Chris and I had an awesome time at WordCamp Raleigh this past weekend. We arrived a little before the sessions started on Saturday morning to check in and grab some coffee. It was exciting to see so many people passionate about one thing in the same place. I’m terrible at estimating quantity, but I’d guess there were several hundred folks in attendance. Of course there were a bunch of developers, but also some designers, small business owners, hobbyists, and regular ol’ WordPress bloggers. With 3 tracks of sessions to choose from (Users, Power Users, and Developers), there was something for everyone. After a brief welcome, we were all set loose to find the sessions we wanted to attend. Chris and I stuck to the Developers track, although I was tempted to go down the hall to the Users track for the “50 Shades of WordPress” session. Glad I stuck around for the Developers session that coincided with it though because it turned out to be one of my favorite sessions!
All the sessions were videotaped and will be available to view on WordPress.tv in a couple of weeks. In the mean time, here is a brief overview of a few of the sessions we attended, highlighting the new info I look forward to making a part of my workflow:
Using AJAX in Your Plugins (The Right Way)
by Thomas Griffin
I’ve been using AJAX in my plugins for about a year now, ever since I started writing plugins for the sites I develop. Part of me was really curious to know have I been doing it the wrong way?? I first learned how to use AJAX in plugins from various tutorials that I found through the WordPress codex, so I was pretty sure I was doing okay. And after sitting through this presentation, I was happy to know that I have in fact been doing it correctly. What is complicated is that WordPress has different ways of using AJAX when it is on the admin side and viewer facing side. To make it a little more confusing, it also has different functions you have to use for using AJAX for users who are logged in versus not logged in. Thomas’s presentation was about how to use AJAX on the viewer facing side for both logged in and non-logged in users. He was kind enough to put his presentation online, so I look forward to following his tutorial the next time I need to build some AJAX functionality in a plugin. In addition, he emphasized the importance of internationalizing all plugins. All the plugins I’ve written have been for internal use, but I look forward to writing one for general distribution. I’ll definitely make sure to internationalize!
Responsive Design with the Breakpoint Framework
by Les James
This was by far my favorite session. We have been itching to switch over to using a CSS preprocessor like Sass or LESS for a while now. But it would mean changing our workflow, so we have held off. I’m now absolutely convinced that it is the right way to go. This session was about the Breakpoint Framework, which is a grid system Les created that uses Sass. It makes responsive design look so easy that I question why every website isn’t responsive. Basically, it uses columns and gutters of predetermined widths to figure out which design to display on a variety of devices. That system makes it possible to have a mobile optimized site that works on a bunch of mobile devices that have slightly different screen sizes. No more worrying about if it will look great on an iPhone but broken on a Samsung Galaxy S3. The real take-away was how important designing on a grid is for responsive design. And to design mobile first and cascade up to tablet and desktop designs. Framelessgrid.com was suggested as a great resource. The great news to me was that the CSS works on all modern browsers and all IE back to IE6.
Using Git With WordPress
by Glenn Ansley
We at Cuberis have been wishing we had some kind of version control for whenever more than one developer is working on a project. But that also means taking time away from working on clients’ projects and revamping our workflow, so it always gets put on the back burner. This session was helpful in really understanding the differences between Git and Subversion. It also helped drill home the importance and convenience of version control. When we start using Sass or LESS we will have to start developing locally. Then we will absolutely have to store our code in a repository so it can be checked out to whichever computer we happen to be working from. Glenn provided tons of helpful resources in getting started with Git on his github. Some repositories that were mentioned were github.com, bitbucket.com, and beanstalkapp.com.