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  • Import/Export issues between MySQL 5.1 and 5.5+

    There have been many advances in recent history that make a WordPress developer’s life easier. WordPress itself is already pretty easy as it’s very tolerant of a myriad of hosting environments. To make things easier for local setup, there’s a fantastic product called DesktopServer by ServerPress which will quickly and easily set up a multitude of local WordPress sandboxes to hack on. DesktopServer currently ships with MySQL 5.1 which is A-OK because WordPress requires version 5.0 or greater.

    When setting up a new development environment, we typically use WP Migrate DB Pro (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!) to download the latest database data from staging or production into our local sandboxes. Other ways work just as well, like exporting from phpMyAdmin (or native mysqldump) and then using interconnect/it Search and Replace. WP Migrate DB Pro is just so easy because it does everything in one step.

    However, a problem reared its head recently while exporting from WPEngine (which currently uses MySQL 5.6) to DesktopServer. [Read more...]

    Hack to remove numbers from Jetpack sharing (sharedaddy) buttons

    In June 2014, the whole 9seeds crew assembled at WordCamp Orange County 2014. While this has nothing to do with sharing buttons, I wanted to point it out since our remote work environments prevent us from getting together more than once a year. Thanks Orange County, the weather couldn’t have been nicer!

    At the conference, one compelling talk was about Social Media Strategies by Sarah Wefald. She has great real-world social media experience, working with bands – arguably the best use of social media. She’s also a punk-rock karaoke star.

    [Read more...]

    Finding Work/Life Balance as a Remote Worker

    We’ve all said it 1000 times, “I love what I do because I can do it from anywhere.” It’s the dream of pretty much every developer… travel the world and work from exotic locations. But if you’ve ever tried it, you’ve probably figured out that it’s a LOT of work.

    At 9seeds, we all work remotely. Most of us work from home offices, co-working facilities or the occasional coffee shop. But, one of the guys on our team, Jon Brown, just spent 4 months traveling the globe and working along the way. Other than some challenges with scheduling times to chat, you’d almost not have noticed he wasn’t sitting at home working.

    This past weekend at WordCamp Orange County, Jon gave a talk where he discussed finding the work/life balance as a remote worker. It was a great session and made me realize two things; 1) It IS a lot of work, 2) It sounds like the hard work is absolutely worth the effort!

    Finding Focus

    In late December we were wrapping up our biggest quarter to date as a company. As we all took some time off for the holidays, it gave us time to take a serious look at the product side of our business. We had a small number of premium plugins that we made available for sale, and several other free plugins that we were also maintaining. As we headed in to the new year, we wanted to make sure that our time and energy was being spent wisely. As I’m sure you can relate to, when we pulled back the curtains, we realized that we were definitely spread thin.

    When you’re evaluating what projects to keep and which to kill, you have to take a lot in to consideration. Income, potential income, investments in both time and money, and one of the most important elements that I think we lost sight of, personal interest in the project. Even though we were working hard one of our projects, our passion for the product itself, just like Elvis, had left the building.

    Throwing away a lot of work
    In early February we made a decision that should have been made much earlier. We decided to stop developing the WP Event Ticketing plugin. The finial decision was easy to make. Getting to the point of making the decision wasn’t as easy.

    We had spent countless hours over the previous 2-3 years building the plugin, including a complete rewrite that we’d been working on for much of the past year. The thought of throwing that all away was painful. So painful that it kept us from making the final decision for more than a month after we already knew what the right thing to do was. But then…

    Revelation time
    Have you ever gone to bed thinking about a problem and had the answer hit you so hard at 3 in the morning that you sit bolt upright in bed and shout, “Booya, Bitches!” OK, maybe that’s not what you shouted, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I shouted.

    I was forced awake with a single thought:

    Every minute we spend writing code, answering a support ticket or even thinking about the Event Ticketing plugin is one more minute that we are not focusing on our clients or the other products.

    That was it. The switch had been flipped. When I got to my desk I made the, now very easy, call to shut it all down. It felt like a weight had been lifted.

    You’re never done cleaning house
    That moment of clarity has come in handy a few times since then. But none more so than when we received an email asking if we would be interested in selling the WP Affiliate Manager plugin. Honestly, it wasn’t something we had given much thought to. But here we were faced with an opportunity to narrow our focus once again.

    Previous to 9seeds, I spent a decade working for a company that made the bulk of it’s income from affiliate marketing. The affiliate plugin seemed like a natural fit for us to build. But, affiliate marketing isn’t something we do much of these days, so there has been a decline in the amount of energy we’ve put in to the affiliate plugin recently. After some serious consideration, we came to the conclusion that selling WP Affiliate Manager was too good an opportunity for everybody involved that we simply couldn’t pass it up.

    The new owners have a list of short and long term goals for the product that will breath new life in to it. We are excited to see where they take it.

