Building your own Boilerplate

Recently, I gave a talk about workflows at the Utah WP meetup and one point I mentioned was to create your own boilerplates, for a plugin or a theme.

Naturally, I assume you already try to use a boilerplate a lot of the time, but it may be one you use from another source and you only make modifications after you download it. But I believe that dedicating time to building your own boilerplate or taking an existing one and heavily modifying it to be reused throughout many projects is well worth. I didn’t think it was at first, but the time you can save by writing one dedicated to your business work can really be beneficial for you and your potential employees.

For theme developers, taking the _S theme and tailoring it to a cookie-cutter layout and with your dependencies to improve your workflow with clients who need a theme or if you plan to have a line of themes with similar javascript and a similar functions.php.

For plugin developers, If you build a lot of extensions for a plugin, build a boilerplate and release if the parent plugin doesn’t have one yet. Other than that, again , build a boilerplate that will make it super easy for you to generate plugins faster and more efficiently.

Like I said, try building your own or go with one that exists. I personally like to build my own with inspiration from existing boilerplates, but not quite a copy and paste.  In this day and age, a solid workflow is quite important and it’s good to keep working faster and smarter.   

Midwest PHP 2015 Recap

Last weekend, I attended a pretty neat conference called Midwest PHP. This conference is focused on, you guessed it, PHP and how you cna really do some awesome things with it. TL;DR I had a blast. It was a fun, well organized, and pretty educational. I’ll share some sessions that I thought were pretty cool and helped me think in a different way.

Accessibility: The Forgotten Piece you need to know to become a complete Developer – Joe Devon

This was a great way to start the conference. This opening keynote helped me think differently about accessibility and Joe did a great job of explaining the importance and some things developers should think about when it comes to accessibility.

MySQL 5.7 — New Features, Better Performance, and Things That Will Break – Dave Stokes

I’ll be honest, it was pretty cool to learn a bit more about the next version of MySQL. I don’t usually deal with it too much directly, but this really showed off some awesome new features. Also, extra props to Dave for mentioning that it may break WordPress, but also how fixes will come up pretty fast in the near future.

You Can UX Too: Avoiding the Programmer’s Interface – Eryn O’Neil

UX is not always easy and Eryn reminds everyone of this in her talk. It’s really important to think about the user, not just build what you THINK the user will understand. Overall, great talk, I’m already starting to think very differently about UX and UI.

Scaling WordPress – Zack Tollman

So this one is really cool. I still find myself as a performance noob quite a lot, so this was really great to see. Zack went over some great strategies and even gave a shoutout to some WordPress plugins for performance stuff, that I had no idea existed. Some of the strategies for scaling mentioned can work quite well outside of WordPress too. Overall, it was a great talk.

Give it Back – Getting Involved in Open Source – Elizabeth Smith

Now this was one amazing way to end the conference. A few weeks ago, I got my first patch in for PHP core and I’m definitely ready to contribute again, but it’s not always the easiest thing to do. For me, this talk was a great introduction on how I can get more involved with the PHP project.

And there you have it folks, that’s all with my Midwest PHP recap, more awesome things happened, I met new people and met with some old friends while I was there. And, I got plenty of inspiration for future projects. It’s always good to step out of your conference zone! I definitely will be heading back next year!

Nik’s Year in review 2014

Wow, where has 2014 gone? It’s been, indeed, a busy year for me. From my first WordCamp speaking engagement, all the way to contributing to more and more plugin projects, it’s been a great year of amazing experiences.

The start of the year ended up interesting, it was the first few months of the year where I was building my first ever “full” complex WordPress theme. It was a pretty good time, I was learning a lot about WordPress itself and started learning JavaScript a bit more. When the first theme was over, I launched as a theme/plugin business at WordCamp Minneapolis in April (Which was the first WordCamp I spoke at). But, themes weren’t for me and so, in July, I decided to switch tracks and try something new. Let me spare from writing a story that’s TOO long and let me just do a quick list recap.

  • I worked as an intern at iThemes
  • I was interviewed on a podcast for the first time (WPWeekly)
  • I considered starting my own podcast, but changed my mind, I like blogging better :)
  • I spoke at my second WordCamp, Milwaukee. It was cheestastic
  •  I started contributing more to WordPress plugins (Pods, WPeCommerce, EDD, the WP-API notably)
  • I started building more complex WordPress plugins
  • I attended WordCamp San Francisco, which was epic.
  • Appeared on a second full podcast episode (WPRoundTable)
  • I got a little more involved with the community this year (Way more)
  • Spoke at WordSesh again!
  • I finally got a profile picture of me.
  • And so much more! This year was really full of amazing experiences and it was full of learning. Truly a great year!

