Tag Archives: Review

Marketing Video for WPSiteSync

I love the folks at ServerPress, who make DesktopServer.  So, I was super excited when they approached me to make a marketing video for their latest product: WPSiteSync.

This amazing plugin let’s you sync portions of content between WordPress sites without having to migrate entire databases.

If you have to migrate WP sites between local, staging, and live (or know you should) then I would highly recommended checking out WPSiteSync and staying tune to all the upcoming extensions.

How and Where I’ve Been (Re)Learning JavaScript

As I speed down the path to launch for my JavaScript for WordPress Master Course, I have been busily learning and relearning JavaScript anew.

Actually, I have worked with JS for a long time now and even taught college and high school JavaScript courses well before Treehouse.  However, JavaScript has come a long way in the last few years and I’d like to share and give thanks for all of the people and places I have been checking out to sharpen my skills and deepen my understanding.

 

First, A Thanks to Remkus and Wes

First, let’s all give thanks to Remkus de Vries for being the first person to really get a comprehensive study guide out to the community in response to Matt’s homework assignment.  Hopefully we’ve all read his Learning JavaScript in WordPress, Deeply article by now and took notes.

Others have written similar posts since then, but I particularly want to give a shout out to Wes Bos (an advisor to the course and an amazing JS trainer) who wrote an article with tons of resources for learning JavaScript.

 

You Don’t Know JS Book Series

Most of my re-learning of JavaScript has come from reading the series You Don’t Know JS.  This book is so good and really gets into the aspects of JavaScript that most people do not really take the time to learn.

This You Don’t Know JavaScript book series offers a contrary challenge: learn and deeply understand all of JavaScript, even and especially “The Tough Parts”.

Here, we address head on the tendency of JS developers to learn “just enough” to get by, without ever forcing themselves to learn exactly how and why the language behaves the way it does. Furthermore, we eschew the common advice to retreat when the road gets rough.

~ From the Preface of You Don’t Know JS: Up and Running, Kyle Simpson

I will likely make this book series pre-requisite / required reading for the course and will teach about all of the major topics it covers:

  1. Scope
  2. Closures
  3. this
  4. Object Prototypes
  5. Asynchronous programming
  6. Performance
  7. ES6 (ES7 and beyond)

So, big shout out to the You Don’t Know JS Book Series, which you can get for free on Github.  I’d suggest start reading it now if you’re interested in my JS for WP master course 🙂

More JavaScript Books

There are other books on JavaScript as well, but I have already read the Definitive Guide, The Good Parts as well as a number of others.

Here are a few other JS books that have caught my eye and I plan to read through before I finish the course:

 

Learning Via Videos

Lynda.com

A couple of weeks ago, a great member of the WordPress community, Roy Sivan (also an advisor to the course) launched a course on Lynda.com on Building a Single Page Application with AngularJS and WordPress.  That got me to sign up for a free account with Lynda.com so I could watch his course. Morten Rand-Hendriksen also teaches at Lynda and I checked out his courses on the REST API and Grunt and SASS.

Then, since I still had some time on my free account I proceeded to watch all of their intermediate and advanced JavaScript, Angular, React and Backbone courses as well 🙂

Udacity

Another online video site I heard about a lot while at Treehouse was Udacity.  I had never tried them before but I can say that they do have some great JS related content.  I signed up for a free account and checked out the following courses over there:

I liked the Udacity courses, the content was pretty good and not just introduction level JavaScript (although they have that too).  Shout out to Ben Jaffe, the instructor for most of those courses, I dig your style man 🙂

React For Beginners

Wes Bos has a series on React for Beginners.  Since React, Backbone and Angular are newer to me, I have been soaking up everything I can on these frameworks.  I highly recommend watching Wes’s course on React.  I went for the package that lets you download the videos and watch them offline.

EggHead.io

I had not heard of this site until reading Wes’ article that I link to above.  However, the site has so many videos on advanced JS topics that I couldn’t not sign up for a Pro account.

I am currently watching their videos on the following topics:

Frontend Masters

I found this site because Kyle Simpson, the author of You Don’t Know JS, mentioned above, offers several courses there on advanced JavaScript topics.  I have learned a lot from these folks and this is one of the better advanced learning sites out there.  Here are just a few of the great courses they have I’ve been watching:

Articles, Tutorials and More Websites

Once I started building out the actual projects for the JS for WP Master Course I realized (as we all do) that reading books and taking courses wasn’t enough and I had to dig deeper into specifics of the JS language, the WP API, and related frameworks.

In no particular order, I found these resources pretty helpful:

 

All of the JS for WP Master Course Advisors

I am so grateful for the list of 20+ advisors we have for the JS for WP Master Course.

When I taught at Treehouse I would occasionally ping experts with questions, but most of the courses were developed in isolation.  This course is completely different and I’m so much happier building a course with a panel of both technical advisors and experienced educators.

