Learn Javascript, deeply.

learn-javascript-deeplyThat’s the homework assignment given to the WordPress community from Matt Mullenwegg’s State of the Word address.  To repeat: ‘Learn Javascript, deeply’.

A lot of sessions and conversations at WordCampUS 2015 backed up the notion of WordPress and the rest of the web moving towards JavaScript development.  The examples were many:

Adam Silverstein of 10up said that the framework that one chooses is not that important.  He likes Backbone because it stays out of the way.  React is a very opinionated about how to do things.  He also agreed with the point that it may be unwise to use a technology that originates from Facebook, with their history of inconsistency, and always doing what’s best for Facebook.  Backbone gives you granular control, while other JavaScript frameworks make assumptions and do everything for you.

Dirty Stylus had 4 completed projects. See their talk ‘Decoupled Development with WordPress JSON APIs’.  The advantages included parallel development by PHP developers on the back end, and JavaScript developer working on the front end.  They demonstrated technologies using AngularJS, RiotJS, MapBox, and an ACF-to-WP-API plugin.

The new Calypso app for Mac was built for WordPress using React, Flux and node.js.

Rachel Baker, part of the team building the JSON REST API, showed WordCamp US how to build a WordPress theme with a JavaScript front end.

The WordPress JSON REST API is going to be an important part of advancing the web, and knowing how to use JavaScript on the front end will be very important for developers.  Matt Mullenwegg’s message, and the speakers at WordCamp US 2015 have helped set a course for the future of WordPress and the Internet.


WordCamp US 2015, Day 1

The Setting

From the beginning, this WordCamp US felt a little different than the WordCamps I’ve attended previously.  Many people I’d seen as speakers previously were attendees.  Many popular WordPress twitter folks and bloggers were there, just walking around.  The topics of the talks seem higher level, more for developers and there was a lot of ‘I wish I could be at 3 talks at once’.

The attendees were friendly and every person I spoke to had something interesting to say about their work with WordPress.  All the organizers were kept solving problems, especially when the WIFI was overwhelmed in the first few hours of the conference.  Volunteers were everywhere and also helpful.

Philadelphia is a great city.  Easy access to downtown via Septa train from the airport, AirBnb rentals were plentiful if hotels aren’t your thing.  We stayed in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood just SE of downtown.  An easy walk to the conference.  My new favorite hangout in Philadelphia is Monk’s Cafe, an excellent Belgian Beer bar with great food too.  Heaven.  Downtown has some amazing architecture,  interesting sculptures,  great food and drink.   Even the restaurant staff were down-to-earth in the city, though you felt like you were in Manhattan.

The Talks

Curing a Critical Security Bug: This talk was about the MySQL vulnerability fixed earlier this year.  It feels good to know such experts are working on core.

A Bolt of Backbone: use it, learn it:  This talk confirmed everything about my goals to learn more JavaScript.  Adam Silverstein is a good speaker.

WordPress + The Internet of Things: Lots of opportunities for WordPress here, and RC Lations always give a great talk.  How does he stay so chill all the time?  Must be that clean Maine living.

The Future  Stack: Runnning WordPress with Tomorrow’s Technologies: This covered Http/2, php7, CSS4, Free SSL, JS2015.  Very fun presentation, and the talk made potentially dry material very interesting.  Short take is that  WordPress is ready for all the changes coming down the road.

React + WordPress: A motivating talk on using JavaScript.  Re-usable components sound pretty good and it looks like React removes a lot of the complexity of Single Page Application development.

Build a Theme with REST API: Rachel Baker comes out of the JSON REST API trenches to show us how to build a theme with JavaScript and the REST API.  Great cutting edge talk.

REST in Action: The Live Coverage Platform at the NYTimes: This talk was a bit of a disappointment since the title topic was only covered in the last 5 minutes of the talk, and no technical tips, no time for questions.  I think the speaker was busy making sure WordPress 4.4 would get out the door 3 days later as its lead developer, so it’s understandable.

A great first day, and I still need to see the talk by Nacin.  Always listen to Nacin.  Cheers, and off to Monk’s Cafe.



Seacoast Dev WordPress Meetup, December 2, 2015

After introductions among a dozen folks we learned we had a mix of developers, users, and those curious about WooCommerce.


David Long is talking about his experience with WooCommerce and WordPress.  WooCommerce (WC) is the rare, really solid WordPress plugin that is used to create online stores using WordPress.  David had a client with an existing website with static pages and lots of tables.   His task was to convert the site into a catalog/shopping site.  The client didn’t want financial transactions, so WC was used a customer ‘request for quote’ system.  No prices!  The products required an interaction between the client and customers before a sale.  David had to customize WC a lot to turn off checkout, shipping but that’s what is great about WC.  He used TablePress for converting grids of data into product lists.  Excel data was transformed into tables and then integrated into WooCommerce.  David went over the  administrative backend of WooCommerce looking at settings, products, orders.   The customer had a lot of requests and customizations which lead to 41 active plugins, a very high number, yikes.  David was very happy with the plugin that does rollbacks (WP-Rollback).  The combination of the complexity of WC and all the plugins can lead to incompatibilities when there is an update.  Rolling back is a great tool for that situation.

Amanda Giles was up next to show up some code used with WooCommerce.  Amanda likes all the customizable templates in WC.  Amanda is not afraid to roll up her sleeves and get into the code.   We went over all the action hooks and filters (100+) in the templates that allow a programmer to change what’s output, and how the data looks in the existing templates.  Figuring out what template is being used by WC is half the challenge before making a change.  WC is solid product and will be around for a while.  It was just purchased by WordPress.com and WordPress team members are taking rotations through WooCommerce learning the code.

Next month the group will return and hear a talk about the WordPress JSON REST API done by yours truly.