Counterpunch: Returning to Serve+Destroy

Posted: November 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

With the tennis season finally coming to an end, I finally had the opportunity to redesign Serve+Destroy. The new theme includes a tennis insignia in tandem with a green colour scheme. The site is a statistics manager that allows users to post their scores and see how they rank. Stats can be displayed in several different ways; e.g. by Wins, Points or Win Percentage.

In order to make it easier for users to share their scores, I added the ability to post a match result to Facebook. By clicking the Facebook Heart icon, anyone can post a link to their profile that includes the players, the score, the conference and the location of the match. This feature uses the Facebook API Feed Dialog. You can use PHP to place variables within the Javascript, so that each post shared to Facebook is unique. For example, the code for Serve+Destroy is the following:

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Simplify your WordPress Network Dashboard

Posted: October 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Blog | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments »

If you’re setting up a WordPress Network or Multisite, there’s a good chance you’ll have users that won’t be tech savvy. In that case, you’ll want to make the WordPress backend as user-friendly as possible. One step towards that end is to simplify the Dashboard.

The WordPress Codex provides useful documentation about the Dashboard API, but it remains silent on how to customize the Dashboard across a WordPress Network. To remove Dashboard widgets, add the following function to your theme’s functions.php:

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Launching the iankerr.ca re-design

Posted: September 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Blog | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Just in time for the start of his fall semester, Ian Kerr’s new website is up at iankerr.ca!

The objective of the re-design is not only to update the look, but also to improve usability. The new menu system features far fewer sub-menus, while the site as a whole uses larger and bolder fonts. Overall, the site is much cleaner. While the former iteration was based on Joomla, I elected to go with WordPress for the re-design. If a full-blown content management system is unnecessary, WordPress is a great choice for anyone looking for significantly improved backend usability.

Iankerr.ca is a WordPress multisite install. The theme of the main site is distinguishable from the subsites, but maintains a similar colour palette. Here’s an example sub-site: nyu.iankerr.ca. The subsite theme is based off of Jason Millar‘s customization of Rising Sun. Featured in the header is some of the amazing work created by Eric Joyner.

 


Building simple websites with Facebook’s API

Posted: February 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Facebook relationship map

UPDATE: Facebook changed the way their Graph API works. You’ll now need an “access token” in order to pull data from your Group or Page feed. You can do so by signing up to create a Facebook App (that will give you an access token).

Many small organizations face barriers to cultivating a web presence. They don’t have the financial resources to pay for website hosting. There isn’t anyone available on a regular basis with web programming experience. Or maybe they don’t have time to keep all aspects of their web presence up to date.

Facebook provides one possible solution to this dilemma. However, most organizations require more than a Facebook Group or Page. There is a sense of legitimacy that comes with an actual website.

I recently completed a project for such an organization, and thought I’d share some tips here. Here’s how it works. Read the rest of this entry »


Checking out the Chrome Web Store

Posted: December 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

ToodleChrome in the Chrome Web Store

ToodleChrome is in the Chrome Web Store! The extension is still free, of course. Previous posts on this extension are here and originally here.


ToodleChrome updated; now Verified Author

Posted: November 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Update 28-Nov-2010: Version 0.7 adds some new badge options (thanks, Stephen!)

ToodleChrome infoGoogle Chrome users with the newest version of the browser are running into problems with some extensions that use popups. ToodleChrome 0.4 is one of these extensions. It looks as though the Chrome/Chromium dev team has changed the way popups are styled. As a result, many extension popups are starting to appear as very skinny windows essentially rendering them useless. While a number of bug reports were filed with the Chromium browser dev team, they’re super busy. So, I thought I’d just make a few changes to the extension itself.

Version 0.5 of ToodleChrome displays the popup correctly. It also adds the capability to detach the popup into its own standalone window; and there is now a small wrench icon that will take users directly to the Options page (thanks to everyone for the feedback and suggestions).

I’ve also added eliotche.com as the verified author: Read the rest of this entry »


Making Fashionotes

Posted: September 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The Blog | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Fashionotes.comIt’s been a busy month, but I’ve made time to update the BF:BC2 iPhone app, and put together a new client website. Like most of my current projects, Fashionotes.com is developed using the WordPress content management framework.

There are four plugins in particular that helped accelerate the design and implementation process: Smooth Slider, Verve Meta Boxes, Lightbox 2, and the Disqus Comment System. While some of these addons indicate that they haven’t been updated to work with WordPress 3.0+, I’ve found that they are indeed compatible. With a few slight modifications, some of which I have documented in previous posts, these plugins form the core of the Fashionotes site.

The layout an design for this project is a collaboration with the team over at Moxie Creative. They’ve also made some handsome posters for World Cup fans!

