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29. February 2016

AMP-WP Tweaks & Tips

The AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages Project) plugin for WordPress is still pretty young and under heavy development.

There are little things that can help to fix current validation problems. I have a couple of fresh AMP pages, that are already indexed by Google.

0. RESOURCES


1. MISSING IMAGE (schema.org-NewsArticle)

The currently registered Microformats template (schema.org-NewsArticle) requires an image.
The AMP-WP documentation explains how to add a featured image to your pages (documentation).

I extended that a bit,  to link a default attachment image, I uploaded before. This needs to be added to your themes functions.php.

Next we adjust the Microformats definition. This needs to be added to your themes functions.php.


2. ADD YOUR OWN AMP TEMPLATE

Read the AMP-WP documentation first :) This forces AMP-WP to override the core template with your own. Use the default template as a reference.


3. REMOVE NONE VALIDATING CONTENT

Normally the core sanitizer should take care of that.  I am sure a filter will be added in the future. For now, this is a quick workaround. You can use a RegExp or DOMDocument to alter the amp-content in your custom template and filter things that break validation.

I am using phpQuery for now, as it allows me to add quick fixes. DOMNode or QueryPath works nicely as well :) Will be looking at the core sanitizer and options later this week. All of this is currently added to the custom template.

  1. Remove REL attributes that are not allowed. Only registered Microformat rel attributes are allowed.
  2. Remove attribute ALIGN
  3. Fix TARGET Attribute

Finally output the fixed content as HTML.

The above examples need to be tweaked to your specific content requirements.

The custom template “post_amp_content” before:

The custom template “post_amp_content” after:


4. ADD PREVIOUS & NEXT POST NAVIGATION

From the AMP specification :”Note, that AMP document may also be linked to directly…”

This is being added to the custom template as well.

Next:

Previous:


5. SYNTAX HIGHLIGHTING

You can find a simple pure PHP highlighter here. Not perfect, but a start. Don not forget to include the CSS :)

 

I will extend on this as new validation errors or tweaks come up. The core sanitizer of AMP-WP still needs some work and should allow us to do some of the above directly, when the content is parsed / converted for AMP.


 

 6. OTHER AMP ARTICLES

Make Syntax Highlighting work in AMP-WP using GeSHi

Time to get AMP ready

 

Enjoy coding …

 

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26. February 2016

Time to get AMP ready

Google’s AMP is here to save us from slow mobile content delivery, by enforcing strict standards and limiting what is allowed within AMP pages. The pages only allow a subset of tags and introduce their own tags for fast prefetching of content (images, videos … AMP Specs)

THIS IS AMP

“The Accelerated Mobile Pages (“AMP”) Project is an open source initiative that came out of discussions between publishers and technology companies about the need to improve the entire mobile content ecosystem for everyone – publishers, consumer platforms, creators, and users.

Today, the expectation is that content should load super fast and be easy to explore. The reality is that content can take several seconds to load, or, because the user abandons the slow page, never fully loads at all. Accelerated Mobile Pages are web pages designed to load instantaneously – they are a step towards a better mobile web for all.”

AMP CACHE & VALIDATION

AMP pages are cached within the AMP Cache, providing even faster delivery of your content. The core libs validate your implementation and highlight any problems by pushing errors to the console.

INTEGRATION

The documentation lists all components currently supported within a page and experimental components in development as well.

  1. Introduction to AMP
  2. Video Introduction
  3. AMP for WordPress
  4. AMP Docs
  5. Q&A Video

I have already added AMP support to our blog posts:

  1. Standard page
  2. AMP page

Google’s Webmaster Tools also integrates a new section for AMP, to see how they perform.

WHAT AMP IS NOT

AMP is not supposed to replace your webpage, but offer a faster access point to presented content. It will not solve all use cases, but offer better performance for your simple reading pleasure for now. Its a start and lets see how it evolves ;)

Enjoy coding …

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Simple way to do some Visual Composer Grid cleanup, when you are using Bootstrap within your theme. This removes and cleans up classes.

Visual Composer for WordPress
Bootstrap / Bootstrap Sass

Enjoy coding …

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18. February 2016

Serializing to JSON

VALID JSON (JavaScript Object Notation)

JSON validator – JSONLint / JSONFormatter

PURE JS CONVERSION

Polyfill for older browsers – JSON3

PHP CONVERSION

Make sure content within the object complies to UTF-8, if not encode it before !

Even DateTime is nicely encoded :)

Enjoy coding …

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Depending from where you want to access the page, post or custom post-type data, it might not always be available that easily.

WordPress provides an option to get your data through the page-slug.

The function is called get_page_by_path.

Enjoy coding …

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2. February 2016

LMS meets SaaS

As I said before, Learning Management is really taking off and I get many client requests to do some kind of  integration or custom solution for them.

In one of my latest articles I started listing solutions for WordPress, WordPress and the LMS universe.

