Category archive: WordPress 13 posts

NetBeans Color Scheme: Solarized Dark with PHP Tweaks

Posted by jeremyclarke on August 17, 2012 · design · WordPress

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What is Solarized?

solarized logoSolarized is a programming color “palette” designed  by Ethan Schnoonover for use when writing syntax-highlited code. It’s based on color wheel and lightness relationships and it’s all sciencey and stuff, but the essence is that all the colors look good together and have good contrast, so you can use the different colors for different parts of your code (functions, variables, strings etc.) and no matter how you organize it the result should be easy on the eyes. It also has both a “dark” and “light” mode with different background/foreground colors, but most of the colors (red, green, magenta) work the same for both, which is cool.

Here’s a color reference I put together showing the various colors in Solarized Dark along with their RGB and hex codes. It was very useful to have around while working on the NetBeans theme (the Solarized site is strangely lacking a similar reference).

My Solarized Dark theme for NetBeans+PHP

As soon as I heard about Solarized I wanted to try it out with NetBeans, my IDE of choice for PHP/WordPress coding. I’ve spent many an hour tweaking my color schemes in NetBeans (and Smultron, my old text editor before that) and choosing the color relationships was always the hardest part, so having classy choices all laid out for me was very appealing.

The good news was that there is already a NetBeans port of the Solarized colors that worked as advertised. The problem was that IMHO it wasn’t particularly well executed. NetBeans has a lot of options in the color scheme settings, but they are also extremely confusing and often flat-out misleading, so I don’t blame the original author for not getting it perfect. He also may not have been looking at PHP code, in which case it makes sense that the PHP-specific color settings weren’t well organized. Lastly there’s a huge element of personal taste, even within the process of implementing a preset color theme like Solarized, so I recognize that the result is really just my personal opinion of what NetBeans+PHP+Solarized should look like.

All that said, here’s a screenshot of my NetBeans Solarized Dark theme:
Screenshot of my solarized dark theme for Netbeans

I like to think it balances the need to have different parts of the code be different colors and the limitations of doing so using the NetBeans color settings. It should work just as well with procedural and object-oriented code.

One feature I added that isn’t in the original Solarized for Netbeans colors is SVN support. I had to invent them, but my theme has appropriate red, green and blue background colors when viewing a SVN DIFF.

Installing my theme in your NetBeans

Since NetBeans has a configuration import/export system you can install these colors really easily.

  1. Download the .zip file linked below (don’t unzip it, NetBeans wants it as .zip).
  2. Open NetBeans and summon the Preferences window (Options on Windows).
  3. Go to the Fonts & Colors Preference tab.
  4. Click Import at the bottom of the window.
  5. Click Browse and find the .zip file, click OK.

Download »

Once you have the theme installed it should show up in the Fonts & Colors preferences as part of the Profile pulldown menu, where it’s identified as Netbeans_Solarized_Dark-jer.

Since I started using this I pretty much never feel the need to use a “light” theme so I haven’t tweaked the Solarized Light colors at all. Sorry if that’s what you would have preferred ;)

Anyway, hope some of you find this useful! I plan to someday get some of my changes added to the official GitHub repo, but wanted to get this out before my Code Faster and Smarter PHP with IDEs Like NetBeans talk tomorrow at WordCamp Montreal.

A Love Poem in PHP

Posted by jeremyclarke on November 7, 2011 · General · WordPress

Wrote this a long time ago but never posted it. Stumbled onto it while cleaning up my email:

	$me = new Lover;

	$me->partner = $you;

	$me->feelings = array('adore','miss','want','love');

	foreach ($feelings as $feeling) {


		if ($you->feeling_mutual($feeling))

Sure, it’s not the most expressive form of writing out there, but like with Haiku I think the limitation and challenge of putting poetry into code form can help push you to create something really fresh and strange without the baggage and cliché feel of regular poetry. I also just love naming variables and methods ;)

Either way, I think my poem is at least more uplifting than this other PHP love poem I found.

It was actually a follow-up to a shorter, twitter-length PHP love poem I wrote around the same time:

	$things_i_dont_miss_about_you = array();

Submit your coded love poems in the comments, bonus points if it could at least theoretically execute in real life (assuming for example things like the existence of a “Lover” class with an express_feeling() method). If you’ve got the time write us an Epic PHP Poem, including all the needed class definitions :P

Another year, another exciting WordCamp Montreal

Posted by jeremyclarke on June 22, 2011 · WordPress

Once again I’m organizing WordCamp Montréal along with a great team of co-organizers. I’m managing the schedule and helping with all the other stuff. We’ve got a lot of great talks lined up as well as some fun summer treats to keep everyone energized and make it a great social event on top of being a place to learn and grow your skills.

