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Total Slider 2.0

Total Slider Banner

I am very excited to be able to announce that Total Slider 2.0 has been released!

Version 2.0 is a significant milestone in the plugin’s history, and brings a very important behind-the-scenes change to the way your slide information is stored. In addition to that, and a lot of cleanup work in the code itself, there is now the capability of having draft slides as well as auto-saving of those drafts, making it much more difficult to lose data!

Total Slider 2.0 draft functionality

Being a side project that has to fit in around my day job and other work, this has taken much longer to get out there than I would have liked, but I am very happy with the result. The particular challenge of making sure the data format upgrade goes without a hitch involved some extensive testing, but I’m pretty confident (about as confident as you can be!) that the upgrade process will be very smooth. In the unlikely event there is an issue, you can roll back the plugin to v1.1.5 without any loss of data. Obviously, taking a database backup is a good idea, though! :)

With this big infrastructure change out of the way, I’m looking forward to the future of this plugin. I hope we can deliver more graphical goodness (a slider template previewer would be nice!) and a greater variety of templates that ship with the plugin to support the different preferences people have for their sliders.

It’s really exciting to finally get this released to the 1,000+ active users (according to its WordPress plugin page) this software has, and I’m looking forward to making it even better as and when I can!

You can download Total Slider from the WordPress Plugins Directory.

5.0

As I move closer to the significant milestone of one decade of having this personal blog, I felt that it was time for a significant overhaul of the look and feel of this site, as well as some of its non-blog post content.

Enter the 5.0 release! :)

Responsive and Refined…

pwdb50_fullsize

Rather than evolving the existing stylesheet and making changes, I actually started over, using a new SASS-based CSS workflow. If you look really hard, you will see bits and pieces of the old CSS hanging around that I have migrated forward for the moment. In the fullness of time, though, any of the old code should be gone!

The result is a site that is truly responsive — it is designed for small screens first, then it scales up to larger displays, rather than having a full-size only layout, but removing content for display on smaller screens. I did have a retro-fitted responsive system before, but this approach is much cleaner and delivers a more consistent result.

PWDB 5.0 Mobile display

A Font First!

Adding to the use of Colaborate for headings from my last design refresh, this design actually débuts my first experiment with editing fonts.

Thanks to the GPLv3 licensing terms of Colaborate, I was able to take it into TypeTool, and tone down its rather characterful lowercase ‘t’ for use as body text. The result is a custom font that, while it has its imperfections with kerning and missing ligatures, is an exciting first experiment for me — putting my interest type design to some practical use. I hope I will look back upon this first experiment with embarrassment later on when I have learned so much more, but for the moment it is very gratifying to have something to say “I did this” about!

You can download my source files for this font. This font, as it is based on Colaborate, is also licensed under the GPLv3 with font exception.

A More Modern Portfolio

The content on my Portfolio page had definitely aged, and was long overdue an overhaul. It now focuses on four main areas — Devops and Automation, Systems Administration, Web Development and Software Development.

More to Come!

As mentioned, this is a big change, but that doesn’t mean I am done! There are various other places where older content and design still might be evident, and I hope to get to more in the coming weeks.

Working on Total Slider 2.0

Total Slider Banner

I’ve been fortunate this week to have a little time to work on Total Slider, my (and Van Patten Media’s) open source WordPress plugin for making those neat little slideshow things, like so:

Example Total Slider slider

I have been meaning to get to this project again for a while, so it is great to get a moment or two to give it the love and attention it deserves.

My focus thus far has been on a complete overhaul of Total Slider’s data storage format — away from using wp_option records and using a custom post type.

This change is not only the right thing to do to clean things up and follow best practices, but it opens doors to other neat features that will make Total Slider feel like it fits into the WordPress Way even more. Without making undeliverable promises, I’d love to see automatic saving of slide drafts make it into 2.0! πŸ˜‰

One of the things I have found that is pleasing is that much of the code I have already written is sufficiently abstracted that ripping out the fundamentals of the data format has been a lot less painful than it could have been!

It is nice as well to use this blog for one of its original purposes, to give updates on the projects I am working on. :)

You can follow progress in the unstable branch on the project’s GitHub page.

Announcing Total Slider

Total Slider icon

I’m really pleased to announce that the WordPress plugin I have been working on with Van Patten Media, Total Slider, has now been released!

Total Slider is a plugin for WordPress from Van Patten Media that will transform your experience with sliders forever. Build your own templates in PHP and CSS, then preview the output in a beautiful WYSIWYG interface designed to blend seamlessly with the WordPress core.

Total Slider is released under the GNU GPL version 2 or later. We’d love your feedback, ideas, bug reports, translations and more.

Here is a quick 2-minute video introduction:

You can find out more at TotalSlider.com, and download Total Slider from the WordPress plugin directory.

The Very Simple PayPal Bridge

Just a quick note to say that I’m proud to announce the release of some more open source code, as part of my collaboration with Van Patten Media.

The Van Patten Media Labs site has all the details of the Very Simple PayPal Bridge — a simple way to connect to the PayPal API.

Interacting with the PayPal NVP API is something that a lot of e-commerce websites need to do. If you’re writing your own code for a bespoke e-commerce solution, rather than shoehorning in generic ‘Shopping Cart’ software, there is quite a lot to think about in order to communicate successfully with the API and provide a great payment experience for the site’s customers.

The Very Simple PayPal Bridge is a PHP class that, as the name suggests, provides a very simple interface for the PayPal NVP API.

