Category Archives: General

Foundation for Email

I’m a big fan of using the right tools for the job, especially when those tools can make your life easier. In the case of Foundation for Email, those tools come in the form of a responsive CSS framework for building HTML emails.

Anyone who has ever built a HTML email knows how horrific the experience can be. Email clients haven’t really moved on much in the last 10+ years, Outlook is absolutely woeful, and you need to support web-based clients such as Gmail that have their own quirks.

Foundation for Email is a suite of styles that make building these HTML emails a lot easier. There are a number of different components that can be put together to build responsive email. These components, which you’ll recognise from other CSS frameworks such as Foundation for Sites or Bootstrap, are all tried and tested against all the major email…

Parse Closes Its Doors

Parse has closed its doors and is currently winding down its services.

Parse is a mobile backend as a service (BaaS) provider, which was created in 2011 by a number of ex-Google and Y Combinator employees. Parse was a tool used predominantly by mobile developers – although it could have been used in all sorts of situations other than mobile apps – to provide a suite of tools that most mobile apps use. The idea was to remove the hassle of creating a backend for your mobile app. Lots of mobile developers don’t have the skills or the interest in building and maintaining a scalable database or API that is quick, secure and optimised, which is where Parse came in.

In 2011 Parse gained venture capital of around $5.5M. In 2012 they reported that Parse was used by 20,000 mobile developers in even more apps. Their growth was at…

The State of Play of E-Commerce

Traditionally I am a full-stack developer, focussing on PHP. I work at a development agency, and lots of our clients have e-commerce websites. In fact, much of the Internet is based around e-commerce. That’s why I find it so difficult to understand the current state of play of the e-commerce offering.

PHP is the most popular programming language on the web. Lots of people have beef with PHP, but its popularity is a fact. As such, lets look at the PHP-based e-commerce solutions available.

Magento

Magento is the most popular e-commerce platform on the web. Many e-commerce sites I build are in Magento.

Magento has a few flaws that I would consider pretty major when choosing an e-commerce platform.

It’s slow. This is down to its fundamentally flawed database structure (built on EAV) and architecture (hundreds of XML files). Many major hosting providers won’t even touch a Magento website…

WordPress Hosting Comparison

WordPress Hosting Comparison is a website I launched this week. The website lists the main web hosts in the industry that supply managed hosting. The website doesn’t include providers of what I would deem to be more bare bones systems, where you would receive root access to a (virtual) box, but instead focuses on providers who offer tailored hosting solutions ready to go.

Not all of the providers offer a WordPress-specific hosting option, but many do. However, all of the web hosts and all of the web hosting packages within the comparison will fully support WordPress. Many of the providers have WordPress only packages, and some have WordPress pre-installed and optimised with their own in-house plugins tailored specifically for their own servers.

The website itself is built in Ruby on the Rails framework. I created the website as an opportunity to learn a little more about…

How to Safely Move a WordPress Site

This will technically work with most single-server applications (if you don’t know the difference then you’re probably on a single-server set up), not just WordPress, but as WordPress is pretty popular I’ll talk through that instead.

Moving to a new host can be a little unnerving.  If all goes well your visitors would never know, but on the flip side it can all go terribly wrong very quickly, and there is a lot that can go a miss.  This is a step-by-step guide on how to move your WordPress website from one host to another with no downtime.

Before we begin I’ll assume you have your two hosting environments ready.  Your original hosting environment (we’ll call that environment A) and your new hosting environment (environment B).

1.  Begin downloading a copy of your site via FTP.  Download all the files to somewhere safe on your computer.

2.  Upload these files…

Web Dev Weekly – Well received

Back in March I launched Web Dev Weekly, a weekly email newsletter that tries to combine the week’s latest news and releases from the industry.  I find the newsletter itself quite easy to write as I check industry news websites and articles regularly, so it is simply a case of making a note of the best articles and creating a small write up on them.

I was initially surprised at the interest Web Dev Weekly got, especially on Twitter, and subscribers came in their hundreds.

Getting subscribers is actually quite easy if you don’t care about the quality of them, but I do.  I would much rather have a few hundred people who genuinely find my newsletter interesting and want to read it than hundreds of thousands of people who never open it, or even worse, mark it as spam.

The Figures

My newsletter is sent out using…

How to stay motivated and finish a project

One of the biggest problems facing people of all kinds, not just developers, who start a personal project is the inability to stay motivated from start to finish.  We get bored, we hit problems that cause delays, we lose interest in the project, or something better comes along: we get demotivated.

I was asked recently how I manage to stay motivated in order to get a project finished.  How I don’t just get bored and give up.  Why I see things through to the end.  It got me thinking, and here is a list of things that work well for me:

1.  Give yourself an ultimatum
Most people don’t want to go to work every day, but they do.  Why?  Because there are consequences if you don’t (you’ll lose your job), and those consequences are worse than just going to work.  Set yourself an ultimatum and make yourself believe…