Podcast Episode

365 – Trying Out New Software and Services


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

Admin Menu in Frontend will display the admin menu on your pages in the front, open the administration panel and go back to the site view.

Trying Out New Software and Services

Flywheel to Pressable

  • I was maxing out my current plan
  • Pressable has similar speeds / technology
  • No out of pocket costs

How I made the change:

  • Added Pressable FTP credentials to my VaultPress account
  • Went to the gym
  • Change the A records at Hover.com

Desktop Server to Local by Flywheel

  • Wanted to try the new thing
  • The text / design of Desktop Server 3.8 looked a bit outdated

How I made the change:

  • Installed Local by Flywheel
  • Did a few practice installs to understand how it works
  • In Desktop Server, I renamed the site to ywe-old.dev
  • Then created ywe.dev in Local
  • Copied all the content of wp-content
  • Exported the database from Desktop Server and imported in Local
  • Still a work in progress, just a few more sites to move

Gravity Forms to Ninja Forms

  • License expired and wanted to try out a different plugin for contact forms

How I made the change:

  • Tried exporting / importing
  • Didn’t work
  • Had to rebuild all the forms by hand
  • Still a work in progress

Images to Font Icons

  • Images were fuzzy

How I made the change:

  • Found the appropriate fonts on FontAwesome.io
  • Added them to the footer widget on my local site
  • Customized color, size, hover state with CSS (white icons)
  • Then created a duplicate set, with different CSS for on white backgrounds
  • When I was happy with the styles, I uploaded the modified CSS to my custom theme.

Thank You!

Thank you to those who use my affiliate links. As you know I make a small commission when someone uses my link and I want to say thank you to the following people. For all my recommended resources, go to my Resources Page

Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

On today’s episode, we are going to talk about some new software and services I’ve been trying on yoursoftwareengineer.com, right here on Your Software Engineer Podcast, Episode #365.

C’mon everybody. Welcome to another episode of Your Software Engineer Podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler. I’m excited to be here with you today because I’m going to be telling you about some of the behind-the-scenes things that I’ve been doing on yourwebsiteengineer.com. Before that, though, I do have a couple of announcements that I want to share with you. Let’s go right ahead and dive right in.

The first piece of news that I want to share with you is a bug that’s happening in WordPress 4.9. The release went really well and there haven’t been many things to complain of, except for this particular issue that affects both users and developers. This is all about the custom page templates that are issues or created in a theme. If you add another one to you theme – so, if you update some theme files and add another page template, maybe like a full-page width or a left-side bar, right-side bar, maybe an opposite one that you already have, then, due to the changes for the file editor that have been made in 4.9, WordPress will not recognize these new files.

In order for it to work, you actually have to go in and you have to change the version number of your theme. So, if you’re working with a child theme or you’ve created a theme, and it’s a version 1.0, then you have to make that change to 1.0.1 or 1.1 itself in order for those changes to be seen. That’s kind of the workaround for WordPress 4.9. This is something that looks to be fixed in WordPress 4.9, but it’s going to be a few weeks because of WordCamp US that’s happening next week. That’s the first thing in the news.

The other thing that is in the news, but I found on WP Tavern this week is that Envato, which is the company behind ThemeForce.net and Video Hive, and a bunch of other properties where you might digital files that you can edit for either videos, or you can do business cards. You can do all kinds of things there. They now have an unlimited WordPress theme and plugin download to its subscription service. It’s a collection of 210 WordPress themes, and 100 plugins, along with 400,000 other design themes that are located inside the Envato Library, if you will.

It’s an all-you-can-eat style package for your WordPress themes in Envato elements, and it is $220 per year. That annual subscription, you can change themes as often as you use, which is the main selling point of why people want this type of package. So, if you’re interested in that, go ahead and check that article out. There’s a link in the shoulder for that. Or, you can head over to Envato and take a little look there.

Lastly, in the way of news, is WordCamp US is happing this weekend in Nashville. I’m really excited to go. I’m excited to go to the downtown Nashville area. I’ve spent some time there this past summer with my family, but we were outside of town, and this is going to be right in the heart of downtown Nashville. Looks like the weather is going to be beautiful, and if you’re going to be there, please let me know.

Send me a message via the contact form on yourwebsiteengineer.com, or you can send me a Tweet message, or just find me. I’ll be wearing my bright orange shoes somewhere around there, and you can just find me, say hello, and I’ll be happy to chat and spend some time. I’m an official volunteer and I’ve got some responsibilities over the course of the weekend, but other than that, I’m going to be there hanging out, just trying to soak in and learn some new information. I’m excited to be going to my first WordCamp US this upcoming weekend.