In any situation where you need to interface more directly with the PayPal API, the VSPB provides a clean interface for the other layers of your code, dealing with all of the implementation details of sending requests via cURL, encoding and decoding the arguments, as well as offering full support for graceful error handling with PHP exceptions. It is great as a lower-level component of a wider PHP e-commerce solution.

For more information, see the post on Van Patten Media Labs and check out the code at GitHub!

New Year, New Site Design

A change of scenery here at my personal site has been long overdue, I think, so I’m pleased to usher in 2012 with a refresh of the site’s design!

A screenshot of the new site design

Keeping Things Compact

The first thing you’ll likely notice is the new compact, fixed header, with the navigation to the major parts of the site. It stays fixed in place, so you can always get back to any of those pages at any time. (It also swaps out the legacy image gradients for exciting new CSS3 gradients where available!)

Who Shot the Serif?

I have also moved away from Bitstream Charter/Georgia as the main font around the site, in favour of Helvetica Neue/Helvetica/Arial, combined with the existing accents of Gill Sans (where available!) for the headings. I think the site now has a more contemporary feel — and reads particularly well on devices where Helvetica Neue is available, like the iPad.

There is also a new webfont in use for the ‘Peter Upfold’ text in the header — Charis SIL (generously licensed under the SIL Open Font Licence).

Practising What I Preach

Cookie picture, by amagill -- http://www.flickr.com/photos/amagill/34754258/

As a strong proponent of users having control over their privacy online, I am pleased that the Do Not Track initiative, for indicating the user’s preferences about tracking technology on the web, has gained traction in many web browsers. Because I support the rights of users to make choices about the code running in their browsers and what information it is collecting about them, I took this opportunity to begin the implementation of Do Not Track support on my site.

» Read the rest of this post…

Amalia is Now Open Source

Amalia

I am very pleased to announce that Amalia, the content management system I helped to develop for Van Patten Media, has now been released as an open source project!

Amalia is designed to be a content management system ‘for the rest of us’ and to make it easy to manage a small website. Amalia is a database-less CMS, so it doesn’t need the complexity, maintenance, and expense of a MySQL server, making it possible to run on even many of the most limited of web hosting packages.

There are, admittedly, some missing pieces in Amalia — and it certainly isn’t perfect. I am excited, however, about the possibilities of Amalia and its future potential as an open source project. We would certainly love your feedback, ideas, Core code, plugins, and any other contributions you might want to make.

Please head on over to project’s GitHub page for the code and to get involved. You can also check out the install guide (PDF) and an install video on YouTube.

DfontSplitter for Windows 0.3.1

DfontSplitter logo

“What? I thought you updated this yesterday?”

Well, I did. πŸ˜›

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s auto-update-capable release, is DfontSplitter for Windows 0.3.1. This version includes a single fix, introducing a new method of avoiding the dreaded ‘corrupt font file’ error. For some unknown reason, sometimes Windows simply will refuse to work with the original fondu output file, but if simply DfontSplitter makes a duplicate of the file, it will happily see it as a TrueType font! It is very odd behaviour, and this fix only works in some cases, but it should reduce the incidence of ‘corrupt font files’ being output from DfontSplitter for Windows. This means users will less frequently have to go through a secondary hoop to get Windows to play nicely with DfontSplitter’s outputs.

Here are the official release notes:

New Features and Bugfixes

  • Uses a new method to decrease the incidence of ‘invalid font file’ errors on Windows. More fonts should now convert correctly without requiring further intervention.

Known Issues

  • Some fonts still require further conversion after DfontSplitter has created the TrueType font file. FontForge is one option for this.

As always, you can always get the latest and greatest version of DfontSplitter by downloading it from the the DfontSplitter project page.

DfontSplitter for Windows 0.3

DfontSplitter logo

I have just released a new version of DfontSplitter for Windows, version 0.3. The main change here is a brand new automatic update notification system. Like the Mac version, which uses the excellent Sparkle Framework, users of DfontSplitter for Windows can now keep the application up-to-date without having to manually check the website. This makes my development of the software easier, as I can release smaller feature releases more frequently, rather than large releases that must have a longer lifespan.

Unfortunately, because the automatic update feature is new, previous users of DfontSplitter 0.2 are not going to be notified automatically about this new release. :(

If you know any other users of DfontSplitter for Windows, please let them know this update is available so they might have the opportunity to keep up-to-date with this new feature too.

Here are the official release notes for this version:

New Features and Bugfixes

  • New automatic update facility, similar to that of DfontSplitter for Mac. Users can now be notified of new releases in the future, which may include new features.

Known Issues

As always, you can always get the latest and greatest version of DfontSplitter by downloading it from the the DfontSplitter project page.

DfontSplitter 0.4.1 for Mac

DfontSplitter logo

I have just released a new version of DfontSplitter for Mac. It is a bugfix-only release, containing a single fix for an issue that affected some non-English versions of Mac OS X.

New Features and Bugfixes

  • Fixed a bug where DfontSplitter would report valid files as not being in the correct format on some non-English versions of Mac OS X. File type detection is now done through uniform type identifiers, avoiding this issue.

Known Issues

  • Converting TTC files on Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) does sometimes run into problems, where the TTC splitting script can’t open the TTC file. The reason for this is currently unclear.
  • Moving TTF files that have been extracted from a .dfont over to Windows β€” please see this workaround.
  • Some Font Suitcase files may not contain TTF data that can be extracted.

Users of DfontSplitter for Mac should update their copy of the application by launching it, and choosing DfontSplitter > Check for Updates from the menu bar. Alternatively, you can always download a fresh copy from the DfontSplitter project page.