I'm going to WordCamp Montreal 2011!

Grab a badge for your blog here.

If you use WordPress and have been meaning to learn more about it you should definitely come. In three years I’ve literally never heard anyone complain that WordCamp is a waste of time, even when they find a million other things to complain about ;)

Tickets are on sale now, so you should register ASAP.


Multilingual content in WordPress, September 2010

Posted by jeremyclarke on September 7, 2010 · General · GlobalVoices · WordPress

Someone emailed me recently to ask about how they should approach the task of setting up a multi-lingual WordPress site (en+fr). My response was long enough that I figured I’d post it here for anyone curious about my thoughts.

We’re looking to update our WordPress website with a multi-language setup […] Would you recommend that we use a multi-lingual plugin, such as WPML, or just create two different wordpress sites?  I’d rather do the former, since once setup it demands much less updating.  I’ve heard in the past that this is very difficult to do, but now with WP 3.0, I’m thinking it must be much easier.  I’d much appreciate your opinion.

Multi-lingual in 3.0

The advent of 3.0 has changed many things but not the frustrating lack of support for multilingualism in WP. The same issues exist now as did in the 2.x days. The main relevant change in 3.0 is that WPMU, a seperate project which let you have multiple sites in one installation, is now part of the main WordPress code. The feature is now referred to as “Multi-site” or “Network” and is fairly easy to activate. This means if you decide to use separate sites it is a bit simpler to have both sites running off the same WP install and sharing themes/plugins. Just set up your main site as and the French one as

Plugins can be abandoned

While its true that two sites requires more tedious repetitive work during updates it less likely to involve insane compatibility work that could arise from the plugin acting up or becomming unsupported. Users of the previously-standard Gengo plugin all got fucked around version 2.5 (don’t feel like looking up the exact version) when the plugin stopped working and none of them could update their sites, leaving them susceptible to hackers. An unpatched version of WP is often vulnerable to attack and a site that depends on a plugin that stops working can’t be patched. is probably your best bet for a plugin

WPML seems like it has serious and dedicated professional developers, and has a LOT of features that are very useful, so its a decent bet that as a translation system it will continue working for a long time. Especially if you don’t have a ton of content it is a pretty good choice (because you can always copy/paste the content into a second site some day if the plugin stops working). Using it will require some heavy modifications to your theme if you want the language chooser etc. to actually make sense. My experience with WPML has lead me to believe that the devs aren’t particularly great UI designers compared to their programming skills.

Multiple sites keeps your posts database clean and logical

I personally like the two-site approach because it keeps your content and databases clean as a tradeoff for the deeper linkage between translations you could otherwise get from a plugin. It’s extra hassle to edit the content on both sites all the time but IMHO the bigger hassle is actually translating and keeping content fully synchronized which is nearly impossible regardless of your translation infrastructure.

On Global Voices we have a custom solution we call Lingua

I don’t have any real experience with WPML or qTranslate (the other big name in WP translation) because on Global Voices (the site I run) I’ve coded a custom translation plugin that we call Lingua. It uses separate sites but keeps a database that links translations across the sites (see for an example of the output). IMHO this is the best model for running translations because if the plugin stops working all you lose is the links to other versions. Each translation site can continue to work independently without knowledge of the others, so you can work on the update issues seperately while still being secure. Unfortunately the plugin isn’t even close to being public-friendly, but I’m hoping the model gets used someday. I added it to the list of potential plugin types on the Codex page about multilingual WordPress.

Maybe one day it will be easy

Good luck to anyone trying to build multi-lingual WordPress sites. It’s a nightmare but none of the other CMS options are actually much easier, and all the other benefits of  WP make it hard to turn down. Here’s hoping that one day the core development team is willing to pick up the problem and commit to a standardized solution (vote for built-in multilingualism on the WordPress “Ideas forum”).

EDIT (Sep 11, 2010): I should also mention the Worldwide Lexicon project and their WWL translation plugin for WordPress. It has an intense approach that combines machine translation with human editing to make your site quickly translated and let you improve it incrementally as time goes on. I haven’t used their plugin myself because older dev versions I tried were very buggy and hard to understand. If you’re just starting now the new versions are worth a try and may be a good solution if the combination of machine and human translation is desirable to you.

WordPress Admin Header Redesign: Light or Dark?

Posted by jeremyclarke on March 27, 2010 · design · WordPress

WARNING: Intense discussion of the open-source design of the WordPress website software lies ahead. I will literally discuss shades of grey. People uninterested in WordPress and its future should probably learn more about snuggies instead.

