jQuery Plugins For Those Who Don’t Know JavaScript

jquery-plugins

Plugins to ease development for front-end designers

I saw jQuery-Plugins repository in my GitHub Today email yesterday. I’m a sucker for collections of cool things, and this repo is just that. It’s basically a collection of simple jQuery plugins that are very easy to use, requiring little or no experience with jQuery or JavaScript.

Here’s a little from the plugin’s README:

These jQuery plugins have been created to ease the pain that some front-end designers feel when they’re trying to implement basic features with little or no JavaScript or jQuery experience.

I plan to add plugins to this repository over time that only require HTML code, data-* attributes, and the inclusion of the script in question, following the same kind of principles as the Twitter Bootstrap extensions, in so far that no coding experience should be required in order to make things work.

It looks like there’s 4 plugins included:

  1. Carousel
  2. ClassToggle
  3. Google Analytics Helper
  4. SnapSlider

The developer has plans to continue adding more simple plugins.

The examples can be seen individually, too. Here’s the Carousel plugin in action. Here’s a few ClassToggle examples. There’s also a Google Analytics Helper example, showing how to track events and URL’s.

jQuery-Plugins looks like it could be a useful set of plugins. I may actually use the Carousel plugin for an upcoming project.

These plugins will come in handy for almost anyone, frontend or backend developers. Check them out!

Blitz.io T-Shirt

2014-07-27 21.37.10

It pays (in t-shirts) to be an early adopter

Got me a t-shirt from the fine folks at Blitz.io. It’s the only service that I use for load testing and generally bringing my sites to their knees. It’s cheap and highly configurable. I suggest you at least give them a try.

They recently offered t-shirts to early adopters, I was apparently one. Here’s part of the e-mail I received from Blitz.io:

The Blitz team wants to thank you for being an early adopter of our services. On July 1, 2014, we will be increasing our pricing and although prices for others will be changing, your subscription plan rates will remain unchanged.

Your support is a big reason for our success and as a token of our gratitude, we would like to offer you a complimentary Blitz gift. Please reach out to us at the support email below, let us know your t-shirt size, and we’ll do the rest.

If you didn’t get the email, you’re out of luck. If you are a Blitz.io user and did get the email, follow the directions at the bottom of the email to get your free t-shirt!

For those who don’t know, Blitz.io provides load testing from the cloud. Here’s a bit about how Blitz.io works.

Blitz has been created to help application and website developers manage and test performance throughout the development lifecycle. Through development, staging, production and operations, it is critical to ensure that your application meets the highest levels of user satisfaction.

Use Blitz credits to perform cloud based load tests at every step of development to help dramatically improve the quality of your applications and websites. We offer powerful capabilities including continuous monitoring, performance testing, and remediation.

If you’re building a website or web app that you expect to receive a decent volume of traffic, it’s a good idea to put it through it’s paces using Blitz.io first. Your app not scaling after launch would probably be a bit of an issue. :)

Just A Regular Night with WindStream DSL

terminal-ping

I see this a lot

I pay $90 a month for 12Mbps down and 1Mbps up. It’s all I have available. I never get 1Mbps up, at least according to testmy.net. Ping responses take quite a while, no matter the geographical location of the box I’m pinging.

tyler@echo:~$ ping 8.8.8.8
PING 8.8.8.8 (8.8.8.8) 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=1 ttl=49 time=1791 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=2 ttl=49 time=1941 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=3 ttl=49 time=1523 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=4 ttl=49 time=2028 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=5 ttl=49 time=1831 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=6 ttl=49 time=1846 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=7 ttl=49 time=2147 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=8 ttl=49 time=2228 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=9 ttl=49 time=2299 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=10 ttl=49 time=2350 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=11 ttl=49 time=2252 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=12 ttl=49 time=2373 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=13 ttl=49 time=2247 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=14 ttl=49 time=2116 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=15 ttl=49 time=2069 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=16 ttl=49 time=2248 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=17 ttl=49 time=2162 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=18 ttl=49 time=2204 ms
64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=19 ttl=49 time=2148 ms
--- 8.8.8.8 ping statistics ---
21 packets transmitted, 19 received, 9% packet loss, time 20037ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 1523.625/2095.396/2373.288/214.538 ms, pipe 3

Of course, WindStream support folks have me test with speedtest.net, which hangs well below the 1Mbps mark. Until the end of the upload, when it gets faster, and then that’s what’s used as the result.

