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Lesson 11 – Part 9 – Question and Answer Session

Difficulty Level -

That wraps up what I have prepared for this evening. We’re going to open it up to questions.  In the meantime, I’m going to unmute Kim. Good evening Kim, your microphone is unmuted. How are you doing?

Kim: Okay. I’m good. I have just one little thing, it was just something about being organized which you know I’m not the best organized person in the world. I changed out a plugin today on the site and I just want to ask you that when you change out a plugin that usually change some other plugins, remember? I went through this before.

Rick: That’s because the site you’re working on was using an old version of my plugin.

Kim: Yes, so I got rid of that one and I installed the newer plugin but it affected my widget plugin which is not an older version. It mixed everything around further.

Rick: Well, why don’t we try that here on this.

Location of Inactive Sidebars

Kim: Okay. I guess what I was going to say especially with things that I spent a lot of time styling, I should go back copy that off into a default page, you know what I mean? Just keep that in there knowing that I might lose some of my information. I think that’s just the planning part that I should think about more often?

Rick: Well, that shouldn’t happen and we’re going to test that here. WordPress 3.3 created a new place here so that when a sidebar goes away, the widgets that were in that sidebar are suppose to go to this other place. It’s sort of widget purgatory.

Kim: The inactive.

Rick: Not inactive widgets because this has always been there. We’re going to test that right now. We’re going to installed plugins and deactivate this Shortcode Content Widgets Plugin so those sidebars are going to go away. With those sidebars having gone away, we come over to our widgets, the sidebars are gone and here what happens, “Inactive Sidebar (not used)” and the widgets come over here now.

Kim: Maybe I need to upgrade, maybe I haven’t upgraded that to the newer Thesis.

Rick: This isn’t a Thesis behavior, this is WordPress behavior but this inactive sidebar purgatory is the product of WordPress 3.3. If we come back over to that and activate it, it’s going to jump right back in the places where we put it before. What you’re suffering from is partially due to just some error in older plugins of mine.

Kim: I just need to be a little more thoughtful about it before I just ruin it with changes because I have the tendency to run in and do something. If I really coded something and styled it, I should copy it all just as a safety measure? Copy it all from a page and just save it as a draft, right? There won’t be any harm in doing that and I tend not to think about that but then I go back and say, “Oh, I should have done that”.

Rick: At some point, I’m going to have the ability for you to save options from the plugins too so you can back up the plugin options but you don’t have that ability right now.

Kim: This is also just a test site. Well, you know what I do have that inactive bar in there so you’re right, it’s there. I guess my point being is just that be more organized before making changes. If it’s something you spent a lot of time styling, it won’t hurt just to copy it out to somewhere so you have it for later, right?

Rick: Yeah. Especially when it’s code like this that is not stored anywhere else.

Kim: Right. I’m just saying, that’s all. I just want to make that point because I’ve just spent the last hour re-doing something there. It wasn’t a big deal, it’s just my contact information.

Rick: Right. That kind of stuff can go in a Sandbox page nicely.

Kim: That’s exactly my point. If you really spent a lot of time styling something, just save it all for later just in case something happens. Just save it out to Sandbox and just leave it there.

Rick: It’s a good tip.

Kim: Okay.

Rick: Okay, thanks Kim. Bye. Duncan I’ve just unmuted your microphone, good evening.

Duncan: Hi.

Rick: How are you doing?

Problems with AWeber Content in Sidebars

Duncan: Good. We’re just messing around and got myself in some trouble here.

Rick: Okay.

Duncan: I’ve got your note there but you’re in Thesis or you’re in your program as far as the simple header program so I took the Thesis default thing off so that I was using your plugin for both sides. Then I tried to plug the AWeber in to the right side and created a fatal error or something. Now when I go into the back office there kind of thing, and go into plugins or go into widgets, I can’t see any widgets on the right hand side and it doesn’t let the AWeber out of the sidebar. Now, I’ve enabled Thesis, that’s what you’re looking at there but I can go back in and show you what it looks like.

