Hear us on Your Website Engineer Episode 51!

Hear us on Your Website Engineer!Randy and I were return call-in guests on a popular WordPress podcast that aired Nov 23, 2011. Listen to us discuss cloud computing with Dustin Hartzler of Your Website Engineer on episode 51.

Your Website Engineer has served many thousands of downloads to the WordPress community and ranks within the top 10 when one searches for the term “WordPress” within the Apple iTunes Store. This episode marks Dustin’s 51st podcast on how to build your own quality website and runs for approximately 30 minutes.

In this episode we discuss our recent blog post Takeaways from Cloud Computing Expo 2011, and report back on cloud computing and cloud application concepts from the recent conference.

Please contact us and let us know what you thought of the show as well as what you’d like to hear about in future podcasts!

Takeaways from Cloud Computing Expo 2011

Takeaways from Cloud Computing Expo 2011Thanks to our wonderful hosting partner, Rackspace, beAutomated received free admission to this year’s Cloud Computing Expo in Santa Clara. I attended for 2 of the 4 days. While this conference is more enterprise IT focused, there were plenty of small business and software application takeaways.

Before beginning my notes, I wanted to express my delight in gaining confirmation that our niche business of building custom WordPress Plugins provides immense value to businesses and organizations of all sizes. Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) like ourselves accumulate years of knowledge that simply get lost within larger IT operations. ISVs provide affordable niche skills to clients who are concerned with turnaround speed. The value of custom core applications for businesses far exceeds anything that the cloud itself can provide, simply due to the nature of cloud software being contextual for a wide audience. Also, automation is considered essential for businesses of all sizes to control operating costs and enable superior, unique functionality that puts users in the driver’s seat. Finally, because change delivers business value, we’ll always have work in our industry!

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Introducing beCounted

Introducing beCountedYesterday we released version 1.0 of beCounted to the WordPress community via the WordPress.org Plugins repository. beCounted creates a multiple item count up widget based on annual statistics showing the number of occurrences since the page was loaded.

The default statistics that come with beCounted are a set of mythological creatures, including dragons, mermaids, unicorns, and zombies. Administrators can add any number of statistics to this counter, can customize all of the styling, and can add a custom credit blurb beneath the counter display with the ability to add hyperlinks.

Note: We originally created this WordPress plugin for our client’s website, Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach, calling it the Animal Kill Counter.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Note that we really appreciate feedback about what we’ve written as well as what topics you’d like us to discuss in future posts so please do let us know.

Hear us on Your Website Engineer Episode 48!

Hear us on Your Website Engineer!Randy and I were return call-in guests on a popular WordPress podcast that aired Nov 2, 2011. Listen to us discuss project management with Dustin Hartzler of Your Website Engineer on episode 48.

Your Website Engineer has served many thousands of downloads to the WordPress community and ranks within the top 10 when one searches for the term “WordPress” within the Apple iTunes Store. This episode marks Dustin’s 48th podcast on how to build your own quality website and runs for approximately 30 minutes.

In this episode we discuss our recent blog post What’s in a Phone Number, an explanation of the differences between marketing requirements and engineering specifications for project management.

Please contact us and let us know what you thought of the show as well as what you’d like to hear about in future podcasts!

What’s in a Phone Number?

What's in a Phone Number?Today’s topic is an example demonstrating the difference between requirements (marketing based) and specifications (engineering based). We have a simple example of one form field, where we’re adding a telephone number to the User Profile panel in the WordPress back end. We’ve often come across requirements like this where what appears to be a simple task becomes a bit more involved once we work on converting our client’s requirements into engineering specifications adequate for building robust software.

We typically start out with obtaining basic requirements from our prospective clients to understand the scope of their project concept. We want to ensure there is a designer involved, or somebody qualified to make design decisions when they come up. On the back end (wp-admin) we generally stick to the design conventions already there, though there may still be design implications requiring a designer’s input. Once we have all the requirements on the table and design mockups ready, we then ask questions that move us towards specifications, adequate for estimating cost and timeline for production.

