Josh Betz

Engineer, Solver of problems, Wisconsin Badger

Facebook: Building the WordPress plugin

WordPress developers will be familiar with many of the problems described here.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately — writing open source software (where you have a whole variety of environments to support) will be entirely different from working at a company like Facebook (where you probably know more specifically what the servers will look like). Each is going to have his own challenges to think about. Once you get used to developing with certain challenges in mind, it’s probably not obvious what new challenges there will be in a different context.

Using LESS as a Live CSS Engine

It generally just seems like a bad idea to trigger processing of LESS (or SASS) with a page load. Honestly, CodeKit does so much more than just compile your stylesheet into CSS that it doesn’t even seem worth it to me. You should still be generating minified CSS and Javascript as well as optimizing your images. Plus the syntax checking I get on my Javascript. Not to mention all the cool stuff it does with my browser. I’d still be using CodeKit even if I didn’t have to worry about compiling SASS.

Andrew Powers:

One of the coolest things about implementing LESS inside of the framework is that we’re able to dynamically control colors and typography based on user selections. This allows us to design things well, while still giving users the ability to customize colors and type.

Since WordPress 3.4, there is a theme customizer built in that allows you to dynamically control colors and typography based on user selections. Otto has a couple of really good articles on how to use it. The first, How to leverage the Theme Customizer in your own themes, is a good introduction to the customizer. I was happy find that there’s even Javascript that reloads the page within the customizer if you choose a new color so you don’t have to save it and manually reload to see what it will look like (possibly only in 3.5 and up).

Users are able to actually add their own LESS in the admin options panel. They can use common variables for the background color or main fonts.

If your users want to write custom code for their theme, don’t add a textarea to your admin panel that allows them to write code, encourage them to write a child theme — it’s what they’re here for.

Develop for WordPress Locally: Install WordPress

In this video I show how to grab the latest development build of WordPress from the subversion server with git-svn. Then we get a copy of the Developer plugin which shows us lots of other stuff we can do if we’re going to develop on WordPress.


Develop for WordPress Locally: Server Setup

The first of a series where I talk about setting up a local environment to develop for WordPress.

I don’t use MAMP like many other people do, but instead run everything in an Ubuntu virtual machine with VirtualBox. There are a few things we need to do to make this setup practical, like give ourselves a local address to connect on and set up a shared folder between the host and guest OS. Then we’ll set up Nginx with PHP-FPM and MySQL so the server is ready to go for WordPress.

In the next video, I’ll download and install a development version of WordPress along with some plugins that make development much easier.


Pretty Code Editor in WordPress

I’m one of those people that has the visual editor disabled in WordPress. I write everything in Markdown and I want the editor to make very few decisions about what HTML to generate. The downside of this is that the code editor is set in Consolas — not exactly great for writing long posts. To fix that, I made a new file in mu-plugins called pretty-code-editor.php. It’s just two CSS rules, but now writing in the code editor is much easier.

\#wp_mce_fullscreen, .wp-editor-area {
font-family: "Baskerville", Georgia, Serif !important;
font-size: 16px;

<?php }

Follow along with the Gist on Github because I’ve got some ideas that would make this even better.

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