Tag Archives: How To

WordPress Workflow

In this video we will take a look at the basics of working with WordPress. I’ll show you how to use the “back end” and the “front end” at the same time with two open browser tabs.  I will also demonstrate how a change you make to your website will become live on your front page.

How to link your self-hosted WordPress with your WordPress.com account

Did you know that you can configure WordPress.com as a central dashboard for all your blogs, including your self hosted ones?

It’s fairly easy to setup and comes as a by-product of using the Stats plugin.

To use Stats, you need a WordPress.com API key, which you’ll get for free once you sign up for a WordPress.com account.

When you activate Stats and type in your API key, your self hosted blog automatically shows in your WordPress.com account. It even lets you start a new post right there and then, which is convenient when you’re working across several sites.

How to upgrade WordPress

If a new stable version of WordPress is available, you’ll be prompted to upgrade at the top of the dashboard.

Upgrading not only introduces some new (and usually cool) features to your installation, but it also protects you from hackers as security holes are being fixed. I reccomend you upgrade as soon as a new version is available.

On some shared shoting packages, the automatic upgrade function introduced in WordPress 2.7 might not work, but it’s easy enough to do this manually. All you need is

  • an FTP client
  • the latest version of WordPress – always available at www.wordpress.org

Once you’re looged in to your FTP account, do the following:

  • delete the wp-admin directory
  • delete the wp-includes directory
  • make sure you keep the wp-content and all other directories
  • delete all files in your root directory, except for the wp-config.php file
  • now upload everything from the new package, apart from the wp-config.php file and the wp-content directory
  • last step: go to www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/upgrade.php (your new installation might work without this step, but should your database need upgrading, this will take care of it).

You’re done – enjoy the latest WordPress 😉

How to shorten the_content() in WordPress Themes

If you’ve ever created a WordPress Theme and you’re not happy with the way it outputs text to your theme, you might be interested in a handy plugin called the_excerpt_reloaded(). You can

  • shorten the number of words being printed to screen
  • you can add a handy “Read More” or whatever link
  • allow or disallow certain HTML tags (nice!)
  • and quite a bit more.

Have a look at

the_excerpt_reloaded can replace any of the traditional WordPress Functions and do a lot more.

  • the_content()
  • the_excerpt()
  • the_content_rss() (depreciated and unreliable in WP version 2.7)
  • the_excerpt_rss()

Happy Theming!

How to backup your WordPress database?

The Database is the heart of your WordPress installation. Simply backing up and restoring all your files via FTP is not enough – it only contains the actual WordPress “programme” if you will, your plugins and themes, and all your uploaded media files (like pictures). It does NOT however contain your posts, links and some of the configuration data. That’s where the MySQL Database comes into play.

Backing up your database is as important as backing up all other data on your server, and I’m afraid to say that if your server develops a fault, you’ve got nobody else but yourself to blame.

Having said that, here’s a plugin that will do all the hard work for your, if you (want to) know about databases or not:

Un-zip the contents, copy it into your /wp-plugins/directory, activate the plugin and off you go. You can even schedule your backups on a daily basis and have them emailed to you for safe keeping.

Once you’ve done this, do somethign nice for yourself. Once you’ve done that, please familiarise yourself with how to RESTORE your database:

Let me leave you with this thought:

Backup often – you won’t regret it!

How to restore your database?

The Database is the heart of your WordPress installation. Simply backing up and restoring all your files via FTP is not enough – it only contains the actual WordPress “programme” if you will, your plugins and themes, and all your uploaded media files (like pictures). It does NOT however contain your posts, links and some of the configuration data. That’s where the MySQL Database comes into play.

For any of these articles to make sense, you need to be familiar and have access to phpMyAdmin. Your hosting provider will gladly help you our there.

If you have a fairly small database (up to 5MB), have a look at this:

If you database is significantly larger, you need other means of uploading and importing it. I reccomend the sue of a PHP script, as detailed here:

One sure PHP Script is BigDump:

Obviously, before a RESTORE actually works, you would have had to BACKUP your database (naturally). Perhaps you would like to check out this article to find out how to do this:

http://wordpress-guru.co.uk/archives/how-to-restore-your-databasehow-to-backup-your-database/

How to add a NEW THEME to your site

One of the most amazing things about WordPress is that you can select a completely new layout for your site at the touch of a button. It’s just as easy to upload a new theme to your library – try it out for yourself.

Here’s what you do:

  • download and un-zip your theme, so you end up with (usually) a folder of the theme’s name
  • use an FTP client (like Filezilla) to access your webspace
  • find a directory called wp-content/themes
  • upload your entire un-zipped folder into this folder
  • log into your WordPress Site (usually at www.example.com/wp-admin)
  • navigate to APPEARANCE – THEMES
  • find your theme and activate it
  • sit back and enjoy your site in a new layout

You can find plenty of free and commercial themes around the net if you google WordPress Themes.

I’ve put together a list of good sites here.

