Using the WordPress Plugin SVN Repository. Simply!

I’ve just managed to get my first WordPress plugin approved and added to the official WordPress plugin directory which is cool for me. It’s nothing major, mainly something to help my own clients but useful for anyone who uses WordPress and finds it hard to do some of the most common functions. You can view/download it below. Please rate it!:

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/help-menu/

Now simple as it is in function, it was no easy feat getting the plugin written, approved and added, with plenty of standards to adhere to and processes to be learned. For example I found out that you can’t import or host content on your own site that’s part of a plugin. You need to include all files in the plugin folder. I was hotlinking to files on my own hosting!

The trickiest part by far was figuring out how to upload the files to WordPress. They have a complex system for doing that called SVN/Subversion which is a version control system. The official WordPress help on how to manage this side of things is poor. They expect you to use command line to get it done which I’ve no clue about. After some googling and reading of WordPress support pages, I found a program called TortoiseSVN which has a graphical user interface. Much handier to use. Here’s how:

  1. After downloading and installing TortoiseSVN, create a folder on your computer to house your plugin files. I called mine SVN.
  2. TortoiseSVN is installed as Windows shell extension so there’s no program to run as such, it’s all right-click based. If you right-click on the SVN folder you created above and choose “Create Repository Here” you can get everything set up automatically.
  3. Once you’ve done that if you again right-click on the SVN folder and choose “SVN Checkout” you’ll be able to download the typical wordpress plugin folder structure created for you when the plugin was approved which comprises of 3 folders – Branches, Tags and Trunk. This checkout process will ask for the url to your plugins repository which will have been emailed to you on approval. Mine looks like this – http://plugins.svn.wordpress.org/help-menu/
  4. You can now add your plugin files (locally) to the newly created sub folder in the SVN folder which will me named according to your plugin name. Mine is “help-menu”. The plugin files (not folder) go directly in the “trunk” folder and a copy of them should go in a sub folder of “Tags” named with your plugin version, “1.0” in my case.
  5. Once you’ve added the plugin files you can now upload them to WordPress by right-clicking the plugin folder in SVN and choosing “SVN Commit”. You’ll be asked for a username and password at this stage so put in your WordPress.org login details.
  6. That’s pretty much it. The WordPress SVN should auto-update in a few minutes and your plugin will be live and ready to download!

Resources:

Using Subversion with the WordPress Plugins Directory
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/about/svn/

FAQ about the WordPress Plugins Directory
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/about/faq/

WordPress Plugins Directory readme.txt standard
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/about/readme.txt

readme.txt validator:
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/about/validator/

Leon

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WordPress Upgrade Service Contract

WordPress is an ever evolving system with new and updated functionality being added on a  regular basis. While it’s not strictly necessary to constantly keep your core WordPress installation and additional plugins up to date, it’s advisable to do so. Here are the benefits:

  • Keep your version of WordPress Secure,
  • Overwrite potentially corrupt or attacked files in old installs,
  • Benefit from newly added Functionality,
  • Speed up your site,
  • Benefit from plugin improvments.

The latest versions of WordPress include the ability to quickly update itself and related plugins from the admin but in my experience, this doesn’t always work smoothly. Some Hosting servers can’t handle the auto upgrade functionality at all and if upgrading breaks half way through and the process doesn’t complete, you can be left with a badly broken site.

Also, plugin versions and WordPress versions sometimes need to match and you might find that if you upgrade one, it breaks the other. The cost of having your site fixed by a web developer might be much more expensive than just preventing the problem in the first place.

My Yearly *Wordpress Service contract at just €50 per year includes the following:

  • Twice yearly upgrade of the core WordPress system,
  • Regular upgrading of installed Plugins,
  • Compatability Testing on all upgrades.

Order a service contract now.

* I say ‘contract’ but there’s no actual contract or signing of anything so you’re not tied in!

Leon

Popular Ways to Extend Your WordPress Site

So you’ve had a basic WordPress site built for you (possibly by me!?) or put one up yourself and you’ve got your design in, pages, images and blog/news posts up and you’re pretty happy with how it all looks. Did you realise you can add to the core WordPress functionality by installing plugins to make it do almost anything you can imagine? For me, that remains probably the best feature of WordPress along with it’s ease of use.

Wordpress Plugins

So what extra things might you want WordPress to do?

Send Newsletters

Capturing email address from your website and building a database of contacts then keeping in touch with them or sending offers etc is an excellent way to market and this plugin is probably one of the most popular WordPress additions requested by my clients:

Reverbstudios.ie/706/wordpress-newsletter-plugin-review/

Sell Stuff

All business have something to sell. If it’s products then it makes sense to sell them off your own website. This plugin will do all you need including show categories, add postage, paypal and credit card payments etc..:

Reverbstudios.ie/868/wordpress-shopping-cart-plugin-review/

Capture Data & Details

It’s highly recommended that you have some kind of conversion form on your website, ie a form that gathers information from visitors either automatically (browser, operating system, referring site, etc..) or manually by asking them questions. For businesses that are service based these kind of forms can be made take a payment or deposit too:

Reverbstudios.ie/1787/gravity-forms-wordpress-form-plugin-review/

Contact me if you you’d like any of this functionality on your site.

Leon

WordPress Commercial Plugin Affiliate System

We all like to make a bit of ‘automated money’ right? I’ve been on this affiliate scheme with Tribulant, a South African web development company that specialises in commercial WordPress plugins. I used some of their plugins below both on my own sites and clients’ and was so impressed with them I wrote some reviews to spread the word. The reviews got a fair few hits and then Tribulant started this affiliate scheme in conjunction with Post Affiliate Pro so it made sense to try monetise my reviews:

WordPress Newsletter Plugin

WordPress Banner Ads Plugin

WordPress Shopping Cart Plugin

Out of all the affiliate schemes I’m currently running or have run in the past, none come near as much monthly income as I get through Tribulant. Their 30% commission is pretty generous and payouts are prompt with no minimum withdrawl amount unlike most other schemes.

So I’m just spreading the word, no strings attached. It doesn’t matter if a ton of people sign up from here, it’s not competition for me.

So Sign up now, (it’s totally FREE) and link to some of Tribulant’s products and see how much you can make!

Leon

VPS Instability Issues & Really Simple Captcha

For the last few years I’ve been having an annoying issue with my WordPress sites on VPS hosting. I’ve gone through 3 different VPS/Cloud hosts and the problem remained.

The problem was basically to do with server stability and uptime. My sites were unresponsive and the server was going down intermittently. Server CPU usage was up and I seemed to be using way more space than seemed right for the files I’d uploaded.

The issue was compounded by the fact that I’m not that well up on VPS management and the hosting companies only support VPS issues for a fee! Recently, I had my current host LetsHost.ie tell me that I reached my Inode limit which is basically the number of individual files and folders you can have on a server. Neither of us could understand why the limit was reached as it meant I must have millions of files hosted which didn’t seem possible for the sites I was running. My actual disk space usage was only 50% too.

Turns out that a couple of wordpress plugins on one of my main sites, “Really Simple Captcha”, and Tribulant’s Newsletter plugin had conspired to create millions of individual files in the captcha “tmp” directory. I upgraded the newsletter plugin and deleted the tmp directory files (had to use SSH) and I gained back nearly 100% Inodes and 25% disk space and so far server stability has been fine.

More info on the problem can be found here.