Image via http://WPCandy.com

Yes! This post’s title is equally filled with juicy controversy as the one written by Joshua Strebel, co-founder of Page.ly, Is Tumblr the New WordPress?

…[We] just want a blog we can easily theme and post to, not [run] a site primary off it. WordPress is over-complicated over-kill for this, Tumblr works fine and is much easier to deal with…

This was the feedback given to Joshua by one of their corporate customers. Indeed its kind of scary for WordPress to know that people are switching to another platform because the number of features of WordPress can be over-whelming for many users (I’m adding “many” because both Tumblr & Posterous have an awesome user base). However, isn’t it too soon to consider Tumblr as an alternative of WordPress? or to even consider it as The New “Old WordPress” ?

Considering the fact WordPress can do everything that Tumblr has to offer and much more, I believe that Tumblr should be on its toes to fight what can be from “some competition” to “lots of competition” in a short span of time!

To come directly on the point, how difficult can it be a for a big WordPress development agency (I’m sure WooThemes can pull this off, looks like they already are thinking about similar stuff!) or a WordPress web hosting company (I would bet on & would want WPWebhost to come up with something like this) to come up as competition of Tumblr using WordPress? WordPress already has features like Tumblr (read: “Post formats” , “QuickPress” & few others that make Tumblr a good offering) & of course, one can use any existing plugin or create new to extend it the way they want it. Thus, offering a solution like Tumblr can’t be that difficult. In fact, here are ingredients to launch a competition of Tumblr -

  • WordPress multi-site
  • Few good-looking tumblog like themes with theme options
  • A robust hosting solution
  • Some tweaking on the back-end with restricted accounts

I wonder how many of you will agree with me on this one however, I can clearly see various kind of hosted services tailored specifically for WordPress platform coming up in the future. Here’s a deal: Joshua, if at all you are reading this, then come up with an additional service to help customers run Tumblogs on Page.ly & keep them on our beloved platform rather than send them away on Tumblr ;)

Bookmark and Share

WordPress 3.1 was released couple of days ago with much fanfare and as usual its loaded with improved features, new features and fixes that were reported in previous releases. Matt, Founder of WordPress himself has proclaimed this release as the best release of the World renowned content management system.

There’s a bucket of candy for developers as well, including our new Post Formats support which makes it easy for themes to create portable tumblelogs with different styling for different types of posts, new CMS capabilities like archive pages for custom content types, a new Network Admin, an overhaul of the import and export system, and the ability to perform advanced taxonomy and custom fields queries. With the 3.1 release, WordPress is more of a CMS than ever before. The only limit to what you can build is your imagination.

Believe me or not, this new release will mean a lot to developers than publishers for couple of reasons -

  • Awesome new features – WordCast Team has written a fantastic blog post on WordPress 3.1 and have explained the new features nicely. Check it out to know more about WordPress 3.1. These new features will allow developers to extend and communicate with WordPress to develop rich content sites easily!
  • Support requests – Well, This is something for developers and WordPress users alike. As you have noticed that WordPress 3.1 has got loads of changes in the way Posts are handled; a reason why loads of users are facing problems with broken plugins and themes as soon as they upgrade to WordPress 3.1. Developers should release the fixes as soon as possible by referring to the changes they’ve made. Thankfully! WordPress team has always been awesome with the documentation, so as a developer you should not have much problems.

How do I check if my theme/plugin will work with WordPress 3.1?

Normally, you don’t get issues of broken themes & plugins with WordPress upgrades. With major releases, it makes sense that we don’t upgrade on production/live environment and rather create a test environment and then check if everything works fine or not. Our clients faced issues after the upgrade, although they were quick fixes, their site was down and was giving errors while we were fixing the bug.

I would suggest that one should clone their blog on a test location and then follow the upgrade procedure or try to upgrade it automatically through WordPress auto upgrade feature.

Bookmark and Share

rbhtbrwd  I’m not an avid book reader as most of my reading is done online through blogs! Of course, its not the simplest and fastest way to learn things as compared to books. However I prefer this way over books as I’ve noticed this has worked in my favour more than the traditional way. I do realize that not everyone prefers the self learning method through blogs and some even don’t look outside books.

For those I thought of listing some of the most useful and popular books on the topic of WordPress design & development.

