Learning to Develop WordPress Plugins

I’ve been learning how to develop WordPress plugins over the past week or so (in between big website projects). So far I’ve completed 7 simple but useful plugins! I’m by no means an expert software engineer, but I’m really pleased with the results after a relatively short amount of time. Plugins make repetitive content management tasks a whole lot easier and they’re not theme dependent (you can switch themes and they’ll stay in place). I’ll do some proper write-ups on a few of the plugins soon, but here’s a preview of what I’ve developed so far.

Note: For now, these plugins are just intended for my learning purposes, so I’m not releasing them to the general public. Plus, they mainly satisfy development needs that are specific to my website projects, so I don’t know how useful they’d be for other developers. Perhaps in the future I’ll develop some plugins to be included in the WordPress plugin repository.

Screenshot of Michael's WordPress plugins, including author bio shortcode, custom login, custom post types, placeholder shortcode, slider shortcodes, social media, and welcome panel.

Website: Confidential Acquisition Corporation

Sometimes I get the opportunity to work on a project that remains confidential for various reasons. Maybe the client is desiring a private label product or some other special business situation. I was recently approached by a company to help them with the design of a Microsoft PowerPoint “pitch deck” that could be used to secure financing. They described it as a printable presentation deck that could be handed out during pitch meetings with potential investors. They also needed a logo and some other corporate identity bits and pieces that I designed in Adobe Illustrator. In the following screenshots, I’ve removed the real content and replaced the logo with a generic one since the project will remain confidential.

Website Home Page Design
Continue Reading >

Kodak Brownie Film Photographs

After about a 7-day wait, I got a text notification on my phone at 3:30 am that my Kodak Brownie camera photos were ready to be downloaded! I was so excited that I got up and took a look at them. They turned out great! As I had predicted, they have a unique retrofuturistic feel. It’s like an old timey photo of a scene from the future. I absolutely love it. I’m amazed that a simple box camera made in 1950 can still take photos this good. Everything seems to be in perfect working order.

I’ve been experimenting with some of the new Neural Filters available in the latest version of Adobe Photoshop (I’m using release 22.3.0). This seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out the beta “Colorize” filter. I used the default color settings and then dialed down the opacity of the layer to about 75% for a subtle hand-tinted effect. The results are unpredictable and artistic.


Vintage Film Camera: Kodak Brownie

Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 box camera

I have an assortment of vintage film cameras that friends and relatives have given to me over the years. Recently, I decided to take one for a spin. For this first adventure, I chose my dad’s old Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 box camera. It shoots 620 film (which is basically a repackaging of 120 film). I found a place online that sells hand-rolled film and bought a roll of Kodak T-Max 100. I walked around the neighborhood during the mid-day bright sun and shot all eight exposures. I carefully rolled the film up, sealed it in the light-tight container it arrived in, and sent it off to a processing lab in California. They’ll develop the film and create high-resolution scans which I’ll download from their website soon. I’m anxiously awaiting the results!


WordPress Plugin: Advanced Custom Fields

I’ve been using the Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) plugin for a few years now and I can’t imagine building a website without it. It allows you to take full control of the WordPress admin so that it’s much more intuitive to manage your site’s content. Instead of one big editor, as if you’re writing a long blog post, ACF adds smaller form fields (text, textarea, radio buttons, checkboxes, etc.) that more closely match smaller sections of content. My clients have really enjoyed the simplicity of maintaining their own site as well. Plus, when it’s been a few months, or longer, since I last updated a website, it’s nice to be able to immediately understand how to edit the content. There’s a “pro” version of the plugin with additional features, including repeatable fields, media galleries, and more.

Advanced Custom Fields Plugin >


Guitar: Jack Johnson – Upside Down

Sometimes I get bored just listening to myself play the guitar, so I decided to add some backing tracks on this one using GarageBand (which came with my MacBook Pro laptop). I added the drum kit and percussion tracks fairly quickly. It took me a while to figure out how to manually add the electric bass part. It took even longer to get good takes on the guitar parts. I don’t have any professional music recording equipment, so the guitars sound like I recorded them with an old boombox. Oh well… it’s just for fun anyway. It’s all about learning new things (guitar included).


WordPress Plugin: MPG Author Bio

If you have multiple authors on one WordPress blog, you can create accounts for each of those authors and add some biographical information in their user settings. However, not all authors prefer to provide personal info to the public. This plugin creates a simple shortcode that you can manually include on individual blog posts that includes the author’s bio and photo, as well as icon links to their social media accounts.


WordPress Plugin: MPG Welcome Panel

After installing a fresh copy of WordPress, you’re presented with a default WordPress-branded welcome panel at the top of the admin dashboard. I’ve recently learned that you can replace that panel with a version of your own. In my case, I’ve always wanted to give my clients a more useful panel that will encourage them to reach out to me if they run into problems while maintaining their site’s content.

This plugin is very easy to configure. Update the plugin’s HTML and CSS to match your brand’s logo, colors, and messaging. Upload your logo image to the WordPress Media Library and include the URL in the plugin’s anchor link. When I’m doing freelance work for other agencies, I can customize the welcome panel to match their branding and colors.


WordPress Plugin: MPG Custom Login

I’ve been learning how to develop WordPress plugins lately. I have studied this topic before, but decided to really dive deep and create one for my own use. The first plugin I made allows you to easily customize the WordPress login screen, including logo, background, and form colors. It has a settings page (under the Settings menu in the WordPress admin) and you fill out a few fields in a short form. Here are some screenshots of what it looks like in action. I still have a lot to learn about plugin development, but I’m really looking forward to developing a few more simple plugins. I’ve got some ideas that I think could work.


Happy 50th Birthday to Mark!

I was recently asked by the wife of my good friend and business partner, Mark Reeves, to put together a short video to surprise him for his 50th birthday. I knew immediately that I was going to do something fun since his birthday was in the middle of the pandemic, and we could all use a good laugh about now. I also knew that I wanted to stretch my wings a bit with my recent Adobe After Effects training. I found a tutorial on YouTube explaining how to create those silly Monty Python animations where the mouth moves up and down timed to someone talking. This is the result. Happy 50th birthday to Mark!