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| WordPress

Child themes are the professional way to modify WordPress themes. Matt Mullenweg who founded WordPress said that "child themes are the only way you should build your WordPress site on top of a [another theme]".

A child theme can use all of the functions, CSS and design features from a parent theme. The child themes only needs to contain the details it wants to change.

In this tutorial we'll use the default Twenty-Eleven theme as an example parent theme.

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| WordPress

The beta version of WordPress 3.4 is out.

So what's new? At first glance, you might say "not much". Unlike version 3.3, there are no easily visible changes to the admin area.

WordPress 3.4 is all about making theme customization easier, but even when you click on Appearance, you still won't notice any changes.

It's only when you dig deeper that you start to notice the magic.

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| WordPress

WordPress has nearly 20,000 plugins, which is both a blessing and a curse for beginners.

On the one hand, it's wonderful that so many developers have produced so much free software. On the other hand, it can be really hard to find the good plugins when there are so many to sort through.

We often get asked for our favorite plugins and so here's a list of some of the favorites used by the staff at OSTraining.

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| WordPress
OSToolbar for WordPress The OSToolbar is a great way to provide OSTraining videos to your customers.

You can give your webdesign customers WordPress videos, and they can all be watched directly from inside their site. No more confused phone calls. No more emails asking about simple WordPress features. Give them the OSToolbar, and they can watch and learn the WordPress basics for themselves. The OSToolbar is one of great benefits enjoyed by members at OSTraining.com. We also have a Joomla version of the OSToolbar.

Here's how to use the OSToolbar and to give it to your customers.

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| WordPress

wordpress-logo-stacked-rgbWordPress started out as a simple way to share your thoughts on the web through, what was then, a new concept, blogging. People wanted to keep "web logs" of their thoughts and have other people read them and contribute comments. So WordPress was born to blog and it still does an outstanding job, but has grown into a content management system (CMS) which is something much more.

WordPress is truly astounding. Whether pushing content to social networks, competing for sales and search engine position, allowing people to subscribe to specific content WordPress is not simply a website, but rather a content-publishing platform. It allows you to take part in today's "instant" information network - the internet. It gives an individual the same publishing power as a major corporation.

WordPress is an interface

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We use the term interface quite a lot. Originally it was coined to describe a method of passing information between two very different items. Sometimes between two machines (a hardware interface) to let a computer trade information with a printer as an example. A keyboard lets humans talk to computers; it's also an interface. WordPress is an interface that simplifies the way you communicate with a database. It lets you create and manipulate data with a GUI (Graphic User Interface).

WordPress makes it possible to publish all types of information without knowing how to write code. Anyone can start using a well-setup site without much training. It's fairly intuitive since it has evolved from years of user feedback and constant revision.

WordPress is a publishing platform

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The success of early bloggers created a demand for an easy way to publish news or opinions instantly. Remember the Drudge Report during the Clinton Administration? The Drudge Report was an "aggeregator" which pulled news stories and blog entries from other sources and posted them in an aggegated blog. The notariaty of the Drudge Report is only one example of what fueled the demand for easy blog creation.

The first web pages were built one page at a time by writing all the information into a file and making it look good by writing mark-up code (HTML- Hypertext Markup Language). It might take hours to create a single page on a site.

Not very efficient for the "blogosphere", where compettiion for top blogs dependend on instant publishing. This meant that the person doing the writing couldn't always be the same person that did the web development. Information was created faster than it could be disseminated by coding pages with HTML.

The concept of "database driven" websites came about. Partly because of blogs, but also because of demands of web developer to make data available on demand. In a database driven site, all the stories and pictures are stored in a data base, and the actual pages are created only when someone visits the actual URL of the page. Showing and sellng products, creating portfolios, making directories all have a common base of data that needs to be assembled and presented on demand, in different combinations and with different looks.

