New Mm Theme: Trestle

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Trestle

A handy boilerplate child theme for serious Genesis developers.

Trestle takes a lot of the grunt work out of building sites using the Genesis Framework, providing quick and easy-to-implement solutions to common problems and repetitive tasks. We’ve taken Genesis’ rock-solid foundation, integrated mobile-first CSS, responsive navigation, a full-featured settings panel, and much more. Download. Install. Enjoy.

View Demo » Download »[/box]

Features

Trestle: A handy boilerplate theme for serious Genesis developersTrestle includes tons of helpful features such as:

  • Centralized control panel (Genesis → Theme Settings)
  • Responsive navigation menu
  • Mobile first CSS
  • Custom control over post info and meta
  • Multiple page layouts
  • Auto-generating primary navigation
  • Ability to auto-install your favorite plugins
  • Helpful theme jQuery
  • Compatibility with Genesis Extender plugin
  • Optional link icons
  • Built-in shortcodes (columns, buttons, Font Awesome, etc)
  • Front-end styles appear in editor as well
  • And more!

Still to come. . .

There are some features still on the horizon as well (feel free to add a pull request if you’re interested in contributing):

  • SASS support
  • Direct logo implementation (non-CSS)

Plugin Review: blogVault

I’m just going to come right out and say it: blogVault is my new favorite way to backup, migrate, and restore WordPress websites.

We stumbled upon blogVault – or rather, it stumbled upon us – when blogVault founder Akshat Choudhary paid a visit to one of our Bay Area Web Freelancer Meetups. Long story short, Akshat demoed blogVault for us, it looked good, we signed up for a trial, and then. . . well, here’s what we found:

As Easy As It Gets

blogVault - adding a new site

Adding a new site to blogVault

One of blogVault’s defining features is its simplicity. Installing and using blogVault can all be managed from the blogVault admin dashboard. Just click the “Add Site” button, enter the URL and admin creds for your site, and blogVault will automatically install its plugin and start backing up. It’s as simple as that.

And every step of the way is surprisingly simple, which has been a welcome surprise.

Clean & Clear Interface

blogVault does come packaged as a plugin to be installed on your WordPress site, however it is different from most plugins in that all site management/interaction happens outside of the WP dashboard. Instead, you log into blogVault’s own dashboard (https://webapp.blogvault.net) to manage all your sites from one centralized location. I can see how some might like the ability to manage site backups, restores, and migrations from directly within WordPress, but I’ve been pretty content with using blogVault’s dashboard on its own.

blogVault - dashboard

Sites in the blogVault dashboard

The blogVault dashboard displays each site along with its backup status and a number of actions (backup now, test restore, migrate, etc). The interface clearly puts all the options right out in front of the user, and makes it very easy to check the status of a site (last backup, current backup progress, etc) without having to dig.

Backups, Restores, & Migrations

It goes without saying that a good backup plugin should just work. No ifs, ands, or buts. Unfortunately, this has not always been our experience in the past. With blogVault, however, we’ve had a remarkably high success rate (and we’re currently using it to manage over 100 sites). Backups automatically run every 24 hours and can be manually triggered at any point in time. If something goes wonky on a site and you need to restore a backup, you can just click the “Auto Restore” button (or “Test Restore” if you’d like to see what the backup looks like before officially restoring), and that’s that. blogVault also adds a nice feature in that you can download any previous backup (files, database, or both) in case you want to do things manually.

blogVault - migrating

Migrating a site with blogVault

Similarly, migrating sites is a piece of cake. We build most of our sites locally or on dev servers, and when it’s time to take the site live we need to migrate it to the final server and/or URL. In the past, this meant downloading all files, exporting the database from the dev site, uploading the files to the live site, importing the database to the live site, running a serialized search and replace script to correct URLs in the database, and praying that nothing went wrong during the process. With blogVault, the process is simplified immensely. After clicking the “Migrate-Site” link, users are prompted for the target site’s URL and FTP credentials, and that’s pretty much the whole process. blogVault ports all files and the database, and automatically replaces all instances of old URLs with new ones. This is hands down the easiest that migrating a site has ever been for us here at MIGHTYminnow.

