Countdown Timer v2.4

Just over a year ago I released Countdown Timer v2.3.5. I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to participate many great things over the last year, which is probably why there hasn’t been an release since.

Anyway, I’ve been slaving away at this release for the last three weeks:

Weeks of 2010 - Blue = Internet Applications (i.e. Chrome, Firefox, IE); Red = Development Applications (i.e. Dreamweaver); Tan = Utilities (i.e. PuTTY, FileZilla, etc)
Weeks of 2010 - Blue = Internet Applications (i.e. Chrome, Firefox, IE); Red = Development Applications (i.e. Dreamweaver); Tan = Utilities (i.e. PuTTY, FileZilla, etc)

I probably spent close to twenty hours, committed over 50 revisions, and had 865 lines changes in the core code1. For all this change behind the scenes, you expect to see some changes in the actual interface. Amazingly not.

Most of the work had to do with bringing the code up to WordPress 2.9/3.0 standards. This will ensure that this plugin continues to work well in to the future. As well as trying to keep up with best practices for WordPress Plugin coding.

The other major update dealt with adding CSS hooks to the html elements so that they can be customized better/more fully. In doing this, I also rewrote part of fergcorp_countdownTimer_format to make it less repetitive. This, unfortunately, caused a minor issue with using the [fergcorp_cdt_single date="ENTER_DATE_HERE"] shortcode that has the li-element included; I’ll fix that in a dot-dot release (i.e. 2.4.1).

The settings for Countdown Timer moved the WordPress Tools to Settings in the Admin Menu and you only need to be an Options Manager instead of Administrator to update the options. I think the only other change worth mentioning is that there is now an option to parse shortcodes in the_excerpt. Note that enabling this functionality will parse all shortcodes, not just ones related to Countdown Timer.

As per tradition:

Read more or download version 2.4!


  1. There’s only 1000 source lines of code [SLOC] to begin with, so this is sort of substantial 

The Birth of a Site: Andrew Ferguson Photography

In a few short days, I’ll be releasing the next step in my photographic endeavor: my official photography website. I’ve spent about two weeks working on the site, which, for me, is quite a bit of time. But I wanted to get it right. Every one who I’ve showed it to thus far has said that it look very professional. I thought I would spend some time discussing how I went about developing the site, in the hopes that it might be interesting to someone.

For a while now, I’ve maintained a Portfolio Set on Flickr. Recently, I used some slick software from Airtight Interactive called SimpleViewer, combined with a PHP script called FlickrViewer (which makes API calls to Flickr and creates the necessary files SimpleViewer needs), to launch a cleaner version of my portfolio: https://andrewferguson.net/portfolio/.

After my Photographer for Hire post from a couple weeks ago, I wanted an even slicker site that was dedicated (in part) to the type of photography I was targeting (i.e. portraits). Originally, my first though was to use this awesome WordPress theme that I’d recently heard about: Monotone. In a nutshell, the color of the site is based on the first picture of the blog post. There were a couple of issues with this method, however. First, the theme was really only designed to handle one image per a blog post (seriously, all the other images were stripped out). Second, I didn’t want to divide my blogging between two sites. Third, I had to manually upload photos that I had already put on Flickr; I wanted to be able to just pull them in from Flickr. So after about a week of messing around, I decided to abandon the WordPress-based site and go home brew.

I already had SimpleViewer working with Flickr, and I knew that Airtight Interactive had another similar program called AutoViewer. So I decided to use that as my starting point. I took my current portfolio viewer…
inspiration
…and designed a main page around that. I got out a piece of paper and drew the following:

boxes

Three boxes. But what about content? I took a quick trip around some of my favorite photo sites and wrote down all the links they had, then dutifully narrowed them down to three categories: photos, about me, and cost. I decided that I’d divide photos into portraits and landscapes (although really it should be “pictures of people” and “pictures not of people”). From three boxes to four boxes: Portraits, Landscapes, Rates, Andrew.

Using Photoshop, I mocked up the following:
afdi

I really wish I had screenshots of all the interim steps. Instead, you’ll just have to trust me that this wasn’t a straight forward processes.

With a design in the bag, I started the process of converting image to code. First I coded the main page. It’s all done with DIV tags and CSS. It was really just a matter of specifying the size of each element box and then making the whole thing float in the middle with some margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; magic. I created a couple of PHP functions to distribute common code elements, primarily the XHTML above and below the BODY tag. And that was pretty much it.

From that, I coded the rates and about me page. The portraits and landscape page was pretty much already in the bag, I just had to tweak the FlickrViewer code (which took longer then anticipated and involved a pretty heavy rewrite of the existing code, but that’s another story). I showed it to some people and got some feedback, incessantly tweaking every little detail until I finally had something that I thought was good:
afdi-final
I think it’s rather remarkable how close the final design is to the mockup. I’ve tested it across several browsers and everything seems to be in order, including fully XHTML 1.0 Transitional and CSS compliant.

Google Analytics are in place to track my stats; and using Google Webmaster Tools I’ve made the powers that be aware of my site. I also took the opportunity to upload a sitemap, which I generated using an online sitemap generator.

There’s just a couple more things to wrap up before I officially launch, so check back on Saturday for the official launch of Andrew Ferguson Photography.

Questions?