It wouldn’t be a Your Website Engineer podcast without a “Is There a Plugin for That?” section, and today’s plugin is called admin menu Frontend, and what this is, is it is a plugin that will save you from going to WP-admin all the time. This is a plugin where you can display the admin menu on your pages on the front, and you can open up an administrator page to go to the back. It’s just basically your website with the left-hand side bar, where you can see posts and pages and media and comments and all that good stuff. You just see that always, whether you’re on the backend of your WordPress dashboard or you’re looking at the website, that is exactly what you’ll see.

This is a brand-new plugin. It doesn’t have a lot of active installs, but it has been tested up to WordPress 4.9. If this is something that frustrates you, that you always have to have multiple tabs open to work on your WordPress site, then I definitely recommend checking out admin menu Frontend. You can search for that, or you can find a link in the show notes for Episode #365.

Alright, let’s go ahead and dive in and talk about some of these new software services that I’ve been trying, and some of the things and changes I’ve been making on yourwebsiteengineer.com for the last couple of weeks. This all comes from WordCamp Cincinnati. The main reason it happened there was because it was a really busy event. I had lots to do and I was doing some teaching at WordPress 101 and WordPress 201, I gave the opening keynote. But then, and it was on Sunday afternoon, I found myself with a little bit of downtime. The Happiness Booth was fully staffed, so there were tons of people there helping out users.

There wasn’t a session going on that I was super interested in, so I just found a classroom, and I just kind of ducked in there and was like, “What can I do – with some inspiration of just being in the WordPress space – like, what can I work on and what can I fix on my WordPress site. I went through; I got a punch list that’s forever long. There’s always these changes that I want to make on my website, and there’s all these tweaks and things that I wanted to do – I started working on.

The first thing was – I actually started making the font icons, or the social icons, I changed them into font icons. A few weeks ago, if you were looking at yourwebsiteengineer.com, I had those social icons, and they appeared in the menu area, they appeared in the footer and on the contact page. They were not retina images, so they were very blurry, and they did this weird – as you hover them, the image transitioned, and I mean, it was okay, but I really didn’t like the fuzziness of the image. So, that was one of the things that was on my to-do list. Let’s go ahead and replace these with what are called “font icons.”

Font icons are basically like text icons and they can scale. They’re always ready for retina machines, they’re always crisp and clear, and you can style them with CSS. What I did was, I kind of worked through the process of, “Okay, which icons do I need?” I went and found those basically on fontawesome.io. It basically gives you a little bit of code that you can add on your website, and then customize and stylize these with some CSS. I found the appropriate ones that I wanted, I found the fonts, and then, for Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and Get Hub, and – there was one more, but those are the main ones – and LinkedIn, I think was the last one that I did.

I wanted to have those icons, but I wanted to have a circle around them. So, I wanted a white icon in the footer with a white circle around it. There is a way that you can do this within font icons, and I was able to set this up and I got it looking pretty decent on my footer – in my footer and I was just adding it to a widget area.

From there, I’m like, “Okay, let’s kind of move this to my header. Okay, how do I do that?” So, I started working on that, and of course, all the colors were different because the background was different, so I couldn’t have a white image with a white circle on a white background, because that’d look like nothing. Then I worked on, “Okay, now I’ve got to have different CSS classes,” so I styled it a little bit differently. Now, I think they’re orange, and as you hover over them, they turn black or they turn grey or they turn a darker color. Just give that animated effect of, “Hey, you’re hovering over something.”

I worked through all those things and it was fun. It was a little project that had been on my “to do” list for a long time. The images look so much better now, and you can check it out if you head over to yourwebsiteengineer.com and just look at those images across the site. If I wanted to make them bigger, I can just up the font size and they’ll just be bigger and there’ll still be that clear cryst – that vision, that view, that I was looking for. So, that was the first big change that I made, and that came of off the fact that I was at WordCamp Cincinnati.

Another thing that I made in the last few weeks is I’ve moved my site. Once again, the saga continues of, “Where is Dustin hosting his website?” I moved it from Flywheel, which I love as a hosting provider, but I moved it over to Pressable. This was mainly because I was maxing out my current plan. The way that they calculate views, I was going over that each month, so thank you for those who are viewing my website all the time. But, they were starting to get notices that I was overusing the resources and they wanted me to bump up to the next higher plan. I had this Pressable account that has very similar speeds on the technology. It’s very, very similar, and I had extra spots on my hosting plan.