How to setup a Cron Job in Linux and Plesk

Wouldn’t it be great if something could be triggered even when you’re not around? Say once an hour, once a day, once a week or whenever you like in predetermined intervals?

Then you want to do this with what’s known as a Cron Job, or Scheduled Task.

Unfortunately, this is a bit beyond what WordPress can do, and it means getting down to the nitty gritty of the internal workings  of your server (after all, that’s where WordPress lives). Bear with me here, I’ll try my best to explain and show solutions.

I’m using a Cron Job with Manu Flury’s excellent Photo Q Plugin. It posts one of my pictures over at www.versluis.com every so many hours. But for this to work properly, both the WordPress Plugin and my (Linux) server need to be setup correctly.

Some WordPress Plugins (like Rob Felty’s Postie or Charles Johnson’s Feed WordPress) have similar functionality built in, but they rely on a visitor coming to your site at predetermined intervals. That’s not something you can control really. In most cases it works reliable enough for these plugins to work, however many others just don’t have that functionality, or require more accurate control. That’s where your Cron Job comes in.

So what on earth is a Cron Job?

In a nutshell, it’s a task that’s triggered at predetermined intervals. But it’s a bit like sitting in front of a Linux Prompt on your SSH connection, and all you have at your displosal is a keyboard with a black screen and white text to type in. What’s worse, your server doesn’t speak “WordPress”, or PHP for that matter. So all you can do really is to give him Linux commands.

In all likelyhood, you probably want to call a PHP file so that WordPress does something for you (such as check if it’s time for a new post, or maybe a database backup). And you can’t just tell Linux to go to that file, becasue it wouldn’t know what to do with it. I’ve tried this without success many times over (they nearly put me in a mental institution, seriously… I can assure you I’m much better now though).

So you need to find a command that calls your PHP file as if it were a browser. Lucky for us, the command “wget” will do the trick.

Wget is really designed for downloading a file to your server, but it’ll work fine for triggering a PHP file, just as a browser would do. The command for calling the Photo Q file for example looks like this:

Confused? Don’t be! Let me explain:

  • “/usr/bin/wget” tells the server where the wget command is (it’s a path to a file if you hadn’t guessed)
  • “-O – -q -t -1” are some random parameters, let’s not concern ourselves with those right now (if you really want to find out, type in “wget –help” at your SSH prompt)
  • “http://www.yourdomain.com/wimpq-cronpost.php” is the actual file you want to call, just like what you’d type into your browser

Now that we know how to call upon a PHP file from our command prompt, we need to tell our server to do this without us being there, and at what times he needs to do this. He’ll be more than happy to oblige, after all, that’s what he was designed to do.

How to setup a Cron Job in Plesk

I’ll focus on how to do this in Plesk 9 here, which refers to it as Scheduled Tasks (earlier versions of Plesk call it Crontab).

Here’s how you get there:

  • from the main menu on the left, select HOME
  • select DOMAINS
  • select the DOMAIN you want to run this task on
  • under Additional Tools, select SCHEDULED TASKS
  • choose the SYSTEM USER you would like this task to be run as
  • select SCHEDULE NEW TASK

OK, this was complicated enough to figure out – now comes the part nobody ever really talks about. It’s hard to explain, so please bear with me if I’m not making a whole lot of sense at first. In essence, you’re telling your server WHEN to do something, followed by WHAT to do.

  • Each field requires an entry. Don’t leave them blank.
  • The first tick box is to “switch on” the task. That’s what you want, unless you want to suspend the task. Tick it for now.
  • Now tell your server WHEN your task shall be run.
  • a “*” (i.e. star or asterisk) means “every”. So a star in minute would run the task “every minute”, likewise for hours and days of the month
  • You can also create the command “*/5” if you want your task run every 5 hours, every 5 days, every 5 minutes – you get the drift
  • Alternatively, put in the specific date (i.e. “Monday” and “17” for Monday at 5pm)

After all that, you’re left with one last line, which is the actual command or task you’d like to be run.

Like I explained above, for a PHP file to be called, use the wget command like so:

Obviously change the path to your file, including “http://”

Click OK on the bottom and your task should be setup. No need to reboot anything.

If at any time you feel you want to amend the task, you can do so by just modifying the parameters, or uncheck the “run task” tickbox to suspend the task completely.

If you want to know even MORE about Cron Jobs, check this out:

http://www.hingham-ma.com/sendstudionx/admin/resources/tutorials/cron_intro.html

Good Luck, and have fun 😉

How to add a Facebook Group Feed

I’ve come acoss this the other day, comes in handy as Facebook Groups don’t have a generic RSS feed. Here’s how you can display what’s new in your favourite groups within your WordPress Site:

  1. Make sure you have your Facebook Group ID handy (it’s the last 11 or so numeric digits after the ‘groupid’ tag in the URL). Check Jason Silver’s excellent Yahoo! Pipe script:
  2. http://pipes.yahoo.com/jasonsilver/facebookgroup
  3. This will give you an option to embed as badge in various formats (WordPress, Blogger, PHP Script and many others).

Enjoy!