Rick: Okay, I’ve just made you the presenter, show me what you’re talking about.

Duncan: Okay, can you see my screen now?

Rick: Yes.

Duncan: I’ve just clicked Appearance there and so on and…

Rick: Your sidebars are missing. Okay, so..

Duncan: Yes and at the bottom it says, this failure.

Rick: What does it say there? “Call to undefined method AWeber Plugin, get settings”. Let’s go to Appearance and Themes and let’s activate the 2011 Theme. Just scroll down, there you go and activate 2011.

Duncan: Okay, right here?

Rick: Yes, that should restore your sidebars. Let’s go back to Appearance and Widgets because what we’ve done is we have disabled all of the sidebars I created. Now, let’s look under Inactive Widgets down here, let’s see if you can find the one that had that. Go ahead and open that left header area widgets, that shouldn’t even be showing up there but go ahead and open it up for me.

Duncan: Are you over on the right side here?

Rick: Yes, you’ve got to minimize your…

Duncan: Okay, I’m just going to stick that over.

Rick: Expand the left header area widgets. It doesn’t expand, does it?

Duncan: No.

Rick: Let’s go to plugins and deactivate the simple header widgets plugin. Now go back to Appearance and Widgets.

Duncan: Let’s look at that fail there at the bottom, maybe I’ll just…

Rick: No. Go back to Plugins, let’s just deactivate all the BYOB Thesis Plugins. Deactivate “Exclude Categories from Posts” too.

Duncan: What the heck.

Rick: That’s okay, just refresh it. Go back and activate Thesis.

Duncan: Activate.

Rick: Go back to Appearance and Themes.

Duncan: Okay. So back to here?

Rick: Yes, activate it and go back to Plugins

Duncan: Install Plugins?

Rick: Yes. What we’re going to do now is to deactivate all the BYOB plugins. Most of my plugins die gracefully when Thesis has been deactivated but not all of them especially some of the older ones. Now, let’s go to Appearance and Widgets and go down to inactive sidebar. That’s your aweber web form 1, isn’t it?

Duncan: Yes.

Rick: Let’s dispose of that.

Duncan: It’s interesting with all these inactive sidebars, it removed each of the widgets to fully remove them. I obviously should do that then.

Rick: What we need to do is get rid of the offending problem and that was your aweber form so that’s what we need to get rid of.

Duncan: So put it where?

Rick: We’ll just expand it and say delete, not Save but Delete.

Duncan: Delete that?

Rick: Yes. Now, what do you have in those 2 text widgets?

Duncan: I don’t even know. Oh, that was Headers.

Rick: Okay, let’s check the other one, I want to make sure there’s no more aweber stuff in it. It’s blank but that’s fine. You can go back and activate all of my plugins. Let’s bulk activate them, it’ll go a lot faster.

Duncan: Okay.

Rick: Just select all of those and then bulk actions, keep going, there’s more. Under bulk actions, go up, say activate and you have to hit apply. Go look at your site now.

Duncan: There was a footer there before and that left header.

Rick: Although that might be the place where you put that form?

Duncan: It shouldn’t have been because I placed it on the right one and this is the left? I was just trying to add AWeber up in here on the right corner up here.

Rick: The way your header is laid out though, it won’t go there. I mean you don’t have a 3rd place to put it. The place you want to put it is the big wide space. Your left header area is a little narrow piece and the right header is the big wide piece so it’s not going to go on the upper right hand corner of the big wide piece.

Duncan: Okay.

Rick: If you want 3 pieces, then you need to use that header layout plugin because just as I demonstrated tonight, the header layout plugin will allow you to use 3 widget columns. You can try using that AWeber plugin one more time but I wouldn’t be surprised if what you have to do is just cut and paste the AWeber code. It’s so easy to cut and paste the AWeber code, I don’t know why you’d  need to use their plugin.

Duncan: Okay. So you normally don’t.

Rick: I don’t use the plugin at all, no. What I demonstrated last week was using the JavaScript. That’s really the easy way to do it.

