Ordering WordPress taxonomies

I came across an issue the other day when I was working on The Band Company website that required me to order a taxonomy numerically.  The issue was, that even though the items that I was ordering were numbers, they were being ordered alphabetically.  This is what I did to solve the issue.

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Life’s too short

I don’t know if it’s that I’m now sat on a train for too long each day and it’s allowing me to think too much, or that I’m just fast approaching that age where you turn grumpy, but recently I’ve started to think that life is too short.

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do something.

This is something that I am more and more coming to appreciate.

As a web developer, and all round geek, I know far too many ways to skin a cat (figuratively speaking). I’m also capable of doing anything web related, and up until recently I have been. The phrase above very much applies to me, and it has taken me a while to appreciate it.

My skill set lies very clearly in the coding of web applications and the functionality they offer. I can do the visual side of things, but I’ll never win any awards for it. I’m no designer. I’m envious of people who can, I just don’t have that spark.

I can tell the difference between bad UI and good UI, and I can create an Ok UI, but I will never create a great UI.

Anyway, I digress. My big revelation came when i was working on a WordPress installation for a family member. It’s cheaper for me in the long run to buy a theme then create one from scratch. Especially when there are such marketplaces as elegant themes, WooThemes, and themeforest. This time saved can then be spent with my family and not sat in the office working.

These themes are usually < $40, and are to a standard that I could never meet. The time saved (many many hours) cost so much more than the money I have to pay for the theme.

I’m notoriously tight, and won’t spend money unless I have to. My wife constantly makes fun of me for it. For many years I refused to buy an off the shelf theme as I had to pay for them. If I just put my hand in my pocket I would save hours of my time which costs much more than the cost of the theme. I can then spend my time working on the functionality and deliver the site sooner.

Another thing that is worth thinking about when making this decision between buy or build, is the professionalism that will be gained from buying a service and not doing it yourself. Say you’re building an app; you’ll need an icon. You might have Photoshop on your computer, but there is significant skill involved in icon design. Buying an icon for a small amount may be the difference between your app going viral (it wont be) and being lost in the thousands of apps out there. People’s first impressions are priceless and a dodgy looking icon may put them off. I know it does me.

This revelation extends beyond the world of the web. How much does your time cost? It’s worth me paying a gardener to come in and now my garden than it is for me to do it. They will do a more professional job, in a shorter amount of time, and for less money than it would cost me if I did it myself.

This doesn’t mean that you should get someone in, or pay for everything and not do it yourself. If you enjoy doing the task, and it gives you pleasure, then it is most likely worth your time to do it yourself.

Theming WordPress using Thematic and Compass

Recently I have started to play with making my own themes for WordPress. Rather than start from the ground and reinvent the wheel, I decided to use a base theme which I can then extend. I also opted to use the brilliant Compass css framework to speed up development. Im going to talk about how I set my project up to get the most out of these tools.

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WordPress network on Dreamhost

Recently I have started deploying more and more versions of the WordPress code base for different projects that I have been working on, and a couple of them have been network (multisite) installs.  For those who dont know what a multisite install is, well it allows you to run several instances of wordpress off a single codebase.

There are two ways [out of the box] that a network can run:

  1. Sub directories
  2. Sub domains
If you choose option 1 then when you create a new site it will appear at example.com/newsite, this is very simple to set up, as it uses mod_rewrite to make them appear in the sub folders.  The sub domain option makes sites appear at newsite.example.com.  This, in my opinion is a nicer way of doing things, but it requires that you have the ability to have wildcard DNS for your domain.  Unfortunately this is something that Dreamhost do not provide yet.

But all is not lost

If you log into the excellent Dreamhost panel to administer your account then you can set up your domains, you can follow these steps to get the new site hosted.

  1. Log into Dreamhosts Panel
  2. Click Manage Domainsmanage domains
  3. Click Add New Domainadd domain
  4. Scroll down and fill out the Mirror Domain form. Enter the new wordpress site into the “Create the mirror at” field, and choose the main wordpress network address from the dropdown for the mirror this site field. Finally click mirror this domain.Mirror domain
  5. You should see the success notification.Success

Sit back and relax

Thats it, all done, your new WordPress network site is up and running on a sub domain. Its obviously not as nice as the domain magically appearing out of thin air, but on small-medium sites where you control the setting up of network sites manually you can do this at point of creation.

Thats not all folks

If you also take the time to install the WordPress Domain Mapping plugin, then you can use the process above to host completely different domains off of a single wordpress codebase. How cool is that.