Helpful History

Changes are highlighted in the history panel

Changes are highlighted in the history panel

One of our favorite blogVault features is the history panel. Many backup solutions allow you to see a site’s backup history, but blogVault does a few nice things that make it stand out. For one, plugin and theme changes are highlighted, which can make all the difference when troubleshooting a broken site. Additionally, blogVault allows you to add custom notes to each backup. We use this feature quite often to do things like explicitly mark a backup right before performing some operations on the database, or to make note of the first clean backup after fixing a broken site – essentially setting backup waypoints to guide us in the future.

Fantastic Support

I tend to think that the folks at blogVault have treated us especially well because we’ve provided them with a lot of feedback and testing, but I have to say that blogVault support has been amongst the best I’ve ever received. Support requests are handled quickly and efficiently. Akshat and his team have repeatedly gone the extra mile. Whereas other premium services and hosts sometimes push issues back on us with generic suggestions, the blogVault team has typically taken it upon themselves to just plain fix an issue when we face it. They’ve also been surprisingly responsive to feature requests and bug reports.

Issues & Bugs

blogVault - layout weirdness

Some wonky aesthetics

Any good review will cover a product’s issues/bugs, and blogVault does have its share of quirks. The good news is that, functionally, the product has proved itself completely sound in our experience. The issues we have encountered are primarily aesthetic in nature. A few examples include:

  • In the dashboard, some sites seem to get thumbnails and some don’t. And at various screen resolutions, things overlap in strange ways.
  • Progress indicators can act a bit unpredictably when migrating and/or backing up a site. During one migration, the indicator seemed to be stuck at 43%, then suddenly jumped to 118%, before coming back down again to just below 100%. The migration completed just fine, but there was some funny math happening in there somewhere.
  • When migrating a site, the progress indicator overlay covers everything else, so you’re stuck waiting until the migration is complete and can’t perform any other actions on other sites.
  • For a while, backups in the history panel seemed to be mixing up timezones. We’d backup a site, and the timestamp would say it was backed up “in 8 hours” – this appears to have been fixed shortly after we submitted a bug report however.

Bottom Line

Thumbs Up!All in all, the issues we’ve encountered with blogVault are pretty trivial when compared to the immense amount of time and hassle we’ve been saving. And the product only gets better – Akshat and his team have been extremely responsive and proactive about responding to bugs and implementing new features, and we’re excited for the improvements yet to come. We highly recommend signing up for a free trial and testing out the awesomeness of blogVault for yourself.

Try out blogVault →

Mm Plugin: WP Hotkeys

WP Hotkeys

WP Hotkeys provides time-saving keyboard shortcuts to help you quickly navigate the WordPress dashboard.

Download Now »

WP Hotkeys helps you navigate your dashboard as quickly as possible with fully customizable keyboard shortcuts. After installing WP Hotkeys, you will see the default hotkey hints display in brackets next to each standard menu item in the admin. Typing a hotkey will access the associated top-level admin menu item (e.g. Pages), and will display any submenu items and activate their associated hotkeys (e.g. All Pages, Add New). At any point you can use the arrow keys to navigate between menu items (left/right will enter/exit submenus), and the enter key to navigate to the active (underlined) menu item.

Features

  • Works right out of the box with built-in default hotkeys for each standard dashboard menu item.
  • Hotkey hints next to each menu item help you remember your shortcuts (can be toggled on/off).
  • Fully customizable – define your own hotkeys.
  • Lightweight – less than 4kb minified jQuery.
  • Built-in warning to let you know if you have duplicate hotkeys.

Coming Soon…

  • Export/import your favorite hotkey setup
  • Define custom URL/hotkey pairings

Meetup Fun and Productivity Tool Roundup

Lightbulb IconThe latest Bay Area Web Freelancers Meetup lived up to its name – “Productivity & Pinot” – with a healthy dose of both. Individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds and professions descended on MIGHTYminnow HQ to share their favorite tools of the trade. Here are some of our favorites:

Vimium

http://vimium.github.io/
This Chrome browser extension allows you to navigate the web mouse-free. Simple keyboard shortcuts are used for a wide array of browsing functionality (string search, quick link navigation, search tabs, etc). Takes some getting used to, but I’ve been at it for less than a week and I think I’m in love.

