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How to Take Screenshots with BrowserStack

BrowserStack is a tool that we constantly rely on at OSTraining. It's an online service that makes it easy to do cross-browser compatibility testing. 

When we're developing sites, we use Browserstack to test our work. One key feature is the ability to take screenshots and add annotations.

This is really useful for when you find a design issue in a specific browser and want to report it to the designer in charge. 

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template monster

A lot of OSTraining readers are looking for a good theme for their site.

So we've partnered with Template Monster, one of the world’s leading sources of CMS themes.

Having been around for over 13 years, Template Monster offers an extensive collection of WordPress themes, Joomla templates and Drupal themes.

Now you can get a 30% discount on all purchases from Template Monster.

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Easily Create QR Codes For Any Site or Purpose

An OSTraining member asked us how to add QR codes to their website.

When used correctly, QR codes can provide a fast alternative for users to find exactly what they want, without searching or typing.

In this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to use the QR Code Generator to easily create codes.explain how you can use QR code generator for just about anything.

The QR Code Generator allows you to embed all sorts of different information inside a QR code:

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How to Opt-Out of Disqus Reveal

We use Disqus to power the comments on several sites.

This week, Disqus sent a friendly email:

"Congratulations! After careful review, we’ve approved your site OSTaining for Reveal—Disqus’ monetization solution for publishers."

Congratulations? I didn't even know what Reveal was until that moment.

Then a few days later, on Friday, another email arrived to say that Reveal would be automatically enabled in 4 days time, unless we opted out.

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Check if your Site's URLs Can Be Indexed or Not with Robots.txt Tester

By default, all the URLs on your site can be crawled by Google. However, if we don't want Google to index some specific pages, you can use a robots.txt file.

In your Robots.txt file, you can request that Google not index certain pages by using this "disallow" rule:

Disallow: /dont-scan-this-url/

In this post, I'll show you how to use Google Search Console to check whether you have successfully blocked Google from indexing a particular URL.

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Copyscape is a great tool to know if other websites copied your content.

For SEO purposes, it's always a good idea to keep an eye on whether your content is being ripped off.

In this short post, I'll share with you how to use Copyscape to look for duplicated content on other sites. 

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Test your Site in Real iOS Devices with Browserstack

BrowserStack is a tool that we constantly rely on at OSTraining. It's an online service that makes it easy to do cross-browser compatibility testing. Whenever we update our site design or test a new feature, we can easily troubleshoot issues in major browsers and on mobile devices.

As developers and designers, we often make the mistake of testing our responsive design on a desktop computer. Resizing the browser can emulate the screen size of mobile device, however it doesn't provide a truly accurate result.

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Use Firebug Console to Catch Errors

UPDATE: Firebug is not supported anymore. Please try Dev Tools in Firefox, or Developer Tools in Chrome instead.

We've regularly written about the Firebug add-on for Firebox because it is a great way to troubleshoot CSS issues.

Did you know that Firebug can also help to detect Javascript errors that may break your site?

In this post, I'll share with you how to catch errors by using Firebug's console feature. 

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Create a Database with cPanel and phpMyAdmin

Creating a database is one of the common tasks before building a new site with WordPress, Joomla or Drupal.

Luckily, phpMyAdmin and cPanel make this process easier than ever.

In this post, I'm going to show you how to create a new database and link to a database user. Let's start...

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Change Meta Description for Home in Prestashop

Prestashop is a popular option for building e-commerce sites.

The default meta description for new Prestashop sites is, "Shop powered by PrestaShop". For SEO purposes, it's highly recommended to update that meta description as soon as possible because it does not describe your unique site.

In this short tutorial, I'm going to show you how to change the meta description for the main page.

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Find Relevant Search Terms to Improve your SEO with Google Trends

If you're trying to optimize your site to meet the needs of potential visitors, then Google Trends is a very useful tool.

If you're going to create content that's optimized for a particular keyword, it's helpful to know whether people are actually searching for that keyword.

Google Trends allows you to see how popular a keyword has been, not just today, but over a decade or more.

