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WordPress Tools and Resources

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Over the past few months I have come across an enormous amount of resources and tools for every aspect of working with WordPress. This is another one of the benefits of Open Source (a large number of contributors), however the down side can be that there’s no central ‘management’ or quality control over these. It is my hope to offer some direction to the novice and journeyman (journeyperson?) alike.

“…but the plugins author will provide instructions. If not, go poop on their lawn…”

I’m going to start with a list of tools I use, and feel confident recommending:

And here are a few recommendations for the Mac from Yvonne:

  • Bare Bones Software’s Text Wrangler – “Priceless. Couldn’t survive without it…
  • Cyberduck / RBrowser for Mac: “Although Cyberduck is a lot more preferred by OSX users, I find the rBrowser demo faster and cleaner…

Yvonne has also written a companion piece from the perspective of, well, someone who demands we all bow to her PowerBook ;’) Here it is: A fangirl and her requisite Mac App list.

Resources for before you install WordPress:

Resources for problems during or right after the installation:

If you’re up and running then here’s some more stuph that might be timely:

As soon as possible:

  1. Delete the default/automatic ‘first post’. It’s a neon sign for spam-bots (“LOOK! NooB Blog!”)
  2. Delete wp-admin/install.php
  3. Delete wp-admin/upgrade.php

Now we’re ready to address some day-to-day issues. First is uploading/posting images, so this is a good time to understand a little bit about WordPress and uploading:

About now, and several times in the future, you will need to check paths, directories, files and using FTP is the preferred method. That’s where FileZilla comes in, so here’s some guides (with cute pictures too!):

  • Using FileZilla at the codex
  • Podz’ Using FileZilla (for chmod, permissions)

In FileZilla, don’t forget to setup your text editor as the default by going to Edit:Settings:Interfaces Settings:File Viewing/Editing and enter C:\WINDOWS\Notepad2.exe or browse to your ascii text editor.

Now is a good time to check your permissions. We will start with the ideal settings of 755 (drwxr-xr-x) for all directories, and 644 (-rw-r--r--) for all files. The only exception to these will be your wp-content/uploads/ directory, as noted above. There are other exceptions for certain plugins, but the plugins author will provide instructions. If not, go poop on their lawn. Once done with this and the deletion of install.php and upgrade.php you have ‘hardened’ your WordPress install.

But what about SPAM? Whether your popular or not, all it takes is one post and you will, eventually have attempts at sending your site ping/trackback spam. There is a two-fold approach for WordPress that will effectively stop 99% of SPAM dead in it’s tracks. Here it is:

  • Bad Behavior stops spam and suspicious looking bots before WordPress is even ‘touched’, saving precious CPU cycles and db queries.
  • Akismet catches anything that makes it past Bad Behavior, and holds it in moderation if it is suspect. At that point, you can mark it as NOT spam, delete it or let it decay naturally (auto-deleted after 2 weeks).

Now we have a good foundation for your future work/production. Now, before you write a bunch of articles, setup your permalinks (Apache-style servers only). Pick a flavor you’re comfortable with (I recommend /%category%/%postname%/). And now would be a good idea to setup some tagging. I use Ultimate Tag Warrior and have found it to be robust and adaptable.

To avoid timeouts, blank pages and long waits when posting, install No Ping Wait, which will ‘offload’ the ping/notification services (Note: author’s site bit the dust, but you can download it here.

For more SEO ‘friendliness’ I found myself using Optimal Title so my article title is featured prominently. For Social Bookmarking I installed Sociable (if you have validation problems, there is a copy here that also includes the Technorati link missing in the distribution).

Now you should be ready for posting and not regretting having set something up “earlier”!

The next step is beautification, prettifying and making your theme/layout/interface the way you like it. Take a look at this theme collection and browse around, try a few flavors. Some great themes with a low-overhead, professional appearance can be found here as well. I love widgets, so now I’ll take the time to mention: Try to get a widget-enabled theme.

Here are some handy color/theme/css/position resources and information:

I do consider this a ‘living’ document and will be making corrections and additions as needed.

As usual, feedback and corrections are welcome!

