Continued (Slow) Progress on the Site & Lots of Trial and Error

This week I was so enthralled in writing my code I forgot to write an analysis post! I spent most of my day Saturday and Sunday working on my code and, although we are getting closer to a working product, I am definitely not as far along with my assignment as I usually am a week out for the due date. I have spent hours researching, testing code, trying new approaches, and reading about different WordPress features that may serve a helpful purpose, but there are still a few pieces of my site that I can’t get functioning properly!

Specifically, on my “Request a Recipe” form, I was able to get it working perfectly on my local site (woohoo!) but now the form is not appearing on my live site. I have downloaded the necessary plug-in, triple checked the theme I created, ensured the permalink is accurately linked, and yet the form will not appear on the site. I am sure I will dance around the room when I finally figure out how to make this work, but at the moment it is very frustrating and disheartening because after hours of work, I am no closer to a solution. On the slideshow front, I have found a great tutorial on the code that I am currently working through (the four previous tutorials I tried to follow lost me half way through the programming) and although I have not finalized the slideshow, I am hopeful I will be able to achieve my goal! I am proud of what I have accomplished thus far and do feel like I have learned a LOT through trial and error, I just wish the hours I have put into the site were more apparent in the final product.

I think one of the frustrating things for me was realizing that some of the work I did on my home site did not function properly on my live site due to technical changes (e.g. I wrote my child theme based on the theme my local site was using, not the updated theme I picked for my live site) this meant I had to update all the content and repeat a lot of work I had already done, which made sense logically once I realized the issue, but was frustrating in the moment. I think this project has been a steep learning curve, but it has forced me to learn a lot about WordPress layout, functionality, local sites versus live sites, plugins, bugs and site testing, and several other odds and ends that I did not expect to understand in such a short period of time. Hopefully I will have a fabulously functioning website by this time next week, but if not, at least I’ve learned a lot!

Addressing the Confusion

This week was a crazy week for me. I was in Philadelphia for the Asian American Journalists Conference and did not work on my project as much as I would have liked to, which means I need to be as productive as possible this week with my web page.

As Greg told me in my last blog post, I need to figure out how to override and add the CSS into my child theme and go directly to the plugin.

I still need to figure out localhost problems. Since my website has a lot to due with audio, I need to embed my Soundcloud links onto my website. It is really frustrating considering that my localhost also was not working 2 weeks ago. There’s so many roadblocks sometimes in this unknown world I decided to venture into.

I have not been coding nearly as much as I should. It’s going to be crunch time for me. I plan on adding more CSS, embedding the Soundcloud audio, and choosing my child theme. It’s confusing doing code sometimes without the help of Codecademy or an HTML validator. I’ve been trying to navigate FTP FileZilla with everyone emailing each other back and forth. It’s been helpful, but I’m hoping to make more progress this week.

It’s nerve-racking and confusing. I’m so confused sometimes by this project, but I’m hoping with hard work, I’ll be able to accomplish what I need to do.

Overall, this week will be the end-all-be-all and I hope I can do everything I can to make this project truly great. I know that anything worthwhile will have lots of challenges, and I have plenty here so all I can do is my best.

Long weekend of pizza and coding

This past week/weekend has taught me a lot about the world of coding — hours can fly by without you realizing it. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re completing numerous tasks…you could have gotten no where. For a few hours on Saturday, as I coded with a few classmates, that’s how I felt. That I had done so much work customizing my WordPress site, but was not getting the results I was hoping for. For example, I finally had success creating a custom post type (YAY!!), but after creating the meta boxes (following the guidelines of the Reading List example Greg showed us in class), the meta boxes weren’t working. The information was not being echoed correctly, or at all. That was infuriatingly frustrating. Today, it’s still not working. After putting that to the side, I worked on creating two other custom post types, had written all of the code and was ready to conquer these additional post types (TV Review & Restaurant Review). To no avail, I realized that WordPress doesn’t allow for multiple custom post types. Even after hours of Googling the answer, I haven’t been able to figure it out. Any help is appreciated!

Update on my final project site:

  • I’ve created three custom post types with meta boxes as plugins. They don’t work properly, but i’ve created them.
  • I’ve updated the CSS of the child theme as much as I could to my satisfaction for the layout/display of the site. I incorporated Google fonts, HEX colors, and updated the main menu navigation.

What’s left to do:

  • Continue working on getting the custom post types and meta boxes to work!
  • Adding two plugins: Instagram feed and Contact form
  • Inserting content

The next few days should be interesting. I am really hoping to be able to get the customizations I set out to do done and to successfully complete the project. Below are a few questions I have:

  • How do we add multiple custom post types?!
  • how do we get our meta boxes to echo the information we put in them?

Big shout out to Allie, Jaclyn, and Lucy for all their help this weekend!

Custom Post Metaboxes and Styling My Site

I spent most of this week working on creating a custom metabox and custom fields for my site. As I mentioned in last week’s post, I created a custom post type plugin to log all of my runs. I was able to create a custom metabox called “run details” with three fields — neighborhood, date, and time. However, I’ve been unable to get the data that I enter into the custom fields to save and echo out to my post type. I even rewrote my custom post type plugin according to the reading list example Greg showed us, but haven’t been able to get the data to save. So I now have two versions of the same plugin written in different code, but both have the same issue. I spent more than five hours troubleshooting this on Friday night, but to no avail. For now, I’ve moved onto styling my child theme in CSS. I did figure out how to get my custom posts to show up on my homepage, which was one of the questions I had last week.