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How to Add Icons to your Site with Font Awesome

Font Awesome is the most popular way to add font icons to your website. Font Awesome icons are created using scalable vectors, so you can use high quality icons that work well on any screen size. 

In this tutorial, I'm going show you how to use Font Awesome and play with its features.

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How to Exclude your Own Visits from Google Analytics

One of our users asked for a way to exclude the visits that his employees make to his website from Google Analytics.

In this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to add a filter to exclude visits from Google Analytics based on your IP address.

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Google Page Analytics Chrome Extension

Google Analytics is an essential for most website owners. By using a nice extension in Chrome, it can quick and easy to access your Google Analytics data.

In this tutorial, I'm going show you how to install and use the Page Analytics Chrome Extension.

Before you start this tutorial, make you have a Google analytics account with a domain added.

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godaddy logo hd

This week, we published the first post about Drupal on GoDaddy.com: "What you need to know about Drupal 8".

GoDaddy is a really fascinating company, but most of you probably didn't expect them to be interested in Drupal.

You probably know some of the GoDaddy story.

You've seen the commercials with half-naked women. You may know about Bob Parsons, their ex-CEO, who was a public relations genius ... until he wasn't. Parsons built an empire on using SuperBowl commercials, NASCAR sponsorship and risqué advertising to sell hosting and domain names. But, in later years, Parsons made several major PR gaffes. And, it didn't help that GoDaddy also had a reputation for poor-quality hosting. If you've been to a tech conference, you've probably heard speakers making jokes at GoDaddy's expense.

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template monster

Welcome to a really cool giveaway offer from OSTraining and TemplateMonster.

If you need a new design for your site, and you wouldn’t mind getting it for free, then you're in the right place.

TemplateMonster is one of the biggest theme providers on the web, and they've been around since 2002.

We're giving away 5 themes for Joomla, WordPress or Drupal.

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5 Tips to Get Great Technical Support

Every week we answer 100's of support forum topics from developers and designers.

Over the last few years, I've noticed that some users are excellent at asking for help. They can describe their problem clearly and we can answer them quickly.

With others, it can be a much slower process as we try to get an accurate understanding of the problem.

Here are 5 things that users do that result in the fastest and most helpful answers.

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india stats

Several times every year, I wake up, check our traffic stats and think, "YIKES!!" I'm looking a drop of 40% to 50% in our overnight traffic.

Why? Because on those days, India is on holiday.

The number of visitors to OSTraining.com has grown every year, but traffic from India has grown many times faster than traffic from anywhere else.

Let me pull some stats from Google Analytics to show you the growth.

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It's a brave team that launches a new CMS into such crowded and established marketplace.

Boris Sokolov and his team are doing exactly that with Microweber. They hope to stand out in two ways. First, by being based on Laravel, a PHP framework that is enormously popular with developers. Second, Microweber has a focus on e-commerce.

I spoke with Boris shortly after the release of version 1.0 of Microweber.

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If you work on websites, you've probably heard about Google's "Mobile Armageddon". Google is changing its search results to benefit sites that are mobile-friendly.

Google provided a mobile-friendly test that you can use to check whether your site will benefit from these new changes.

I used Google's test for this site, and I was surprised that some of our main pages were being marked as "Not mobile friendly", even though the pages clearly were mobile-friendly.

After digging deeper, I found out it was a simple fix and all I had to do was modify our robots.txt file to give Google access.

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Gimp videos

GIMP is a really powerful and free alternative to Photoshop.

Over the last few weeks, we've released a video series on GIMP that includes over 6 hours of training.

In these 3 videos from the series, you'll learn how GIMP handles layers. If you've not used image editing software before, layers allow you to stack images on top of each so you can create fresh, new combinations.

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Yesterday, Shopify, the e-commerce website building platform, filed for an IPO.

A couple of months ago we covered the website platform industry and saw that it was growing fast, but some of the Shopify numbers were still shocking.

In particular, Shopify revealed that they spent nearly $46 million dollars on marketing in 2014. That's about equal to their entire revenue in 2013!

I decided to take a closer look at the marketing budgets of these website services.

