Archive for the ‘Blogs’ Category

Upgrading WordPress

Friday, March 14th, 2014

I’ve been using WordPress at my website and the websites of clients since 2004, when WordPress was known as b2.

All this time, I have been adding WordPress to more websites, and indeed, for the past several years, have been building entire websites on the WordPress platform. At the same time, I have been upgrading WordPress installations as the newer versions of WordPress have become WordPress Update Messagestable. Notice I said “stable” and not “available”. Not all upgrades work right out of the box. I like to wait until feedback about the upgrades is available. If comments are positive, I start upgrading. If not, I wait it out. If circumstances warrant an immediate upgrade, I write up a manual upgrade process and upgrade WordPress that way.

Preparation for “auto” upgrading WordPress

Here is the preparation I do before “auto” upgrading a WordPress installation. The WordPress upgrade process that I use is excessive, however, being a technologist and having years of PHP programming experience, the excessive backups allow me to recover from a bad upgrade from a number of angles – and bad WordPress upgrades happen.

  1. Record the version number of the current WordPress install (in case I have to call the hosting company)
  2. Log in using FTP and copy all the files onto my local system.
  3. Log into the WordPress installation (wp-admin) and use the Export (Tools, Export, ALL content)
  4. Log into the hosting account’s admin (cPanel, siteadmin, Plesk, etc) and use phpMyAdmin to export the entire database to a file that is saved to my local system.

At this point, I have two copies of all the data and all files.

Auto Upgrading WordPress

auto-upgrade WordPress button
Pressing this button generates the auto-upgrade of WordPress

It is time to “do” the WordPress auto upgrade.

  1. In the Dashboard,  Deactivate all the plugins
  2. In the Dashboard, click on Please Update Now.
  3. When the WordPress Updates page displays, I click on the Update Now button on the left.
  4. I read the log that the upgrade process displays on the screen. If there are errors noted, I print the screen so I know what the errors are and where to look.
  5. When there are no errors, I go back and Activate the plugins one by one. After each activation, I look at the website to make sure that all is intact.
  6. When all the plugins are activated, I Update the Plugins that have new versions; again, one at a time. After each update, I review the website to validate that WordPress is still working as expected.

Notes:

  • FTP: Filezilla, CuteFTP, and Dreamweaver are three popular programs for FTP
  • WordPress Updates page: My experience has been that every time I have checked Upgrade all the Plugins at the same time, the WordPress upgrade fails. Now, I do not check anything in the plugin section. When the WordPress upgrade completes successfully, I upgrade the plugins one by one. [I will try upgrading all the plugins with the WordPress core upgrade again after a period of time when the auto installs have been working without a failure.]
  • WordPress Updates page-> Update Theme: The Theme is a bundle of code that sits on top of WordPress and works with the WordPress code. When the WordPress code is changed (you’ve changed the foundation), there is no guarantee that the Theme code will continue to work with the new version of WordPress. So, I upgrade the WordPress core first. Then, I check to make sure everything is working as it should, and come back on another day (after the client has worked with the upgraded version of WordPress) to upgrade the Theme.
  • Activating plugins one-by-one: Plugins are pieces of code that were written to work cooperatively with pieces of the WordPress code. When the WordPress code is changed, there is no guarantee that the plugin code will continue to work. This is why it is a good idea to deactivate all the plugins before upgrading and then activate the plugins one-by-one after the upgrade to ensure that each plugin still works with the new code.
  • Updating plugins one-by-one: For the same reasons above – a different version of WordPress code working with a different version of the Plugin code, I update plugins one by one, validate that WordPress continues to work as expected, then continue updating Plugins.

 

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WordPress for Android App

Monday, November 18th, 2013

I find myself traveling more and more with my Acer A700 tablet. It is compact, light and all I need when reviewing websites, blogs and PHP program functionality with clients.

Sometimes I find myself with time in between client meetings; not enough time to return to the office, but enough time to get a little something done, like updating my own or a client’s blog.

