Use Docker for Fast WordPress Development Environments

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A Dockerfile That Provides Quick WordPress Development Environments

Back in May of this year I started playing around with Docker quite a bit. Took me a bit to wrap my brain around everything Docker can do, wish I had read this article from Adam Ierymenko before starting.

Anyway, Docker describes itself as such:

Docker is an open platform for building, shipping and running distributed applications. It gives programmers, development teams and operations engineers the common toolbox they need to take advantage of the distributed and networked nature of modern applications.

I’m not using Docker to it’s fullest extent, not even close. I mostly use it for setting up quick WordPress development environments for building client sites or just to do some testing.

I came across an outdated Dockerfile that had exactly what I needed but lacked the ability to SSH to the Docker container. I forked it on GitHub and added some modifications (like SSH).

It’s on the Docker Hub Registry, making it super easy to use. There’s a few items on the to-do list, but the one I want to take care of first is adding support for Docker Compose, which will make installation even easier.

To get started with this Docker image, you just need to have Docker installed and then run the following command:

Once you’ve got the Docker image pulled, fire up a new container like with the command below. It will create a new Docker container named project-name.

Give it a bit to get everything setup then navigate to http://127.0.0.1:80 in your browser to access your new WordPress install.

For more information I suggest checking out the readme. Every time that I push commits to GitHub, a new build of the Docker image will automatically be built as I’ve got it setup as an automated build repository at the Docker Hub Registry. Pretty nifty.

So, I’m relatively new to Docker, if you’re a pro and see something I should be doing differently, please let me know. Any advice on setting up Docker Compose for this project would be great, too (if I’m not mistaken, it just involved linking multiple containers together).

Do you use Docker?

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Use Composer in Your WordPress Plugin or Theme

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Simple Tutorial Showing How To Use Composer in Your WordPress Plugin or Theme

I love Composer. It just makes including libraries or scripts in your app incredibly easy. So easy that it’s stupid not to use it (in many, if not most cases).

The number of libraries/scripts available on Packagist is astounding, all of which can be included in your plugin with Composer. Packagist is the main Composer repository. It basically aggregates all types of PHP packages that can be installed via Composer.

I’d never used Composer with a proprietary WordPress plugin before. The plugin is for a client so it’ll never be available to the public.

Here’s the steps I took to make this WordPress plugin compatible with Composer so that I can easily bring in third-party libraries.

We’ll be using mailgun-php throughout this example, as the plugin that inspired this post uses Mailgun to send all sorts of emails.

1. First, install composer on your server.

I install Composer globally, like so:

2. Add Mailgun as a dependency.

3. Check your composer.json file.

We’re including Mailgun and guzzle from Packagist. Your composer.json file should look similar to the example below.

4. Tell composer to install Mailgun.

5. Autoload Our Mailgun Classes in Our Plugin.

The following should go in your plugin-name.php file, before any other PHP code.

You can now use Mailgun in your WordPress plugin or theme, some basic examples of using Mailgun can be found on GitHub and in their official documentation.

Fix StanleyWP WordPress Theme Portfolio Grid

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Fix display of portfolio grid rows

Back in September of 2014 I wrote about using the StanleyWP WordPress theme for a portfolio site. After I added some projects, I noticed the grid on the Portfolio page template wasn’t displaying rows correctly. I even noted it in my original post, towards the end.

I’ve had a few people contact me about how to fix the StanleyWP portfolio grid issue, and earlier today Arun left a comment asking how to fix the grid issue.

You need to be using a child theme for this, it’s just good practice. If you don’t know how to create a child theme, read my post on creating a child theme. It’s really easy to do, but may require you to reset your menu or some widgets after changing to the child theme.

Anyway, Arun confirmed that this gist fixed the problem for him:

Just save that code as template-portfolio.php and put it in your child theme directory. Your portfolio should now show three projects per row. No CSS or anything else needs to be modified, just that one page template.

Let me know if you have any issues or questions.

Using Gmail SMTP Servers to Send Email From WordPress on DigitalOcean

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Use Gmail SMTP Servers for Sending Emails from WordPress

After quite a bit of back and forth between sendmail, postfix, and exim, I’ve settled on using msmtp for sending emails from my servers/droplets at DigitalOcean (affiliate link).

MSMTP is very lightweight and has the ability to send emails via an existing SMTP server, like Gmail’s or Yahoo’s.

To get it working, there’s a few tricks. I’ve pieced this together from this post and this post. And when on DigitalOcean, there’s an IPv6 issue that causes major delays in sending the email, which there’s a fix for at the end of this post.

1. Install msmtp

2. Configure msmtp to use Gmail

Open up /etc/msmtprc as root: sudo nano /etc/msmtprc, and add the following, removing whatever else is there:

You’ll want to replace the user directive with a valid Gmail email address, a Gmail account or a Google Apps email address will work, too. Don’t forget to change enter-password-here! to the actual password for the Gmail account your using.

Save /etc/msmtprc.

3. Remove Sendmail

Run this:

4. Setup Some Aliases

Lots of software on Linux systems uses the sendmail command. Instead, we’re using msmtp, so we’re essentially invoking msmtp when the sendmail command is run.

5. Tell PHP About msmtp

First, locate your php.ini file that’s being used by Apache. It’s typically in /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini. If that’s not it, use PHP’s phpinfo() function to find the location of your php.ini file.

Find sendmail_path = in php.ini and replace it with this:

Now you should be able to send mail using PHP’s mail() function, which will use the Gmail SMTP server to send emails. Add this to a PHP file and access it through your browser to see if it works:

6. Disable IPv6 If You Experience Slowness

Open up /etc/gai.conf like so:

Now, look for a line that looks like this: #precedence ::ffff:0:0/96 100. Uncomment that line (remove the #) and save /etc/gai.conf. An explanation of why this helps can be found in this comment at the DigitalOcean article.

All Done

That should be it. If you run into any issues please do leave a comment, I’ll do my best to help you out. I may have missed a part, so no guarantees this will work for you. It does however work wonderfully on a DigitalOcean droplet that’s running Ubuntu 14.04 with a pretty standard LAMP stack.

You should now be able to send email from WordPress on DigitalOcean.

Add Schema.org Markup to WooCommerce Products

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WooCommerce & Schema.org Is Awesome

Adding schema.org markup to a well coded WordPress theme is relatively straight forward and doesn’t take very long to get setup.

I covered how to add schema.org markup to your WordPress theme in a previous post, but I recently needed to apply schema.org markup to an e-commerce site using WooCommerce.

It’s surprisingly easy to do. You’ll need to be using a child theme for the steps that follow.

1. Setup the necessary function in the functions.php file for your theme

Add the following to your functions.php file. It creates a custom function, schema_org_markup.

2. Call schema_org_markup() In Your Header

Open up the header.php file for your child theme and find the html tag, usually towards the top. You’ll want to call the schema_org_markup function inside that html tag, like so:

3. Create a WooCommerce template file in your child theme

Create a directory in your child theme folder named woocommerce. Inside the woocommerce folder, create another new folder named single-product. Inside the single-product folder, create a file named price.php. The contents of your price.php file should look like this:

4. All Done

That’s all that’s required to add schema.org markup to individual WooCommerce product pages. Pretty simple.

If you run into any issues or it doesn’t seem to be working for you, let me know. I’ve only tested this with two themes, Vantage and Virtue. Remember, this only works with well-crafted WordPress themes. Doing this with purchased themes from ThemeForest or other paid theme marketplaces can be significantly more difficult.

Comments are open so let me know if you have any issues, additions, questions, or suggestions.