    Time to focus
    As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Time Tracker is a product that I use literally every single day. It’s a tool we use internally for tracking time we spend working on client projects. We have a nice long list of features and enhancements that we want to add to the plugin. With the sale and transfer of Affiliate Manager complete, I’m thrilled for the additional time that we’ll be able to dedicate to it.

    One question we get asked a lot regarding Time Tracker is if there is a demo of the product they can try out before they purchase. It feels really good to finally be able to answer Yes! You can head over to http://timetrackerdemo.com/ to try out the plugin.

    If you have any questions or feature requests regarding Time Tracker, we’d love to hear from you.

    6 Other Uses for Gravity Forms

    If you ask just about anybody who uses WordPress what their favorite plugin is for contact forms, they’re going to tell you it’s Gravity Forms. If you ask them why, they’ll tell you about how easy it is to set up a fairly complex form with radio buttons, dropdown lists, hidden fields and conditional logic. And they’re right. It easy to do those things. But, if you are only using Gravity Forms for contact forms, you’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

    Here are some other ways we’ve helped our clients while using Gravity Forms.

    1. Grow your mailing list
    add-to-mailinglist

    OK, this one is so simple, you’re going to kick yourself for not doing it a long time ago. Your site already has a contact form, right? Add a checkbox or radio button to the form that asks the question, “Can we add you to our mailing list?” If you use double opt-in for your mailing list, go ahead and default the answer to yes. Next, simply install the add-on plugin to connect your form to MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, or whichever provider you use.

    2. Sell a product
    If you’re looking to build out a shopping cart with a bunch of products, this probably isn’t the answer. But If you have a single product that you’re looking to sell, Gravity Forms is up to the task. Grab the Paypal or Stripe add-on, add a product field to your form and you’ll be ready to start selling in minutes.

    3. Accept guest posts on your site

    guest-post
    Most times when sites tell you they’re looking for guest posters, they tell you to email your article to an editor. I feel sorry for the person who receives those entries. They’re having to do so much extra work. In Gravity Forms you simply need to use the Post Fields options. Add a Title and Body field to your form and then edit the title field’s settings. You’ll be able to mark the incoming posts as Drafts so they won’t be published until after you’ve approved them. If you want to get extra fancy you can also let the guest poster add an image that will be used as the Featured Image.

    You just made the process of accepting and processing guest posts drop-dead simple. Nice work!

    4. Add entries to a custom post type
    gf-event

    (This one is a little more advanced and is targeted more towards the developers in the room.)

    We’ve used this one for a number of clients. One that sticks out most was a client who said, “We’d like to let visitors submit upcoming events to display on our community calendar.” They already had a calendar plugin that used custom post types, so we only needed to create a form that had the proper fields, then use the Gravity Forms + Custom Post Types plugin to sync up the fields. The plugin lets you mark the incoming entries as drafts, making it easy for you to double-check the entries for bogus information before hitting publish. Bingo, you are now crowd sourcing your content!

    5. Connect. To. EVERYTHING.

    gf-to-zap

    This one could probably be a post all by itself. Have you ever heard of zapier.com? Zapier is a service that helps to connect services with other services based on actions being taken. For instance, you can use it to create an entry in Evernote each time somebody fills out a form on your site. Or post to Twitter, or ping you in HipChat, create a document in google Drive, post to Facebook, add files to Dropbox, create a record in Campfire, make a note in Basecamp or Asana… or one of another 100 or so things.

    The setup process for getting Zapier to work with Gravity Forms takes a little doing. I implore you to not assume anything and read the instructions as they’re given. Do one thing out of order and you’re starting over. Grab this add-on and get started.

    While it may be a little tricky to get set up, once you start automating, you’re going to want to automate even more.

    6. Build custom solutions
    gf-custom

    You’ve probably guessed that this one is on the advanced side, but I think it’s too important not to include.

    Event Central was a client who needed a shopping cart that wasn’t a shopping cart. They wanted to give clients the ability to shop like they were about to make a purchase, but instead of a checkout page, they end up at a Gravity Form. We collect a bunch of information about the event and then we use the Gravity Forms hooks & filters to pull in the products that the customer added to their shopping cart. All this information gets stored just like a standard Gravity Form and gets emailed to the appropriate person.

    This scenario is pretty specific, but that’s not important. What IS important is looking at Gravity Forms for all the things that it can do for you that might require a lot of extra work if you had to build it yourself. Data validation, storing the entries in an easy to use format, automated email responses, etc. All that is already built in to Gravity Forms, you simply need to tap in to it.

    Just the beginning

    Gravity Forms is one of the most powerful, most flexible WordPress plugins you’ll find. Our list of 6 uses still barely scratches the surface of everything you can do with it. If you have a custom use for Gravity Forms that you want to share, drop it in the comments. We’d love to hear about it!