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Posted in Computers, Things, widgets, WordPress
11 comments on “WordPress Tools and Resources
  1. Yvonne says:

    Delete the default/automatic first post . It’s a neon sign for spam-bots (“LOOK! NooB Blog!”)

    LOL. Excellent post Sam.

    If I may, I’d like to add a few extra resources for WordPress bloggers that you left out (think of the Mac children!)

    – The CSS Viewer extension: I think there’s a similar function in the Web developer extension, but this one’s simpler, and I use it pretty much every day.

    – The X-ray FF extension is useful too.

    – Text Wrangler for Mac: priceless. Couldn’t survive without it.

    – Cyberduck / rBrowser for Mac: although Cyberduck is a lot more preferred by OSX users, I find the rBrowser ‘demo’ faster and cleaner.

    And kudos for linking to Podz’s and Urban Giraffe’s tutes – I learnt a lot from them myself :)

  2. Sam says:

    Thanks Yvonne! I really appreciate the Mac suggestions and will include them above ;’)

    I occasionally use CSS Viewer and X-Ray as well, but I worry about ‘losing’ people with too much information… Let me mull that one a bit ;’)

  3. Yvonne says:

    Sam, it appears my trackback didn’t work :(

    I finally found the time to do the companion piece for Mac users!

    Here it is =)

  4. Phil Nash says:

    Sam, great list of resources, probably something I should have read before setting my own blog up!

    I’m away from my main computer right now, but I will certainly be back to read over and implement some of these ideas. I mean, I’ve been meaning to get hold of the web developer extension for Firefox for ages!

    Can I recommend the HTML Validator extension too. It saves using the W3C validator as you can see whether your code is valid with a glance to the corner of the browser.

    Thanks again for the great list of resources!

  5. A trully worthwhile guide!
    Enjoyed it quite a lot and it helped me get on my feet fast with WordPress. Once again, thanks.

  6. Alex says:

    Thanks for the tips Sam.

    I use FireZilla now, this is definitely the most useful Firefox extension I’ve ever installed. Light but yet very powerful and stable. Thanks again !

  7. Noah says:

    Great list of resources. Under your “before installation” area, you might give wpzipper.com a try. It lets you pick and chose which plugins you want in your WordPress installation zip file and then generates it for you on the fly. All the plugins you select are automatically put in the correct folder inside the zip, which simplifies things a bit.

    I would greatly appreciate any feedback you could give on this free tool.

  8. wiertnice says:

    Thank You Yvonne! I really appreciate the Mac suggestions and will include them above ;’)

    I occasionally use CSS Viewer and X-Ray as well, but I worry about ‘losing’ people with too much information… Let me mull that one a bit.

  9. Best Website Builder says:

    Wow, so many tools to be installed. is there any wordpress package that come fully loaded with all possible plugins?

  10. Stas says:

    Hi.

    I suggest everyone to try new free PHP IDE – Codelobster PHP Edition with special plug-in for WordPress.

    Regards,Stas.

  11. clod says:

    See also free HTML and PHP editor – Codelobster with special plug-in for WordPress.

    Edit: corrected stas’ name/link above

5 Pings/Trackbacks for "WordPress Tools and Resources"
  1. Nexthought : What are you using for your blog? › says:

    [...] If you decide to use WordPress as well, this site is a great resource for getting started. [...]

  2. [...] The website of Sam Devol – Running With Scissors – is fast becoming a great repository of information for newcomers to WordPress with an abundance of step by step advice, troubleshooting tips and links to other sites that deal with specific issues. Sam is a regular on the WP support forum and has helped me out a few times in the past, including one or two fixes for some sloppy code, and he knows his stuff. It’s just a shame that so much of this useful material has to be hunted down outside of the official WordPress Codex. [...]

  3. A list of essentials for the diehard Mac blogger » nektros - Cynicism in a Hot Dish says:

    [...] WordPress guru Sam Devol has written a great post detailing his must-have and must-read WordPress tools and resources. His suggestions for Firefox extensions, WordPress plugins and online WordPress tutorials are excellent – however, I couldn't help but point out that his suggestions for Mac users were too typical. Too typical meaning, as usual, too damn non-existent. [...]

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Well, I’m going to investigate the trapdoor. Xander and Spike, you go look for Sam Devol.