[Check out fashionotes.com]


WordPress + Smooth Slider + Verve Meta Boxes

Posted: August 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: The Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

When developing websites, more often than not, I’m dedicating a significant amount of time to making it easier for people to post content. The WordPress back-end does a great job getting people started, but more complex functionality requires plugins that aren’t always built to work seamlessly together. That’s where my job comes in, and I thought I’d share my experience on getting some extra mileage out of a couple great plugins.

I recently worked on a site that required a front page box displaying featured posts. The posts would be shown as a slideshow, while giving the visitor an option to select which slide to view. For this functionality, I used a wonderful plugin called Smooth Slider by Tejaswini Deshpande and Sanjeev Mishra. One of the many features of Smooth Slider is that it lets you assign an image to a sliding post based on custom fields. In this case, developers must have a URL assigned to a custom field called “slider_thumbnail.” Within the plugin settings, there’s no way to assign a different custom field, which is part of what I needed to do.

When creating a feature, authors often want to associate an image with the post, without necessarily having to put the image within the post itself. This functionality can be achieved with Verve Meta Boxes. This plugin, written by Komra Moriko and Vaughn Draughon, allows developers to add a visual interface for adding custom fields.

Smooth Slide and Verve Meta Boxes

In this case, I wanted to get Verve Meta Boxes to assign the URL of an image to a custom field, and have that image picked up by Smooth Slider. I also wanted to reposition the Verve Meta Box container to the admin right sidebar (out-of-the-box). To achieve this end, I had to modify the codebase of both plugins. The unfortunate side-effect of this process is that developers will have to re-edit the code if they decide to upgrade the plugins in the future. Nonetheless, I thought I’d share the steps. I may look into writing a small plugin that adds this functionality without needing to modify the original plugin code, but the steps outlined in this tutorial make for a pretty easy customization anyway. Read the rest of this entry »


Designing for A Higher Plane

Posted: October 20th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: The Blog | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

A Higher Plane front page screenshotA Higher Plane is a construction company that uses sustainable development practices in home renovation projects. In adopting ecological stewardship as a central value, projects often use recycled and reclaimed materials, or employ alternative construction methods and innovative designs to maximize the efficient use of materials.

While the information architecture of the site is straightforward to maintain ease of use, the design for their new website called for an aesthetic reflecting the company’s focus on woodworking and its ethical values. We decided to go with earthy colours, using a forest green to help the logo stand out. The header and logo appear stamped into the wood paneling, while the main website content appears on a recycled paper background.

The site is based on the WordPress open-source content management system, using the Lightbox 2 plugin. Each page has a custom template, while blog posts are displayed as a list on the front page in the What’s Happening section.

A Higher Plane‘s new website should be launching soon. In the meantime, you can check out the company’s Gordie Wornoff in Junk Raiders, a recent Discovery Channel television program.


Serve and Destroy 1.4.1: Tennis League

Posted: August 24th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: The Blog | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Tennis StandingsUpdate: This project has been updated and moved to serveanddestroy.com

Almost every day for the past few months, I’ve been playing tennis with friends at the local public courts. Seeing as how all of us are very competitive and often discussing trends in our play, I decided to put together a small web application so that we could keep track of our wins and losses.

At first, I searched for a pre-made tennis app, written either in PHP, Ruby, or another similar language so that I could customize it. However, it seems as though there are very few coders out there interested in making an open-source, publicly available tennis application. One piece of software that comes very close is Peter’s Sports League Standings. Peter has done a great job making a versatile PHP/mySQL package that likely serves the needs of most users looking to set up a sports league.

Peter’s app seems geared mainly towards baseball,  football, or other team sports that have certain types of outcomes (win, loss, tie) based on certain type of stats (e.g. runs for, runs against). Because of my particular requirements in setting up a tennis standings system, I made a few changes to Peter’s original work, most of which are purely aesthetic. Apart from the design and layout, I also reworked the way in which points are calculated, and the Point totals now take into consideration Matches Won, as well as Games Won. The Set category was left out since it’s implicit in Matches Won or Lost.

Read the rest of this entry »


Designing for Performing Publics

Posted: July 18th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: The Blog | Tags: , | No Comments »

PSi16I’ve been doing some web development work for PSi16, an annual conference series hosted by Performance Studies international, an organization that brings together scholars and practitioners working in the field of performance.

The project was organized into two, typical stages: interface design (mockups) and implementation. We decided to go with the WordPress content management system because of available ready-to-deploy modules and ease of theme development. The site makes heavy use of page templates. For example, the front splashpage’s design and layout, while maintaining a dropdown menu system, differs significantly from the regular pages found throughout the site. Page templates are a more efficient method of applying custom theme elements to different pages and helped us speed up the development process.

The website will be launching in late August, with the conference taking place in June 2010.