I want to start by saying that I don’t think I’ve ever had a class that so completely covered a topic and structured things so well to make sure that we learned as much as possible. It was outstanding and I can’t thank Jon Johnson enough for all the work he’s put into creating it and managing it while we all stumbled along learning WordPress. When I started, I had no idea that WordPress was as complex as it is at the level we learned it. About half-way through I felt that I might not be able to put it all together in my mind in a way that would have me feeling comfortable with skills and my ability to reason about what I was doing and solve problems as they came up. But slowly things came together and this final project was a wonderful way to tie up all the loose ends. A couple things that I ran into during the final project really tested my sleuthing and ability to figure things out.
Jetpack doesn’t natively work on local installs.
I started out with the intention of using the Canard theme for my project because of the big beautiful images on the front page. I set up a local installation of WordPress on my computer at home that allowed me to have multiple local hosts to create WordPress sites and experiment and play. This was wonderful and definitely added to my sense of accomplishment and security. I could play and not worry about breaking things and really learn what I was doing. I find I learn best through experimentation. When I installed the Canard theme to my local site, it informed me that I would need to also install the JetPack plugin to make certain things work. At first I was unfazed and went ahead and installed it, only to be told that it didn’t work on a local WordPress site. Ut oh! I started Googling and searching around the WordPress support forums and discovered many people who had trouble making this theme work, but initially, no one who had the local site problem I had. Canard was developed for WordPress.com and most of the people using it, were using it in that context. They didn’t have any idea about a local development site. I was starting to worry about my choice of theme.
I finally started digging deeper into the information within the install and found the README file. If it had said “README FIRST”, I might have gotten to it sooner. :>) But right there in the README file it said “Featured Content will work on a localhost installation of WordPress if you add this line to `wp-config.php`: `define( ‘JETPACK_DEV_DEBUG’, TRUE );`. Earlier in the course I might have been intimidated by that line, but we had just finished adding several things to various configuration files to make the multi-site feature work and I understood what the line was doing. I added the necessary line and my local install started working just fine.
But I decided that I really didn’t want the big fancy images.
As I began to create content I realized that the big fancy images were for a different kind of site. I like the way my simple blog posts were simply displayed, and felt that out of the box seemed a much better fit. Although I got the them working on my local install, I decided I didn’t need it after all.