I’ll Be Building WordPress Stuff Starting… Now

For a while I’ve been thinking I should learn a bit more about the code behind WordPress themes and plugins. I’m a software developer by day (in a different environment), but software is software and learning the ins and outs of how WordPress works would be a good exercise. I’d be lying if I didn’t also admit I came back from WordCamp San Francisco with a bit of a desire to learn how to code a bit in hopes of improving WordPress itself.

I’m also in the midst of launching a side brand related to my Portland-area photography business. It’ll be a month or two until it’s unveiled, but I have a vision for the online component. Rather than try to kludge my way into something that doesn’t fit, I decided this would be a great time to get into WordPress.

I’ve setup a local WordPress development environment, pored over the WordPress Codex, and am diving into constructing a theme.

Wish me luck.

WordPress, the GPL, and Thesis

Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on the internet. All of this post is speculation by a blogger.

WordPress, everyone’s favorite blogging platform, is released under the GNU GPL, an open source software license. The GPL is notable in that it not only requires that source code be made available, but that it stipulates that anyone may modify and redistribute that source code as long as the derivative works are also licensed under the GPL.

Mixed CashIs a theme integrated into WordPress closely enough that it’s required to be licensed under the GPL? This morning, Matt Mullenweg (creator of WordPress) posted a piece stating the “official” view that WordPress themes must be GPL.

How does this play with the premium (read: $$$) themes which are available for WordPress? I’m a big fan of Thesis (so much of a fan that I offer up that affiliate link), but a GPL-ed theme would wipe out the basic revenue model of “pay to use the theme.” There would still be opportunity for payment for services such as the excellent Thesis support forums, but the basic pay-to-use notion would be gone, since the code would be freely available from any number of sources.

I decided to pop the question of Thesis’ future to Chris Pearson (@pearsonified), the man behind DIYthemes which is the company that releases Thesis:

ahockley: Curious to see how this affects some premium themes, namely Thesis: http://bit.ly/txqE0 @pearsonified
pearsonified: @ahockley It won’t affect Thesis at all.
ahockley: @pearsonified Thanks for the reply… but… Thesis isn’t GPL, is it?
pearsonified: No
ahockley: @pearsonified So if Automattic says themes need to be GPL, and Thesis isn’t GPL, how does this not affect Thesis? Connect the dots for me
pearsonified: @ahockley Automattic says that, but they cannot and will not enforce it. Therefore, DIYthemes will continue to operate as normal.

Interesting way of handling the situation… sounds like Pearson isn’t planning to change his operation unless forced, and he’s confident that Automattic won’t press the issue.

Photo by stopnlook, used under Creative Commons licensing

Don’t Move Important Buttons: Twhirl’s Bad Update

I just updated to version 0.9 of Twhirl, my Twitter client of choice. The new version has some great new features including saved searches. Unfortunately there’s a small button change with annoying implications.

Twhirl Trash Button Moved

In previous versions, the “trash” button was on the far right (green circle). My normal method was to clear the tweets using this icon as I read, so that if I wanted to catch up on what I missed I’d know how far back to go. With the new version, the trash icon was moved to the left (red circle). On the right? The refresh button. Now, instead of trashing, my habitual mouse move to that location does a refresh which a) doesn’t clear the window and b) makes another hit to Twitter’s limited API.

I’m cranky. I’m using up API calls and momentarily wondering why hitting the button (which has always been in the same place) isn’t clearing the window. How is this an upgrade?

Add Wiki Functionality to WordPress

At WordCamp: Las Vegas, Shayne Sanderson talked a bit about a new plugin coming from Instinct (the makers of wp e-commerce). The WordPress Wiki plugin adds basic wiki functionality to WordPress posts on pages, using WordPress user accounts and revisions to manage the edits.

It’s not going to replace MediaWiki, but it’s a nice way to add some lightweight edit and revision features to a WordPress blog. I’ve heard that the Beer and Blog folks are looking at it for documentation purposes, where it should provide an easy interface for managing documents and provide a nice front-end for some of WordPress’ back-end features.

If you’re looking for a lightweight way to wikify some of your website, check out the plugin.