It’s not this bad all the time, but it’s bad way more often than it should be.

I actually miss Mediacom Cable.

WordPress Tip: Specify a Primary Category using Advanced Custom Fields

acf

What WordPress custom fields should have been

I found Advanced Custom Fields (also known as ACF) about 6 months ago while working on a project for a client. They didn’t want to have to mess around with editing the Custom Fields that come native with WordPress, it just wouldn’t have worked as smoothly.

The client needed to require one image, one PDF, one year selection, and one category. The category consisted of two options, “Weekly” or “Daily”. If you’re wondering, it was a newspaper client who wanted to categorize their posts as being either a “weekly issue” or a “daily issue”. Makes sense for a newspaper!

Getting the native WordPress custom fields to play along well with files can be tricky, and probably not worth the effort, especially with a plugin like Advanced Custom Fields around.

So, enter the hero of this post, Advanced Custom Fields. I was able to set everything up with Advanced Custom Fields within about 20 minutes, and that even counts the time that I took to make various theme templates pull data from Advanced Custom Fields. The actual setup of Advanced Custom Fields took about 2 minutes.

I’ve since started using Advanced Custom Fields here at longren.io, too. Independent Publisher, the WordPress theme I’ve been using, likes to show one main category when you’re viewing a single post, even if it’s not the most relevant category. So instead of a post about WordPress having the Git category shown at the top, I can now specify which category I want to be shown. So, for a post like this, I would obviously choose WordPress as my primary category.

I’ve already added the necessary parts to my Independent Publisher child theme, and have sent a pull request to Raam Dev to get his thoughts. It’s a very easy thing to support in a theme, however, it requires that everyone using that theme use the same field name in ACF.

I named my field primary_category, since that’s exactly what it is.

Example field setup with Advanced Custom Fields

Example field setup with Advanced Custom Fields

After you’ve added your “Primary Category” custom field, you can then use the value of that field throughout your theme. I’ll have a short post later this week on exactly how you can display the primary category value in your theme. Or, if you want to know right now, you can see this pull request at GitHub.

As you can tell, Advanced Custom Fields is a beast of a plugin. I also love that Advanced Custom Fields is totally free, which is kind of amazing to me. I’ve come across many paid plugins that are nowhere near as polished and user friendly as Advanced Custom Fields.

Advanced Custom Fields doesn’t skimp on the documentation, either. Their documentation site is extremely helpful, I never once ventured away from it while getting familiar with Advanced Custom Fields for the first time.

You can download Advanced Custom Fields from the WordPress Plugin Directory, so you can also install it in just a few clicks, right from your WordPress Dashboard! Advanced Custom Fields is developed primarily by Elliot Condon, and can also be found on GitHub.

The great thing about this is that it can be applied to any theme, not just Independent Publisher. So, if you’re not using Independent Publisher, just setup Advanced Custom Fields as I described and make the necessary changes for your theme.

A follow-up post will have more details on using data from Advanced Custom Fields, no matter what theme you’re using.

Fort.js: A Modern Progress Bar for Form Completion

fortjs

Modern progress bars for your forms

Fort.js is cool. It makes adding progress bars to your forms extremely easy. It’s especially useful for signup forms, or any form where it’s nice to see how far along in the process you are.

I don’t have Fort.js in use on any public facing sites yet, but the Kegplan.io dev site has an updated signup process that makes use of Fort.js, and I love it.

Fort.js comes with four different effects: default, gradient, sections, and flash. I typically use the Sections effect, it makes it very easy to see how far along you are in the form.

I’d love Fort.js even more if changing the colors was a bit easier. Changing the progress bar colors varies depending on which effect you’re using, but it’s all documented in the README.

Fort.js and related documentation can be found on GitHub.