Until today, I have been logging into the blogs that I maintain using the browser interfaces (Firefox, Chrome, Dolphin) on my Android tablet. When I would write in the content box for a post, the ‘browser-accessed’ WordPress would have difficulty keeping the writing area in control. No matter how many times I would place the cursor, the cursor would move serendipitously to another section of the post and insert letters in the middle of words or in the bullet above the one that I wanted to be writing in. Even when I got the cursor into the correct spot, as soon as I typed one letter, it would float to another area. It has always been laborious to make even small updates to blogs.

So, I recently downloaded the WordPress for Android app to my Acer Android tablet. This is my first test using it.

The interface is familiar. Abbreviated list of dashboard menu items on the left. Writing area to the right. Plenty of room to write. When a menu item is clicked on the dashboard, the dashboard slides out to the left, and a list of the posts, pages or comments appears in its place.

There are icons in different sections of the window. Pretty easy to figure out what each icon does: a Plus sign (+) for adding a post or page, three lines stacked on top of each other toggles the display of the dashboard menu that overlays the current listing of posts, page, or comments.

Already, I am impressed with the app. I’ve written quite a few words so far with my WordPress for Android test, and I’m typing as I normally would; two hands on the keyboard and always in control of the location of the cursor. I’ve tried portrait and landscape orientation, and both work as expected. I prefer the portrait because the QWERTY keyboard takes up less space and I can see more content at a time.
The icons for Bold, Italicize, Underline, Strikethrough, Link, Quote, and More… are located just above the keyboard on the left. The icon for including Media is above the keyboard on the right. Let’s try that out…

image

I just clicked the icon for media. There are four choices:

  • Select a photo from the gallery
  • Select a video from the gallery
  • Take a new photo,
  • Shoot a new video.

I chose take a new photo, and you can see the shot I just took of the coffee shop I am in. The photo was automatically included with a link to the full size photo on its own screen. The photo was included as 2000 x 1500 pixels. [Using my desktop machine, I edited the image to shrink to about 1/5 of that size.]

The WordPress for Android editor is in HTML mode. I’ve searched around and have not yet seen how I can edit the photo in WYSIWYG (View) mode to add an ‘alt’ and ‘description’ and remove the link. I have not found a way to generate the photo dialogue box.

The spellchecker/suggested spelling drop down list works well.


Okay – so I have edited this over several days. There were more paragraphs and I had manually formatted a bulleted list because there are no list options on the app menus. In the course of saving and logging in and out of WordPress for Android, I lost the version that I had wanted to publish. I had saved it for one more read-through, and now it is not available on my tablet nor in WordPress on my website. I can only imagine that I had had a bad connection and it really didn’t save, because just about every other version is listed in the “versions” section of my WordPress blog.

Truth be told, I am currently finishing this up in my office using my Dell ‘desktop’ setup. Not wanting to lose another version, I decided to take the safe route to getting this published.

So, moving forward, I will continue to use the WordPress for Android app for smaller blog articles and minor updates. As I learn more about the application, perhaps, I will be emboldened to write longer blog posts such as this.

What about you? What is your experience using the WordPress for Android app? Any insight into what I might have done incorrectly?

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Do NOT Delete Blog Posts

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Unless you have advanced programming skills or a programmer standing by,

  • Do not delete blog posts.
  • Do not rename blog posts.
  • Do not re-categorized blog posts.

Google and the other search engines have already indexed the post. It is possible that the blog post will appear in the search engine results pages (SERP) and that people will click on the link. They will be met with a 404 Not Found error page.

When visitors see the 404 Not Found page, they experience disappointment and a sense of failure because they did not find what they had expected, and they often internalize that to “I  set the wrong expectations (I failed)”. The negative experience gets associated with your quality of work, and they think that they will have the same disappointing experience with you.

404 Not Found error pages make Google, Bing, and AOL cranky, and can affect your overall rank in their SERP. They, too, have expectations. They expect your post to be at a certain web address, and, once a post is removed, renamed, or re-categorized, the web address changes, nothing is found, generating a 404 Not Found.

404 not found error page on cNet

c|net shows a sense of humor with their 404 not found page. Please note whose fault it is!