But those solutions might not always be the best fit for your project. Many of them actually try too hard to be everything. The amount of cross linked functionality is getting insane and increases the point of failure.

In some cases a trimmed down solid solution might be the better way to go. SaaS (Software as a Service), part of the cloud trend, is providing more and more options, this includes the LMS arena. Stop worrying about the software and concentrate on your content again. The SaaS provider takes care of functionality, support, updates and delivery. This is nothing new, solutions like TalentLMS or Litmos LMS offer this for some time now.

Modern SaaS solutions provide Public APIs, that allow you to seamlessly integrate them with your current solution. So in case of a LMS, that part of your project could be handled by the SaaS provider, while e-commerce, social and other content areas remain under your full control.

One solution I am currently looking at is Intuo, which is a fresh startup out of Gent / Belgium. They provide a solid set of features and a clean API to handle single signons and content access. That would allow a seamless integration into WordPress for example :)

We are looking at a very crowded LMS market, but always nice to have options :)

Enjoy coding …

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1. February 2016

Parse Alternatives

Now that Parse is phasing out (01/2017), people are looking for alternatives that offer:

  • Data Storage
  • Push Notifications
  • Usage Analytics
  • Dashboard
  • Social Integration
  • User Administration
  • Cloud Code Integration
  • Multiple Mobile Platform SDKs
  • Background Jobs
  • Crash Report

Collaborative list of Parse alternative backend service providers @ GitHub

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  • All PayPal IPN data is saved and available in your WordPress admin panel.
  • Developer hooks are provided for triggering events based on the transaction type or payment status of the IPN.
  • Extend the plugin with your own plugins or theme functions

Author: Andrew Angell

BitBucket Repo

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In the past 2 years, the e-Learning market has been exploding. Online Learning Management Systems (LMS) have become very popular, to build e-learning platforms.

They not only offer text based content, quizzes, assignment management, course evaluation, social features, but also allow the integration of video, audio and other linked content.  Many support SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model), allowing the exchange of learning content and results.

THE LMS UNIVERSE

Over the past few years, I have been helping clients to build or transform their e-learning platforms.  Sometimes its better to build a customized LMS solution from scratch :), than tweak or customize an offered solution. It all depends on the features you want to see integrated and on the budget available ;)

In this article I want to share current solutions offered for WordPress.

I will divide them into themes and plugins for now. In the future I plan do some feature comparison as well :

  • Theme based or Standalone Plugin (standalone might be preferred)
  • Course functionality (course, units, quizzes sections …)
  • Course linking / Course Groups / Exclusive courses
  • Course categories
  • Course Evaluation
  • Course curriculum
  • Course timeline
  • Course reviews & ratings
  • Course Stats
  • Free courses
  • Variable pricing
  • Course notes / Comments
  • Course Admin area
  • Course Frontend creation
  • Assignment functionality
  • Certificates
  • Messaging
  • Custom Email Templates
  • Course Events
  • BuddyPress Integration
  • BBPress Integration
  • WooCommerce integration
  • Import & Export functionality
  • Login
  • Student profiles
  • Instructor frontend interface

 

PLUGINS

These are standalone plugins, that provide LMS functionality and integrate into your WordPress themes. Ease of integration and options differ.

  1. LearnDash
  2. Sensei
  3. LearnPress  (new – 2015)
  4. WP Courseware
  5. LifterLMS
  6. Namaste! LMS
  7. CoursePress

THEMES

These themes mostly dependent on one of the plugins above or offer only a simple subset of LMS functionality.

  1. eLearning WP (new – 2015 / LearnPress)
  2. Derrick
  3. Guru
  4. Academy
  5. LMS
  6. Clever Course
  7. LMS Press
  8. EduLMS
  9. Skillfully
  10. iKnow
  11. University
  12. Invent
  13. Sensei themes
  14. Clever Course

THEME & PLUGIN

Integrated solutions,  that are supposed to offer a tight integration of WordPress, theme and its own plugins.

  1. WPLMS (started the revolution at Envato)
    One thing that sets WPLMS apart from many of the above is the frontend interface. So instructor tasks happen on the frontend not in the WP Admin. Also when it comes to assignments, WPLMS is currently the best solution. Even if the assignment management is not yet perfect, its better than what many of the other solutions offer.

Enjoy coding …

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IoT is the current buzz word and I will be doing some more tinkering with current solutions this year. I have done projects with ArduinoRaspberry Pi and looking into relayr / Wunderbar right now.

relayr provides a tech stack with Wunderbar, that easily connects included sensors with the cloud. They provide a wide range of API endpoints to collect data and even integrate hardware solutions like Arduino orRaspberry Pi.

“The WunderBar is built for software developers. It is a powerful rapid prototyping and product development tool that enables developers to immediately start creating products and solutions that utilise the Internet of Things, without any prior hardware knowledge. No soldering or electronic engineering experience is needed. Just choose what sensors you need for your project and start coding.”

relayrWunderbar

Starterkit should arrive next week …

Enjoy coding …

 

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