bad. That being said, most people I spoke with individually were actually really interested in the work we do at Automattic and WordPress.com, especially in terms of scaling.

I always love going beyond my comfort zone and learning new things. Highlights for me today were:

  • A really great presentation on various open-source mapping technologies chiefly Mapbox. I’m a huge fan of open data and tools that help developers work with it so this was a great learning experience for me.
  • Several great presentations and breakout discussions on open source vs. proprietary code.
  • Fun lunch on a bright, sunny , warm patio; with discussions on general programming idioms.
  • In-depth introductions to Erlang and Ruby languages; both of which I only had limited experience with.
  • Long coffee break facilitated by a fire alarm at the venue.

Overall a really great event that I was happy to be part of.

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Maps presentation by Talyor Sherman

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From consultant to product by Boris Mann

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Great lunchtime chats

PS: this was the first time I wrote a blog post from the WordPress iOS app on my iPhone. Really slick experience, and a new version was just released, go check it out 🙂

Querying Posts Without query_posts

Really good explanation of why you shouldn’t use query_posts; a function I know I’ve used in the past but definitely stay away from now 🙂

Developer Resources

Here at WordPress.com, we have over 200 themes (and even more plugins) running inside the biggest WordPress installation around (that we know of anyway!) With all of that code churning around our over 2,000 servers worldwide, there’s one particular WordPress function that we actually try to shy away from; query_posts()

If you think you need to use it, there is most likely a better approach. query_posts() doesn’t do what most of us probably think it does.

We think that it:

  • Resets the main query loop.
  • Resets the main post global.

But it actually:

  • Creates a new WP_Query object with whatever parameters you set.
  • Replaces the existing main query loop with a new one (that is no longer the main query)

Confused yet? It’s okay if you are, thousands of others are, too.

This is what query_posts actually looks like:

Rarely, if ever, should anyone need to do this. The most…

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