Benefits of the Bootstrap Framework

I started playing around with Bootstrap in 2015 when I didn’t understand what Bootstrap was or why a web designer would build websites using Bootstrap. Since then, I have built 6 Bootstrap sites and can now give five broad reasons to choose Bootstrap as a theme/framework for building a website.

Bootstrap is more than a web site theme with a unique set of styles, fonts, and page templates. Bootstrap is a framework, which could be considered a super theme (technically a superset of HTML, CSS, and Javascript technologies). Many Bootstrap developers share and contribute to Bootstrap making it more than a theme but an entire website design framework. The Bootstrap framework is an open source (read: public) project that many developers and designers have contributed to mostly via the Github social network.

Five Benefits of Bootstrap

  1. speed of development
  2. responsiveness
  3. consistency
  4. customizable
  5. support

The first benefit of Bootstrap is speed of web site development. As a web designer or web programmer, you don’t code to reinvent the wheel. Hundreds of developers have already contributed to the Bootstrap code base and all these developers share their chunks of code or design components. A web designer initially configures the web features desired, and then, the configured Bootstrap files are downloaded for initial site testing. Each configured Bootstrap site can be a unique design and each could be considered a Bootstrap theme. With all the Bootstrap resources available, the developer can quickly start creating a site structure without having to code individual site components.

 

The second benefit of Bootstrap is site responsiveness. Bootstrap is a mobile-first theme meaning it is designed for small smartphone screens but has a grid layout system which scales nicely for wider screens. Bootstrap polls the device requesting the webpage, and then, provides a mobile, tabloid, or desktop layout depending on the screen width of the requesting device. The client and developer don’t need to worry about multiple versions of the website. If your domain doesn’t have device responsiveness coding, Google will be penalizing the domain and your content may display poorly on some devices.

 
Responsive image
 

The third benefit of Bootstrap is consistency. Your Bootstrap site could be handed over to another Bootstrap experienced developer, and the web interface would remain consistent. For example, the menubar would function the same no matter which Bootstrap developer had last updated it. This consistency also relates to the many different web browsers available. The Bootstrap site responds and displays consistently when tested with most modern browsers.

The fourth benefit of Bootstrap is that it is easy to customize. The Bootstrap developer can choose any website components (buttons, sliders, date picker, popups, etc) to create the web experience that the client desires. With lots of Bootstrap components to choose from, the developer can create a unique customized theme.

The fifth benefit of Bootstrap is support. Github has over 600 developers sharing code and ideas on Bootstrap. The framework is always evolving and improving. A standard WordPress theme might be built and tested by a single developer or small team, but the worldwide community of Bootstrap developers would result in a superior theme.

When you combine the tools of faster development, device responsiveness, browser consistency, easy customization, and a good network of online support, the Bootstrap framework offers many time-saving advantages for web developers and they can concentrate more time on their client projects.

Some Bootstrap sites:

**Bootstrap site I have built

***Bootstrap with WooCommerce site I have built

Image above from: Interneting Is Hard

Creating a WordPress Retina Photo Gallery

WordPress tiled gallery

Recently I decided to improve my WordPress photo gallery. The goal was to improve my pictures when viewed with the new high-end retina or 4K displays. This post covers some of the challenges I encountered and image technology improvements that WordPress now offers.

A 4K screen means 4000 pixels across and now there are even 5K displays available. Apple’s retina iMac display has 5220 pixels. The upper end of TVs now boast 4K as the new hi-def plateau in picture resolution. If you have professional photography or artwork that you want to present visually at the highest quality, then, you may need to upload higher resolution images to display optimally on these new retina/4K/5K displays. Retina images (so called 2x images) double the amount of pixels that your image will be displayed at (e.g 200 x 200 pixels), and inserting the 2x image into half of that space (100 x 100 pixels). In many ways using web images has become more complex and having the optimal images delivered to the many different types of internet devices has become tricky. Internet devices come in many sizes now, some displays are retina quality and others are not. So what size of image is going to work with such a wide range of internet devices/displays? The answer is no image size will work effectively for all the possible devices and display resolutions.

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Images and Widgets in WordPress 3.9

The last time I wrote an article about WordPress it was at version 3.5 and having a WordPress site that was responsive to all the new internet devices was the upgrade goal for many WordPress sites. This post focuses on working with images and widgets including some new features of WordPress 3.9 and a couple of the newer plugins available within the Jetpack set of WordPress plugins.