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Our Tribute to Steve Jobs

Our Tribute to Steve JobsYesterday the technology community lost a hero. Steve Jobs was an iconic leader for marketing and innovation. His legacy remains alive and well at Apple, throughout the industry, and here at our little start-up business, beAutomated. Steve Jobs’ legacy comes into our operation in a number of ways, including:

  • Commitment to quality and doing things in a future proofed manner.
  • Being visionary—inventing new approaches, building upon and exceeding requirements.
  • Doing the things we love and letting the “dots get connected” on their own.
  • Leading the business optimistically on a path to success through hard work.
  • Perfecting the entire experience within our control.
  • Influencing the tools that the community uses everyday, thinking big and never giving up.

Apple products have been legendary. We use Apple products everyday to do what we do. Steve Jobs will be dearly missed…

Hear us on Your Website Engineer Episode 44!

Hear us on Your Website Engineer!Randy and I were return call-in guests on a popular WordPress podcast that aired Oct 5, 2011. Listen to us discuss the WordPress API with Dustin Hartzler of Your Website Engineer on episode 44.

Your Website Engineer has served many thousands of downloads to the WordPress community and ranks within the top 10 when one searches for the term “WordPress” within the Apple iTunes Store. This episode marks Dustin’s 44th podcast on how to build your own quality website and runs for approximately 40 minutes.

In this episode we discuss WordPress Plugin Strategy, a comprehensive overview of how WordPress is intended to be extended with Plugins via the WordPress API.

Please contact us and let us know what you thought of the show as well as what you’d like to hear about in future podcasts!

Plugin Strategy

Plugin StrategyIn our last blog post, Built To Last, we mentioned the necessity of building into the core of WordPress and never modifying existing Plugins, themes, or core files. We wanted to expand on this topic a bit and explain more about these best practices with what we’re calling “Plugin Strategy”.

WordPress was traditionally a blogging platform and has evolved into a full featured Content Management System (CMS). It is even more than that to PHP developers. WordPress serves as a PHP framework—providing many tools and resources for developers to design their Plugins with.

Despite all that WordPress has to offer developers, many don’t necessarily take the time to learn what all the core can do. This can mean reinventing the wheel by bringing in performance costing library files that otherwise aren’t necessary, making custom User Experience (UX) elements that don’t match WordPress, or creating Plugins that are essentially islands to themselves based on how they store data and only mildly hook into WordPress.

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Built To Last

Built To LastIn October 1972 the new Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system experienced what could have been a disastrous failure. An automated sensor that detected the train approaching the terminus station was supposed to slow the train down in preparation for the stop, however it reversed and sped up the train to 70MPH. The operator couldn’t prevent the train from running out of elevated track, resulting in the train falling onto the street below. Good thing this accident was part of a series of test runs with only a few individuals involved. Engineers fixed this and other problems in what was then a futuristic designed automated system that has since served the public well for nearly 40 years.

Not everything is built to last. Often times quality gives way to budget shortfalls or pressures to produce rapidly. Lackluster quality can in the worst case scenario lead to accidents and even death. Accidents cannot always be avoided, but they can often be prevented by planning well, providing detailed product specifications, building carefully, testing rigorously, and maintaining vigorously. With respect to websites, the areas one generally needs to protect are: image, operations, and valuable customer data. It makes sense to take as many measures as possible to prevent one’s Internet operations from ever becoming a train wreck!

We recently discussed the topics of WordPress security and performance as they relate to Plugins. These topics aren’t necessarily the driving force behind custom plugin development, but they most certainly should be major considerations throughout the product lifecycle as internal and external forces develop. Changes that occur over time include server software developments, web browser developments, database buildup, WordPress core developments, theme and plugin developments, and JavaScript library developments.

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Hear us on Your Website Engineer Episode 39!

Hear us on Your Website Engineer!Randy and I were return call-in guests on a popular WordPress podcast that aired Aug 31, 2011. Listen to us discuss DNS with Dustin Hartzler of Your Website Engineer on episode 39.

Your Website Engineer has served many thousands of downloads to the WordPress community and ranks within the top 10 when one searches for the term “WordPress” within the Apple iTunes Store. This episode marks Dustin’s 39th podcast on how to build your own quality website and runs for approximately 40 minutes.

In this episode we discuss Understanding DNS for Faster Website Migrations, how to best architect your domain name’s DNS hosting and how to manage the various records that point traffic to your various hosting providers.

Please contact us and let us know what you thought of the show as well as what you’d like to hear about in future podcasts!