“This won’t help anyone else yet. It’s not ready.”

For me, this sentiment is the number one thing standing in my way of being helpful. It occurs to me how odd that thought really is when I get a glimpse of it from the right perspective. Really—if something is helpful for me right now, isn’t it likely it could help someone else?

As if it’s going to really be ready once I build in that one more thing. Maybe. Probably not, though. It’s more likely it’ll never be ‘ready’.

The thing is, I’m always telling folks to share what they can. I’m constantly encouraging people to share what they’ve built, make it public, and remember that it’s always going to have been better to give what you could.

It’s hard, though—relative anonymity affords people the opportunity to be unspeakably rude on the web. I’m always concerned my code isn’t efficient enough, or secure enough, or structured well enough.

But, I also told myself I probably wouldn’t be a good public speaker because I rant too much. Turns out, embracing those rants and organizing them in presentations that suit my personality made them helpful for others. I’m glad I gave it a shot.

I doubted that my simple mobile application that solved my own needs would be of much use to others. Turns out, about 30,000 people have thought it was worth a download, and I consistently hear from friends that the app has become a part of their daily routine. I’m glad I put it out there.

The more I can systematically confront those odd moments of fear, the more I find myself in conversations with folks who tell me that I helped them. So, let’s really go for it, shall we? Here are all three of my most recent ‘releases’ to GitHub with short explanations of why they might be useful—and also what I see as their shortcomings.

Archetype WordPress ThemeArchetype: a WordPress Starter Theme

I’ve been using Standard Theme as a base for a while now. Knowing that there won’t be any updates, I forked it into what I wanted it to be: a bare-bones starting point for Bootstrap projects. Yes, there are other options out there, but they tend to come with too many “enhancements” for my taste. After using this theme successfully on several projects, I decided to release it.

I usually pair it with a litany of other plugins to add functionality as needed. One thing I love using with more savvy clients are these Bootstrap shortcodes, which I’ve put into a plugin that I’m releasing now as well.

I see Archetype helping folks in one or both of two ways: being a base for your child theme, or being a fork-able repo for your theme. While this isn’t a difficult theme to implement, it is certainly not plug-and-play.

After 5+ successful projects (both personal and professional) with this theme at the helm, I was confident enough to go ahead and tell folks about it. It’s helped me tremendously, but that’s because it’s custom-tailored to my workflow. I’m worried it’ll be awkwardly in between a theme ‘framework’ and usable theme.

I’ve also been quickly spinning up child themes for Archetype and building better workflows to go with them, like using LESS and testing and compiling all my styles and scripts using Grunt. None of that’s evident here, because the idea was supposed to be to keep the cruft to a minimum. I do hope to release a child theme for it sometime soon.

Update: I released a child theme boilerplate. 🙂

Bootstrap Shortcodes WordPress Plugin

Simply, this plugin uses shortcode syntax in WordPress posts, pages, etc. to enable lots of Bootstrap features. You can do most anything from using the grid-based layouts to buttons to collapse and tab elements.

I’ve been using this consistently with the Archetype theme (and Standard before it). I know a verbal portion of the WordPress community hates (hates!) using shortcodes like this, but I’ve found it to be helpful for myself and for clients who are a bit more savvy—it allows for rapid changes in layout without needing a new template file. It’s also going to be mildly confusing if someone doesn’t read the documentation, but, hey, what else is new.

Nivo Lightbox WordPress Plugin

A simple, flexible, responsive, retina-ready jQuery lightbox plugin. See http://dev7studios.com/nivo-lightbox for more info.

…built for WordPress! Out of the box, this will run on any link (<a>) that contains an image (<img>). It also groups WordPress galleries by default.

I built this really quickly a couple of weeks ago because I loathe most lightbox plugins—they’re usually clunky and full of unnecessary options and clutter. They also usually ruin a mobile experience. Nivo Lightbox is a perfect solution, but there wasn’t an easy way to use it in a WordPress installation. With this plugin, it’s pretty easy to get things up-and-running quickly. The tough part comes when you need to customize what’s selected to be ‘lightboxed’ by the plugin: I haven’t built out an options page (yet), so you need to be able to get into the code to make the magic happen.

I hope you enjoy these resources, and I hope I’ve been an encouragement to you.

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October 3, 2013 — Leave a comment — In Blog, Development, Git, Resources, WordPress