Update Your Outdated WordPress Site

In the last week – I have updated a number of out of date WordPress sites for clients. Some were running WordPress before version 3 (which came out in June 2010 – over 2 years ago). Others were only a point release or two behind. Many clients are nervous about updates, while others want to update every six months. In reality – not keeping up to date should make you more nervous about updating your site and scheduled updates – while they sound nice – do not always work.

Thankfully the reason for all the recent updates were not because of any hacks – the important lesson here is that it is essential to update as soon as possible. Not only will your site be more secure but updating a point release at a time is a lot easier than updating a site from several versions back. Things change, code improves, other code depreciates. Updating your version of WordPress is a lot less painless when you do it often and regularly vs. in an emergency because of a hack.

While updating WordPress is essential – so is keeping up to date with plugins. I recently was brought in to assist with an upgrade which had an outdated version of WordPress along with over 40 plugins that were out of date. (Yes – 40). While most people often “do not want to rock the boat” with plugin updates – these updates are also essential. Plugins also contain security updates which are important.

If you are serious about your web presence – take some time to update WordPress and the plugins as the updates come out. If you are concerned that an update might break some custom functionality – create a backup first and then update. If anything goes wrong – you can always go back to what you had right before the update. If you do not want to worry about updates – consider moving to a WordPress host like WP Engine – who will take care of WordPress updates for you.

Lucidity Catalog Theme for Topspin Artists

I have been working with Topspin for a few years now and recently worked with them to create our theme “Lucidity Catalog” – with their artists in mind. Check out the recent Lucidity Catalog blog post I put together for them on their developers’ blog.

Get Top Parent Category (WordPress)

There are many times when you need to show or get the top most (root) parent category in WordPress – regardless of how many subcategories you might be deep. I have used this logic for page navigation (highlight the top parent tab) – as well as within some custom loops/sidebar code.

They way to do this:

// get parent category slug
$parentCatList = get_category_parents($cat,false,',');
$parentCatListArray = split(",",$parentCatList);
$topParentName = $parentCatListArray[0];
$sdacReplace = array(" " => "-", "(" => "", ")" => "");
$topParent = strtolower(strtr($topParentName,$sdacReplace));	

To test this you can simply put it in your header and echo out $topParent and you will see the “slug” of the category.
If you want to see the category name and not necessarily the slug – you can simply echo $topParentName.

HTML to PDF

We recently finished a project where we had to create a PDF on the fly of the user’s filled out application (~12 pages of data) so they could keep a copy. To do this – I looked at a few libraries out there and then ended up using HTML_toPDF. I had used another script from the same guy who put together HTML_toPDF and thus prompted me to use this one as well. The script works great and our client is very happy. If you ever need this capability – check out HTML_toPDF!