You could write out various applications and programs for this, but the WordPress developers have written out the programming for you. Now you have a simple, graphical way to enter information into the database. They have also written out the most common ways to display it. And now since all this data is so well organized, other people can write applications which use the same data in different ways or allow you to add new data and combine it with the old. That's what plugins are for. They expand the core capabilities of WordPress with additional applications.

WordPress is a Content Management System

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Publishing content isn't easy. It changes all the time. New content is added, old deleted. In ecommerce, prices change, sales and promotions come and go. Information needs to be very fluid, and WordPress lets you manage this ebb an flow. It also writes rules for you. For example, it will let registered users see a post, but hide it from people who aren't registered users. But managing the information isn't it's only function.

This information also has to look good and be organized properly. The underlying programing has to be safe, fast and up-to-date. Design and technology change as well as the information. WordPress handles this by separating the functions so a change in one area doesn't affect changes in another area. That's really the basic concept behind a content management system.

If you change the design, the database is unaffected and can still be used without modification; the programming isn't affected either. The same is true for all three elements. Changing one doesn't affect the other two. If all these weren't individual, you would need to build an entire new website every time there was a change. That would be very costly and very time consuming. There are four basic components to a content management system.

  1. Core programming - the common functions and files that every site needs to function at a minimal level.
  2. Data Base - The "file cabinet" of all information properly organized, sorted and tagged for easy retrieval.
  3. Theme (design) - The display of the information when it's pulled from the data base.
  4. Plugins - Additional programming that can be added to get extra functions that aren't part of the core. These can be turned on and off at will without affecting the core programming.

About WordPress

According to the WordPress Codex, "WordPress powers nearly a quarter of new sites today, is the content management system (CMS) of choice for more than two thirds of the top million sites making it the most popular on the web, and is trusted by content publishers both large and small including CNN and the NY Times. With more than 50 million sites globally and eight years of history."

The roots go back to 2001, but it made its first appearance in 2003. You can view it's history in the Codex on this page.

WordPress.org
This is the official website responsible for all communication and resources related to WordPress. From this site you can download a copy, as well as search for free plugins and free themes. Access to the codex and and the WordPress Forum can be found here as well.

The WordPress Codex

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We've mentioned it several times. This is the location of all documentation pertaining to WordPress. It is intended to be an encyclopedia of all WordPress knowledge. It is an "open wiki" which means that it is written by contributors. You can add to or modify wiki articles. You can read more about it here. If you want to contribute, start with this page.

Like most software, WordPress is distributed under a license, which means there are certain things that you are legally permitted (and not permitted) to do with WordPress software and source code. WordPress is distributed under a license called the GNU General Public License, a very popular license in the open source industry. If that doesn't ring a bell, read on.

About the GPL
gnuThe GNU General Public License, or GPL, is an open source license. Open source doesn't just mean that you can view the source code — it has political and philosophical implications as well. Open source, or "Free Software", means you are free to modify and redistribute the source code under certain conditions. Free doesn't refer to the price, it refers to freedom. The difference between the two meanings of free is often characterized as "Free as in speech vs. free as in beer." The GPL is free as in speech.

 

 

| WordPress

There is one reason I keep hearing over and over again from people who don't use WordPress: there's no access control. For large organizations, it's essential to have close control over what users can and cannot do on our site. Drupal and Joomla both have powerful access control systems in the core.

With WordPress, if you choose the right plugin, it is still possible to have close control over what your users can and can not do. We're going to show you how with the Advanced Access Manager plugin.

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| WordPress

If you move your WordPress site, you may have trouble getting your pages to show correctly. Often this problem is caused by two WordPress settings: the Site URL and the Home URL.

These are normally easy to change by going to Dashboard > Settings > General settings page. But sometimes that's difficult to do because the move has broken your access to the WordPress administrator area.

Here's how to fix the problem.

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| WordPress

tutuploadstutuploadsmedia_1328239378919.pngWordPress is making great strides as a CMS, but it does lack one feature found in most CMSs: the ability to control over which posts and pages your widgets appear on.

The Widget Context plugin is the best and most usable solution. It consists of a not much more than some radio buttons, some checkboxes and a box for URLs.

