What Do You Want to Know About WordPress?

Over the next few weeks, I want to take reader-submitted questions about WordPress and answer them here on the blog. Have a question about themes? Plugins? Simple or complicated — it doesn’t matter!

If I pick your question, I’ll answer it (in as much detail as necessary) here on the blog, and link to you as the source of the question.

Hopefully this will be a BIG help to everyone out there, and make for some really good conversation! Leave your questions in the comments.

24 Replies to “What Do You Want to Know About WordPress?”

  1. R Edward Vernon June 30, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Give us a blow by blow on how to take website design from psd to theme. I’ve been searching for a comprehensive guide so I can understand WP better and haven’t found anything that’s not outdated, lacking details or filled with mistakes.

  2. How WordPress Works: an exhaustive series of posts on the inner-workings of WordPress.

    1. I’m honestly not 100% sure exactly how WordPress works, from start to finish. One reason I love WordPress so much is it takes the pain out of PHP’s interface with MySQL, which is something I’ve never really understood. WordPress has an entire class (wpdb) that handles the database interface, which i LOVE.

      This would be a big research project, but I’ll keep it in mind.

    2. I’d love to see such a thing from you, Nathan! I’d suggest also that such a series keep a close eye on WPMU, given the upcoming merge. Maybe there would be a WPMU expert around to collaborate with you on the project…

  3. Ditto.

    Completely agree with Ian. It would be nice to know how the inner mechanism works. What happens when we open a wordpress blog, which scripts and functions are called, what happens when we go to a single post page, submit comments, about the entry points, actions from the admin panels, how the pingback and akismet things work etc.. It will be good to know. I am tired of seeing these PSD to theme tutorials. Theme is just the visualization part but whats going on inside that will be a good thing to know.

    1. Look at http://wp-roadmap.com/ project. It will help, but you shouldn’t really have to care about this as much of it is abstracted away from you. It is helpful when you need to know when to hook into a filter and when it is available to be hooked into.

  4. I’d love how to keep the current_page_item from affecting child pages with the highlighted style even when they aren’t selected. It’s probably simple css, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

  5. Hi, Nathan:

    Some things that have been bothering me for some time now are,

    1. Robots.txt – can’t make heads or tails out of this. And is it REALLY necessary to even mess with it, if one is not super experienced in it?

    2. Ping Services – how important would you say it is to manually add extra ping services under the wp admin dashboard for a blog?

    3. One of my blogs keeps going down and my host advises it’s probably because it’s outgrown its shared server status. But i only receive about 10,000 uniques monthly. How does one determine when a private server or cloud server is needed?

    I have many more, but i’ll leave it at that for now. Thank you so much for this opp, Nathan. I like to think i’m pretty skilled in/with WordPress – but there are lots of nooks and crannies not yet mastered.



  6. I’ve found that you can really learn alot about how WordPress works by taking a look at how a theme is coded. Grab a few cleanly written themes and study how they are similar and take notice of the subtleties that make them different. Soon, you’ll be able to understand what does what and how WordPress ultimately works.

    That being said, I think an in-depth look at how to design a nice Theme Options panel is something people are looking for.

    Keep up the great work Nathan!

    1. Um, no. You understand how WordPress themes work. WordPress as itself is something entirely different and if you think you are going to be able to understand it from a few files what WordPress as a whole loads, then you are really missing out on a lot of what WordPress offers.

      For instance, did you know the majority of the WordPress library is documented? I’m not talking about the codex, but http://phpdoc.wordpress.org/trunk or http://phpdoc.ftwr.co.uk/wordpress/ and inline documentation? If not, then there is a lot of information that can be gleaned just by reading the source.

    2. Totally agree with Jacob here … the inline documentation has been the absolute #1 best teacher for me while trying to learn WordPress.

  7. I want to know how to selectively load plugins for specific pages, instead of it happening globally. WP is wasteful in loading plugin scripts that aren’t always used on every page/post.

    1. Indeed, while it is true that way the plugins are included is “wasteful,” there isn’t any way to optimize that specific code. I think you are probably talking about the JavaScript and Stylesheets, which some plugins are not coded correctly in order to take advantage of the WordPress library.

      If that is the case, then I think that would make a good article for plugin authors to get more of them to use the API. The sad part is that the scripts and styles enqueue API is very simple to use. Getting the script to load selectively based on the page, well, that is a little bit more tricky depending on how you wish to do it.

  8. Password-protection for a page of WordPress – is it secure? There doesn’t seem to be a way to logout of the page once logged in.

    I have a group that wants to post docs internally, so just they can see them. I’m wondering if there is a way to do this securely with their WordPress installation. (I’m sure I could do it with Drupal).

    1. This is done in a cookie and you are correct, there is no way to remove it without a plugin or without removing the cookie.

  9. See, Even these hotmail tags are confusing,, It’s difficult to set the gadgets, which I see makes it easier, Sometimes all the different pages you get referred to becomes too complicated. I cannot get “press it” to work right, cause I’m probably lacking it’s basic understanding,, So much I want to do, to make my site of interest, but I’m simply stuck!! Or whatever,,

  10. 1) How do incoming links work? Sometimes I see 5-6 on my site and 20 minutes later they disappear.

  11. Although everyone, including you, is going GPL these days, I would like to know more about how to implement licensing mechanisms in wp themes and plugins. Justin tadlock came with something where I had to input a key to remove the link in the footer (Justin have since discontinued those themes). Although it was easy to remove it, it was good way. A plugin called autoblogged also uses a key system, although works with any random string most of the times. I’d like to know about other approaches. I understand that it would be trivial to remove such restrictions for php/wp ninjas, but there should be something that’s hard to get rid of by avarage php/wp geeks. Any ideas are welcome.

    Thanks for this initiative about discussing things. I appreciate this.

  12. What is your philosophy behind what a theme framework should be?

  13. an in depth tutorial on plugin creation would be brilliant. One’s I have stumbled upon thus far have been a bit flowery

    1. I’ll second John’s suggestion as well!

  14. Hey there, been reading your tips for a while. Here’s the deal, I have a blog I need to migrate from the “Soapblox” platform and the guy says he can only give me a MySQL dump of the entire database. How can I import this into WordPress? I’m no SQL expert, are there any ready-made tools for this that you’ve seen? Thanks for any nudges in the right direction.

  15. Hi Nathan, I have one question about embedded flash object and images.

    Currently my theme (at http://brijux.com) has 700 px width for post content. I often embed flash videos to my site. I customize the embed code to fit 700 px of my posts so it can be viewed at the maximum possible size.

    The problem comes when I change my theme. Some theme have maximum post width of 600 or 650 px. So in these themes the embedded video (which is 700px wide) floats over other content on the website, mostly covering the side bar. This makes the website look very ugly. The same problems happens with larger image width.

    I can hard-code all media to 500px when uploading to prevent from this problem, but that means not utilizing all space for current theme. Is there any way to make this embedded flash video and image “re-size” themselves according to available width of theme?

  16. This is done in a cookie and you are correct, there is no way to remove it without a plugin or without removing the cookie.

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