I updated my WordPress SVN Trunk installation today and noticed a huge change to the admin screens that had just been committed. The header and footer of the admin section had been switched from basically black to a very light grey color. This change was committed as a work in progress, so people would see it and work towards a final solution.

Fig 1. Old admin header color on top, current SVN version below.

Old WordPress header color and temporary new on in SVN

Overall I support this change and think it looks better, but the exact shade of grey in the background didn’t match the gradients in similar UI elements (the dashboard sections and screen options buttons) so I worked out a different light-grey graphic to use as a background that would match. Here is a screenshot of how it should look if this light grey is used in the final WP 3.0 release, I think it is pretty solid and shouldn’t make anyone cry.

Fig 2. WP-Admin with darker but still light-grey heading and footer. Pretty okay.

Screenshot of wp admin with light grey header and footer
Click to view full size

I remembered a conversation on the WP UI dev blog where another middle-grey option was proposed but didn’t get a lot of attention. I really liked the darker grey version in JohnONolan‘s original mockup so I worked out a full page screenshot using the darker shade of grey that I thought worked better and added them to the trac ticket about the header change.

Here’s the one I think would work the best, dark grey to match the active heading in the sidebar (in this case the “Dashboard” section heading).

Fig 3. Nice dark WordPress Admin screen, how it should be.

Screenshot of my proposed WP admin colorsClick to view full size

Here is one giant image with both of them so you can compare. Instead of images like this I like to open two versions in seperate tabs in my browser than jump back and forth to decide which I prefer.

Fig 4. Side-by-Side comparison of light and dark grey proposals for admin header and footer.

Side by side comparison of light and dark optionsClick to view full size.

I’m hoping the dark one can get implemented because it has a lot of nice features that the lighter version lacks:

  • It is not a big change from the old version, so people will be inherently less upset about it.
  • It brackets the whole UI nicely and preserves the high-contrast from the old design.
  • It avoids a page where 90% of the chrome matches each other pefectly. I think the dark grey is important to keeping the look neat, and having only one element in the page with that color (the active sidebar heading) make it look unbalanced.

Feedback welcome, what do you think? If you want to support/flame me the trac ticket about it is probably the best place, so that your input affects the final decision.

Montreal WordPress Developer Meetup this thursday

Posted by jeremyclarke on September 22, 2009 · General · WordPress

So yeah, as the title of the last post (which has slowly become ludicrously out of date) implies, WordCamp Montreal was in fact pretty awesome. If you’re a visual kind of person check out the photos.

wordpres-montreal-community-logo-square-400Now a few months have passed since then and its time to move on. Move on to something other than WordPress events? No. Move on to smaller, more regular, less stressful WordPress events (and hopefully some posts here on my blog about other topics, we can still dream).

We’re going to use the Montreal WordPress Community group on facebook to organize evening meetups about once a month (join the group to get invited automatically). Patrick and the members of Station C have generously offered to let us use their coworking space for our get-togethers. This is great cause its sexy and well stocked with tools, but sad cause its not that big. Hopefully we can keep a healthy level of attendance without exploding.

The first meeting will be this thursday, when we’ll have a presentation and discussion about programming tools and how they can speed you up followed by a discussion of GPL and what it means for paid themes, plugins etc. I also told people to bring drinks and food, so it should be a cool party as well. You can read more about it and RSVP on the facebook event listing.

WordCamp Montreal will be awesome

Posted by jeremyclarke on June 11, 2009 · WordPress

I'm Speaking at WordCamp Montreal - Jul 11-12I’ve been spending a lot of time lately getting shit ready for WordCamp Montreal, Montreal’s instance of the user-generated WordPress conference that has already happened in cities literally across the entire planet (I’ve been to New York, San Francisco and Toronto in the past).

Today the tickets went on sale (25-30$) which is a huge relief. There’s still lots of work to do organizing the speakers/schedule, sponsors and all the other details, but we’re on our way to a really useful and fun event if I have anything to say about it.

I’ll be doing a talk about whatever is missing from the lineup of speakers who come forward, which reminds me: Would you like to become a speaker? We’re still looking for WP experts to share their wisdom and experience and hopefully some laughs, so get in touch if you think that might be you. Oh yeah, if you’ve got a pile of money and have been hoping for some visibility maybe you’d like to sponsor WordCamp Montreal? It’s the perfect way to make yourself known to an incredibly useful new subsection of the north american technocracy! now hopefully UN-hacked.

