We Hosted a Charity Challenge and Everybody Won

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Technically, there actually is one official winner of the WebDevStudios Charity Challenge, which took place over the recent holiday season. But when you consider that three teams competed and raised almost $3,000 for charity, well, really, everybody won.

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Add to that, WebDevStudios (WDS) is matching the amount of the winning team’s raised funds, making that team extra special cool. (Note: For the sake of transparency, it’s important that the author of this blog post inform you that she is a member of said extra special cool team.)

The WDS Charity Challenge first launched in 2014 with amazing results. In 2015, the company chose to raise money as one entity and did so successfully. But during the 2016 holiday season, WDS resurrected the “Lord of the Flies” vibe of the charity challenge by dividing the company into three teams: Team Blitzen, Team Comet, and Team Rudolph. The efforts of each team were relentless, and, sometimes, downright aggressive.

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So, without further ado, here are the results of our recent charity challenge:

  • WINNING EXTRA SPECIAL COOL TEAM
    Team Comet raised $1,390 for Code for Progress. This amount will be matched by WDS and added to the total donation for the nonprofit.
  • SECOND PLACE
    Team Rudolph raised $1,160 for Open Sourcing Mental Illness (OSMI).
  • THIRD PLACE
    Team Blitzen raised $435 for Able Gamers.

A big shout out and THANK YOU to everyone who donated, which includes our own team members, their spouses, partners, relatives and friends, and WDS followers and supporters. We couldn’t have conducted this charity fundraiser without your help.

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We Have a New Team Member!

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What better way to begin a new year than with a new team member? Help us welcome our new Back-End Senior Developer, Casey Driscoll. Read his bio below to learn more about him, and follow him on Twitter at @caseydriscoll. He even has a blog at CaseyPatrickDriscoll.com.

Would you be interested in joining the team at WDS? We’re a fun group of folks who eat, breathe, and sleep WordPress. We have a few coffee addicts on our team, some cat lovers, and many football fans (apparently, it helps if you love the Packers). Check out our job openings, and if you see something that you like, please apply.

Casey Driscoll, Back-End Senior Developer

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By day, Casey is a full-stack, open-source web developer. By night, he is an amateur historian and arm-chair philosopher, fascinated by how things work and what makes people tick.

Casey likes to think of himself as the most limited of all specialists, the “well-rounded” man. In the first decade of his adult life, he was a university mascot, a ‘Momentum Monday Man,’ graphic designer, Special Olympics gymnastics coach, (failed) politician, software developer, historian, documentarian, and anger management volunteer. He saw Steve Jobs unveil the iPhone in person at MacWorld 2007. He plays too much Civilization, and he’s been to Chichen Itza twice. Elon Musk is his homeboy, and tequila is his drink of choice. His only weakness is Amanda Palmer. Watching the Packers play makes him R-E-L-A-X.

For Casey, technology is only a tool for connecting with people and understanding the world around us. For the next decade of his adult life, he wants to build things – hopefully cool things that people will want to use, software that helps people and makes the world a better place.

Mentoring and Sharing Knowledge

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Author’s note: I know the term ‘mentor’ can be used in varying ways in different industries. In this post, I’m using it to describe supporting others in learning environments to gain (coding) skills.

My first inklings towards web development were as a teenager, customizing Livejournal themes and creating sites that may or may not have included boyband fan fiction. The path was definitely not a straightforward ‘A to B’ scenario but more of a winding ‘A to J to X to D’ type of deal. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I hit a point where I realized, “Oh, this thing that I used to love doing is out there and it could be my job!”

I started by taking a one-off workshop at a Canadian organization called “Ladies Learning Code,” which ended up being the gateway into a path that connected me with a whole new community of people and skills. And now, I’m in a place where I can give back to the coding community by being a volunteer mentor and/or assistant for LLC workshops.Continue Reading

How to Migrate a Widget to a Custom Post Type

WordPress tutorials, WordPress how-to, WordPress education, learn WordPress, Zerif Lite theme, #WPdrama, WordPress drama, Zerif LIte banned, WordPress banned Zerif Lite, ThemeIsle banned Zerif Lite, migrate a widget to a custom post type, how to work with custom post types

Recently, one of my favorite themes, Zerif Lite, was suspended from the WordPress repo. As I was reading about the issues involved, it got me thinking: Just how hard is it to migrate a widget to a Custom Post Type? According to ThemeIsle, this was one of the factors which led to their decision, arguing that “changing this in an existing theme means that whoever’s currently using it will get their site messed up.” Let me be clear: I refuse to take sides here, as there are valid points from both parties, so let’s leave the drama somewhere else. For now, let’s move forward and do something productive. Let’s migrate those old widgets.
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Form vs Function in WordPress

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In the mid-20th Century, the concept Form Follows Function came out of the architecture industry. The basic idea is that the outside of the building should reflect the functional interior. This means designing the interior structure before designing the outward appearance of the building. 