Emmet Package for Sublime Text

https://github.com/sergeche/emmet-sublime
If you use Sublime Text to code, then this package is a must. Emmet gives you a massive set of abbreviations that auto-magically turn into their fully-formed code/markup/CSS counterparts. HUGE time saver.

Default Folder X

http://www.stclairsoft.com/DefaultFolderX/
Great Mac app that turbo-charges your finder’s open/save functionality. No more navigating down through directory upon directory each time you save – Default Finder X lets you specify default save/open locations, remembers your most recent locations, and generally saves some serious time and clicking.

Google Hangout (Remote Desktop)

http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/hangouts/
We typically use Join Me for screen sharing because of its easy-to-use interface, but if you’re looking for a free alternative, Google Hangout now offers Remote Desktop functionality as well.

Skitch

http://evernote.com/skitch/
Looking for a better alternative to your standard screen capture tool? Skitch is a great app (and it’s free) that let’s you take screen grabs, make edits, add notes, and much more.

PopClip

http://pilotmoon.com/popclip/
PopClip takes selecting, copying, and pasting text to a whole new level. Right click selected text and you’ll get a contextual menu with over 90 actions.

Digital Ocean

https://www.digitalocean.com/
This $5/month, SSD, cloud hosting sounds too good to be true, but our trusted friend Eddie Monge (@eddiemonge) seems to think it rocks.

Google Keep

https://drive.google.com/keep/
Another handy tool for keeping your notes and lists organized. Plus it’s Google, so you know it works!

Mm Plugin: jQuery Responsive Select Menu

jQuery Responsive Select Menu

Automatically turn your standard WordPress navigation menus into responsive select / drop-down menus when the screen is below a certain width.

Download Now » See Demo » GitHub Repo »

jQuery Responsive Select Navigation Menu

The responsive select menu in action.

jQuery Responsive Select Navigation Menu

Settings for the responsive select menu.

jQuery Responsive Select Menu gives you a simple way to make your navigation menus responsive for mobile devices like phones and tablets (iPhone, Android, Kindle, etc). The plugin lets you specify a width at which to turn your normal menus into responsive, drop-down select menus – a proven method for solid, responsive navigation.

You also get specify some other handy settings including:

  • CSS class/ID selectors to specify exactly which menus to affect
  • The width at which to switch from normal to responsive navigation menus
  • The character/spacer to add to sub-items in your drop-down select menu
  • A “dummy” first term to add to the top of your drop-down navigation (e.g. ⇒ Navigation)
  • Whether to show the current page, or the top-level “dummy” item, as the default

Languages/Translations

MIGHTYminnow’s Favorite WordPress Plugins: Widget Context

MIGHTYminnow's Favorite Plugins: Widget ContextOur next stop in MIGHTYminnow’s favorite WordPress plugins is Widget Context. This plugin allows you to specify exactly where your widgets do and don’t show up. Using widget context, you can tell a widget to only appear on a certain page, in a specific section (e.g. all pages under About Us), or everywhere on your site except for in certain circumstances (like excluding posts from 2008). We use Widget Context on just about every site we build to do things like the following:

  • showing related blog posts only on blog pages
  • adding page-specific related content
  • showing other event links on event pages
  • adding related testimonials for page-specific products or services

MIGHTYminnow's Favorite Plugins: Widget ContextOne of the big perks of Widget Context is that it adds controls right onto your existing widgets, which means you don’t have to navigate away from your Widgets panel to make changes. These added controls are where the magic happens, allowing you to choose a “context” for your widget in one of two ways:

  1. Checkboxes
    Choose from some common selections like Front Page, All Posts, 404 Error, etc
  2. Target by URL
    Specify a URL pattern (yes, you can use wildcards!) to match

Depending on how many pages you want the widget on your sidebar to show up, you either choose to show or hide the widget on selected posts/pages that match the criteria you’ve selected. If you know that you want the widget on all blog related content, you might choose the Show on Selected drop-down option and check the boxes for Blog Index, All Posts, and All Archives.

