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The Month in WordPress: February 2017

For a little over 2 years now, I have been posting monthly updates internally at WooThemes and now at Automattic in which I give a wrap-up of all the significant news from the WordPress community for the past month. This has been a great way for people too be kept up to date about what’s happening around them, as well as for me to personally keep abreast of developments in all areas of the WordPress project.

After much coaxing from quite a few people, I thought I’d start posting these updates on my own blog too, so that others can also benefit from them. The updates include news from the past month, as well as a smattering of comments from myself showing my own opinions about it all.

So, with all that in mind – here’s February’s update… Continue reading → The Month in WordPress: February 2017

Stepping Up (Part 2)

Last week I wrote about how I’m planning on stepping up this year to speak at more conferences. Even though I also challenged you all to do the same, public speaking may not be a goal of yours (which is totally fine of course). There is, however, another way you can step up in a similar arena without all the anxiety of being up in front of people. It’s something that you can all start today and you can easily start small – I’m talking about organising local events. Continue reading → Stepping Up (Part 2)

Stepping Up

In 2016 I spoke at a local conference for the first time. It felt pretty easy because it was WordCamp Cape Town – an event and community with which I am intimately familiar. I was also speaking about a topic that I know really well. Later on in the year I spoke at WordCamp Johannesburg too – I didn’t know the community as well as Cape Town’s of course, but my talk was pretty similar to my Cape Town one, so it also felt really easy.

This year I plan on stepping up to speak at conferences that I would see as a lot less simple for me. Ones more outside of my comfort zone. I have already applied to speak at PHP South Africa with three different talk options (one workshop and two regular sessions) – I’ll find out in a couple of months whether any of them are accepted. I’d like to do more though – we all have knowledge and sharing it outside of our comfort zones is not only helpful for our own personal growth, but it benefits our listeners too.

I’m going to be on the lookout for local conferences to speak at and I encourage you to do the same. Why not start with PHP South Africa?

Seriously Simple Acquisition

On 13 December 2012, I launched Seriously Simple Podcasting – a plugin that I initially built for my church’s website, but then expanded into a full-featured podcasting plugin available for anyone to use. The initial purpose behind the plugin was to create a podcasting experience for WordPress that none of the other available options at the time offered – simple, hassle-free podcast management using a simple UI that did not sacrifice features for ease-of-use. Essentially, I wanted to democratise podcasting in a way that no other WordPress-based options were doing.

Now, 13 major releases of WordPress later, the time has come for me to move on from building and maintaining Seriously Simple Podcasting. Continue reading → Seriously Simple Acquisition

Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires

bokkieMy fellow South Africans will be familiar with Bokkie making sure we know that only WE have the power to prevent bush and veld fires. The emotive tear and the damning words “Look what you’ve done!” accusing passers by of ruining a beautiful natural habitat – even if only by their inaction – were a powerful (if not repetitive) image along the side of the road all over the country.

My American friends will be more familiar with Smokey the Bear giving the same message I’m sure, but the point is the same:

You are responsible for your own environment – only you can make it better.

As a child I generally shrugged this kind of sentiment off as an issue that was simply just not my problem. This is something that I think most people did back then and largely still do today. Not just with forest fires of course, but with everything in life that is too large to fully comprehend or nail down to a specific (in)action on our own part – forest fires, climate change, unemployment, government, crime, or any other global issue. We would rather bury our heads in the sand about these things, instead of actually doing something to help make them better.

This is a common human characteristic – something that we all do to some extent. I applaud those who actually do stand up and take action to improve their place in the world – those who actually heed Bokkie’s words and take responsibility for their own lives and situations. Even if what they do feels so small that barely anyone else would even notice, at least it’s something.

Why am I talking about forest fires?

I’m not.

I’m talking about open-source.

There is no “I” in WordPress

This morning I presented a talk titled There is no “I” in WordPress at the first ever WordCamp in Johannesburg. The video of my talk will be up on at some point in the next month or two, but in the mean time you can see the slides here:

The talk was about how WordPress is far bigger than just you and illustrates just how you can (and should!) get involved in the broader WordPress community. The more astute of you will notice that this talk is very similar to the one I presented at WordCamp Cape Town earlier this year, just with a different emphasis (and much better looking slides).

Democratising Community

Today I presented a talk titled Democratising Community at WordCamp Cape Town 2016. Even though I gave an intro talk last year, this is actually my first real WordCamp talk and it’s one that I’m hugely passionate about. I spoke about how people can give back to the WordPress community in real, effective and tangible ways – a topic that I could talk about all day long.

The video of the talk is up on and you can watch it right here:

To go along with that, here are my slides from the talk (which are displayed in the video as well as they are needed) that include the URLs that I mentioned for a quick reference:

As an added bonus, one of the attendees (and workshop presenters) at WordCamp, Steve Barnett, made a nifty sketch of my talk while I was speaking:


Chatting on WP Round Table

Last night I had a fun time chatting about WordPress, the community and what it all means on the 100th episode of the WP Round Table podcast. I had a great time with Kyle Maurer and Jason Crawford and we spent the better part of the hour we had together talking about giving back to the WordPress community – a topic that I’m always passionate about.

You can watch the full video (about 1 hour long) right here:

Some of the video of me seems to lag a bit at times (due to the generally lower bandwidth speeds in my area), but the audio all comes through just fine.

Thanks to Kyle and Jason for having me!

Create a custom Featured Image box

When building a UI for adding meta data to a post in WordPress it’s always best to stick to the WordPress styling as much as possible. So, if you’re adding an image upload field to a post, it’s often a good idea to use a known UI element such as the Featured Image meta box. This especially useful if you are asking for a ‘secondary’ featured image – such as one that could be used as a post header image, while keeping the default featured image separate for blog listings, etc.

I did exactly that in a recent project where the posts needed a landscape listing image to be displayed in blog listings while the featured image was reserved for social sharing and viewing inside the single post content. Continue reading → Create a custom Featured Image box

Democratising Podcasting

The WordPress Foundation is a charitable organisation founded by Matt Mullenweg to further the mission of the WordPress open source project: to democratise publishing through Open Source, GPL software.

That is the opening of the WordPress Foundation’s about page and something that is always at the forefront of my mind when building WordPress products.

One of those products that is a passion of mine as a personal side-project, is my podcasting plugin for WordPress dubbed Seriously Simple Podcasting. I originally built the plugin for my church’s website because all of the available podcasting plugins at the time were either too bloated or too under-powered to use effectively. With that in mind, the main thing that separates my plugin from the rest of them is, as the name suggests, the sheer ease of use. My development focus has always been on the user and Seriously Simple Podcasting is no exception in that regard.

But I digress – what I’ve brought you all here for today is actually to say that my podcasting plugin isn’t just an easy to use solution for podcasters to make their content available to the world, but it is also aiming towards the lofty goal of emulating the WordPress project itself by fulfilling the mission of democratising podcasting as an open-source and entirely free product.

Now, to be clear, ‘open source’ does not necessarily imply that the software is free (in fact, the definition given by the Open Source Initiative doesn’t even mention price at all), but this is something that I wanted to do as a way of giving back to the community by making audio publishing just as free and easy as blogging has been made by WordPress.

If you’re interested in joining me on this mission to democratise podcasting then know that the Seriously Simple Podcasting repo on GitHub is always open and ready for your contributions as is the repo for the hugely significant stats add-on. You could even come on board by helping to translate the plugin.

Whether you get involved or not, however, I will continue to work towards the goal of democratising podcasting for everyone and I’d love some company.