TIL: HTTPS sites are not so hard any more.

Like many, I was curious to see how the Let’s Encrypt project would roll out in the real world. I remember looking at documentation for setting it up when it first came out, and quickly moved on – it seemed complicated and laborious (still, pretty great for a free SSL cert).

Now that it’s been around for a while (WordPress.com custom domains use Let’s Encrypt certs), I thought I’d check again how difficult it would be to throw it on a random domain of mine. I reactivated my DigitalOcean account, spun up a VPS, did some basic setup, and nabbed a new domain (a 6-letter domain, $8 for 5 years, wut) for fun. After waiting overnight for DNS propagation, I banged through three quick tutorials for Nginx, PHP7, and Let’s Encrypt – and had my cert up and running. Not a bad server setup for ~$5 a month and next to no effort.

(Edit, September 2, 2016: “my cert up and running” link is dead as I’ve deactivated my DigitalOcean account; turns out I only need ZEIT now.)

A tale of two developers

At WordCamp Montreal 2014, I gave a talk on fears. In it, I told of a story from the Drupal community, that compares two approaches of open-source contribution: collaborative and isolated. I was unable to find it at the time to properly credit it, but my coworker Kathryn Presner just happened to mention it today: it’s by Angie Byron, and can be found on her webchick.net blog: Diaries of a Core Maintainer #6: A tale of two developers.


Sebastian Markbåge: Minimal API Surface Area

This talk is a detailed explanation of why I spend my time learning core WordPress rather than frameworks – even though I’ve never fully understood why myself. It also explains why Underscores has been so hugely successful, and why I’m finally managing to learn JavaScript by working with React (and having a great time doing it). Highly recommended.

Theming in the Future

This past Thursday, I gave a talk to the Vancouver WordPress Developer Meetup called “Theming in the Future”. We covered the joys and challenges of working with the coming core REST API and the React UI library, all in the context of an Underscores-based starter theme called Tango.

The talk took the form of mostly discussion, code tours, and demos; below are links to the examples, code, tools, and resources that were mentioned or came up in chats afterwards.

One point I should make is that, even with all of this talk of full JS interfaces, build tools, APIs and such, PHP theming is not going anywhere. Thanks to core’s dedication to backwards compatibility, PHP themes will remain strong for a very long time to come, and a theme developer’s current skills will not by any means become obsolete. We’ve simply been given opportunities to expand our thinking of what WordPress themes can be and do, while growing our toolkit to include all the best modern web development has to offer. These are very exciting times for WordPress theme development 🙂

Thanks to everyone who came out for a fun night, with plenty of questions, crystal-ball-gazing, and food for thought. I’m still very new to all of this myself, and the ways forward are nowhere near determined, so please feel free to hit me up in the comments or on Twitter with questions. Talk to you soon!



Tools and Workflow


Let’s Tango

The past few months, I’ve been playing with Facebook’s React UI library and the coming REST API, and having a blast considering new possibilities in WordPress theming.

I recently started building up a starter theme called Tango, which attempts to bring everything we love and expect from Underscores, into a React-based and API-driven environment. Ultimately, I’d like it to become a sort of library of its own, that could be dropped into existing Underscores-based themes and handle as much (or as little) as a theme developer wants on the front-end.

Tango also relies on a little plugin called WP-API Theming, which fills some holes the current API lacks at this point when it comes to theme development. Anything theme-related specific to the API I’m just dealing with in there for now.

The coming API (and the modern development tools it allows us to use) is going to usher in an exciting new generation of WordPress themes, and I can’t wait to see what people do with it.