The URL targeting feature is pretty handy as well, allowing you to target a specific page, a page and all of it’s sub-pages, and much more. To target a specific page, you use the UNIQUE part of the URL. For example:

  • A single page:
    To add a widget just to this page: http://www.mysite.com/services/, you would include “services” (without the quotes) in the “target by URL” box.
  • Child pages:
    To add a widget to all child pages of services, but NOT services itself, you would add “services/*” (without the quotes) in the “target by URL” box.
  • A site section including parent and child pages:
    To add a widget to the services page and all its children, you would add “services*” (without the quotes and without the slash from the example above) in the “target by URL” box.

Notes:

  • When entering multiple pages to target, each page goes on one line and you don’t want to have a blank line after the last one.
  • The URLs for pages you target can be complex – adding widgets to a deeply nested page or section works the same as the above, just include the complete string for the unique part of the URL, like: “services/web/hourly”, “services/web/hourly*” or “services/web/hourly/*”

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? As always, we love to hear from you. Check out the comments section below.

MIGHTYminnow’s Favorite WordPress Plugins: Events Manager

Events ManagerIf you are an organization that hosts frequent events (like we do), Events Manager / Events Manager Pro is a must have. This is a free WordPress plugin, with an optional “Pro” upgrade if you need to take payments. Events Manager offers a robust array of settings and features, which makes it really easy to create and display events, registration forms, and much more.

(Free) Features We Love:

  • Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 2.08.24 PMTemplates & widgets
    Events Manager makes it extremely simple to output your events in a bunch of different ways. The plugin comes with great default templates for events list, calendar, and widget views – plus you have the ability to set up your own templates using simple placeholder tags (e.g. #_EVENTTITLE)
  • Google integration
    Google Maps are seamlessly integrated, meaning your guests can see a map of each event location, and can even look up directions from their location – all from within the page they are viewing. Events Manager also integrates with Google calendars and iCal, so your guests can add your events to their personal calendars in one click.
  • Categories and tags
    Just like WordPress’ Posts, you can categorize and tag your events. Additionally, you can output custom lists of particular categories and tags.
  • Create multiple tickets
    If your event has separate prices for members and non-members, or if you have different levels of entry (1-day pass vs. conference pass), you can create different tickets for these groups.
  • Timing and recurring events
    Events Manager really shines when it comes to scheduling your events. The plugin places a huge number of possibilities at your fingertips, including the ability to custom schedule recurring events. Whether your event is all day, 7-9pm, or recurs every Thursday at noon – you’ll easily be able to set it up in Events Manager.

(Pro) Features We Love:

  • Coupon Codes
    You can set up multiple coupon codes for specific discounts (fixed-price or percentage). You can also limit the number of coupons available and/or set an expiration date.
  • Online Payments
    Probably the #1 pro feature is the ability to take payments through PayPal, Authorize.net, and other offline payment methods. We use Events Manager Pro on the MIGHTYminnow site to facilitate class registrations through our payment gateway.

Mm Plugin: Super Simple Related Posts

Super Simple Related Posts

A super simple widget to output related posts based on categories, tags, or custom taxonomies. You get to decide how the posts are related (categories, tags, custom taxonomies), what to show (posts, pages, custom post types), and a whole lot more.

Download Now » See Demo » GitHub Repo »

Super Simple Related Posts

The Super Simple Related Posts widget

The Story

This plugin came about as the result of a recent project in which we needed to output related content on pages and posts in a unique way. We often create a lot of custom post types and taxonomies using Toolset’s amazing Types & Views plugins, and we needed a way to show related content based on specific criteria (e.g. post type and taxonomy).

The other thing we needed was an alternative to some of the many resource-intensive “related content” plugins out there – and make no mistake, there are MANY. Yet a lot of these plugins work their magic by querying your database, running post content through algorithms, and performing processes that put a heavy strain on the server. So much so, that they sometimes get banned from premier hosting companies like WP Engine. So, with all this in mind, we developed this handy plugin and decided to share it with the world.

How it Works

In short, SSRP gives you a widget that can output a list of content related to the current page/post by any category, tag, or custom taxonomy. Let’s look at a real-world example to demonstrate what the widget can do. We recently utilized this plugin on a fundraising site that incorporates several different post types for their knowledge base:

Post Types

  1. Blog Posts (built in WP post type)
  2. FAQs (custom post type)
  3. Articles (custom post type)

. . . as well as a few custom taxonomies shared across these post types. . .

