It’s been an interesting last few weeks for my personal development, and metaphorically speaking you could say that it has mirrored what's been going on with WordPress over the last few months. I’ve been optimizing, learning, and expanding the scope of how I see myself, and how others view me, plus I finally got around to launching some online design samples. As far as what’s going on with WordPress, the “little blog platform that could” has matured greatly and now launched (at the time of this writing) a full upgrade to WordPress 3.1.
Many consider WordPress to be a full blown Content Management System (CMS) even more than before, with the recent introduction of custom post types (and admin UI to match) and the fact that you can hack the admin interface to your liking with plugins like White Label CMS. It seems (at least for me personally,) all that remains is learning how to use the WordPress core smarter in my projects, plus figuring out whats a nice add-on (plugins, themes, hacks, and custom code) versus what practices should just be abandoned in lieu of improvements in WordPress 3. So, eager to find out what I could do with WordPress outside the norm, enter the latest WordPress NYC Meetup.
After missing a few WordPress meetups I really wanted to attend, I made time this week to head out to the WordPress Meetup NYC at it’s new location hosted at NYU Poly, and I made sure I RSVP’ed to get a slot. Especially, since in this edition the topic was a hot one, Brad Williams of WebDevStudios presented Intro to WordPress Plugin Development. Brad coincidentally runs the Philly WordPress meetup and if this presentation was any indication it’s also definitely worth attending on a regular basis as well.
A few changes since my last meetup were apparent this time around. NYU Poly is now the venue sponsor replacing Oracle in midtown. I must say the sunlight coming in through the window made for a nice feel. The environment definitely felt less corporate than the Oracle space and I recommend getting there early to find a good perch to view the screen.
Brad Williams’s slides were straight forward and focused on laying the foundation of good WordPress optimized code. He’s a great presenter that made nice with the NYC crowd sporting a “I Love NY” undershirt, and using fun examples like walking us through his faux plugin that engaged “Rage mode” on a mock blog to teach us his philosophy on plugin construction. There was a lively Q&A session but mainly the crowd wanted his slides. Other interesting things to note are – there was a heavy presence from designers, and a large group of newcomers to the meetup which was nice to see.
I won’t re-hash Brad’s slides but here are my main takeaways from the presentation and the Q&A:
- A complete grasp of the anatomy of a plugin
- Better understanding of introducing my own short codes
- The concept of “conflicting” function names with other plugins and how to combat this
- Two examples of high-selling premium plugins are Gravity Forms and Backup Buddy
- Taking advantage of code hooks in WordPress and there are thousands of them, some undocumented in codex and detailed info only exists in WordPress core code.
- His anecdote about the folks behind Gravity Forms “building a better mouse trap” contact form and then turning down client work to focus strictly on product development, hit home. In addition, his comments on finding plugins you like – which development has stalled on, might be a good place to start for ideas on your own plugins.
- Brad also discussed “pay models” and licensing for your potential products: give it away free with paid support, versus pay up front and offer varying levels of support and upgrades, etc.
Brad’s presentation got people excited, after which the crowd broke up into two rooms: WordPress Newbies (in which Chris Cochran of Webdevstudios fielded questions) and the more advanced WordPress crew stayed in the main room with Brad Williams and Steve Bruner.
Sponsors Nrelate and Themeforest.net were on hand to make their presence felt. Nrelate is running a contest you can learn more about by subscribing to their newsletter on their blog, Oliver Wellington basically announced you can style (using css) the output from their Nrelate Related Content plugin anyway you want, which they boast can improve your click-through rates on your site by at least 5%. Submit your styling for their review and you can win some cash and credit in the source code if your styling gets integrated into the next version of the plugin. Also Steve Bruner and Mark Brodhuber of Themeforest.net handed out 23 t-shirts to some lucky early birds.
The other treat for the attendees was that 3 copies of Professional WordPress Plugin Development, and 3 copies of Professional WordPress (Wrox Programmer to Programmer) were raffled off after Brad’s presentation. Still bummed I didn’t win any.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to the next one, and seeing some familiar faces and meeting new friends. Especially, since I will have knocked out a “Hello World” plugin or perhaps my own “Rage mode” plugin by then. Cheers.
More thoughts on WordPress, Custom Post Types, and Plugin Development
1. Brad William’s slides for Intro to WordPress Plugin Development