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Embedding Google Maps in WordPress

This is a tutorial to get your custom Google Maps embedded into WordPress. Your custom Google Maps from My Places can be embedded easily into a WordPress post. First, create a My Places custom map, you are basically creating the overlay content for your Google map. After saving your map, click the link button (chain icon). This brings up the Customize preview panel (shown below). At this point you can:

  • size your map including specific width and height
  • position your map by drag it around
  • set the zoom level you desire
  • select one of four map types to initially display (Standard, Satelite, Terrain, Google Earth)

When you have your desired preview of your map, copy the generated HTML and paste into your WordPress post in text mode. Keep in mind that there are two Google map engines: classic maps (v_1.0) and a newer map API (v_2.0). My example is from the classic engine. The toolsets for the two engines are not equivalent at this time.

customize_embed_code2

The actual Google Map…

Getting iPhone HD Video Online

I recently upgraded my iPhone to the 4S model, where Apple has upgraded the camera chip and lens design for improved photography including; being able to capture HD 1080p video. This post attempts to cover the process of getting the iPhone’s new HD 1080p video to a WordPress site. Related to this topic, I wrote a similar post called Getting Good Video with Vimeo.

Getting video online and into WordPress is more involved than moving iPhone images to a WordPress site. Firstly, you should realize that source video content should not be uploaded directly to your WordPress Media Library. Video content is data heavy and especially with HD quality video, you need a streaming video server, a standard Apache server with a WordPress installation can’t serve that much video data to your viewers. The server limitation is addressed by setting up a video stream service from You Tube or Vimeo. The solution is to embed the video’s URL into your WordPress post and a video player will pull optimized video content from the streaming server. Optimized video can have many parameters, compressed MP4 video would be a video format that allows for compression and is optimized to stream efficiently from a steaming server. You Tube or Vimeo will provide video streaming for free, but if you plan on providing HD quality video to your viewers, then you will need to upgrade to a paid streaming account. I purchased a Vimeo Plus account for $60 a year. With the Plus upgrade, Vimeo provides me with better video rendering and the capability to upload 1080p source video. Without a Plus account, Vimeo limits free-accounts to only limited HD 720p uploads. Don’t mess with the a free account if your goal is HD content on your site. All the quality HD content I have viewed on Vimeo have been contributed by authors with “Plus” status.

iMovie’s video cam import options

Getting your iPhone video clips to your video editing application, in my case; iMovie, requires connecting your iPhone with a USB cable, and importing the clips with the video cam import button. There is also a wireless method of sending an iMessage to yourself with the desired video clip attached. Note: iCloud syncs only photos, not video, so iCloud is not an importing option to your Mac. Importing a lot of video into iMovie can be time consuming because iMovie must first generate thumbnail images of the imported video. I use the QuickTime player to do an initial edit of the poor clips, importing only video with potential into iMovie.

Uploading your finalized project within iMovie to Vimeo is easy just select Vimeo from the  Sharing Menu. Generally, you want to upload the best source video to Vimeo that you have, so click the  HD 720p or HD 1080p format. Then, from your Vimeo Plus account, you should review and select all your video settings to create your custom defaults. Take the time and create a preset theme for your video player, this will keep all instances of the video player looking and operating consistently within your WordPress site. Vimeo Plus users have additional video settings that basic accounts do not have, including; which domains can show your videos, as well as, hiding them from the Vimeo.com site. Many additional HD options with Vimeo are covered on their FAQ page.

The last step in getting your video online and into your WordPress post is the embedding step. I have not found a good WordPress plugin for importing Vimeo content yet, so you need to copy the necessary code snippet into your post editor in HTML mode. There are three ways to do this:

  1. Paste the Vimeo URL into your post.
  2. Use the Vimeo shortcode and an associated WordPress plugin.
  3. Copy and paste the Vimeo iframe embed code into your post editor.
Universal embed player on iPhone WordPress post

Don’t use the first two, because they may not include the universal embed code and they may fail to scale your videos properly in mobile devices and tablet devices like an iPad. It will also ensure that the proper size and format (Flash vs. HTML5) is streamed to your device, letting Vimeo deal with the various sizes, devices, and formats required on the Internet. The iframe embedding HTML code is found in the embedding panel (Get Embed Code link) of your video’s settings when logged into your Vimeo.com account. You can reuse this code snippet for future video posts replacing the Vimeo id number and adjusting the width and height if desired.

OK, now the reality check from Vimeo:

“Note while 1080p is higher resolution, please be aware that it can take significant resources on your viewers’ computer and may cause choppy playback.”