Duncan: Okay.

Rick: Okay?

Duncan: Thanks very much.

Rick: You’re absolutely welcome. Bye. John’s got a questions. Good evening, John I’ve unmuted your microphone.

Placing Images Directly in a Page

John: Good evening, Rick. Another great evening, thank you very much. Again, I have learned a lot and have some additional questions about a couple of things. I noticed that tonight at least, I suspect you do this a lot, do you tend to place images just by placing them all directly in a page as opposed to uploading them to the Library first and then placing them? Is there an advantage to doing that or it doesn’t matter?

Rick: It doesn’t matter, it’s just a workflow thing. If I’m working in this kind of a context, I already have my images set up. I may have uploaded them all together already, in which case I just pick it from the library or I may not have and in which case I do it this way.

If I’ve got several images I know I’m going to insert, I generally will upload them all to the image library first just because it’s fast. It’s faster to do the whole bunch at the same time.

John: You can in fact upload to the library more than one at a time?

Rick: Yes, you can. That’s what the whole drag and drop thing is. You go over to maybe an Add New and you can just drag, you can just select from your file manager a whole bunch and just drag it right there and drop it so it’s nice and fast, right?

John: Okay. Yes, absolutely.

Rick: Because of that, if I’ve already got the images all together, I probably do just exactly what I’m doing right there. Otherwise, I do it the other way.

How to Edit the 404 Code?

John: Okay, that’s great. Thank you for that. Is there a way that we can get it before the message that appears on the 404 page?

Rick: There is actually but it requires code. There is a way of editing the 404 error. For example on my site, what happens if I say “fishsticks”, I better get a 404 error, there you go.

John: Oh yeah, you changed it.

Rick: I have changed it and in fact, this ‘fishsticks” is too far away from the content on my site and so it couldn’t make any suggestions. Let’s see, custom post type. Again, a page doesn’t actually exist like that but now it’s going to make suggestions because it sees content on my site. It just knew better.

I do have a redirection plugin that instead of automatically going to 404, it will assume that most of the title is accurate and can take you there. Anyway, my 404 error page does do a quick little search and will show some search results as an option. Maybe you just misspelled this, look here. If you want to look at the code, I can give you the code on Wednesday.

Wednesdays are code days so we talk about it on Wednesday and I can show you the code that I use. It’s very simple, all you really have to do is cut and paste it into your customs functions.php file. Thesis does have a hook specifically intended to allow you to change that stuff but it’s specific to allow a programmer to change it and not with settings. That’s a good idea for a plugin, isn’t it?

John: Yes because it’s really not appropriate to always say 404 error. I’m not doing that for a client. There you go, that is a great idea for a plugin. Will you have it by Wednesday please?

Rick: Well, I won’t have a plugin by Wednesday but I’ll certainly share the code with you on Wednesday.

John: I know, I’m teasing. That would be great. Remind me of what time that is on Wednesday?

Rick: We have one Wednesday morning at 9 and Wednesday evening at 5.

How to Keep Track of Plugins Update?

John: Okay. I should be able to make that afternoon appointment. Last quick question, something you said tonight about something not working in the widgets, I can’t remember which one it was. How will we know that you have new version of a plugin, if you’ve worked on one and updated it. Is there an easy way for us to keep track of that?

Rick: If you’re using a widget, it will tell you when one is ready to be updated. For example, right here you can see I have 7 plugin updates, most of those are my own because for this class, I’ve solved some issues that I wanted to solve before I taught this class so I actually over the weekend, released the first version, the Feature Box Layout, but footer widgets, shortcode content widgets and widget styles, those are all updates.

All my plugins now know when there’s an update and just like every other plugin, it says there’s a new version of this available and update automatically. That’s how you really know. Every plugin on my site that you download has this ability. It knows that it’s being updated and will automatically update. That was not the case back when Kim was working on some stuff because I hadn’tt gotten that full thing figured out but now I do.

John: I got you.

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