Matosinhos WordPress Meetup

3 reasons for using WooCommerce

On Thursday, last week, I’ve attended the first of a monthly series of WordPress meetups in Porto, organized by the “Comunidade Portuguesa de WordPress” this series intends to bring more people to the community as it’s location will change inside the Porto district.

It couldn’t have started in a better way, Pedro Fonseca, Matosinhos resident and this session organizer, brought to us his presentation about e-commerce, in a consulting oriented presentation, Pedro shown us a variety of plugins available for this purpose and some of their key features.

Presentation available here (Portuguese Only)

This day had also the presence of an accountant and a lawyer to clarify any question about legal and tax issues which propelled us into a clarifying and very interesting discussion about these topics in internet business today.

 

From the plugins shown my favorite and go-to plugin for e-commerce is WooCommerce from WooThemes.

 

There are many reasons to my choice, and having worked and built websites in each one of them I can say that at least for me WooCommerce is by far the best one, why?

My 3 major reasons are:

  • Biggest community and free support,
  • Built using the same structure that WordPress itself uses (functions, naming, template system, etc.),
  • Available documentation and Github code repository.

Installing Ubuntu Server Virtual Machine, using VMware

Basic setup for web development

Following up my previous post, A Modern Web Development Workflow in Windows, I’ve created this small step-by-step configuration guide for a VM with ubuntu server using VM Ware.

This is mostly for myself, as future reference, but you can also use this 10 steps to install and configure your own local environment.

1. Download the latest Ubuntu server distribution compatible with your machine

You can find here, all the latest releases : http://www.ubuntu.com/download/server

2. Download the latest VMware Player

VMware player is a FREE tool for personal use, and you can download it from:

https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/free#desktop_end_user_computing/vmware_player/6_0

3. Create a new Virtual Machine in VMware

I used the following specs for my setup:

  • 2 Gb RAM
  • 2 Core processor
  • 5 Gb Disk Space

4. Install Ubuntu Server

As easy as clicking next in every screen

5. Start your new Virtual Machine

Selecting the correspondent item in the menu, and click “Play Virtual Machine”

6. Change Keyboard layout

After installing and as a Portuguese, I need to change my keyboard layout.
(Skip this step if you don’t need a special keyboard layout).
You can achieve it running the following command, and then selecting the desired keyboard layout

sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration

7. Next, we’ll install Open-SSH

As simple as running the command:

sudo apt-get install openssh-server

8.Install PuTTY

As I hate to lose mouse focus when I need to access my virtual machine, the next step is installing PuTTY on my PC.
You can download it from here: http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/download.html

9. Login via Putty

In order to login using PuTTY on your virtual machine you need to know your IP address, this is a very simple command and very similar to the one we use in windows

ifconfig

10. Installing LAMP

The final step of the initial configuration is installing LAMP, on your Ubuntu Server.
You can download and follow the installation instructions from:
http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp-linux.html#374

These are the basic configuration steps for installing LAMP on a virtual machine, in order to use it efficiently in web and WordPress development I’ve found a couple of other tweaks that makes it faster, easier and even more awesome. I’ll share those in a next post.

A Modern Web Development Workflow in Windows

I’ve been on a mission in the last weeks, modernizing my workflow in WordPress development in order to automate as many tasks as possible and start using SASS, Grunt, Git and Capristano.

 

First, you need to know that I’m a windows user, I like everything about Linux philosophy, but I really hate Photoshop running on Wine and I love playing some games whenever I’ve the time for it. 

 

I’ve started installing git on windows (Awesome),

continued to install Ruby and SASS, one more Console…

Testing wordmove (https://github.com/welaika/wordmove), more modules to install, one more console Cygwin…

 

Come on! If I continue this way I’ll work with 3 different consoles and multiple configurations and installs of each module I needed for each new “hot” thing available.

 

So I needed to find a way of reduce this huge setup and mess.

I’ve poked around a little and decided to install a Virtual Machine running Ubuntu server, with everthing I needed.

– Git
– Ruby
– Sass
– Node.js
– Grunt
– Lampp

This way I would be able to install everything I needed today and have an expansible environment capable of fulfilling my future needs.

What do you think of my choice?

Do you have any alternative suggestions or use a similar setup?

Low budget high expectations

The Web Developer “challenge” in a country on a budget

Being a Portuguese Webdesigner and web developer adds a new challenge to the everyday challenging world of web development.

“We work every day on a budget”.

The Portuguese market is what you can call “low-cost high expectations market”.

Due to the economic crisis and the way the market grew over the years, even before the so called “crise”, the website development business, in Portugal, is extremely under-appreciated.

Almost every client and prospect wants to pay a “dime” for their new website having all the new technologies and gizmos adding value to it, without adding its correspondent cost to the final project quote.

As a developer you ‘re stuck in the middle, you want to “WOW” your client with your beautifully crafted website with all the functionalities he wishes and at the same time keep all the project implementation schedule on time, keeping the unbillable hours 0 or as low as possible to “WOW” your boss.

In order to achieve this goal, I’ve found the need to know where I have a “shortcut”, when to use it and most importantly if it’s going to “kick my ass” later down the road.

 

The first “Shortcut”

I’ve found that you need a good foundation settled in and work on top of it, for front-end and content management alike, building everything from scratch doesn’t work well on a budget and will give you a headache whenever it can.

Personally I use for the front-end Twitter Bootstrap and as a CMS WordPress.

 

3 Reasons for using bootstrap

– Responsive layout, both fluid and fixed width
– Lots of features out of the box
– Simple and straightforward markup, allowing a fast customization

 

3 Reasons for using WordPress

– Lots of plugins available for free
– A great community ready to help you when you need
– A stable and powerful platform with thousands of hours invested on its enhancement and ready to receive your customization whenever you need it, in form of a plugin or a simple function.

Conclusion

Whatever the tools you choose, you need to understand them and be able to correctly use it’s built in features in order to save implementation time.

Also one of the shortcuts as stopped being it, WordPress, I’ve been amused by it’s power, by the community, by it’s built in capabilities and available plugins, I’m using it for every project, small to large company website and always with great results.

 

 Note:
WordPress.org also has an extensive theme repository and you can find several other websites selling themes for your every need, out there.This is also a awesome feature you can use in order to save you some time.

Personally and due to the kind of projects we develop @ samsys I build almost all the themes from “scratch” using a custom Starter Theme and this is the reason I haven’t mentioned themes as a good starting point to save time.

 

PART II – The shortcuts I use (Coming Soon…)