You’ve got this awesome HD 1080 video content online but your viewers may not have the internet bandwidth, computer horsepower, or monitor resolution to see the video’s HD quality. HD 1080p video has twice as much data as HD 720p video. From my tests, it is very difficult to see the difference in quality between 720p and 1080p, unless your viewers enlarge your video to full screen mode and my guess is that most viewers don’t know about this option unless they are specifically reminded to view in full screen mode. It may make sense to provide just HD 720 video to your audience unless they are from South Korea and can pull down 50MB/sec. On the flip side, 1080p seems to be a standard resolution for many large screen electronics, so you might want to get your video content ready for the future.

[responsive_vimeo 36972963]

Genesis Framework

I am trying a new theme/framework called Genesis. In an effort to avoid having older posts be buried by newer posts, this theme design tries to emulate a magazine layout. By configuring, the homepage with a feature slider widget, I can direct the browser to older posts that might not be displayed on the homepage anymore. There are also two feature lists (under the feature slider) that serve the same purpose; linking readers to hidden content. Hopefully this new design will make better use of valuable home page real estate and let users quickly discover what my web site is all about. Let me know what you think. In the future post, I am going to write about my migration from WordPress’ default Twenty Eleven theme to the Genesis framework.

iPhoto Photography to WordPress Photo Gallery

iPhone camera to WordPress photo gallery

The best photography happens for me when I carry a small camera in my pocket at all times. The camera chip on my older iPhone was horrible and I deemed it unacceptable. The new camera chip (5 mega pixel) included within the iPhone 4 motivated me to upgrade from my older iPhone. A secondary goal was to eliminate my point and shoot Canon Powershot camera and carry just one camera; in my phone. I have always liked my Powershot, but having a decent camera integrated into a smart phone is just so much more practical and convenient when you want to travel simple and light. The whole process of getting pictures online can be accomplished with one device now. This post covers how I take iPhone pictures and upload them into a WordPress site with a NextGen photo gallery.

Here are the challenges: You have a bunch of trip pics that need to be uploaded, possibly image enhanced, resolution corrected, add a text image description, and finally, thumb-nailed and sorted within a photo gallery on a WordPress post or page. You might not have a computer or a wifi connection, and maybe you want to upload additional pics to your photo gallery as your trip progresses. The following process is how I get my photos online into my WordPress trip post.

Before I leave on a trip, I create a standard WordPress post for my trip. I also create a Nextgen photo gallery for my trip. Next, I embed the NextGen photo gallery into my WordPress post. Initially, I might not have any images for my photo gallery. As I start accumulating  photos of my trip, I upload my desired images to my WordPress server and FTP them into the desired NextGen gallery folder (yourdomain.com/wp-content/gallery/mytripfolder/). The only step I need to do in the WordPress/NextGen admin is to have the NextGen plugin scan for any new images uploaded recently. NextGen will scan my gallery folder for new pictures; resizing them, and creating the necessary gallery thumbnail images.

Below is a NextGen photo gallery of pics all taken with the iPhone 4 camera. If I need a wide angle shot, I use the Pano iPhone application. Pano can stitched together multiple pictures to create the wide panorama pictures you see in the gallery. The iPhone’s camera lens is flat and not optically adjustable, so the zooming function is created digitally; which usually results in poor image quality.

With the iPhone’s high resolution retina technology it is actually possible to do some image correction functions from the iPhone’s small but very crisp display. If I have an image that needs some tonal adjustment, cropping, or sharping, I can make those adjustments with my finger with Adobe’s Photoshop Mobile application. I have found that many of my iPhone’s images do not need much digital correction.

My images were uploaded from my iPhone’s camera roll with an application called FTP on the Go. This was the best uploading application with many FTP functions; including the ability to change image sizes and adjust server file permissions. It also works over Wifi, 3G, and Edge networks.

There are other options to get your iPhone pictures to your WordPress site. WordPress for iOS is an iPhone app that allows posting and uploading of pictures to a post. But the WordPress for iOS app can’t match NextGen when it comes to organizing and displaying multiple photos within a blog post.

Note: The pictures below were taken with iOS 4.01. Since then Apple has released version 4.1 which includes the HDR photography feature. HDR supposedly deals with pictures with varying light intensities and takes three pictures and combines the best areas of each of those adjusted shots. Ever taken a shot with a washed-out sky? This technology deals with those kind of challenging shots. I will experiment with HDR as soon as my jail broken phone allows me to update to iOS 4.1.