Smashing Magazine Debut With WordPress 3.9

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Validation achievement unlocked!

I was invited to write an article at Smashing Magazine, detailing the new WordPress 3.9 release. Can’t really explain how excited I was when I got the email.

Anyone who knows web development, design, or really anything related to the Internet at all has probably heard of Smashing Magazine.

The article was put together in a very small amount of time but was a blast to do. Daniel Pataki, the WordPress Editor at Smashing Magazine, was a pleasure to work with and has extreme patience (I asked him a LOT of questions). Thanks again for bearing with my sometimes dumb questions, Daniel.

The experience was awesome and I hope to continue writing articles for Smashing Magazine for a long time to come. I gave my editor a list of about 10-15 topics I’d like to cover, most of which have nothing to do with WordPress. Hopefully my ideas aren’t ALL crap, lol. :)

To read about WordPress 3.9 and what’s new, head over to the Smashing Magazine piece!

Building a WordPress Child Theme

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Make changes to your theme the correct way

Whenever I’m using a pre-built theme and need to make changes to it, I create a child theme and then make all changes to that child theme.

A child theme inherits features from it’s parent theme. This allows you to make modifications to the child theme without affecting the code in the parent theme, which allows the parent theme to be updated as normal, without causing your modifications to be lost.

Benefits of using a child theme

  • If you modify an existing theme and it is updated, your changes will be lost. With a child theme, you can update the parent theme (which might be important for security or functionality) and still keep your changes.
  • It can speed up development time.
  • It’s a great way to get started if you are just learning WordPress theme development.

Creating the Child Theme

Only one file is required to make a child theme, style.css. The only required lines in style.css are Theme Name and Template. I typically use something like the following for my style.css file. Just set the Template value to whatever the name of your parent theme is. In my case, it’s independent-publisher.

Example Child Theme GitHub Repository

I put together a simple child theme example, it’s available on GitHub.

Feel free to use it as a base for your child themes. It’s setup to use Independent Publisher as its parent theme, but that can be easily changed. If you need help, you can ask in the comments at this post, or create an issue at the GitHub repository.

WordPress 3.9

wordpress-3.9-beta3

The most beautiful WordPress yet

I decided to install the latest WordPress 3.9 nightly this evening. Either something went funky on the update to beta3, or there were database changes between beta 3 and the latest nightly. I dunno. All I know is that the latest nightly (27857) appears to be working nicely.

Something I’ve been wanting for a long time is a better widget management experience, and WordPress 3.9 delivers nicely.

Drag-drag-drag. Scroll-scroll-scroll. Widget management can be complicated. With the new design, we’ve worked to streamline the widgets screen.

Have a large monitor? Multiple widget areas stack side-by-side to use the available space. Using a tablet? Just tap a widget to add it.

When clicking on a widget to add, you’re presented with a list of available sidebar areas to choose. Just select the area you want to add the selected widget to. Here’s a screenshot.

Choose where to add the Recent Posts widget.

Choose where to add the Recent Posts widget.


WordPress 3.9 now has an official release date, April 16. I haven’t used the WordPress 3.9 nightly for long, but so far, so good. And without the folks below (and lots of others), WordPress wouldn’t be what it is today.
leaders
Some changes that can be found in WordPress 3.9 beta 3:

  • New features like live widget previews and the new theme installer are now more ready for prime time, so check ‘em out.
  • UI refinements when editing images and when working with media in the editor. We’ve also brought back some of the advanced display settings for images.
  • If you want to test out audio and video playlists, the links will appear in the media manager once you’ve uploaded an audio or video file.
  • For theme developers, we’ve added HTML5 caption support (#26642) to match the new gallery support (#26697).
  • The formatting function that turns straight quotes into smart quotes (among other things) underwent some changes to drastically speed it up, so let us know if you see anything weird.

You can find WordPress 3.9 beta 3 for download here. After installing it, you’ll be prompted to update to the latest nightly. Well, that may be because of a plugin I have installed, so if that doesn’t happen, don’t worry, all is good. :)