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Gimp Part 1

If you're looking for a powerful, free alternative to Photoshop, GIMP is a great choice.

GIMP (short for "GNU Image Manipulation Program") is available for Linux, Mac and Windows. It's been around since 1996 and is still going strong with millions of users.

You can use GIMP for image retouching, editing, drawing and much more.

These five introductory videos are from Part 1 of our 4 classes on GIMP.

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The Google Summer of Code (GSOC) is a progam that has helped many open source projects. Google accepts applications from projects and provides up to $150,000 in stipends to help student developers contribute code.

Since it started in 2005, Google estimates that GSOC,

has brought together over 8,500 successful student participants from 101 countries and over 8,300 mentors from over 109 countries worldwide to produce over 50 million lines of code.

Last year, there was a 10% increase in the program to commemorate its 10th anniversary.

This year, there was been far more significant decrease in the size of the program. The number of accepted projects dropped from 190 last year to 137 this year - the lowest number for many years.

After seeing reaction to the news on Twitter, I compared the list of accepted projects in 2015 to the list from 2014. It appears that over 130 projects were dropped and over 80 new projects added.

Some the biggest names in open source weren't accepted this year, including Mozilla, WordPress, the Linux Foundation and the Tor Project. There's also a smaller group of exciting new projects that are getting GSOC support for the first time.

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Mautic Logo LB

It no longer seems fashionable to release large, fully-featured, open source platforms. It's much more common for developers to release small libraries or frameworks.

Mautic is rare - it is a brand new, open source platform with a ton of features. It's also unusual because it focuses on marketing, an industry often ignored by open source developers.

Mautic is a marketing automation platform, competing with the likes of HubSpot, Pardot and Silverpop. Many of those commercial products are hosted (so you can't modify them easily) and extraordinarily expensive.

Is there opportunity for an open source rival to HubSpot? Absolutely. Can Mautic seize that opportunity? Let's find out ...

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If you live in the US or the UK, it's been hard to avoid the advertising blitz for DIY website tools such as Squarespace, Wix website builder, Weebly and others.

Jeffrey Zeldman tweeted:

“With @Squarespace commercials on TV, YouTube, and every taxicab in NYC, has web design become a commodity?”

Christopher Butler, who quoted that tweet, added his own prediction:

"Five years from now, the majority of websites will be powered by Squarespace or something like it"

They aren't alone. Matt Mullenweg caused a stir recently when he claimed that DIY website tools were becoming the true competitors to WordPress:

"Naked WordPress (without plugins) is not competitive to Wix, Weebly, Squarespace"

So, I wondered, how popular are Squarespace, Wix and Weebly? How much market share have they won?

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magento logo

Our post last month entitled, about Magento being up for sale, was one of the most popular we've ever published.

Despite the uncertainly around it's future with eBay, Magento is a hugely popular e-commerce platform and people are still interested and invested in its future.

Several people in the Magento community sent us emails with opinions about the post, and one of them was Jisse Reitsma, a very active Magento developer in the Netherlands.

I've known Jisse for years, so I asked him for his thoughts on Magento's future ...

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WordPress JetPackLast week I was fortunate to go to Pressnomics for the first time. It was a really great conference that focused on business growth, particularly in WordPress.

The event caused some controversy for a quote on the last day. Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress was taking some questions from Josh Strebel, the host of Pressnomics.

Matt's company is Automattic and they make a plugin called Jetpack which provide 30+ services, all wrapped up in a single package. Some of those services are paid, some are free and several rely on the SaaS capabilities of WordPress.com.

Josh asked Matt whether Jetpack was a trojan horse for Automattic to sell even more paid services in the future. (link)

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magento logoIt has been a tough start to 2015 for Magento.

Magento is one of the most popular open source platforms ever, taking as much as 30% of the e-commerce market.

However, the future of Magento is increasingly cloudy. Magento is owned by eBay and forms part of their eBay Enterprise unit. After announcing the departure of PayPal, eBay is now looking to get rid of eBay Enterprises.

What will happen to Magento and who will control its future? No-one knows.

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