1. How to be a RockStar WordPress Designer – RockablePress

Managing web content has always been tricky, but with WordPress, any web designer can have a flexible, free and powerful CMS to use not just on blogging projects, but on all sorts of websites. In How To Be a Rockstar WordPress Designer you will learn step by step how to take a straight HTML site and power it with WordPress. You surely need knowledge of HTML & CSS to go forward with this book. The book helps you learn the art of creating WordPress Designs by working on three WordPress designs as examples through out this book. It’s one of my favourites and one that I recommend the most.

2. Build Your Own Wicked WordPress Themes – SitePoint

Build Your Own Wicked WordPress Themes is a step-by-step guide to creating beautiful themes for the world’s most popular CMS, WordPress. By following the book’s advice, readers can produce designs that are aesthetically stunning, consistent, and for-purpose -whether it’s for their own use, or to drive a high price on the theme marketplace. The book was published by SitePoint and is probably one of the reason to buy this book. SitePoint has always been a great resource for webmasters and same can be said about this book too.

3. WordPress Plug-in Development –Vladimir Prelovac

Iwpplugindevelopment f you can write WordPress plug-ins, you can make WordPress do just about anything. From making the site easier to administer, to adding the odd tweak or new feature, to completely changing the way your blog works, plug-ins are the method WordPress offers to customize and extend its functionality. Vladimir Prelovac needs no introduction in WordPress community. He’s author of some of the most popular WordPress plug-ins, so its not a wonder that he released this fantastic book. If you are planning to do cool things with WordPress, this is the book that you need to purchase!

4. Smashing WordPress: Beyond The Blog – Smashing Magazine

Smashing WordPress shows you how to utilize the power of the WordPress platform, and provides a creative spark to help you build WordPress-powered sites that go beyond the obvious. You will learn the core concepts used to build just about anything in WordPress, resulting in fast deployments and greater design flexibility. The book was published by Smashing Magazine, one of the most popular design blogs on the internet and their 200,000+ subscribers prove that too! Smashing Magazine is powered by WordPress and as they learnt about the power of WordPress, they decided to pen down its power and flexibility in a book. Smashing WordPress talks about how one can utilize WordPress as CMS by building themes & plug-ins.

5. Professional WordPress: Design and Development – Hal Stern, David Damstra & Brad Williams

As the most popular blogging and content management platform available today, WordPress is a powerful tool. This exciting book goes beyond the basics and delves into the heart of the WordPress system, offering overviews of the functional aspects of WordPress as well as plug-in and theme development. This book provides in-depth look at the design and development of WordPress as CMS. It’s distributed by Wrox and probably one the reasons to go for the book. Wrox has always been pretty impressive with their collection of books and this book is no exception.

6. WordPress Theme Design – Tessa Blakeley Silver

wpthemedesign It seems like WordPress developers have aspirations to promote it to a full Content Management System. The book relates how WordPress grew out of a means of easily customising a blogging system. To a large extent, Silver indeed persuasively demonstrates that it can function as CMS. The reviews of the book are impressive although one of the reviewer has mentioned that this book explains CSS in better way than XHTML & PHP.

7. A Brain-Friendly Guide to Creating Your Own Custom WordPress Blog – Jeff Siatro

With this book you’ll learn how to move beyond the standard WordPress look and feel by customizing your blog with your own URL, templates, plugin functionality, and more. As you learn, you’ll be working with real WordPress files. The book’s website provides pre-fab WordPress themes to download and work with as you follow along with the text. The book focus on extending WordPress with themes & plugins and teaches that how one can convert HTML & CSS based templates into functional WordPress themes! O’Reilly Media is the publisher of this book and have put it in their Head-First series of books.

8. WordPress 3 Site Blueprints – Heather R Wallace

This book isn’t designed for beginners, those with even an intermediate knowledge of WordPress will be able to get these sites up and running in no time. Also, since each chapter is devoted to the design of a different site, there’s no need to read the book in any particular order. Instead, you can pick and choose the blueprints that are of the most interest to you and dive right in. Heather R. Wallace, author of this book suggests that if readers will have knowledge of HTML & CSS then it’ll be beneficial for them, although knowledge of PHP isn’t required.

