Wordpress 5.0 has to be the least welcome update to the classic content management system for over a decade. As most people know, the new version will include the hideous Gutenberg editor, replacing the classic page and post editor. The old adage says “If it ain't broke, don't fix it.” The classic editor ain't broke.
For that reason, a number of Wordpress users have forked the application (as they have every right to do, because it is open source software). They are putting together an application called ClassicPress, which will be compatible with the current version of Wordpress (4.9.8), but will be developed and updated separately. It may take time before I am able to migrate my sites to using ClassicPress, so in the meantime this is what will happen:
Wordpress have released a plugin to maintain the classic page editor for a limited period. All my sites will use this plugin, until such time as I can migrate to ClassicPress. You will notice no change whatsoever to the front end of your sites.
Customizer makes things easy and more difficult at the same time. Customizer is great for your clients to use on their websites. It means they can easily adjust things like color schemes, logos etc in your themes. But it can be hideously difficult for us developers to add such features to our own themes.
Now there seems to be an answer, which I am enjoying exploring and working with. It is called Kirki. Kirki is an open source plugin, so you could add it to the Wordpress site really easily, and just get working with it. However – and this is the bit that I really like – Kirki's developers have made it so that you can add their code into your own themes, and then, with a few extra functions in your theme's functions.php file, you can integrate everything nicely into your theme. And that is precisely what I have started to do with my Columcille theme, which I have built for my son's ESL training business.
I have recently changed my themes' workflow. I developed a base theme, some while ago, called Qohelet, which is actually rather ugly, but it was really intended for building other themes from. Qohelet was not original. It really involves my tweaks onto another developers' theme called Quark. In its turn, Quark was developed from Underscores (_s), and incorporated Biolerplate, Normalize, Modernizr, and Options Framework. But even the developers of Options Framework are now suggesting it is obsolete, and that we should concentrate on Customizer. So I added Kirki into Qohelet.
Now, I originally started building other themes by simply copying Qohelet and adding more code. But this seems wasteful. So I am now concentrating on all my new themes simply being child themes of Qohelet. Columcille is a child theme of Qohelet. So the basic Kirki code is in Qohelet, but its actual use in making panels is being added to Columcille. It is a fun process, and I am confident that i should shortly have got all the extra features I want in Columcille so that they can be edited easily by my clients from the Customizer.
I'll try to keep you up to date with how it works.
I have been a fan of LibreOffice for quite a while. In fact, I have used it on Windows since the old days of Sun System's OpenOffice.org. When the Document Foundation forked the project to produce LibreOffice, that was my route, as I found there was a lot more support there.
When I took the plunge to use Linux on my laptops (one running Ubuntu 16 and one running Mint Sylvia), my existing experience with LibreOffice made the learning curve gentler. LibreOffice 5 had proved, on both Windows and Linux, to be a formidable alternative to Microsoft Office, and was in no way an inferior product.
So, this weekend I noticed that the Document Foundation had released LibreOffice 6, and I knew I had to try it out.
Unfortunately, the update did not appear in the Linux update panel. Fortunately, I found a website that had clear easy instructions on what to do. Linux Mint normally makes installation and updating of software easy, using the Software Manager, or at the least using the Debian Package Manager to install a downloaded .deb file. However, neither of these easy options is available with LibreOffice, because of the sheer size of this office suite. So, the installation has to be done through the terminal – UGH! Worse still, I found that it was necessary to uninstall version 5 before installing version 6. What a risk! What if version 6 did not work. So I checked that I had a backup installer for version 5, and went ahead with the instructions to uninstall v5, and then to install v6. Before I go further, here is the website with the instructions.
It is difficult to cover all the changes. I was pleased to see that the main interface for all the LibreOffice apps had not changed substantially – though the icons are much more attractive. But I was pleased to find that, under the hood, many features had been made easier and more powerful. Special characters are quite important in my work, so I was delighted to find the management of special characters has been greatly improved. Also, a quick examination of Calc suggests that there is very little this app can now not do that is available in Excel. Powerful spreadsheet features seem to work easily.
Impress is, in my mind, a better tool than Powerpoint, and has been for some time. The tweaks in version 6 keep LibreOffice Impress ahead of the game.
So, my first impressions, after no more than an hour, are good, but as I use the software regularly over the next week or two, I will make some notes, and report back again.
And remember – you don't need to use Linux to benefit from LibreOffice 6. The Windows version is just as good, and a worthy competitor to Microsoft Office, despite the fact that LibreOffice is still open source, and still free.
There is a lot being said and written at the moment about digital privacy. Many people are getting very concerned about the over-use of personal data by companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter etc. Maybe it is time to do something about it.
I don't have all the answers. However, here are some of the things I am investigating at the moment.
I will try to report on these when I get the chance.
There is also the little matter that personally, and business-wise, we might have a lot invested in Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter, and Google. How easy will it be to make the switch?