Stay Tuned for WordCamp Russia 2014

Last year we had a blast and this year we’re planning to have an even bigger one. WordCamp Russia 2014 will be held on August 9th in Moscow.

WordCamp Russia 2014

We have a line up of 14 speakers ready to deliver some WordPress awesomeness in two simultaneous tracks, at the popular Digital October conference center in Moscow.

Tickets are available at $20, which includes a full day of learning and networking, food, coffee breaks, after-party and of course swag. See you in Moscow!

Introducing Semicolon

Semicolon is a brand new magazine theme for WordPress. It’s simple, clean, and it’s got quite a unique grid layout with support for featured posts.

Semicolon WordPress Theme

Semicolon was initially created for WP Magazine, an online news site about WordPress in Russian. It’s got support for featured posts, a social profiles menu, related posts, author bios, and a few widget areas.

Head over to the demo to take a look around. The latest version is always available for download on WordPress.org (don’t forget to rate it!), and if you ever get stuck, please visit the the FAQ and the support forums.

Semicolon is based on the amazing _s starter theme, and is distributed for free under the GNU GPL. Enjoy!

Knock knock! Who’s there? … 1Password.

I’ve been using 1Password for almost a year now and I love it.

1Password Mini (that thing that lives in the OS X menu bar) is my favorite, especially combined with the Cmd+Alt+\ (or ⌘⌥\) shortcut key that opens the menu, focused on Search. Type a few letters, hit the right arrow, hit the down arrow, hit Enter and boom — you have your password in your clipboard for 90 seconds. Amazing!

However, a recent update to 1Password added a nice little animation to the item details screen that pops up in 1Password Mini. The animation lasts for less than a second, but during that fraction of a second you have to wait before you can hit the down arrow and select your password.

1Password Mini

So now it’s more like type, right arrow, wait a bit… down arrow and Enter. And if you didn’t wait enough, you’ll copy your username instead, and now you have to do it all over again. Argh!

I counted the number of times I copy passwords from 1Password Mini on a daily basis, that’s around 30! Rounding that extra delay up to one second means that this animation now costs me approximately three hours per year!

It’s the little things.

Update: Here’s what 1Password had to say on Twitter:

As I already mentioned in the comments, I’m not really worried about the browser — my copy/pasting almost always goes to the Terminal for things like SSH, Subversion, etc.

But it seems like #2 gives me my 3 hours/year back. Thank you 1Password, did I mention you rock? Well, you rock.

Idea: Static Templates for WordPress

I was helping out a friend a few days with their fairly complicated WordPress website. Complicated because it had over 40 different page templates, rendered exclusively by PHP.

Each page template had something special about it, like a form and form handler, a JavaScript calculator, a list of registered users, the current user profile and more. Page Templates worked pretty well, and the other “simple” options were shortcodes (bleh!) or page-{slug}.php templates.

Anyway, when this friend of mine was porting the site over from his development environment to production, he had to recreate those 40 pages, make sure their slugs matched, and assign the appropriate page template from that drop-down list of over 40 times. What a nightmare!

Static Templates

I thought there should be an easier way. One that would work similar to page templates, but without that extra database overhead, without the UI and everything else. Obviously this would render a WordPress theme completely useless outside of the original context, but so do 40 page templates.

I drafted up a plugin, a proof of concept, and called it Static Templates. The idea is for a theme to have a static-templates folder, with .php templates named after certain slugs. For example:

/about/           => /themes/foo/static-templates/about.php
/about/contacts/  => /themes/foo/static-templates/about-contacts.php
/foo/bar/baz/     => /themes/foo/static-templates/foo-bar-baz.php

So when /about/ is requested, you don’t need to worry about creating a page in WordPress, creating a new template and assigning it to your page. All you have to worry about is your /static-templates/about.php file.

Obviously if a page with that slug exists in the WordPress database, it’ll be loaded instead, so static templates have a lower priority, and there’s still that little overhead of trying to fetch a non-existent page from the database before a static template is invoked. It also does not (yet) distinguish between /foo/bar/ and /foo-bar/ requests.

Anyway, as I mentioned this is just an idea, and I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts about it.

Debug Bar Slow Actions

If a typical WordPress page load takes more than one second, chances are there’s something terribly wrong with your site, a theme or a plugin is probably doing something it shouldn’t. Obviously you don’t have time to review every single line in your codebase, so Debug Bar Slow Actions might help you out.

Debug Bar Slow Actions is an extension for the popular Debug Bar plugin. It adds a new panel with a list of the top 100 slowest actions (and filters) during the current page request.

Debug Bar Slow Actions

It’s fairly lightweight (as opposed to xdebug and other profiling tools), but I wouldn’t recommend running it on a production environment, or at least not for long. It does hook to each and every action and filter (twice!) to time it, though timing is pretty fast and it’s highly unlikely that it’ll ever become a performance bottleneck.

After you’ve found out which action is the slowest, you can easily lookup the callback functions hooked to that action, perhaps using tools like Query Monitor, or a simple var_dump:

add_action( 'init', 'whats_at_init', 9999 );
function whats_at_init() {
	var_dump( $GLOBALS['wp_filter']['init'] );
}

Update: version 0.8.1 and above will show you the number of callbacks hooked to each action, and it’s also possible to expand the callbacks list.

You can get Debug Bar Slow Actions from WordPress.org or GitHub.

Happy profiling!