Custom Taxonomies

  1. Life Cycle (e.g. Beginning, Middle, End)
  2. Industry (e.g. Music, Sports, Arts)

So to sum up, we have a bunch of posts, FAQs, and articles – all of which are classified with Life Cycle and/or Industry taxonomies. With Types & Views it’s really easy to set something like this up, and we often end up using numerous custom post types and taxonomies on the sites we build. So in this case, an example of a typical FAQ might look like this:

  • FAQ: How do run a fundraiser for my team?
    • Life Cycle: Beginning, Middle
    • Industry: Sports

So now comes the fun part – related content. We want to display related content in the sidebar of our FAQ, and we want to be able to dictate exactly how it appears. That’s where Super Simple Related Posts comes in. Using this plugin, you can decide what type of content you want to output (posts, FAQs, and/or articles) as well as the taxonomy (category, tag, or custom taxonomy) by which to select related content. Back to our example. . .

Output

Using SSRP, you might choose the following settings (note: these are just a few of the many settings you’ll be able to modify):

  • Posts Types to Include: FAQs, articles
  • Show Posts Related By: Life Cycle
  • Number of Posts to Show: 3

With those settings, your SSRP widget would output the following when viewing the above FAQ on your live site:
FAQs
Beginning

Middle

Articles
Beginning

Middle

As you can see, SSRP give you the ability to add functionality much like you might find on a site like Amazon.com, which offers sidebar suggestions based on the content you’re looking at. Here are other blue shoes for you to look at. Here are more books written by American authors. Here are all the other long-haired crazy cat photos. You get the idea.

In Conclusion

Whether you’re using WordPress straight out of the box, hand-coding your own custom post types and taxonomies in functions.php, or using the awesome Types & Views plugin to work some serious magic, Super Simple Related Posts might be just what you’re looking for. Head on over to the official WordPress.org site to learn more. And, as always, if you have any questions, comments, or feature requests, we’d love to hear from you. WordPress.org: Super Simple Related Posts Plugin »

Mm Plugin: HTML5 Placeholder Polyfill

Without placeholder support

Your form without the plugin (IE 7/8/9 & Opera Mini)

With placeholder support

After installing HTML5 Placeholder Plugin

MIGHTYminnow is proud to announce our new plugin: HTML5 Placeholder Polyfill!

The plugin adds placeholder support for older browsers like Internet Explorer 7/8/9 and Opera Mini which don’t support placeholders natively. We simply took Mathias Bynens’ amazing jQuery placeholder polyfill and bundled it as a WordPress Plugin – the jQuery itself is widely used and well-vetted. In case you’re wondering what a placeholder is, it’s that handy text inside a form input or text area that is often used to suggest what the user should enter (e.g. “Enter your email address”). This functionality can be super handy when it’s working, and can create a major mystery for your users when it’s missing (imagine a form without labels, in which the placeholder text is the only indicator of what the user should enter).

Our plugin guarantees that your users are never left in the dark. To learn more or download it, just visit the WordPress Plugin Page:

Visit the Plugin Page »

Our Favorite Plugins: Post Thumbnail Editor

WordPress uses thumbnail images for lots of things, including to accompany blog posts as on our blog page. These images are automatically cropped from whatever larger image you upload, so that they are all a uniform shape. This is great, except when it isn’t. Sometimes cutting a square out of the middle of an image gives you a useful and compelling snippet, but sometimes it ends up being a part of the image that can’t stand alone (like just a picture of someone’s butt, for example). In the media library, you can go into edit the image, and apply whatever changes you make just to the thumbnail, and this is useful. But it only takes you so far. A lot of themes have many additional image sizes specified in the theme files, and the built in image editor in WordPress doesn’t allow you to treat each image size as a separate case and to crop them independently.

Enter our newfound favorite plugin: Post Thumbnail Editor. It allows you to quickly and easily crop any and all sizes of images in your media library, and each of the crops can be tailored to the dimensions of the image. Sweet!

post thumbnail editor