How to Delete Blog Posts, How to Rename Blog Posts, How to Re-Categorize Blog Posts

If you must delete, rename, or re-categorize a blog post, do it with the cooperation of your programmer. Ask the programmer to write a 301 Redirect statement and give the programmer the new web address of the post. What’s  a 301 Redirect statement? A 301 Redirect statement is a line of code that gets added to a system file. The line of code tells the browser that the post no longer exists in the original location and it redirects it to the new address.

Now, if you delete the blog post, there is no “new” address, so, you want to redirect to the most logically related post or page. If you re-categorize the blog post, the programmer (or you, if you have advanced programming skills) would redirect the address of the post when displaying by category, not the post’s web address. If you rename the post, no special thought or effort needs to be given, just use the new web address.

There are other ways to let browsers know that pages have moved or been removed, however, the 301 redirect method is recommended because it is universally understood.

If you are blogging using WordPress, this information is applicable to pages as well.

Happy blogging!

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WordCamp Boston

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

I (Karen Callahan of Adventures Online) am registered for WordCamp Boston, running Friday through Sunday,  October 25 – 27, 2013. Daily sessions are not posted yet, but, I always learn so much, I reserved my seat this week.

WordCamp Boston 2013

This is one of the ways that Adventures Online stays on top of the quickly changing Internet environment and in particular, WordPress developments and upcoming features.

Experts are projecting that there will be 1 BILLION websites by the end of 2013 and 2 BILLION by end of 2015. At WordCamp Providence in August, Andrew Nacin shared that WordPress had 18.9% of the market and was positioning itself to stay on pace with the Internet growth.  In early October, W3Techs reported in its post, Usage statistics and market share of WordPress for websites that WordPress had 20.1%.

Adventures Online is staying in ouch and positioning itself to maintain its skills and knowledge in order to provide WordPress development and training to a small percentage of the owners of those 1-2 billion websites. 🙂

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WordCamp Providence: Getting SASSy

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Brad Parbs presented Getting SASSy: Fun with CSS Preprocessors at WordCamp Providence. Parbs, founder of Snow Day Group, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a contributor to the WordPress core (The core is the base set of programs that get installed at every WordPress blogger’s website.), and loves all things WordPress.

I attended this session because I had heard about SASS at last year’s WordCamp Boston and again at Pubcon, had a vague recollection in the back of my head like, “As a WordPress developer, this is something that I need to do”, and thought that I would re-acquaint myself with it.

Brad Parbs Snow Day Group

Brad Parbs talks about CSS and SASS

So glad that I did! It is time to start using SASS to generate CSS so that I can accomplish more in less time, letting the SASS tool figure out the proper CSS for each different browser, and freeing me to develop more blogs.

CSS is the markup language used to define the style of your blog and website. CSS ‘code’ is typically kept in a file separate from web pages on which the blog entries display, and is then included in the header of the page so the contents will display correctly.

The content of a page, the images and words that will  display on the page, is defined in the page, and the style (size of font, color of font, location of images, image borders, page margins, etc.) is defined in a CSS file. CSS, then, is critical to the design presentation of your website.

Each browser supports different subsets of CSS ‘code’, so blog developers are often having to write different versions of code to accomplish the same thing but in different browsers. It is time consuming and drains creative energy.

Using a tool like SASS, a WordPress developer like myself can quickly define a box shadow around an image, and SASS will figure out which ‘code’ to use so that the box shadow displays correctly in each of the browsers.

One of the fantastic features of SASS is that, within the SASS development environment, you can break the SASS up into multiple files and work with smaller cohesive pieces at a time. Then when the blog is ready to be published, the multiple SASS files are rolled into one – which is the best way to store your CSS online for the quickest page load time (response time to your audience).

Other great features of SASS,

  • SASS works with responsive design
  • There are precompilers that auto-create the SASS environment without a lot of technical interference. Prepos or Scout are two precompilers that Windows users can download to create a SASS environment.

I have downloaded and installed Prepos and will be giving it a test run this weekend. In a couple of weeks,  I’m expecting to have some free time…Call me (508-480-8833) and I’ll use that time to develop your blog!

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