WordPress Roles

Today we’re going to look at how to use roles in WordPress to help facilitate content-generation, and how roles can help you develop a smarter publication workflow.  This post will focus on how roles relate to content-generation, and the different access levels an editorial team might need. The Built-Ins WordPress comes with built-in roles.  You can think of them as “access levels” to different functionality.  The goal is to allow different people to access different functionality in the control panel without giving them access to core settings on the site.  Users can be added in one of two ways: by signing up, or by being added by the administrator.  Roles can only be assigned by an administrator. If your site allows people to sign up, they generally get signed up as Subscribers:  this is the most limited role.  Public users who “sign up” to your site are assigned this role.  For instance, if you require a login to comment on a page or post, the user can join your site as a subscriber.  Basically, subscribers get to add or delete their own comments, edit their own profile, and very little else.  While the subscriber’s role is very limited, it can be extended significantly with plugins to create social networks, content aggregation… the sky’s the limit.  In fact, the core of WordPress is designed to be simple and low-frill so that plugins can be added to suit your needs without having to override a lot of cruft. The other path to creating users- through administrator action- goes as follows: the administrator adds users through the “Users” link in the control panel. At the bottom of the...

Apples, Oranges, and Web Developer Tools

I came across an article titled “PHP vs. Node.js: An epic battle for developer mindshare” and articles like that bug me.  I like that they are talking about developer mindshare, because mindshare can really impact the quality of tools and end results from a given platform.  But posts like “this tool is better than that” don’t help developers choose the right tools for the right job, or help clients understand the big picture.  So I thought I’d share my take on the topic. PHP came out in the mid-1990s, as did the JavaScript language, upon which Node.js is built.  Node is only a few years old, but it’s still fundamentally JavaScript on the server.  Both tools are about 20 years old, but have radically different histories- in part because they were built to solve different problems.  20 years is a very long time in computing, and the problems PHP and JavaScript were built to solve have changed, a lot. The Mainframe is Dead Back in the bad old days of computing, computers were so expensive that it made sense to have one really big computer with many “dumb” terminals.  The big computer, the mainframe, did almost all the work.  When personal computers and the internet started becoming widespread, it shook that model to the core, and PHP was part of that vanguard.  Suddenly users were sitting at powerful workstations instead of dumb terminals, and the role of the mainframe became one of dishing out content (called HTML) instead of the entire application.  The web browser was the application, and PHP was a great tool to deliver content to it. Of course a whole host of...

Methodology Showdown, Part II: Waterfall

In this installment of the methodology showdown, we’re going to tackle the Waterfall methodology.  Last week we talked about Agile, and where it can shine.  This week we’ll talk about where Waterfall is the right choice, and how you can use it to achieve success. Waterfall is an older methodology, but it’s hung around for good reason: it’s a really solid path to success. Waterfall takes its name from the nature of the methodology itself: each stage happens in sequence, flowing into the next phase.   Where it Works Waterfall works in well-defined projects, or in projects where there are many stakeholders.  Waterfall has a reputation for being documentation-heavy, but that can be a good thing.  Think of the space shuttle: many teams from many companies agreed on the specifications and performance of each part in a giant machine.  The end result was individually crafted parts to create a more complicated whole. The documentation phase of the process is really two parts: discovery and planning.  Get the stakeholders together and figure out what they want and need in writing.  Then take information, make a plan, and present it in writing.  Both the requirements document and the plan get signed and approved by all the stakeholders.  It’s those two documents that serve as the yardstick for success. Who it Works For (And Who it Doesn’t) You’ll see Waterfall used a lot in larger companies and especially government contracts.  It’s partially an issue of company culture, but there also a degree of permanence to the Waterfall methodology that fits the needs of slower-moving business units. For instance, point-of-sale systems or inventory control software; they need to meet...
Hungover Carpentry

Hungover Carpentry

This last weekend, I made choices.  As adults we all do.  My choices involved a bottle of wine and a wood shop. When the light of day hit some of my decisions, I realized something.  I can’t say those decisions were wrong, but some certainly don’t live up to my usual standard of forethought. Ahem, exhibit A: When I built the shop table, I was pretty proud.  Have some extra lumber laying around? POOF! It’s a workbench.  I had this frayed and water stained piece of particle board in the garage; I used it for the top.  My train of thought was that I’d replace the top with something nicer when I have the resources.   Except that I didn’t cut it to fit a normal sized frame, I built the frame to support the weird sized piece of plywood. So now in order to replace the top, I’d need to use an entire sheet of plywood, with about two-thirds of it left over as waste.  That is to say, I’m never going to do it. Also, ignore that great big lump of asbestos hanging down behind it.  If you don’t taunt asbestos, it won’t go after you. But all is not lost.  I had my carpenter over to prepare a quote to replace the rotted fascia boards and gutters, install stairs to the basement, and run a fence.  Not all at once, because there are only so many dollars in the known universe.  Anyway, it leaves me with a lot to look forward to. The other project on Sunday morning was building and installing the second raised bed...
Drunk Carpentry

Drunk Carpentry

In preparation for my annual spring party I’ve been building and cleaning, sprinting to the finish line I like to think of as “a presentable house.”  But I’m classy gentleman, so I occasionally sprint with wine. Sometimes reality gets in the way of my plans.  Like when the business end of the corkscrew decides to part company with the handle. I’m resourceful, so after finding the vice grips and a little bit of ire, I got the cork out of the bottle.  I mangled it in the process, so I did what any rational adult would do: I decided I had to drink the entire bottle so it didn’t spoil. Before you look at the next photo and ask me (with an appropriately stern voice) if I was using power saws while intoxicated, no.  Absolutely not.  Safety first.  However, it was a few sips into my first glass when inspiration struck. Actually, it may not have been inspiration so much as an aching back, and the momentary pause to appreciate it.  I’ve been building tables and fixing things on the basement floor, and my back isn’t 18 anymore, no matter what my mind tells it.  So with an aching back, and some liquid smarts on my tongue, I realized I had all the materials to ease my own pain.  At least the pain for my future self. And voila, I have a shop table.  I had some 2×4 lumber for another project, and I recalled there was a chunk of plywood in the garage.  The casters were an addition the next day after my wine super powers had worn...