So, one of the drawbacks about Flywheel, even though I love them as a hosting provider and they do a great, great job, and it’s a fully WordPress [inaudible] [00:08:24] is that you have to pay per website. With my Pressable plan, I have a ten-site plan and I was only using seven sites on that plan, so I have a few extra spaces for a site to go in there. That’s what I ended up doing. I just ended up moving it to Pressable. So, now I don’t have any additional out-of-pocket costs for yourwebsiteengineer.com.

Now, how did I do this? This is probably the one that I put off the longest and I paid monthly for months and months and months before I actually did this. It was the simplest thing that I could possibly have done, and I don’t know why I didn’t do it months earlier and saved me hundreds of dollars. Anyways, this is how I made the change: I added my Pressable FTP or SFTP credentials into my VaultPress account. So, VaultPress has – in order to restore a backup, you have to add your credentials, your FTP credentials for your current and your local install. I did that a long time ago. I put my Flywheel credentials in there.

But then they also have an alternative place, and this is a place where you can go, and you can add credentials for your new hosting company. So, I went in. I added my Pressable credentials in there, and from there, I basically hit “migrate.” I wanted to restore to this alternate location, it’s basically what I did. I clicked the button, I made sure the process started, and then, I went off to the gym. I went to the gym for my hour-long workout, and when I came back, it was completely done.

I had to do nothing. I didn’t have to lift any fingers. I had to do a bit of spot-checking and I made sure that the website looked good and it was working properly. And then, all I had to do was go into Hover and hover.com is where I have the domain name registered, and I just updated the A-records to 0.2 Pressable from Flywheel, and I was completely done. It was amazing.

I guess one other thing that I did was once the files were on Pressable, I made a little, subtle change in the footer, and I said, “Site located at Pressable.” That way, I knew once the IP address had changed and made sure that everything was working properly, that I was viewing my site on Pressable. That was just one of the little things I did. I ended up – I moved, and this is probably host number ten. I don’t know. I did an apply podcast a few years ago, but how many different hosting packages or plans I’ve been using. But now, I’m on to Pressable, and we’ll see how long Pressable lasts. I’ve been a costumer with Flywheel for almost four years, which is really heard to believe, but that was that change.

The next big project that I worked, on and I’m almost about 75 percent done, is moving my local installs, my local WordPress sites, from DesktopServer to Local by Flywheel. There’s no hard feelings or bad feelings about DesktopServer. It still does a wonderful job. It does exactly what I need, but I wanted to try the new shiny thing. Local by Flywheel is a new thing. It’s free and it just works. So, I wanted to go ahead and try that and play with it a little bit. The other little quirk that DesktopServer had was the fonts were not in retina form. The fonts were very fuzzy when I was looking at them on my MacBook Pro.

Even though I didn’t have the DesktopServer area open that often, it just – I don’t know, I just wanted to try something new. I still love both companies and I wish the best of luck for DesktopServer and their team and all their improvements and developments, but right now, I just wanted to try to go to Local, and see what that was like. How I made this change was: I took a little bit of time and I installed Local by Flywheel, and I did a few practice installs to understand how it works.

The first time I installed WordPress, I installed it directly in my site’s folder, and then, it just messed everything up. Then, when I went to delete it, it deleted all of my websites, and I was like, “Oh, this isn’t right.” That took a little while, to figure out the process. The steps of setting up a website are just a little bit different. I didn’t have a real firm grasp of how that worked until I started playing with it. After a few practice rounds, I thought, “Okay, let’s go ahead and try this,” and I tried it on my 4.9 install. It’s not like it was a major site. It was one I could easily restore in case something went awry.

But what I did was, I went to DeskstopServer and I changed the URL. I changed the site URL for the domain. I went from 4.9.dev to 4.9-old.dev, and then I just renamed it. Then, I can go into local, and then I created a brand-new website called 4.9.dev. It spun up the site and saw all the WordPressy things. It got the database all solved, and everything was good there, but then, it was a blank, empty site. So then, what I did was: I drug all the WP content stuff, the plugins, the themes, the uploads, everything that I had on those files, I just drug them from the old site to the new site from my local environment, and then I exported the database from DesktopServer, and then I imported it into local.