9. BuddyPress For Dummies – Lisa Sabin Wilson

Got a cause, a hobby, or some other obsession you can’t wait to share with a like-minded community? BuddyPress is the buddy you need to get that community started. Here’s how to get BuddyPress up and running on your WordPress Web site and use its free tools and themes to host a social network devoted to your pet projects, right on your site. Lisa Sabin Wilson’s name in WordPress community is not new. She wrote the first and very popular book for beginners of WordPress, WordPress for Dummies! If you are new to WordPress & want to extend it to a level where it can compete with Facebook – errmm, that’ll be like exaggerating; lets rephrase the last sentence – “If you are new to WordPress & want to extend it to a level where it’ll be better than Orkut, then you’ll need to learn about BuddyPress.” This will add new dimensions in your WordPress design & development!

Bookmark and Share

Google Fonts Directory & Font API

Google Font Directory

Not long ago, I wrote a post about how one can utilize font web services like Typekit & Fontmeup to improve the typography of the webpages. Although, in order to utilize the actual power of these services one needs to shell out money from their pockets. Well, in order to fight the issues of improving the typography of the web pages, Google has come up with Google Font Directory. This is made possible with the help of CSS3 that allows web designers to use fonts that are stored on the web.

Prior to this, we were using WP Cufón, a WordPress plugin that lets you use the Cufon technique to display various fonts on the web page with the help of javascript. If you are interested in knowing the working behind Cufon then check out this link. However, with the launch of Google Font API, one can easily use the fonts available in the Google Font Directory. Thanks to Adrian, who has created WP Google Fonts, a WordPress plugin already using the Font API. We are currently running this plugin to improve the headings [h1, h2, h3....] of our posts and pages.

WordPress 3.0 RC1 is out! Expect the final version soon

WordPress 3.0 - The ultimate one!

WordPress 3.0 - The Ultimate One!

Last week, WordPress 3.0 RC1 was released. RC1 is supposed to be almost the final product where the bugs are generally not available. You can take version RC1 as the last step towards releasing the stable version. Well, it stable enough that it may get released as the final version, however with more than 20 million people using WordPress, it is a possibility that there may be more bugs that can be reported. We’ve already discussed about the upcoming and much awaited features like Custom Menus, improved custom post types, merger of WordPress MU as mult-site in WordPress 3.0, so I wonder if its necessary to talk about it again?

Although, If you are testing the RC and come across a bug, you can:

Happy BirthDay WordPress!

Cake with WordPress Logo

On 27th May, WordPress turned 7! I’ve been late in wishing WordPress a happy birthday! Although, I did read somewhere – Its Better to be late than never! And I’m still wondering that what would be the apt gift for this occasion, may be you can suggest me something!

Its been 7 years and WordPress has grown from  b2/cafelog fork into a powerful CMS that is competing with the likes of Drupal, Joomla and other established content management systems. I’m sure writing this blog post would have been nostalgic for Matt. He shared that there are more than 1500 developers who are actively contributing in the development of WordPress and I must say that its an achievement! Motivating people to contribute together and to build a master piece like WordPress is really a commendable job and they all deserve millions of thanks from every WordPress user.

I remember that how I liked Blogger over WordPress in its early days, however as it was embraced by developers and I learnt new stuff, I realized that if I want to be a professional blogger, then it has to be WordPress and nothing else! Aha! not only for Matt, its kinda nostalgic for me too :)

I would like to once again wish Matt, team Automattic, those 1500 developers, plugin developers, theme developers [;)], those who use WordPress, those who spread the word about WordPress, in fact anyone who loves WordPress for making this a success!

Bookmark and Share

Some of you will be surprised that why exactly is the post not about the linux web server setup for WordPress blogs. The reason is that one of my very good friend Shridhar Pare, owner of Xisto Network gave me a visit. As you can imagine we had long discussions about web, web hosting and forums where the knowledge lives. This is one of the reason that why I’m writing about Forums and not writing about hosting.

