A good example of this assimilation was integration of WooTheme’s menu functionality into WordPress 3.0. Of course, the finished product ended up being slightly different (and in my opinion, slightly better) than the original Woo menu, but the important point is that there is now a menu standard that has been readily adopted throughout the theme building community. Almost every new theme takes advantage of this functionality, so it becomes easier to build universally on top of this technology now that you have a set of conventions on which to work.
“Originally themes were designs. Then they became designs with functions stuck on.” –Alex Denning, WPShout
What does this all mean? It means that Thesis is now GPL compliant because of a hard-fought war of attrition and the dual licenses (which was Matt Mullenweg of WordPress’s idea, btw) really do seem a win for everybody:
Automattic (the company behind WordPress) and Matt don’t have to incur a PR nightmare by dragging Pearson to court to set an inherited license precedent (especially silly since so many other major theme authors already adopted the GPL last year). In fact, Matt kinda looks like a bad-ass (Ghandi-style, at least) for persuading Chris to go GPL, using just some well-formed arguments and a couple of online soapboxes, including the infamous tipping-point discussion on Mixergy.com.
Chris gets to keep making a fortune off of theme sales (around $2 million so far, according to Chris’s first Mixegy interview), since nobody is allow to resell his theme outright (not with his images and CSS, anyway).
Most importantly, the WordPress community can now use Thesis’s functionality in other themes, and hopefully, take what manyconsider to be a standard-bearing theme admin panel, and turn it into the actual WordPress standard theme admin panel.
As an active ThemeForest downloader, I’ve seen dozens of different options panels, and while some are excellent, most are imitations of older versions of admin panels from the major theme developers, like WooThemes. Imagine, though, if every theme had the same easily updatable options page–making customizations a snap, as well as allowing you to reuse code (or create plugins) that added functionality to each and every theme options page right off the bat.
“Sure, there are some limitations with this system. With a set standard, new plugins will likely emerge to fill in the gaps.” — Justin Tadlock
As you can tell, I’m glad to see the walls of proprietary licensing finally fall away from long-time WordPress theme holdouts, like Thesis. There is work to be done, though, and the next step is taking this newest open-sourced theme and integrating either into the core of WordPress, or maybe even into a core theme admin plugin like the import/export function did in WordPress 3.0. One way or another, we need to create efficiencies by aiming to standardize as much of the WordPress backend experience as possible. I know it sounds crazy, but I’d like to one day see WordPress developers focus on web design once again;) If Thesis can become the de facto admin panel, we’ll be well on our way.
A friend of mine recently asked me, “Have you ever used Expression Engine? Do you have an opinion on it in comparison to WordPress? Is it just personal preference, or is one superior?”. I did a quick search to compare the two, and although I did find a very good article from Web Designer Depot on the matter, I thought that the post missed a few major arguments, which I’ll provide here for you.
BackupBuddy aims to be “the all-in-one solution for backups, restoration, and migration”, but does it deliver on that lofty promise?
As the newest product from the iThemes-spinoff, PluginBuddy, this plugin is a unique and surprisingly simple solution for both WordPress developers and end users to prevent data loss (through complete, rather than just database backup) and to migrate their WordPress sites to new servers. The second feature was the most interesting to us—several database backup options already exist (and backing up wp-content files isn’t difficult to do manually) but until now, there has been no true WordPress migration tool. And as developers, we can attest to the amount of site migrations that go on in the site-building world.
After reading several positivereviews, we decided to put the plugin through its paces, so we bucked up and dropped $75 on a Business License (which supports up to 10 sites) to fully test BackupBuddy’s backup and migration capabilites. And here’s what we found (hint: it’s awesome).
Just like any other plugin, BackupBuddy can be installed from the Plugin menu in WordPress administration. Simply click on “add new,” search and locate the plugin zip file, and start uploading. After uploading, the plugin creates a new Backup Buddy drop down menu in WordPress with the following options: Getting Started, Backups, Scheduling, and Settings.
The Getting Started menu option is obviously the best place to begin. After a paragraph-long promotional blurb at the top of this menu page, the plugin provides a very concise list of instructions for backing up and restoring the site.
Backup & Restore Instructions from the Backup Buddy “Getting Started” Menu Page
Before making a backup, the user is required to create a password in the Settings section of the Backup Buddy menu. This password will be used when restoring the backup file. After creating the password, the user is ready to navigate to the “Backups” menu section and perform the backup.
Making Your Backup
Upon visiting the Backup menu section, the user will notice that there are two backup options: full backup and database only. Either backup can be initiated by simply clicking the button bearing the name of the backup type. The full backup we performed on a simple WordPress site took only a second. After the zip file is created, the following items appear in the same menu section: file name, date modified, file size, and sending options.