Posted by jeremyclarke on May 12, 2009 · WordPress

So this site was ironically hacked and hijacked by blackhat SEO spammers who inserted a ton of bullshit viagra/homeloan/sex links into my theme in the hopes that it would illegitimately raise their ranking in Google. Of course that’s not inherently ironic, what’s ironic is that it happened while I was at WordCamp Toronto, a mini-conference about all things WordPress, where I gave a talk that included a long section about how to avoid and deal with being hacked in just this way for just these reasons. Some part of me thinks that someone at WordCamp might have done it to show me who’s boss, but I doubt it, the pattern of spam links is just to depressing and business-like to assume anything but an impersonal bot did the damage.

This has happened to other sites I’ve been managing (specifically to Global Voices over the years, and I’ve learned a lot about hardening your server and WordPress installation to help solve the problem. The #1 piece of advice is of course KEEP YOUR WORDPRESS INSTALLATION UP TO DATE, NO MATTER WHAT. In the case of this my personal site (as opposed to sites I manage professionally, which I deal with much more carefully, because they are more important) I was doing a halfway version of this by keeping my very old but theoretically still secure copy of WP 2.0.x up to date. This is the legacy branch (current actual branch is 2.7.x) that was supposed to offer long-term security support, but it seems that is no longer the case. I loved having the bragging rights of being the only person in a room with even 100 WordPress users who had such an old but still secure version (well, except David Peralty), but obviously staying secure is much more important.

If you’re still running 2.0.11 I strongly recommend you give up and get on the normal upgrade schedule now, it seems to have been compromised.

Full details of how to clean up a hacked site below:


I’ll be speaking at WordCamp Toronto

Posted by jeremyclarke on April 11, 2009 · General · WordPress

i'll be speaking at wordcamp toronto I nagged them early enough and got a slot to speak at WordCamp Toronto in May. I’ve had amazing times at the last two WordCamps I attended (San Francisco and New York, I missed the Toronto one last year) talking to people about my favorite web software and shooting the shit about all the little things the rest of the world doesn’t understand.

If you haven’t been and are a blogger/developper in the area you should check it out. If you’re in Montreal there will also be WordCamp Montreal in June but that’s pretty far off and we haven’t come up with many of the details yet. Not sure if I’ll be speaking in Montreal as well but it’s pretty likely ;)

Adding Dashboard Widgets to WordPress 2.7 Using Plugins

Posted by jeremyclarke on January 22, 2009 · WordPress

As you can guess by the title this is another incredibly technical and specific article that’s really only of interest to WordPress developers like myself. Friends and family: please amuse yourself with this instead :)

So onto Dashboard Widgets (also referred to as “Dashboard Modules” in at least one place, though the WP code calls them Widgets so I’ll stick with that).

screencap of my example widgetI wanted to add a little box to the dashboard with the currently logged-in user’s avatar and a few links to things they might want quickly. Since WP 2.7 made the dashboard super configurable (you can show/hide different sections and drag them around to reorder them) I figured that there would be some documentation on how to add new ones using plugins. Unfortunately it turned out that not only was there no page on the WordPress Codex to explain the process, but the dashboard code itself (found in /wp-admin/includes/dashboard.php ) was completely uncommented and confusing as hell. Since I spent the day figuring the whole API out I decided to write up a nice Codex page so the next person would have it easier: Voila.

At that link you’ll find an explanation of the function and hook you’ll need to use to add dashboard widgets using plugin (or functions.php in your theme) code. The process is pretty similar to adding sub-pages to the admin section if you’re familiar with that.

Some lessons I picked up along the way:

  • The dashboard API needs some serious work. I might take a whack at it at some point when I’m bored but hopefully it will get cleared up eventually, especially the missing PHPDoc comments
  • Right now it’s pretty much impossible to easily or effectively push your sorting preferences onto the default Dashboard Widgets. In the codex article I give an example of how to get your widget to the top of the list for people who have never sorted their widgets, but there’s no easy way to add your widget and say “make all users see this at the top of their screen unless they drag it to a different spot”. This fact is pretty annoying as blogs with many users are likely to have a lot of people who never even see the new widget because there are too many default widgets above it pushing it below the fold.
  • I did figure out a way to force your widget to the top of the page but it had the unfortunate side effect of making it trapped there forever regardless of users dragging it around. I don’t recommend this method for publicly distributed plugins (as it will confuse and frustrate users that the dragging is broken) but you can see the code here ( link, apologies if it stops working at some point).
  • This one is a bit obvious, but writing a Codex article (or any documentation really) is very very useful for acquainting yourself with something. I know more about this process than I would have if I’d just followed the instructions someone else wrote (I also know more about what needs fixing!). Lesson: When the docs are missing don’t just hack around till you have a half-baked solution, look through the source and figure out the best solution and share it with the world by adding to the docs yourself.