Then, everything was done. It was all set up. It’s a little bit of a cumbersome process. It just takes a little while. I did this over Thanksgiving break and I got most of them done. I still have three major websites that I need to transfer over. I haven’t been putting them off. Just alphabetically, those are the ones that I haven’t gotten to yet. So, that is what I did there, so, like I said, I’m now almost 75 to 80 percent on Local. By the end of the month, I’m hoping to be all on Local, and just to try that for a while until the next new and shiny thing comes.

The last big change that I’m working on – and this is one that is not done; this has been on my to do list for a long time – is that I want to change from Gravity Forms to Ninja Forms. Again, no hard feelings on Gravity Forms. I’ve come up to the renewal point, and it’s like, I want to just try something else. I’ve been using Ninja Forms on my wife’s website for a year or so, and it seems to work well. I don’t have any complex logic that I need. I just need a standard contact form. Maybe I do a survey every once in a while, so I don’t need all the bells and whistles of what Gravity Forms does right out of the box when you get the developer license. I want to make a change to go over to Ninja Forms.

I started working on this process today just to see what the steps are and what’s that going to look like. I tried to export from Gravity Forms and import in to Ninja Forms, and that didn’t really work well. I got one form that had a couple feels, and that didn’t really work. I’m going to have to go ahead and rebuild all the forms by hand. It’s a work-in-progress. It’s not an easy process, so it’s going to be, “Okay, I’ll do this one from, and I’ve got to customize it and style it to make sure the styling works the same.” I don’t want to spend any money out of pocket, even though they have a really cool extension – Ninja Forms does – that allows you to easily create columns in your form.

Right now, out of the box with Gravity Forms, when you install – if you want to ask for the name, it will give you the first name, last name. That’s kind of a form filled, and the first name is on the left and the last name is on the right. Well, with Ninja Forms, you have to manually code and add CSS classes to get things on the left and the right. I’m just working through that. Again, I can spend $49 to get the plugin that makes it a lot easier, but I want to see if I can do this with the free route.

I’m not trying in any way, shape, or form to not pay Gravity Forms anymore, but one of the things that I wanted to kind of look for and see what I can do is look at these free solutions that are out there, so when people say that, “I don’t want to invest any money. I don’t want to do this,” I can say, “Oh, Ninja Forms is a great opportunity to have a contact form, and you can do this, this, this, with Ninja Forms.” After a year or so, maybe I’ll go back to Gravity Forms and what it looks like and how that looks in the near future.

These are just some things I’m working on behind the scenes. I also started to ramp up my game on Facebook. I took a look at my Facebook page for yourwebsiteengineer.com. This was after I updated the icons for – the social icons in my website, and it looks like last time I had made any posts or changes was almost a year ago.

So, I’m starting to post some things over there. If you’re interested in following, it’s just things that I find – I mentioned I that was going to work on UPS and just different things there. You can definitely check that out and you can find it at facebook.com/yourwebsiteengineer, or you can search for that there, or whatever. I’m just trying to spend some time being social and trying new things, and actually working on some items that are on my to-do list. Some of those projects that I’ve been putting off for a long time.

My son’s getting to the point now where he’s a little bit more regular with his sleeping patterns, so when we put him down at night, I can pretty much guarantee that I have a couple of hours in the evening to do some tinkering and some work, and in the mornings, he’s not waking up right during my work schedule. At 5 or 6:00 a.m. in the morning, when I’m trying to get some work done, he’s not waking up during those times. It’s getting to be a good point here at the Hartzler household for me to get some work done while the kiddos are sleeping.

That’s what I want to share with you today. I’m just trying out some new things, and trying them so that I can give you full reviews and my thoughts and opinions on what I like about these products and what I don’t like about these products. Maybe there’ll be a show in December talking about the differences between Gravity Forms and Ninja Forms, and the benefits and disadvantages between the two. I can do the same thing with DesktopServer and Local, whatever. Just trying new things gets me outside my comfort zone, keeps me tinkering, keeps me playing with WordPress on my site, so that I can share the news, spread the message of what’s happening in the WordPress space. 

If you’re in Nashville this weekend, I would love to say hello to you. Just know that I will normally be wearing orange shoes and I am a lot taller than I sound. That’s what everyone tells me when I’ve been met for the first time. Just look for somebody that has bright-orange shoes and has 6’3 feet, and that’s me.

With that, that’s all I’ve got this week. Take care, and I’m going to talk to you soon. Buh-bye.

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