The South Yorkshire WordPress User Group (SYWP) has been going for a few months now: another group under the banner of the GIST Hub. For me it’s been very useful. Not just from a WordPress point of view (in which I have some professional interest) but it’s also a great place to share general web knowledge. A couple of our members suggested that I take notes, so I post these here and on the SYWP blog. Before I start, I’d just like to say thanks to everyone who contributed. Both talks provided some good food for thought.
Kimb’s adventures in MS WebMatrix
You read that right: Microsoft are all up in OpenSource now. Kimb (@mkjones) had tried it previously but after a great talk by @androidrobb last month, he decided to try it again. His objectives were as follows:
- Install WordPress on a classic ASP server.
- Do it without using XAMP etc.
The WebMatrix installer seemed very ‘Microsoft’: i.e. It offered to install lots of confusing things with very ‘branding’ sounding names. He ended up installing a lot of things that he didn’t actually know what they were. Kym works in a MS-heavy environment (the NHS), so to someone who’s not played in MS-land for years, it’s a little confusing. The good news is that unlike his previous experiences, installing the web platform did not seem to meddle with existing IIS settings.
One benefit of this whole process is that for IT bods who do not trust OpenSource stuff, they’re more likely to let it through if it’s actually being installed by legit MS software.
(Around this time Jag brought up a reference to the film ‘Magnolia’. I don’t think anyone understood.)
Installing WordPress however is simple. When you choose to install WordPress it automatically prompts you to install MySQL. It will even prompt you to choose a root password, all in within the nice (well, functional) GUI. The process is smart enough that, when you come to install a second WordPress website, it knows if you’ve already got MySQL installed. You choose where on the HDD to install it and there you go. Well, not quite. You’re dumped in the browser at the first of the famous 5 minute install™ but your config.php is populated with all the right stuff. In many ways, this is a lot like the infamous scourge of the cheap web-hosts: Fantastico. Kimb suggested that you do this process twice: once on the web host and once on your local machine. As he showed us a screenshot of his environment, complete with IE7, there was a burst of excitement and jealousy from fellow NHS workers. They’re all still on IE6. What a hellish existence (Chrome 11, represent).
As I said during @AndroidRobb‘s talk, the WebMatrix database editor interface looks pretty good. No need to dip into PHPMyAdmin. With some playing about with permissions he got the db editor to talk to his external server with a similar Web Matrix setup. That said, I use the very pretty Sequel Pro, so that’s not so much of an issue for me but I think it’s pretty nice to have everything together and I guess that’s exactly what MS are going for (and what Adobe would probably go for with DW if they didn’t have the Photoshop empire to rely on).
During his talk he used the word ‘synergised’ once. He did not make coffee this time though. 7/10.
Chris Hart on Post formats
As Chris (@ch8rt) brought up his first slide it was clear that he’s forged a career as a designer. It featured 3 shapes: a circle, a square and a triangle. His presentation was about the new WordPress post formats, but his attitude was that of a Factory Records era Mancunian artwork revisit. Or something.
Initially post types seemed pretty cool. We’ve all been mucking around with categories for ages now, to try and theme posts depending on the type of post, ala Tumblr. Unfortunately WordPress only gives you a limited number of available post-type formats (aside, gallery, link, image, quote etc…) and this is not expandable. That’s not a very WordPress way to go about things imho. These are activated by ‘add_theme_support’ which is in our friend the functions file and at least we can choose which of these to use (so the whole load are not forced on you). Theming is simple with has_post_format(‘video’) or you can drop the post_class() in for your stylesheets to utilise.
The chosen posts formats are displayed in the ‘Posts’ admin menu, which is one nice advantage.
This direction is a little lacking and feels like a somewhat undeveloped and immature solution. People didn’t seem that keen, but it must be remembered that we’re all hardcore WordPress devs here (ha!) at #sywp but we could build systems for our clients using post formats that would be a lot easier than the whole categories nonsense we often subject people to.
People were obviously very keen to talk about gallery plug-ins, which conflicts with my fear of plug-ins and love of complete control over your markup. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong. Once again, events plug-ins were mentioned. People just want to find an events plug-in that works, but other more cynical people (well, me) say sod it. Just use Eventbrite.
We also talked about the 3.2 Release Client and decided the most interesting thing was the distraction-free writer which might be aimed at iPad owning, iA Writer using Stephen Fry fans. Possibly.
People want me to give a talk, but I’m so left-field, I’d probably do it on Expression Engine. Forgive me, SYWP.