When building a WordPress website, you have two main parts to code. We can also think of these as Form and Function. The Form is the visual aspects of the website that the user sees and interacts with, and the Function is the code that the visual and interactive components are built upon.

We can also look at it as themes are the Form and plugins are the Function. But what goes into a theme and what should be in a plugin? Well, this is a matter of contention. Every web developer approaches their code in a different way. There are no solid rules that say what is supposed to be included in a theme and what’s supposed to be in a plugin. If you were to look at commercial themes, like what you can find in theme shops like ThemeForrest, you might come to the conclusion that everything goes into the theme.

There are commercial themes out there where the author crams as much functionality as possible into their themes. This can be very advantageous for the theme author, but a lot of WordPress developers consider this bad practice because of the possible pitfalls of updates breaking the themes and authors abandoning the themes, leaving everyday users with no recourse for support.

Now, I’d like to make this clear. As I stated before, the concept of Form vs. Function in web design is an opinionated one. There are some general concepts that have been adopted by the majority of the WordPress community, and there are developers that don’t follow these practices at all. There is no real correct answer. The concept of form and function can blur the lines in web development. What one developer can consider function, another can consider form.

From here on in, I’m going to discuss this in the way I approach WordPress development. If you disagree with me, that’s OK. I’m not claiming to be absolute in my opinion. I enjoy hearing different opinions. I feel that if I were to outright dismiss another’s opinion, I may miss the opportunity to learn something new and discover a new approach that I may never have thought of on my own.

So what does go into a theme and what should be separated into a plugin? I approach this by asking myself a set of questions.Continue Reading

Holiday Charity Challenge

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WebDevStudios (WDS) believes in giving back. Between sharing knowledge and donating time at WordCamps, to Five for the Future, to raising money for charity during the holidays, WDS is up to doing good. This holiday season, we decided to make our charity fundraising efforts a friendly competition between our team members.

We divided into three teams, each named after one of Santa’s reindeer. Selecting a tech-based beneficiary, our challenge is to raise the most money for our chosen charity. While there is no prize involved for the winning team, there are bragging rights to be had and satisfaction in knowing we accomplished something altruistic. Even the teams who fall short in the competition have something to be proud about, because win or lose, all money collected will go to each team’s nonprofit.

Below, listed in alphabetical order are the charity fundraising teams and their selected organizations. All are varied. So, if you spot a cause you support, we implore you to get involved with our efforts and make a donation! You can even give anonymously, but know that anything given is deeply appreciated by everyone at WDS.

So explore the list, find a charity you like, and click to donate. It’s a win-win situation for WDS, the selected charities, and you. Happy holidays!Continue Reading

Five for the Future: December Contributions

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Every month, WebDevStudios (WDS) participates in Five for the Future by contributing our team’s skills to enhance and strengthen WordPress. WDS team members are given carte blanche to work on whatever project they like, as a team or individually, so long as it aids in growing the WordPress pie and benefits the overall community.

We believe in giving back. Each month, we participate in Five for the Future by donating an entire workday to the WordPress project and encouraging our employees to do something that makes WordPress a better product. Here are just some of the tasks we accomplished during our last Five for the Future day, which took place on December 2nd.Continue Reading

WordCamp US Wrap Up – Best of the Best

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It was the best of times, it was the… well, it was simply the best of times at WordCamp US 2016 in Philadelphia, PA. Saturated with top notch WordPress experts and enthusiasts alike, WordCamp US (WCUS) was educational, informative, inspiring, and filled with opportunities to exchange ideas and make new contacts.

Lots happened. This blog post would be endless if we ran through it all. Instead, here are just a few of WebDevStudio’s (WDS) favorite moments, in no particular order.Continue Reading

WordCamp US 2016 – Final Year in Philly

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It’s kind of a big deal, and we’re super excited to be a part of it. WordCamp US (WCUS) is happening this weekend, December 2-4, in Philadelphia, PA. It’s the last year that Philly will play host, so we expect this year’s WCUS to be especially eventful.

Not only does WebDevStudios (WDS) have 11 team members who are attending, but our very own COO Lisa Sabin-Wilson is a featured speaker, tackling the topic of BuddyPress as the Foundation for Training, Distance Learning and Support for Business and Government on Saturday, December 3 at 11:30 a.m. in Liberty Bell – Room 120.

Additionally, we have two team members who are actively involved in putting it all together. Both Brad Williams, WDS CEO, and Jodie Riccelli, WDS Client Strategist, have been co-organizers of WCUS for the past two years.Continue Reading