So whats in store for 2015? Well, right now, is closed, but in early 2015, it will be making a full comeback, and it will be here to stay. I am also working on some projects, like more awesome plugins, free and premium, arriving in 2015. In March 2015, I’ll be speaking at WordCamp San Diego! I have a lot planned for next year, but, that’s for another day.

On Feedback

Open Source web projects are hectic, it’s true, and you can’t really deny it. You’re letting people contribute as much as they want at anytime they want, and it’s a big task to keep up with all the contributions and have them added to the core of your project. But hands down, one of the more important things you can provide your contributors: Feedback.


“Is it THAT important?”. In my opinion, yes. Simply being vague and saying something like “Your Contribution looks OK, though it could use some fixing” IS NOT helpful and not feedback. Does it really look OK? And What’s wrong anyways? Do they have to rewrite all the code? Are they doing it all wrong? If you think that’s the way of feedback and think it’s helpful, No, it’s not. If your project is really that important and if allowing contributors and is important to you, make it happen. Here’s an example, in my opinion, of awesome feedback for a bug fix, enchantment, etc:

Thanks for contributing! I noticed that line # is using an incorrect method, please reference the better way to do it and we can get this bug patched up!

Insert reference link here

Yep, that’s pretty simple right? It may take you a little more than 30 seconds to get the link to help this contributor out, but trust me, it’s really helpful.

So hopefully you understand my point here. It’s to really make sure to give great and polite feedback, and be more welcoming to contributors. It’s putting in the extra effort to make sure the contributor feels confident that they can patch up an issue.


Go! And Build a community (Business Edition)

Let’s chat shall we? What do you define as a community? For you is a community a group of people working together? Is a community people of a town coming together at a festival? No matter how you define the word, community is important.

You might be saying: “Duh Nik, we all knew this, community IS important.”. But today, let’s talk about more than just being a part of a community. How about creating one? Now you might be installing bbPress and BuddyPress to create a community, but step away from that activate button, this is what you should focus on later. bbPress and BuddyPress help with the building of the community. What you need to sit down and think “HOW do I go about starting a community?”.


Do you know the cool people over a CyberChimps? They create cool WordPress themes. Recently, they have started a forum for their users to interact in.

But wait, forums are only used for support?

Nope, take a step back and forget what most other companies do. Yes, forums could be used for support, but think about how it could be used for community as well. At the CyberChimps forums, they have plenty of forum threads that are meant for fun and to just hang out. THIS is a great idea. This gives the customer a great opportunity to give feedback and share ideas. And that’s what you want, right? You want your users to return to your site and recommend people to your site, right? In building a community, it is important to make your customers feel comfortable with your product or products.

But, communities are not just forums. There is also social media, and more specifically, Twitter. Now to switch over to yet another theme company. They’re called UpThemes. The other day, they used Twitter to embrace community. An employee from UpThemes got on Twitter and personally talked to many users in one day. Company to client interaction IS important and can definitely make the user (again) feel more comfortable with returning to buy another product.

Social media and forums, two examples that I have seen work great for building a community around a company (could also work great for products). So how about you, business owner? Are you going to go out of the way today to talk to your Twitter followers for a bit today to get feedback perhaps? So now, take a few moments to think about how you could start a community. Do you have a following but never interact with it? If so, simply start interacting and thinking of ways to create a community.  It could become really rewarding in the long run. Hopefully, I have “maybe” inspired you today to start thinking about building a community for your customers. Make sure to think about your goals in building a community and where you want it to go.

Note: This blog post was more focused towards businesses with products, but community can help out with many more different kinds of businesses out there. Also this blog post is more focused at the WordPress community but again, it could work in a lot of different businesses.


Calculating the Profitability of WordPress Themes How to Decide if Selling Themes is Right for You


This post is a response to Chris Lema’s post titled, “Four mistakes WordPress theme vendors make.” Chris makes some fantastic points about theme companies that I must reiterate here and also expound upon.

from Pocket
via Did you enjoy this article? Then read the full version from the Chris Wallace’s website.