Categories
WordPress

Themes For WP.Com

While looking at a site on WordPress.com I noticed something.

The VARIA theme is the basis for a number of child themes made by the WordPress team.

If you perhaps want to use one of the child themes on a self-hosted site, then you can download it from WordPress.com but you also need to download the Varia theme (and activate that first) before you try to activate the child theme.

Here is the list of child themes that spin off of Varia

  • Alves
  • Balasana
  • Barnsbury
  • Brompton
  • Coutoire
  • Dalston
  • Exford
  • Hever
  • Leven
  • Mayland
  • Maywood
  • Morden
  • Redhill
  • Rivington
  • Rockfield
  • Shawburn
  • Stow
  • Stratford

Categories
WordPress

Safari Issue With Draft Post Preview

I reported this issue to the Happiness Engineers yesterday

Me:
I am getting the recurrence of an issue I had months ago – maybe a year ago. This is the issue: I am in WP Admin, creating a new post. I save it as a draft, and then hit Preview. It says ‘post not found’. The way the issue was resolved last time around was that I would refresh the ‘post not found’ page and if would then find the draft post. It is no longer doing that. When I refresh, it still says ‘post not found’.

The only way to see the Preview of the draft is for me to come out of the post and then hit ‘Preview’ for that post in the list of posts.

This is the URL that keeps saying post not found photographworks dot me/?p=12442

And this is the URL that does display the draft post photographworks dot wordpress dot com/?p=12442&preview=true

Happiness Engineer:
Hmm, this seems to be working fine for me. I wonder if it’s a browser issue this time. Which browser do you use?

Me:
Safari. So are you seeing the draft even when you use photographworks dot me/?p=12442

Happiness Engineer:
Yep, using both options. I know Safari had a very recent update that’s causing some issues, and our developers are still trying to provide a workaround. Are you able to test another browser and see if they both work or not there?

Me:
Yes, I can do it. In firefox, when I am in the post and I click Preview, it goes to photographworks dot me/?p=12442&preview=true. So yes, it looks like it’s a browser issue. Good sleuthing

Happiness Engineer
😉 Well, glad that at least works. We have found in general that Chrome and Firefox tend to be more compatible with lots of things compared to Safari.

Me:
If it is a known issue and being worked on, I can put up with it while a fix is put in.

Happiness Engineer
🙂


Update

So it is still happening this morning, and it occurred to me that perhaps I could add ‘&preview=true’ and force it to reload and display the draft post. But it didn’t work and it is still showing page not found.

So then I thought perhaps if I changed the URL to photograph works dot wordpress dot com and then added &preview=true – And that works and I can see the Preview of the draft.

Categories
Photography WordPress

From Classic Editor To Gutenberg

Hello world. This is a post I am writing using the Classic editor. I haven’t used this editor for a long while, not since I switched to Gutenberg. I am writing it and I cannot see any way to change to Gutenberg while I am in this post. So I am going to save it and then look at the options. First though, a screen grab so that I can illustrate what is happening.

How To Change A Post From the Classic Editor to Gutenberg

Here are my notes and a series of screen grabs showing what I did to convert from Classic editor to Gutenberg.

First I had to save the draft and then go out of the post. When I hovered over the post in the list, I could see the options for Editor and Classic Editor.


I clicked on ‘Editor’ and that opened the post, it was still in Classic, which I could see from the word ‘Classic’ against a grey background in the little menu bar.



Know I know where I am, because I have done this many times when I have gone back to old, previously-published posts for whatever reason and changed them to Gutenberg.

Click in the menu bar that has the word ‘Classic’ in it, or click on the paragraph of your text – either place will do it – and you will see that three vertical dots appear along with all the other stuff.



Click on the three dots and that brings up a vertical menu, and the one I want is the second one down the list – ‘Convert to Blocks’. Click that and everything is converted to blocks and the new Gutenberg editor.



Done!

OK, now that you are in Gutenberg, how do you use it?

Using Gutenberg

There are a few key things that will make your life easier:

  • The reason it is called a block editor is that each paragraph, image, heading, quote, or whatever is in its own block.
  • The default block is a paragraph of text.
  • You can change a block from one type to another by hovering on it and using the tools in the mini menu bar that opens up over the block.
  • All the blocks are listed top left of the page, and you can see them by hovering over the list under the plus sign.
  • The plus sign at the left of a new block does the same job and you can add different types of blocks by hovering on that plus sign.
  • Finally, look over at the side bar on the right. You use it to change text size, set Drop Caps, and change the colour of the text and the background colour to the text.

