Introducing vv 1.9: The Most Feature-Filled Release Yet

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Introducing version 1.9 of vv! In the WordPress world, quite a few developers use Varying Vagrant Vagrants for their local development environments. Just under a year ago, I started building Variable VV, a tool to help people leverage VVV and make it easier to use.

A quick history

In case you’re not familiar with Variable VVV (vv), it is mostly used to automate the set up of custom local sites on top of VVV. vv also does quite a bit more. When I started, I built it as the spiritual successor to Alison Barrett’s vvv-site-wizard, which was the go to solution for this. There were a few bugs in this I wanted to fix, as well as some features.vv Github page

Since this initial release, I’ve added countless features, fixes, and functionality. And as such, vv has become the standard site creation wizard for almost everyone using VVV. Since the first release in December of 2014, there have been a lot of really changes and fixes put into the project. I’m really excited for how far it has come.

Some of the major updates that have been released so far:

  • 1.0 – Initial stable release
  • 1.1 – Added deployments
  • 1.2  – Added automatic updates
  • 1.3 – Initial stable release.
  • 1.4 – Added basic Blueprints for defining a site’s plugins, themes, options
  • 1.5 – Lots of cleanup and bug fixes, no big features.
  • 1.6 – Added the ability to import a custom database, allowed creating non-WordPress sites, added more flags and options
  • 1.7 – Start of making everything extensible. Added the ability to customize the structure of VVV, and the ability to remove default themes / plugins.
  • 1.8 – More flags and options, including the ability to change your database prefix, install with Bedrock, better Windows Support, and more debugging information.

Throughout these versions, there have been minor releases of bug fixes. Also, there have now been a total of a dozen different contributors to the project!

I’m excited to announce one of the most feature-filled releases yet, version 1.9! This update is super awesome.

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BuddyPress: Adding Custom Notifications

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Social networks run on notifications and BuddyPress helps make that happen. BuddyPress sends out notifications for various actions on the site, like when you get a message from a friend or when someone replies to your status update. Though BuddyPress sends out quite a few notifications, you might want to add custom notifications for other actions. For example, you may want to send out a notification when a friends birthday is near.

In this tutorial, we will go over the code necessary to send a member a notification when someone comments on their blog post. You don’t need a lot of code to add notifications; they just require special formatting.

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Basic WordPress Terminology: What the Layperson Should Know

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WordPress proudly touts its user first design for ease of use, but on other end of the spectrum are the website owners. Even the owner of a simple website is instantly barraged with the seeming jumble of terms, acronyms, and phrases that make up a typical WordPress installation. An experienced WordPress website owner may not give a second thought to this jungle of words, but a new WordPress website owner may be daunted by terms like ‘taxonomy’ and ‘shortcode.’

Here at WebDevStudios, we commonly work with newcomers to WordPress and non-technical stakeholders that do not have time to trek through the jungle of jargon, so we have put together a helpful list of some of the most common terms a website owner may run into.

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Leading Your Team To Success

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A leader is someone who demonstrates what’s possible.

-Mark Yarnell

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Can you describe a great leader in your life? You may be thinking of someone who is a super intelligent, strategic, captivating genius. That’s what makes a good leader, right? Not…well, not always. Demonstrating leadership can be achieved through just a few key elements: clear guidance, communication, accountability and most importantly, trust.

Any and every company, team, and project, benefits from a strong leader. Leadership guides the project from initiation to completion, and acts as the glue that keeps the team unified. So what core leadership skills lead to success?

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Using Storytelling for Better User Experience

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Storytelling has been around before the first word was ever penned on a piece of parchment. It has evolved with us and influenced the culture around us. Stories are consumed in a myriad of different ways, and the digital age just gives us more options–from long blog posts to 140 character tweets; old photo albums to fifteen second snapchats.

Storytelling can also be used on your website to connect with users and increase engagement. A website with a well–thought out hierarchy, carefully crafted content, and user-first approach to design can tell a story that people will remember and share with others. Do you remember the first time you watched a video on YouTube? You probably couldn’t wait to share the experience of watching hilarious cat videos with your friends! YouTube had created a method for people to share their stories, and contained that inside their own storytelling framework. With a net worth of over 70 billion dollars, I’d venture that this tactic is still working out for them. Before we dive into how to use this strategy on your own site, let’s look at why it’s so successful.

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Monotasking: Stay Focused by Doing One Thing at a Time


There are a lot of benefits of working from home. Your commute is really easy, often you can make your own hours, you have a lot more flexibility in your day-to-day schedule if (and when) emergencies come up, and it’s perfect for self-motivated individuals who don’t want or need someone looking over their shoulder and checking up on them to make sure they are keeping on task.

When I worked an office job doing Windows Server phone support for a major grocery chain, there were two primary applications I had open and that’s it. One of them was Outlook that only received work email and when I left work, I had no way of accessing that email (outside of a company-issued Blackberry that I only used when I was on call). The other application was a ticketing system where issues were sent to my team for us to address. My day-to-day job generally involved going through submitted tickets, calling stores, and connecting to servers to investigate the issue, and going to occasional meetings with my team or the office. There wasn’t a whole lot of email usage, but what there was was usually relevant to my job.

When working from home, there’s a lot more bleeding between work and life. It’s much harder to leave work at work when your office is in your house. I quit that office job eight years ago and have been working from home ever since. I have to be honest, it can be a challenge. It’s still difficult navigating work and life when emergencies come up, like when my car broke down on a trip to California and I had to deal with a mechanic in Nevada for three weeks before having to figure out a way to get it shipped back to Utah for repair. But, despite the difficulties, it can be done, and I’d like to share a single tip that I use to stay focused. It’s called monotasking.

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WordCamp Los Angeles is Nearly HERE!

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It’s that time again, folks! Another WordCamp is rounding the corner, and this time, it’s a biggie! WordCamp Los Angeles 2015 is coming up September 26th – 27th and you guessed it–we’ll be there!

Although I find it hard to believe that any of our regular readers are unfamiliar with WordCamp (come on, now!), for those of you that are completely green: WordCamps are events held all over the world where WordPress nerds unite to share their skills, insights, and learn a whole lot from a bunch of other smarties.

Our cool kids Brianna and Ryan will be there, as will Scott Bolinger from AppPresser, so make sure you say hi.

If you’re gonna be at WordCamp LA, here’s what you won’t want to miss:

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Using Sass to Manage Layers with z-index

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On a recent project, I started to feel a bit overwhelmed with managing numerous layers with z-index. The thing about z-index is that all of the layers have to be in order, so I end up with multiple z-index declarations in multiple files all over the place. It’s also hard to keep track of the numbers; bump one up and you have to go bump all the others up as well. It gets a bit tedious, especially when you have numerous layers. This can all be fixed with a little bit of Sass, and here’s how to do it!

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How to Make Your Work Retreat 100% Awesome


WDS Camp is almost OVER! If you follow any of our resident dorks on Twitter, you’ve probably already seen us going nuts with the #WDSCamp hashtag–so you already know.

While I’d worked remotely before, I’d never been a part of a telecommuting team that prioritizes the face to face and certainly never worked for a company that insisted on having this particular kind of meet and greet. There are a lot of things that were done right, but here are the three that struck me as the most notable contributing factors that made for an amazing WDS Camp (and, if you want to make your work retreat just as incredible, things you should consider too):

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