In my earlier post, I’ve discussed that how bbPress should be a plugin for WordPress. While going through my Google Reader, I came across a post by Dougal Campbell where he asks the question that if users like the idea of using WordPress itself as forum! Even Justin Tadlock has dwelled upon this idea before and has created a mockup about his idea [via Patrick Daly]-

I’d thought about this before and I completely believe that it would be fantastic to use WordPress as the forum. It is easily possible to create a theme for WordPress that looks like a forum, P2 Theme is a great example where the full editor is made available directly in the theme, which is one of the major features of forums. Lets see that how WordPress can provide the major features and where it lacks -

Forum Features that WordPress can provide

  1. Forums post can be made through WordPress posts.
  2. Categories can be the Forum sections.
  3. Comments can be the forum replies.
  4. Member profiles is part of WordPress by default.
  5. Fantastic editor that lets users easily share photos and embed videos [remember: WordPress 2.9.2 has oEmbed support]

Of course, there are other features that you can have with the help of plugins that are available for WordPress and here are some of them that will always be useful in case you decide to use WordPress as forum -

  1. Akismet can help protect you from Spam posts.
  2. W3 Total Cache can ensure that there will be less burden on server.
  3. Gravatar can be used in place of Avatars.
  4. All in one seo pack can take care of the SEO of the forums.
  5. Then there are plethora of plugins related to social media that can help you in building forums.

Forum features where WordPress lacks

  1. There aren’t possibilities of creating private forums.
  2. Membership level management is not as powerful as one would like
  3. Private messaging systems

Well these are some of those features that aren’t in WordPress and the trouble of all this will only be experienced by those forum administrators who have larger forums otherwise major features are already covered by WordPress. There are plugins like SimplePress and BuddyPress that can give you more advanced forum features, in fact SimplePress is a plugin that converts WordPress into a good forum system. I haven’t played around with it so I wouldn’t be in a position to comment on the performance of it however, with the long list of features, I was certainly impressed.

What do you think about using WordPress as forums? Will you prefer your favorite CMS for running forums or will you prefer to use commercial solutions like Invision Power Board, vbulletin etc or will you be interested in using an open source solution for the forums?

Bookmark and Share

Nearly a month is left before long awaited and much talked about WordPress 3.0 comes out. However, we are seeing a flurry posts on WordPress 3.0. Most of the bloggers are writing about this upcoming master piece, so I thought that I should write something about WordPress 3.0 too as Beta 1 has already been released. There are lot of new features in this release and I thought a small walkthrough won’t be bad!

Video for the Lazy Fellows!

Highlight Features of WordPress 3.0

  • New menu management feature – This feature will let users to build custom menus with ease. This feature was released as a plugin by WooThemes guys for their own framework, however after Automattic approached them, they allowed them to integrate this feature in WordPress 3.0. Isn’t that generous?
  • Improved custom post types, custom taxonomies including hierarchical support – As WordPress becomes the top choice in CMSes, it is getting lot of features that are focused towards easier and better management of content. Custom Post types and custom taxonomies will make things easier for WordPress consultants to customize the websites easily. Learn more about Custom Post Types in WordPress 3.0 over here.
  • Focus on Themes – New theme “Twenty Ten” will be the only default theme in WordPress. Kubrick & Classic themes will be removed although they’ll be available in the WordPress themes extend. Other than the shuffle of the themes, coders can also rejoice as they’ll get improved child theme support and a feature where bloggers and web admins will be able to update all the themes in one go. We
  • Standalone WordPress and WPMU code merged – So if you want multiple blogs on a single WordPress installation then it surely won’t be problem. You can configure WordPress 3.0 to host multiple blogs as sub-directory or sub-domain. If you are interested in using multiple domains on single WordPress installation then don’t forget to check out Domain Mapping Plugin by Donncha, lead WPMU developer. There is much more comprehensive guide on how to create blog network with WordPress 3.0 over here.

I’m sure now you’ll be convinced that you’d want to upgrade to WordPress 3.0 right away, however it won’t be available till next month i.e. May 2010. Although there are few other things that have changed in WordPress 3.0 and lets have a look at them -

Other Important Features in WordPress 3.0

1. Choose username & password at installation – As we have already discussed that keeping “admin” as the username is not cool but it makes life easier for hackers. To avoid this, WordPress 3.0 will let you choose your desired username during installation itself! Thanks WP Cookies for the image.

custom-username-password.jpg

2. Custom Backgrounds made easy – WordPress 3.0 will support custom background for themes. By adding only 1 line of code in functions.php of the theme, users will be able to change the background of the blog with lot of ease! This means that any user will be able to literally change the look of their blog in couple of clicks.