Examples

Here are a few variations of this same piece of text using the block tools and the settings in the side bar. (The neat thing is that I didn’t even have to retype the text, I just clicked to duplicate it).


Here are a few variations of this same piece of text using the block tools and the settings in the side bar.

Here are a few variations of this same piece of text using the block tools and the settings in the side bar.

Here are a few variations of this same piece of text using the block tools and the settings in the side bar.

Here are a few variations of this same piece of text using the block tools and the settings in the side bar.

Here are a few variations of this same piece of text using the block tools and the settings in the side bar.


And if for whatever reason you want to stay in the same block, and don’t want to start a new block when you start a new line or a new paragraph, just hold down the shift key when you change lines.

That will keep you in the same block. (It’s useful when you want to make a list.)

Categories
WordPress

Stuff

I changed the theme of this site to Balasana. It was only after I chose and activated it that I saw that it is made by Automattic, the company that owns WordPress-dot-com.

Balasana is described as a clean and minimalist business theme designed with health and wellness-focused sites in mind.

Well, now it is going to serve me for this site.

I googled and found out that Balasana means Child’s Resting Pose, a kneeling pose in yoga. You kneel on the floor, put your head to the floor in front of you and hold your hands behind your heels. I am pretty sure I did this as a child.

Newsletter

I published issue #1 of my GetRevue newsletter. If you want to read it, it is here:

David’s Satisfying Newsletter #1

And if you want to sign up to get future issues, the link is at the top of the page here.

Categories
WordPress

WordPress.com Becomes Home.blog

A funny thing happened when I started what I thought was going to be a standard setup of a new WordPress blog. I expected it would be in the usual style of something dot wordpress dot com.

I started and chose the name Pangolin, and I could see that for the free option the URL would be https://pangolin.home.blog

Now I know that Automattic (the company that owns WordPress.com) bought the top level .blog domain a couple of years ago, but I never expected they would be using it to direct everything away from using the word WordPress on the front end. 

As I continued I could see that in the back end the URL was pangolinhome.wordpress.com.

Try typing that into the browser and you will it change to pangolin.home.blog

Is this just something they are experimenting with, or is it a permanent change for WordPress.com?

Follow-Up

I wondered what home.blog was, so I went visiting. It is the website of A3 – Appalachia + AGI + Automattic and in the About page it says:

Project A3 Goals

Building upon the ethos of WordPress — the open and collaborative technology platform co-founded in 2003 by Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg at the age of 19 — Alliance Graphique Internationale design legends Marian Bantjes, Michael Bierut, Minchaya Chayosumrit, Yung-Chen Nieh, Alejandro Paul, Taku Satoh, Eddie Opara, Nancy Skolos have created visual designs for the web together with high school students in Paintsville, Kentucky and digital designers at Automattic in an all-remote collaboration that spans the world. The one-of-kind visual designs crafted by the AGI designers center around themes that include Home, Art, Photo, Science, Code, Poetry, Water, and Music as presented on the dedicated websites Home.blog, Art.blog, Photo.blog, Science.blog, Code.blog, Poetry.blog, Water.blog, Music.blog as permanent symbols on the Internet of digital creativity. From these websites, anyone can create a blog as a free subdomain like: laura.science.blog or philippe.code.blog, etc.

(My emphasis – text made bold)

At the bottom of the page it said to click to start a home.blog so I clicked to start a blog and found myself back where I was when I had started hours earlier to create a new blog.

Only this time as I was going through the process I clicked on ‘alternative -something or other’ (can’t recall exactly what it said) and I typed in some vaguely random words. And before I knew it I had created SearchDotPress which is searchdotpress dot wordpress dot com

So by accident I had managed to make a site with an address that was wordpress dot com rather than something or other dot blog.

This is getting out of hand and about as confusing as heck.

Categories
WordPress

X Reasons To Consider A Business Plan on WordPress.com

WordPress.com has come a long way since its early days of offering a simple way to get into blogging without having to worry about how to set up a self-hosted WordPress site.

I know some people use WordPress.com as a stepping stone to a self-hosted site. I did. I wanted to host my own site because I wanted to be free of restrictions. What that meant in those days (this is back in 2007) is that I could put Google Adsense adverts on my blog.

And I was attracted to the idea of getting to grips with how to do it at all – how to set up a database, how to set up the config file, and all the other bits that go to making a web site. It was nerve-wracking at first. I was afraid that everything I did would break the site and leave me lost in a maze.

It didn’t happen, but what I did get into were the twin notions of ‘optimisation’ and ‘security’.

Optimisation includes using keywords that accurately reflect what the site is about. That way, when someone searches in a search engine such as Google or Bing, your site is likely to be tagged because your keywords fit well with what the page on your site is about.

