How not to get our support

I just received an email from a lovely guy/gal complaining about how they wasted some time trying to get one of our plugins working. Sadly in this case we’re not going to even bother to help them sort out the issues but instead are going to use them as an example on how to not get our support.

So here we go… things to remember or take note of when wanting help;

  • Ask us… yup that’s quite important!
  • Our plugins are free
  • We generally do not charge people for adhoc support for our free plugins
  • Be polite… ’nuff said on that one
  • Even if we can’t help there’s a huge community at WordPress.org that are more than likely to be of some assistance

And there we have it… it’s not a tough list to take in and we believe that most of the things on there are common sense too.

Oh, almost forgot… here’s the mail that we received… so if you do want our help it’s best not to use this as a template.

Wasted 2 hours trying to figure out your instructions for pages plugin. When you make something you really should try to write more the what you did for this. I just erase of the site and gave up.

A Responsive Twenty Ten WordPress Theme

UPDATE: Although the following still exists and is available I have now released a WordPress plugin which gives the same output as the child theme but with the added benefit that it is hosted on the WordPress.org repository. The plugin can be downloaded here.

After reading about Jon Hicks implementation of media queries on his site to make it more responsive to user’s browsing context and the release of the (highly recommended) latest WordPress build I thought it was time to get my feet wet with Responsive site design.

After toying with the idea of implementing this on one of my client sites I thought “Hey! hold on I’m using WordPress 3.0 default theme on my blog… why not extend this?”. And so that’s exactly what I’ve done. I’ve created a child theme for TwentyTen which not only makes it fluid (up to 940px) but also makes it more responsive at smaller sizes. As well as these I’ve added some extra CSS to make it handle iphone and android browsers too thanks to some interesting articles by The CSS Ninja and riklaunim

The result of this the current 0.1 version of the Responsive Twenty Ten WordPress theme. It should be noted that this is a current work in progress which is one of the reasons that I’ve not published it to the WordPress.org themes directory just yet. There are a few known issues still too;

  • IE fluidity is not implemented – seemed to cause issue with the CSS introduced to pick up mobile resolutions (portrait and landscape).
  • Mobile (read Android and iPhone) have some issues dealing with the orientation. Still looking into this. Update – fixed ūüėČ
  • Requires use of some JS for IE (though I’ve disabled this at the moment.]
  • Not got round to validating the CSS yet (naughty naughty, yes I know). Update – fixed ūüėČ

The theme is essentially a fluid version of the default Twenty Ten theme with a fixed maximum width. The extra “responsive” magic comes in when the browser viewport width drops below 661px. What then happens is that the primary and secondary sidebars drop below the main content and appear just above the footer. Some tiny extra rules come into play for iphone and android browsers too to make the page layout flow better.

By all means download the theme in it’s alpha state and let me know your views. Of course you can just have a play with this site as I’m using it at present too.

Advanced WordPress Page Layout Experiment

Screenshot of layout

Styling WordPress page and post layouts can be daunting for the novice… especially if you don’t want to dirty your hands with PHP and the like. I wanted to experiment with what was possible to do using only the default WordPress theme 2010 and plugins alone (OK, some CSS was needed).

So I set myself the challenge of mirroring something which is a classic layout across news sites and ended up with the perfect example from the BBC News web pages (please someone let me know if I’m NOT allowed to publish the below pic).

Extract of the BBC News site, the desired layout
Extract of the BBC News site, the desired layout

The desired layout is essentially a main news article with a supporting image followed by a couple of secondary articles and then a listing of tertiary articles.

My initial ideas came from using the Widgets on Pages WorPress plugin that I had developed which allows the addition of sidebar areas to be inserted inline in pages and posts. Using this plugin I was able to essentially define multiple areas in a standard page (using a standard template) which could then have independant content defined and (with some tweaks to the live version of the Widget on Pages plugin) could be styled each in it’s own way. This, by itself, was limited though as I really needed some mechanism to pull in the desired stories… I needed something to support it.

Then at the recent WordCampUK 2010 I was lucky enough to be attending Michael Kimb Jones‘ presentation on WOW Plugins when the Query Posts plugin (by the incredible Justin Tadlock) was brought to my attention. The plugin provides a widget can be set up to be populated with the result of a query against the posts in the database. Kimb actually mentioned that he had thought of producing an entire WordPress site just through widgets… a very similar one to the train of investigation I was pursuing. This Query Posts plugin was the answer.

I put this plugin to work (with some slight mods to now use WordPress featured image feature) alongside my own Widgets on Pages plugin and some additional CSS to the 2010 theme to come up with a layout that is indeed on the way to what I was after.

Screenshot of layout
Adv layout with no template messing

The page content actually consists of only the following content;

To support this I have 2 sidebar areas defined (featured_news and also_in_the_news) which each have Query Posts widgets in which pull in the news feed with each one offset to allow idea of one single feed.

The CSS used to stylize these is as follows (yes I know it’s not clean… this is an experiment remember);

The demo page

How to display Widgets inside posts and pages

I was faced the need to be able to place extra¬†manageable¬†content inside a wordpress page’s core content… and without an existing plugin available to do this I thought I’d write one of my own.

The output was the Widgets on Pages wordpress plugin which is at time of writing at version 0.0.4. The plugin basically allows the author to add a shortcode to their wordpress page or post which will then add the content of a predefined Widget area (or sidebar) at that point in the post/page

Widgets on Pages Options

The plugin approach allows the user to add a lot of extra control to their wordpress sites without the need for any coding or markup skills (PHP, MySQL, HTML etc).

UPDATE: In version 0.0.4 you are able to define an unlimited number of separate sidebars and call these all separately within the wordpress content.