My meetings with the technical advisors mostly involves me picking their brains on specific things I don’t understand yet or just asking open ended questions and listening to them preach, ramble and often talk way over my head 🙂

The craft of an educator comes from an ability to learn something quickly and deeply, process it thoroughly, and reteach it to others in a way that makes sense and promotes the highest learning.  This is my skill and craft.  I also happen to know and love programming,  JS and WordPress, but I am first and foremost a teacher.

A huge thanks to the technical advisors who work with JS and the API on a day to day basis and have experience really getting into developing projects with the skills that the master course will cover.

To mention a few technical advisors specifically: Adam SilversteinBryce AdamsKevin StoverGeorge SephanisNoel TockBrent SheperdScott Bolinger and Josh Pollock.  Thanks folks!

I’ll write more in the future about the advisors (and the one’s with education experience in particular).

 

I Still Have A Lot To Learn

I have the utmost confidence, but I will also share it’s quite daunting to take on building a Masters level course on JavaScript for WordPress.

Most of my learning now has to do with the inner workings of Backbone, the changes in Angular2, how to best build with React and WordPress and the exciting changes with ES6.  Oh, and how to get Webpack working properly :p

Since the JS for WP Master Course will include Backbone, Angular and React projects, I am mostly learning through building at this point.

Shout out to the React and Angular WP admin boilerplates on Github and all of the people who have released Angular or React WP themes or projects.  I am trying to download and explore the code in everything I can find at this point.

 

How Have You Been Learning?

If you decide to wait to learn all of this stuff until my JS for WP Master Course comes out, I don’t blame you 😉

However, if you have been attempting to Learn JavaScript, Deeply on your own, I’d love to know about some of the resources you have found helpful.

The Best Free WordPress Backup Plugin

Screenshot of the plugin page on WordPress.org for BackWPup

I was recently reviewing WordPress backup plugins for a Treehouse project and came across BackWPup (from the folks at MarketPress.com).  From the research I have done, this is the best featured most solid free backup option for WordPress.

It has all of the following important features

  • Backup files and/or database
  • Schedule backups
  • Create multiple backup Jobs
  • Backup to server
  • Send backups to S3, Dropbox or FTP server
  • Advanced saving, compressing and optimizing options

On most small sites (and in past Treehouse courses) I have often recommended BackUpWordPress.  However, BackUpWordPress does not allow for off site backups.

For this reason I think I’ll be switching to BackWPup as my new favorite free WordPress backup plugin.

If you have some money to spend on backups (which you should considering how important it is), I would also recommend BackupBuddy, which comes with 1GB of free off site storage as well as a lot of powerful features, like the ability to easily restore full and partial backups.

In addition to BackupBuddy, if you want to go all out, you should check out VaultPress, a subscription based super powerful automated, off site backup service from the folks at Automatic.  I choose this option for my more mission critical WordPress projects.

Google Releases It’s Own Official WordPress Plugin

Google Publisher Plugin

So many plugins have existed that integrate with Google features, especially analytics related. So, it’s interesting to see one come out from Google themselves.  Introducing the Google Publisher Plugin (beta).

Unlike some of the other plugins, at this point in it’s beta release the plugin only does two things:

  1. Let’s you easily add AdSense ads to your site
  2. Let you easily verify with your webmaster account

I’m curious to see what future features the plugin may ship with. I’m a little surprised that they didn’t ship with adding analytic code to your site, although I’m guessing since so many themes and plugins already do this they figured it wasn’t necessary.

Add ZURB Foundation Shortcodes in the WordPress Editor

Foundation Shortcode Plugin

I  recently did a workshop on building a WordPress theme with the Foundation framework. If you build your WP site with Foundation, you may find it helpful to use this plugin, Easy Foundation Shortcode, since it will give you more flexibility over the Foundation based styling you do from the content editor.

Hardcode a Ninja Form in Your WordPress Theme

 

I have been a big Gravity Forms supporter for a long time, however, I’m beginning to get more interested in Ninja Forms, which is a free WordPress form builder and also quite powerful.

If you decide to build your WP forms with Ninja Forms, you may find the ninja_forms_display_form() function helpful since it let’s you hardcode a form directly into a template.

Most of the time I add my forms as shortcodes, but on occassion it’s necessary to hardcode in the form to the theme files itself. Here’s the full documentation for the ninja_forms_display_form hook.

Cool Front-end WordPress Editor from Raptor Editor

Raptor Editor Banner

I wrote recently about the front-end editor, Barley, for WordPress. Today I’m posting about another 3rd party service offering a front-end editor for WordPress, WP Raptor.

This plugin has a slightly different interface, but same basic principle: give users the ability to edit their site without going to the control panel.  Here is a screenshot below of what it looks like in action on the demo on their main site.  I am editing the block highlighted in pink marked “Themes”:

WP Raptor Editor in Use

The trend of front-end editors in WP is growing and I think I’m going to give this one a whirl on my next simple client project.