But optimisation also meant making the site fast to load. As search engine optimisation experts said – it didn’t matter how attractive your site looked, or how perfectly apt the keywords were, no one was going to hang around long enough to see your site if it took a long time to load.

That led on to well-coded versus poorly coded themes, to plugins that optimised CSS and Javascript, to database cleanup tools, gzip, expires headers, memory allocation, and more.

Security meant long and complex login passwords, and it meant keeping themes and plugins up to date. I had to destroy one site when it got infected with a virus that I introduced when I tried out a theme from a dubious source.

I tried to clean up the infection but in the end I nuked the site. That meant first extracting the xml file with the text of the blog posts, then deleting the database, the themes, and the plugins, and starting from scratch.

Not something I would recommend, but I learned from it. One thing I learned was to put a security system in place to prevent it happening again.

Oh yes, and to take regular backups. And store at least one copy off-site.

Later, much later, I built a WooCommerce store. I didn’t have a product in mind, just the desire to build a store with WooCommerce. That’s another thing that has got easier over the years. The setup wizard is good and the explainer videos are excellent.

But it also means that security has got to be nailed down because customers will be signing up, creating accounts, giving their credit card details, and expecting to receive stuff.

And backups becomes a much bigger issue. It’s one thing if your blog posts go missing – sad, but only sad for you. If your customers’ data goes missing, you are going to be responsible for cleaning up the mess.

Some of the front runners for taking payments on WooCommerce stores don’t take any sensitive details on your site. For example, Stripe puts a little popup on your site at the payment stage, and the information your customer puts in is encrypted and sent straight to Stripe.

So you would think that takes care of credit card security. Not so. If your site is hacked, the hacker can, for example, execute a ‘man in the middle’ attack. Your customer thinks they are going to Paypal or Stripe, but secretly they are being led off to something that looks like them but really it is giving your customers details to the hacker who has put a lookalike page over the real page.

That’s just one issue. They are not impossible to overcome – after all, WooCommerce powers an awful lot of stores both big and small – but you have to take steps to keep your site secure.

A Good Web Host

A good web host will complement the hard work you put into making your site load fast. A bad web host will overstretch resources, fail to guard your site from having its resources hogged by another site on the same server. It can even let in a hacker via the level above your site on the server.

A good web host will take regular backups. And they will make extra backups available to you so you can store them somewhere else – a copy on your hard drive and a copy with something like Amazon AWS, for example.

Managed shared hosting is an option, where they take care of optimisation, backups, and security – with a bigger monthly cost.

A virtual private server (VPS) is the next step up, but that requires a lot more technical skill. There are services that will act as a kind of intermediary or control panel to help set up your site on a VPS, but if it is already starting to give you a headache, it’s something to think about further down the line.

It takes a lot of reading to find accurate data on good versus bad web hosts. I generally look at Review Signal’s benchmarks as a starting point.

A fast web host on shared hosting with cPanel should be around $20/month. Access to top-notch WordPress themes that show off your store to its best advantage will be, let’s say, $100/year. WooCommerce itself is free, but you might need some extensions to get your store to do exactly what you want. Or maybe not. So that’s $300/year or more.

WordPress.com has a business plan that enables you to use your own domain name, use any of their premium themes, add plugins, change the CSS, set up WooCommerce, and set up Google Analytics. It also offers unlimited storage, but I can’t see that being an issue because it would take a huge store with many thousands of products to make storage an issue.

I have the Premium plan here on WordPress.com. It’s one step down from the business plan, which I haven’t tried. I haven’t tried the business plan because my partner and I already have our e-commerce store set up on a self-hosted site and I can’t see any reason to change.

But if I was starting again I would look at the WordPress.com business plan option (affiliate link) because the two big things that are taken care of – optimisation and security.

Here’s the list of what the business plan offers for £20/month in the UK (not sure what the cost is in other parts of the world – click the link and find out – it should geolocate to wherever you are).

  • Google Analytics support
  • Unlimited storage
  • Remove WordPress.com branding
  • Custom Domain Name
  • Jetpack Essentials
  • Email & Live Chat Support
  • Unlimited Premium Themes
  • Advanced Design Customization
  • monetisation (WordAds, Adsense and affiliate ads)
  • add plugins

The Competition

Squarespace (£21/month in the UK) and Shopify ($29/month) are the front runners.

I think the biggest reason I would choose WordPress.com over either of these is that if at some point I wanted to self-host my store, I could export all my settings/database information/themes/etc . I don’t think you can do this with Squarespace or Shopify.