3. Introducing Super Admin – Till now, “Administrator” role was the top user and it was able to do all the tasks. However, now there is a new user role i.e. “Super Administrator”. This new user role will be able to manage everything from individual blog features to multi-site features.

Well, there are hell lot of new additions or changes that anyone would love to list in a blog post, however its practically impossible to do so. Some are even way too difficult to explain – however those who are interested in the nitty gritty of the development can head over here and check out the current development process.

I must say that I’m UBER EXCITED about the release of WordPress 3.0. One of the key reason is that WordPress 3.0 will help theme & plugin developers a lot. Its shaping up as a mature CMS and it certainly helps us in faster development. You won’t believe, I literally wish every day that it gets released ASAP! What are your thoughts about WordPress 3.0? Will it be able to compete with Drupal anytime in near future?

Bookmark and Share

nfs-need-for-speed.jpg

In last post, I told you about Content Delivery Networks and how to use them along with WordPress. Although, now I can suggest that one should certainly use Content Delivery Network as I’ve experienced the change in speed myself! Yesterday, I implemented CDN on this blog and the notice is considerable. The pages that used to take around 9 seconds to load are now loading in about 5 seconds. That’s a decent amount of difference! Now, I would tell you some of the questions that I had in my mind and I’m sure that you will be having them too -

Is it a costly affair?

Content delivery networks are considered to be costly, however surprisingly they are not. Most of the CDN providers run on Pay as you go pricing model and that lets you take control of things. In order to run the test, I signed up with MaxCDN, they have a fantastic offer – they are giving away 1 TB for $ 10. Of course, this is a trial run and a customer will be charged near about $100 for the next 1 Tb. Anyway, I’m not trying to promote any CDN provider, I went for MaxCDN for couple of reasons -

1. It was cheaper than other CDN providers.
2. It has been referred by Mashable, Joost de Valk, W3 Total Cache and I think that was more than enough for me.
3. 1 TB will run for months, there is no monthly payment, so I don’t have anything to lose.

Is it really hard to setup the CDN?

I wasn’t sure about this answer because there wasn’t anyone to tell me that how should I go about it. However, while playing with it – I realized that it is way to simple to setup the CDN. Of course, it would have been a nightmare without the W3 Total Cache. I just don’t have enough words for the praise of this plugin, still I would try to sum up in 2 words – Simply Marvelous!

So what’s the procedure?

I did the setup on MaxCDN and therefore, I would mention the steps for MaxCDN and W3 Total Cache settings only. If you plan to use any other CDN then you may have to refer to their support. I’m assuming that most of the CDN providers will have similar options only. Anyway, here’s how I completed the task -

1. Create a Pull Zone on CDN provider. In this (screenshot) most of the settings are generic, the only place where I got confused was Origin Server URL section. Anyway, I used the following settings and created the pull zone.

maxcdn-pull-zone.jpg

2. Asked WPWebhost to change the CName record as asked by MaxCDN. In many cases, Cname can be changed by you only, however WPWebhost doesn’t give the direct option to its users. However, support team was pretty quick in making the change. After the change, I waited for about 10-12 hrs for propagation. I tried to check http://cdn.blogdesignstudio.com and once I saw the whole website load without issues, I thought that it must be the right time to make changes in W3 Total Cache settings.

3. In the General Tab of W3 Total Cache, make sure that CDN should be enabled and the type should be selected as Origin Pull (mirror) [as shown in the screenshot]

cdn-settings.jpg

4. In the CDN Settings tab of W3 Total Cache, you can configure various options related to what you want to use through CDN and what exactly you want to serve using your own web host. What I changed was just one value; ensure that you need to just put the value of Custom CDN Domain (of the first screenshot) in “Replace Default Hostname With”. Here’s the screenshot of what I have -

cdn-settings2.jpg

That’s it! I just saved the settings and everything was working neatly for me. If you get decent traffic and want to ensure that your blog loads faster than others, then you should surely use a CDN. In the end, I can say that I’m happy with what I’ve achieved – I’ll be posting more optimization techniques to ensure that we also contribute in making the web faster!

Bookmark and Share