There are some more complex alternatives to Widget Context and these include Widget Logic, Display Widgets and Slayers Custom Widgets.

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| WordPress

Android and iPhoneThe phrase "Responsive Web Design" isn't even two years old, but it's hard to read web design articles these days without hearing it mentioned.

What is it and how does it impact WordPress? Responsive design means that your theme is flexible enough to look good on any device. There is no need to create a separate theme or even a separate subdomain or site. One theme can look good on a large desktop, your tablet and your mobile phone.

In this blog post we'll show you a selection of 10 great responsive WordPress themes to wet your appetite.

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| WordPress

user switching pluginThe User Switching plugin is logically named. It allows administrators to switch and see the site as another user. 

This plugin is a must-have if you run a site with multiple user levels, have a large number of users or use multiple accounts for yourself. Instead of opening two browsers or logging in and logging out repeatedely, User Switching is an efficient way to bugshoot problems with user accounts.

Here's how to use User Switching:

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| WordPress
tutuploadsmedia_1323834728350.png2011 saw the release of three new versions of WordPress. Version 3.1 was launched in February, 3.2 in July and 3.3 arrived in December.
Are you're wondering what's changed in the latest version? In this tutorial we're going to give you an overview of all the important new additions. The 5 key features that most people will notice are:
  • A new welcome screen
  • Changes to the top admin bar
  • Flyout menu links added to left-hand admin menu
  • A new media uploader
  • Widgets that remember their position despite theme changes

| WordPress

disqus logoWordPress comes with a comments system but many WP sites replace it with something else.

Why? Other comments systems can provide more features and more flexibility. Sites find that visitors prefer these alternative systems and that they help to encourage people to comment and become part of the site's community. This tutorial will show you how to set up perhaps the most popular alternative comment system which is from Disqus.com.

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| WordPress
wp-adminmenu

The WordPress Dashboard is a good tool, but it can be improved. If you are tired of scrolling pages, drilling down through menus and searching for little used features, you could increase your efficiency and decrease your frustration with a few plugins.

It doesn't seem like much of a bother to the infrequent user, but if you have a lot to do, you become aware of every extra click, extra menu, and every extra few seconds of wait time. They all add up. We're going to show you some plugins you can use to make your life easier.

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| WordPress

yoastThis is a getting started guide for people who want to optimize their WordPress sites for search engines. WordPress SEO by Yoast is one of the most popular of all WordPress SEO plugins, having been downloaded over 670,000 times since it's launch early in 2011.

You can also click here to read our review of another highly popular SEO plugin called All-in-One SEO Pack.

In this tutorial we're going to introduce you to the WordPress SEO plugin and also show you how to choose settings that will work successfully.

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| WordPress

posttypes-homeThis custom post type tutorial is a follow-up to our earlier article showing how to create custom post types for WordPress.

Let's imagine that you're now empowered by knowledge and have gone wild, creating lots of new custom post types. They work wonderfully, but by default they don't show on your homepage. So, how do you get these custom post types to show on the front page of your blog with the normal post types?

There are a couple ways to do this, neither very difficult. Trying them both will give you practice editing functions.php and The Loop, both at a very beginning cut-and-paste-coder level.

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| WordPress

BlogDesk is software you run on your desktop and lets you post to your blog. You don't need to be on the internet to create a new post, but the next time you connect to the internet, your post and all it's pictures will be uploaded. You can even post to multiple blogs.

One of the best advantages to using desktop software is that it gives your users a simple interface for creating blog posts without giving them any direct access to a login on either the front end or back end of the site.

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| WordPress

The External Videos plugin allows you to automatically collect and dispay the videos from an external site such as your YouTube user channel. External Videos creates a post for each video automatically. For example, it finds all the videos of the user "Fred" on YouTube and adds them each as a new post type. The videos can be presented in a gallery using the shortcode [external-videos]. There is also a widget to add a list of the most recent videos in a sidebar.

