Giving WooCommerce a Try

Just a quick announcement. I’m now using WooCommerce for my eCommerce so please let me know if you have an issue. I was using Cart66 but it makes use of sessions, which are disallowed by WPEngine for both security and performance reasons. my WooCommerce setup looks ugly at the moment because I haven’t had time to work on the styles yet, so bear with me.

WordPress Real Estate Plugin in the Works

Update: If anyone wants an email when this plugin is ready just leave a comment  here. Or shoot me an email at mike(at)www.mikevanwinkle.com. Or subscribe to my feedburner.

Hmmm. So what they hell have I been doing with my time lately. Not blogging, clearly. Well first there’s the day job, I’m trying to keep it :-). Then I’ve been working on a Real Estate plugin built on the PodsCMS framework. (Which incidentally is about to launch version 1.90) Why a plugin based on a plugin? Well Pods creates the power on the database side to build a better real estate listing system than would be possible using custom fields.

Real Estate listings have LOTS of fields, i.e. List Price, Agent, Square Footage, Neighborhood, etc. Sure you could use WP’s native taxonomies for some of these fields, but there are still going to be a lot of Custom Fields like # of beds, # of baths, etc. And try putting together a standard WP Query to filter for 20 custom fields. Damn. I’m just not that much of a pro I guess.

So the plugin will take the power of the pods framework and package it up in a way that you won’t really have to learn anything about pods in order to use it. I’m also adding some custom functions to create listings, display related listings, etc. Hopefully it will prove a valuable plugin to small to mid-size real estate companies looking to showcase their listings.

Full credit, I started the plugin as part of a freelance project for Big Sea Design. Woot! Woot!

Theme Update: OnStage Theme for Actors v1.1.0

So, my OnStage theme has only been out for a couple weeks and already I’m releasing a new version. What gives? Well it occurred to me that a few tweeks were needed. For one, the blog had no side bar which (a) prevented users from browsing archives and (b) eliminated the natural search juice that a sidebar provides. Also, I noticed that some users were not using the proper sized pictures for their frontpage gallery. This resulted in the smaller pictures aligning left and making the whole site look a little off kilter. I’ve now centered the home gallery so that, no matter what size image is used, the images will look nice.

The new version can be downloaded here.

OnStage Theme for Actors

So I am finally ready to release “On Stage,” a theme designed specifically for actors. Aesthetically, I wanted a very simple, yet elegant design that would allow the actor’s headshots to take the focus. I owe Brian Gardner some credit for this theme because the code is based on his Photopress design. This is my first publically released theme, so be gentle. I’ve tried to cross-check this among all the relevant browsers, but haven’t exhaustively done so. Please report any compatibility issue below.

Download Theme | Demo Theme

The theme is free to download, but I am happy to set it up for you for $200. If you are interested, drop me an email at mike@www.mikevanwinkle.com or call 708.289.3136.

Installation

In order to achieve the functionality necessary for a top-notch actor website, it was necessary to incorporate several awesome, and freely available, plugins. Since I did not design these plugins I cannot provide support for them. Also, it would be a good idea to check for more recent versions of these plugins before installing this them. However, I have included all necessary plugins in the theme download. Beware, updated plugins may affect the functionality of the theme.

Step 1: Download the theme pack and unzip the file. The file contains two folders, the theme folder (“onstage”) and the plugins folder (“plugins”)

Step 2: Upload the theme folder to your themes directory (wp-content/themes/). Then upload the CONTENTS of the plugins folder to your plugins directory (note: do not upload the folder itself, only the contents).

Step 3: Activate theme by going to your Dashboard>Designs menu within the wordpress administration interface.

Step 4: Activate the included plugins by going to your Plugins menu within the wordpress administration interface. Activate the “NextGEN Gallery,” “NextGEN Gallery Widget,” “Contact Form,” and “Limit Posts” plugins.

Step 5: You should now see a “Gallery” tab on your Dashboard menu. Click this tab and then click “Add Gallery.” Name your new gallery “Frontpage” so that it will be clear which gallery controls the front page.

Step 6: Upload the images you want shown on the front page into this gallery. You should resize your images to 690 x 400 (width x height)

Step 7: Go to your widgets menu (Dashboard>Designs>Widgets). Make sure the menu in the right-hand column is set to “Sidebar 1.” Then drag and drop the NextGEN Gallery Widget from the left-hand column onto the right-hand column. Click “edit” on the widget bar. !Leave the gallery title blank! Select the “Frontpage” gallery from the drop down menu and set the dimensions to match those of the images you uploaded (690 x 400). Click save changes.

Usage

The steps above describe how to use the headshot gallery on the frontpage. The front page will also display the latest post from the “Featured” category.

If you would like to use the blog function, create a new page and under the option for “Page Template” select “Blog.”

One note on using the gallery. By default the NextGEN Gallery crops photos into uniform square thumbnails. This means profile shots turn out as cropped mid-riff photos. You will need to change the default thumbnail settings if you do not want the system to crop profile photos. You can do this by going to Gallery>Options>Thumbnails and unchecking the box that says “Ignore the aspect ratio, no portrait thumbnails.” Also on this options page, I recommend changing the max dimensions of the thumnails to 150 x 150

Optional: Included in the theme pack are plugins for a secure contact form and resume builder. These are optional. I recommend using the contact form plugin, but the resume plugin may not fit the requires of a typical performance resume and so therefore may not be advised.

Re-Launching “Yes” for Illinois

I know, I know. It’s only been a couple of weeks since we “launched” the site. But I was never happy with the design aspects of it. And since the original launch I discovered an even more powerful theme by Justin Tadlock, this one called “Options.” So I went back and revamped the www.yesforillinois.com using the new theme. While not perfect, it certainly is a dramatic improvement.