My new e-book “Teaching WordPress” is coming soon. The copy is almost ready for deploy. So today I’ve made some sketches for the frontpage. We’ll give these ideas to a designer.
In the evening I participated in two Slack sessions. The first one was the theme review group. Nine or ten active developers participated during the one hour long session. A question was asked:
A heated debate followed. There were utterances, somewhat like:
“I hate iframes …”
More than often there was no argumentation at all, at least from a philosophical point of view. Hating a phenomena is a pathetic argument. Literally speaking! After a while I could see, that these theme reviewers had a point.
Who knows what kind of stuff such iframes link to?
The iframe is not allowed if you want to publish a WordPress theme on the WP repos. So the debate was perhaps just for the hell of it. In the end there was a referendum. Should WP whitelist some urls, like YouTube. The answer was no.
I entered the group because a point on the agenda was a mentor solution for new theme reviewers.
An hour later or so the training group met. The climate was very cosy. The participants suggested new learning modules. Talked about the intended target group: not students but teachers.
I suggested a module on Coding Best Practises. And guess what. I became the first editor. One of the sysops made me editor on the spot. And so the module will come to life wery soon.
Later on one of the group officials helped med to activate an editor account. Now I can edit the text(s). And even look foreward to give some help here and there, if I can. I felt at home and among human beings. So training was a very good experience.
Yesterday I introduced WP to a second semester class. So these notes are based on my own reflections after the session.
First a strategic overview:
The class used XAMPP as a local development environment during their first semester. 32 students were present. 22 had a Windows PC. 10 students or so used a Mac. That is: as far as I remember.
I had a PC, but decided to demonstrate the installation on a system with Windows 10.
In XAMPP a database was created. We used PhpMyAdmin. All created a database named wordpress with utf8. So far so good.
Then the class downloaded the latest version of WordPress, from WordPress.org > latest. That was the easy part. No problems whatsoever here. They unzipped the files to ../htdocs/wordpress/..
In theory they had to edit these lines in wp-config.php:
/** MySQL database username */ define('DB_USER', 'root'); /** MySQL database password */ define('DB_PASSWORD', ' '); /** MySQL hostname */ define('DB_HOST', 'localhost'); /** Database Charset to use in creating database tables. */ define('DB_CHARSET', 'utf8');
Here the differences between the operative systems proved a major challenge.
So far so good. But the Macs was the real problem. They had to use a password. But: what is the password?
A workaround was used: give a password to root. That was a bad idea. Don’t do it at home, please. XAMPP worked all right, but now the users could not enter PhpMyAdmin from the administration panel!
A better workaround was this: create a new user for the database wordpress and grant all privileges to that user.
As a teacher it’s allways a challenge, when 1/3 of a class has to do one type of work – while 2/3 of the class is waiting. To this add some 5-6 students, where XAMPP crashed half a year ago or so. While these studens were fighting with XAMPP-related challenges the ones with WordPress up and running grew impatient.
That’s natural I guess.
Most of the systems were up and running around 10:30. However a few still had problems, so they were advised follow introductions to posts, pages, menus, themes etc. from 10:30 – 11:30.
During that session, they also tried to personalize the theme with costumize.
After lunch I gave an introduction to themes. First I introduced the “sandwich” concept of:
I had developed a minimum viable skeleton theme with as little markup as I felt possible. So I demonstrated:
During this part of the class I downloaded the zip from git and instlled the petj-mvp theme on the fly from a downloaded zip.
I hope that this demo gave an idea of the inner workings of a theme. But skeleton themes are ugly. The last part was an introduction to Twenty Seventeen.
We made a child theme. As far as I could see most of the students had no problems making a child theme of Twenty Seventeen. I demonstrated how to change the footer.php in the child theme:
So most of the class had WordPress up and running. But still 4-5 students had problems. I decided to focus on these students, and let the rest of the class prepare for the next day .. that is somewhere else.
I had to go through the computers, and look at strange XAMPP problems. Some installations refused to work even though everything seemed fine.
As a workaround these students installed WordPress via Bitnami. This installation works like a charm. But I knew that the files are saved in another location.
On a Mac the files are in a similar folder, but of course in:
Again the Mac users had to unlock the folders in order to upload images etc.
The last student had his WordPress up and running @14:20. So much for the famous “Five minutes install”. WordPress is not the problem here. It’s XAMPP and the differences between the operative systems. Here’s a huge stumbling block for WordPress teachers.
As a teacher I need a local development platform, where WordPress just works out of the box on any platform – be it Mac, Windows or Linux.
Friday: on a meeting we prepared for the upcoming semester.
I told the 2nd semester team about the ideas behind Twenty Seventeen. In many ways the theme for our first project and Twenty Seventeen are similar.
It’s interesting to note, that topics we’ve worked on for the last two -three years find its way to official WordPress themes. For instance Twenty Seventeen is defined as immersive.
Today a fellow researcher mentioned that she wanted to publish her findings on a WordPress blog. The researchers with a multimedia background promised to give an introduction to “add images and media“.
Deduction I: WordPress is everywhere. It’s not just a question of the odd multimedia designer student mocking up a web presence or webshop. WordPress is a tool for researchers too.
Deducton II: WordPress is used because you can publish without code knowledge. The ease of use is a major key to the influence of WordPress.