I played around with adding this Strava plugin to my site, but the reviews for this plugin mentioned that it is not mobile-friendly. I confirmed this fact when I downloaded and installed the plugin, created a test post using the suggested shortcode, transferred the files to my live site using FileZilla, and then pulled up that specific post on my phone. The reviews were (sadly) correct — the table showing the data about my run bled out of the area of my post, and looked really bad. Because there are very few Strava plugins out there, and because this flawed plugin was the highest-rated and most often downloaded one, I decided to instead use the shortcode provided by Strava to insert a text widget into the main sidebar of my site. I did this on my local site to see how it would look, and then went ahead and added the text widget to my live site. I know this doesn’t count as a code modification, but having my Strava account linked in some way to my site was a very important part of my project. Perhaps the addition of this widget can count under the “content” grading criteria instead.

I’m likely going to have to abandon my plans to create a lightbox photo gallery due to the fact that I’m running out of time to work on this project, but I’m still hoping to build a featured post carousel onto the homepage of my site. I’ll also be writing some content so that I can have at least five posts on my live site.

I’ve been loading my plugin and theme files onto my live site via FileZilla. It’s so exciting to see my changes show up on my live site. I did have a minor snafu when using the FTP server the other night. Something happened when I was replacing my CSS file, and when I refreshed my live site, all of my styles had disappeared and my site was showing up in Times New Roman with bulleted lists. I may or may not have cried for a few minutes. I had to delete my child theme files from the remote server and then re-upload them using FileZilla, and that fixed the issue. Crisis averted. I’m hoping not to have any more scares like this before the August 6 project due date!

Reflection Part II

This class has been really interesting for me–some serious highs and lows. I found Codecademy (except for the JavaScript section!) extremely useful. It made things simple, and I appreciated having something specific to refer to when I was embarking on my own projects and other assignments.

Overall, I enjoyed working on my project. I just wish I had more time—just to putz on it and see what works and what doesn’t. Actually, I can see myself fiddling with it over my vacation, because I’d love to have it more finished and to display it on my website along with my portfolio. Of course, that means I’d have to figure out some way to continue hosting it. I want to be able to use this—or a similar format—to tell other visual stories. I think it’d be a great way to showcase any sort of group of individuals. (I’d love to do a thing that showcased each of the tradesmen at Colonial Williamsburg. They’re really pretty. And interesting.)

If I were to reflect on the whole class, I’d say I’m just so glad to know the vernacular of this business. I feel like I can actually talk about it. I had to sit down with this girl the other day to start work on a blog via Google Sites, and I was able to solve problems she had come across, or at least I knew what to look up later.

I definitely need to focus more on the details and how each tiny element relates to each other tiny element. I need to learn to be more patient with it—along with having more time! I will be curious to see how the data visualization class links with this one. And I look forward to be able to continuing to immerse myself in these new languages. I don’t want to lose what I’ve learned.

Feedback on the class

When looking back on this summer course, there are definitely things that I wish I knew better before I started. When I signed up for this class, I knew it would probably be challenging but I didn’t fully realize how time consuming it would be. I feel like some expectations were levied that I didn’t fully recognize, or understand. And given the past few weeks I have some suggestions for making the class better.

First and foremost, this should not be a summer course. There’s too much in the syllabus alone to justify the course being taught on a shortened scale. Either the objectives of the class need to be simplified, like taking out the project management week and extending the time spent learning JavaScript, or it need to be a longer course.

Second, the class needs a TA. Like the other technical classes I’ve taken, it’s paramount to have someone go through and make sure you’re actually clicking the right buttons and understanding the concepts before the class moves on. Only having one person there makes it really hard to do that, so a teaching assistant needs to be in the class if we aren’t going to go over the nuts and bolts.

Finally, I think expectations need to be managed on both sides more before this class is taught again. I know many people in the class, like myself, felt like things moved too quickly and not enough time was spent actually going through concepts we learned. For the most part it just seemed like a sprint to touch on any possible thing that could exist in web development. Instead, I think the course should correct and only teach more of the basics. Codecademy was useful for some things, like CSS and PHP, but it wasn’t a good use of time to work multiple hours on something that we then never really touched again, like jQuery.

Overall, I was able to learn some things in this class, but oftentimes I was more frustrated than excited about what I was learning. The class needs to be essentialized for PR professionals and journalists. While I appreciate that there were good intentions to get everyone familiar with web development, it needs to be scaled back before I could honestly recommend it to a classmate, especially one with a full-time job.

Overall Thoughts

My overall thoughts for this class are all over the place. I have felt many emotions throughout the process, but am glad to be on the other side. At first I felt completely overwhelmed and lost. I then turned to getting frustrated and mad. Then I taught myself that all you really need to do is have a clam temper and think about things the way a developer would. I think that this was my key to success in for the final project.

Instead of thinking extremely hard, I brought it down to my own level. For example, when I wanted to put a contact form at the bottom of each of my pages, i thought about how that might look. At first I was thinking too big picture and that I would need to put the code into each individual page. Instead, I took a step back and realized that if I put it into the footer of the page, that was automatically already formatted to be placed on each page and therefore I wouldn’t have to write code in various places.

This class was a good example of the quote, “work smarter, not harder.” I was making things way too hard and have taught myself a new perspective on what it takes to create code.

My portfolio turned out to be much better than I expected. I didn’t have very high ambitions at the beginning, but when my code started working, I got very excited and wanted to keep adding more. It was weirdly addicting — kind of like when you finally get a really hard math problem right. You are very proud of yourself and want to show off what you can do.

This skill has already brought so much into my career. I was the hit of the day when I created a “Fake News” picture on the New York Times website by using the inspect tool and changing the title of something and sent it to my team at work. Working in PR for Federal IT clients, they are often talking about GitHub, and I am now aware of the types of tools they are using and can explain the lingo to my colleagues.

I am very thankful that I took this class and didn’t give up. There was a moment there when I truly contemplated it. I learned a lot, and most importantly, will be able to use it in my career.