Backup Zip Files Created by Backup Buddy
The two sending options available to the user are “send by FTP” and “send by email.” We tested the “send by email” option. On the first attempt, a message with the zip file attached was received in our email account after approximately one hour.
The backup zip files created are given a unique file name containing the date of the backup. It is important for the user to not change the name of the backup file. Later, when the backup file is restored, any changes to the file name may cause the file to not be recognized by the PHP import buddy function.
Now that the user has a backup zip file, when he or she is ready to restore the file, the importbuddy.php script must be downloaded. The Backup section of the menu displays a link for downloading this importing tool.
Restoring and Migrating Your Backup
We took our backup zip file and importbuddy.php script and plugged them into a sandbox web host account. In order to start the restoration process, the user must navigate to the domain containing the import script (http://2createanebook.com/importbuddy.php, in our test). The user will then see the following screen:
After entering the password created previously, the user is taken to step 1 of 4. In this step, as long as the user has not changed the file name provided by Backup Buddy, the drop down menu should include the name of the zip file loaded onto the destination server.
Step 2 of 4 involves checking to make sure the backup file is indeed the correct file. In this step, the user can see the site URL, the blog name, and the blog description.
Step 3 of 4 involves the user modifying any old settings in the backup file prior to uploading the contents to the destination server. In our test, we received a notice that the URL of the backed-up site, https://theschedulecsite.com, did not match the destination URL, which was created purely for testing purposes. While this appears to have not caused a problem during this step, the migration ultimately did not succeed, and this difference in URLs may have had something to do with the failure.
After the user determines that the import data is correct, clicking “Next Step” will start the restoration.
This step passed very quickly, but unfortunately the next screen indicated that an error was experienced during the restoration:
Our First Attempt Failed
Originally, The restoration/migration function did not work for us. We expected to complete step 4, and then be able to navigate to the destination URL and find a fully functional and restored version of the original site. Luckily, the plugin developers are busy guys, and the plugin was undated later in the afternoon. The update included a “compatibility mode” that helps migrations on Windows-based webhosts or servers with other wonky configurations.
So, in the end, BackupBuddy worked exactly as advertised. It helped me transfer the site exactly as it existed on its previous server. All the images were in tact, and the content was preserved and maybe most helpfully, every single WordPress setting was migrated over, as well. Resetting all those plugin and WordPress settings generally takes a significant amount of time (and a very good memory), so that feature is worth the money alone.
We highly recommend purchasing a BackupBuddy license for your WordPress sites. It’s cheap, easy and you can’t beat the sense of euphoria that comes with a successful website migration. Also, with a purchase, you’ll have access to unlimited BackupBuddy upgrades for a year, including any new features added to the plugin.
Last week, I read an article that urged readers to thank someone who does his job well. Even though the article referred to thanking someone in the online community (bloggers, designers, etc.) I thought I would reach out to my college science professor, Reggie Hudson (who also happens to work for NASA), and let him know I appreciate the teachings and the lessons I obtained from his astrobiology class:
I read an article last week about passing along gratitude to those who deserve it. If the article was correct, most people do not get thanked much, so when this morning, I again thought about your astrobiology class I attended while at Eckerd College in Fall, 2001 (I actually think about the class quite a bit), I decided I would take a few minutes and give appreciation for a very interesting, very educational and very enjoyable semester with you.
I still think (and talk) about the lessons–both book and otherwise–I learned in astrobiology. In a post-Wikipedia world, that class stands out as the last big information digestion I’ve had in my life. I learned a lot from you and I actually had fun doing so. The class was obviously challenging (this was the last semester before the class went Honors) and thus, incredibly rewarding to receive an A at the end.
I also thoroughly remember completely failing the constellation identification test on Tuesday of Thanksgiving week and having to stay at school an extra day to study and pass the exam the next evening (I appreciate the second chance you gave me, as well). I worked hard in Astrobiology and I’d like to imagine this one class having positively affected my work habits henceforth.
Mr. Hudson, I thank you for your dedication to science, students and learning. Never imagine that your efforts are in vain.
Appreciation is a very rare currency, so it never hurts to say thank you to someone who deserves it. I hope that you’ll take 10 minutes and try it out yourself today!
Item-9 Consulting is headed by Jason Pelker, a leading Chicago developer and marketer of small business and nonprofit websites. If there's a problem you're running into, chances are we did, too, and we're willing to pass on that expertise and research to you to help get past the obstacles and make your online presence as effective as possible.
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