This plugin can be very useful if you are following a channel that produces videos periodically. Once they are published to your video channel, they automatically show up on your site. Currently supported sites are: YouTube, Vimeo, and DotSub.

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| WordPress

The WordPress user profile comes with the ability to add social network IDs for AIM, Yahoo IM, and Jabber/Google Talk. However, most of those networks or either dead or dying. So what if you want to add Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or other more popular social networks to your user profiles?

ThemeFuse Extend User Profile is the answer. This plugin comes with fields for social network links, but you can also add more and create custom profiles for your users.

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| WordPress

wptouch-logoWPtouch automatically transforms your WordPress blog so that it is easy for visitors to read on their mobile phones.

It works with iPhone, iPod touch, Android, Palm Pre, Samsung touch and BlackBerry Storm/Torch mobile devices.

WPtouch doesn't replace your normal site theme for larger screens, only for smaller devices.

Here's how to make WPtouch work on your site:

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| WordPress

Logo-budypressBuddyPress is social networking in a box. You can build a social network for your company, school, sports team or niche community all based on the power and flexibility of WordPress.

BuddyPress is completely free and open source. Unlike hosted services, BuddyPress allows you to stay in control of your site and create a totally customized, unique experience.

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| WordPress

This plugin imports posts from CSV (Comma Separated Value) files into your WordPress blog. It can prove extremely useful when you want to import a bunch of posts from an Excel document or the like - simply export your document into a CSV file and the plugin will take care of the rest.

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| WordPress

Contus Vblog is a WordPress plugin which allows you to record videos as you post blogs.

It has a built-in recorder that connects to your webcam. When you post, you can see the button “Add Video Post” at top right of you editor. Just point the camera at yourself and start talking. That's all there is to it.

You don't even need to wait for the video to go live to view the video. You can view the preview of the recorded video as soon as you want, and decide to post the video or rerecord. You can also allow your blog readers/visitors to post video comments for your post.

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| WordPress

It's hard not to make a play on words or a pun when talking about 1 Flash Gallery, because it is what it says, and adds what it is, and really makes your site flashy. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) The most popular gallery for WordPress is the NextGen gallery, which is excellent, but this is something quite different.

If you've been looking for a way to put up eye-catching galleries, Flash is one way to go. 1 Flash Gallery is a plugin that will provide Flash galleries for your WordPress site.

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| WordPress

Earlier this year we wrote tutorial about custom post formats, in which we explained that they are different from custom post types.

That led some people to scratch their heads ... "what's the difference between post formats and post types?".

Many people confuse the two. In this tutorial we're going to explain custom post types, and give you some ideas on how to use them.

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| WordPress

Taxonomy is a common word in biology (and also Drupal!). In science it's a hierarchy of terms used to classify almost everything. Wikipedia has a full explanation here.

Recently WordPress has adopted the word "taxonomy" as an additional way to organize information. It's an uncommon word for a common concept.

When you were in school, you picked up a book and opened to the table of contents, and you were looking at the book's taxonomy. It's just a way to classify and label things. In a web site, it makes it easier to find thing or show them when you need them. Here's how it applies to WordPress:

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| WordPress

WordPress continues to improve on its ability to mange content. Custom post types and taxonomies are a big step in making WordPress a fully featured CMS.

If you're not sure what custom post types are, go ahead and read this tutorial first.

Custom post types are powerful tools for creating an information architecture. However, by default you are required to write code if you want to use them.

Fortunately, there are a number of plugins that allow you to create post types and taxonomies to go with them. This tutorial explains the use of Custom Post Type UI.

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| WordPress

By default, WordPress comes with a pretty great way to run and manage a multi-site network. You can click here to read tutorials on how to set up a network. However, those networks are designed to be run on one server and for the sites to be deeply inter-connected.

What happens if you have lots of different WordPress sites spread out over lots of different servers? What happens if you're managing sites for lots of different clients? ManageWP.com has an intriguing solution: one dashboard for all your WordPress sites. Here's how it works:

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