Interview: Mike McAlister

I enjoy reading and listening to other theme developers talk about their work. Over the weekend, I listened to an interview with Mike McAlister by Devin Price.

Mike runs his own theme shop, Array.is, and also sells themes on WordPress.com. His themes are well designed and coded, and he’s a pleasure to work with.

If you are interested in knowing more about how Mike runs his company and designs his themes, this interview is for you.

How To Add A Read More Link To Excerpts

By default, the the_excerpt() function adds […] at the end of the excerpt when the post contains more words then the excerpt limit (55 words).

The […] is not clickable, so users don’t have a link below the excerpt to view the full post. So sometimes theme authors simply add a hardcoded link below the excerpt.

The better solution is to use excerpt_more filter:

function fklux_excerpt_more( $more ) {
    return sprintf( '<a href="%1$s" class="more-link">%2$s</a>',
                   esc_url( get_permalink( get_the_ID() ) ),
                   sprintf( __( 'Continue reading %s', 'fklux-text-domain' ), '<span class="screen-reader-text">' . get_the_title( get_the_ID() ) . '</span>' )
                   );
}
add_filter( 'excerpt_more', 'fklux_excerpt_more' );

Here’s the code explanation:

  • Line 1: sprintf() is used to create a string with placeholders. This is more of a code style issue, as it makes for cleaner code compared to concatenating the string.
  • Line 2: get_the_ID() is used to get the ID of the current post. This is cleaner than using the global $post object.
  • Line 2: The post ID is passed to get_permalink() to return the URL of the post. Note that we use esc_url() to escape the return value of get_permalink() before output.
  • Line 3: We use sprintf() to improve the accessibility of the Continue reading text. Overly repetitive links should be avoided, so we add the post title with get_the_title() for screen readers, but hide it from view using the .screen-reader-text CSS class.

First Draft at The New York Times + WordPress

Scott Taylor, also known as wonderboymusic, is a Senior Software Engineer at The New York Times and a prolific WordPress contributor.

His post First Draft at The New York Times + WordPress explains in detail how the new First Draft politics vertical was built using WordPress.

I especially enjoyed the code samples that use the WP_Date_Query class introduced in WordPress 3.7. I have to admit that I was among those people who didn’t really see the usefulness of it. But seeing the code and the uses cases clearly laid out demonstrates how incredibly useful it can be.

An Unexpected Benefit of My Open Source Contributions

As an avid reader, you end up reading a lot of books. Not every book has the same impact on you. Some of them might just have helped you relax before you go to sleep.

But every now and then you read a book that changes your life. For me, one of these books was Designing with Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman.

It not only taught me some of the skills that I used to build my career as a professional software developer. It also awoke my passion for web standards and building websites that are accessible and easy to use for everybody.

Recently, Jeffrey has switched the theme of his WordPress powered blog to Twenty Fourteen.

zeldman_com-twenty-fourteen

People switch themes all the time, but Twenty Fourteen is special for me as it is the second WordPress default theme I contributed to.

Contributing to Open Source software benefits you in a variety of ways. Some benefits come suddenly and unexpected.

Like Jeffrey Zeldman using a theme that I helped to build. He has helped me start a career in web development, and I feel like my contributions to the software he uses is a way of giving back to him.

Erik Spiekermann on Digital Typographic Design

I predict [that] in a few years time, we won’t have a distinction between web design and print design. The way to design is the same, you give content form.

Erik Spiekermann is a designer that I truly admire. His skills when it comes to designing typefaces and using typefaces are just amazing.

In this short interview, Erik Spiekermann specifically talks about typography in digital media. In a short ten minutes, he packs so much wisdom and experience that you can’t walk away from watching this video without being a better designer.