Plugins: 5 Reason why you should be careful when using them

Plugins are a great way to add functionality and beautify a website. But when to stop? Is that even possible to have too many plugins?

1. WordPress taking up too much memory

Everything is great, you found this amazing plugin, free, does everything that you need. You install it, everything goes well and all of a sudden you see this:

Hosting account ran out of allocated memory when loading wordpress and plugins
Hosting account ran out of allocated memory when loading wordpress and plugins

An Allowed Memory Size Exhausted error signifies that your WordPress installation has not enough enough memory to achieve what you want.

The suggestion given in the codex is to:

Increase your memory limit in wp-config.php

Increase your memory limit by editing php.ini. This is not a file that comes with WordPress so if you are unfamiliar with it you should contact your web host about increasing your memory limit.

But what if you are already on the limit for your current hosting account? Would you upgrade to support the new features or, as a developer, would you be able to rethink a different approach?

2. Compatibility problems

Plugin version check
Plugin version check

When installing a plugin from the repository, through WordPress, there are a few things that we need to check:

  • required WordPress version
  • compatibility with different versions

But another problem that you might run into is that your hosting provider might have a lower version of php that the plugin requires.

Yoast example of plugin requiring php version
Yoast example of plugin requiring php version

Again, is it something that your hosting provider can fix? If not, is it worth moving to a different provider because of one plugin?

3.  Plugin poorly developed, security issues

We go through the WordPress repo we can find a myriad of plugins, all capable of doing wonderful things. But also we will find plugins that:

a (  ) out of date
b (  ) bloated
c (  ) buggy
d (  ) unsecure
e (  ) all of the above

What is the point of working hard, to leave our website vulnerable for exploits? The risk of you website been flag by Google and suspended by your hosting provider are not worth the trouble.

PLEASE, if you are not 100%, check here before installing anything:

4. 3rd party plugin requires manual overrides to give the functionality that you need

No, trust me, don’t do it. You would be in for a world of pain. On top of the problem mentioned above with security, unless you are absolutely 100% that plugin has no exploits, don’t require updates, don’t have new functionalities in newer versions and you are a genius, I would not recommend customizing a 3rd party plugin, especially if you are delivering a service to a end user.

This advice, of course does not apply if you are developing your own plugin. :)

5. Plugins with malware

Naughty naughty developer, you must NOT installed pirated software, for two reasons:

a) A lot of work and effort was into developing those plugins, if the developer requires you to have an adequate license for your end product, you should comply with it, we talking here about fairness

b) Arr, Pirated software often comes wit’ malware within it installation, we be not shoutin’ ’bout simple popups, matey!

A blog post on Sucuri really help us to understand the danger of this “free” premium software.

Getting something valuable for free may sound great, however, in most cases, you won’t get what you expect. After all, you should ask yourself the question, why would someone spend their time to steal software, and then post it to various sites and forums where they can’t even count on any advertising revenue? Usually, the answer is that they expect to take advantage of the sites that install the software they post. How? By adding some undisclosed functionality to the stolen plugins like backdoors, ads, hidden links, and SPAM.

Highly recommend checking this post here.

If you have more ideas about plugins, please let me know, I would love to hear your experiences.


Image optimization

Image optimization and loading speeds for your website can be tricky. Google is on a mission to make the web faster and accessible to all, in all devices. Responsive websites need to perform great, but also look beautiful. So we load our beautiful content picture, about 1.3mb with a 2k res. Looks great! But don’t forget loading time…

Google being a nice guy (ha!) has a whole developer are devoted only for page speed:

Make the web faster

And more specifically, resources for image optimization:

… Finding the optimal format and optimization strategy for your image assets requires careful analysis across many dimensions: type of data being encoded, image format capabilities, quality settings, resolution, and more. …

If you like reading, there are heaps of information here:

Image Optimization

So what should I do?

Under the section: Selecting the right image format, it brings the following:

Image format tree

So if you need high quality images, with a range of colours, PGN seems to be the obvious answer. But they are knows to be bigger than jpeg. So what can we do?

Well, suggestion for today it is something simple, but powerful: Tiny PNG

This incredibly simple but incredibly powerful tool can really help you to squeeze the last kb out of your website.

And ever better: it has a wordpress plugin!

Tiny PNG for WordPress

But how it works?

Excellent question! When you upload a PNG (Portable Network Graphics) file, similar colors in your image are combined. This technique is called “quantization”. By reducing the number of colors, 24-bit PNG files can be converted to much smaller 8-bit indexed color images. All unnecessary metadata is stripped too. The result: better PNG files with 100% support for transparency. Have your cake and eat it too!

Really recommend it to become part of your development tools. Do you have a suggestion? Let me know.



End of Internet Explorer 9 support? Read the fine print

Internet Explorer 7, 8, 9 and 10 have been finally ditched by Microsoft . But as a developer, you should read a bit more into it before closing the coffin.

Internet Explorer 7 and 8

Dead, that’s it. You don’t need to worry about it anymore.

Internet Explorer 9 >

Well, there where it starts to get interesting. To start, let’s understand what is the Microsoft Lifecycle Support policy.

The Redmond company mentions two types of support:

  • Normal support
  • Extended support

And on extended support, fellow developer, you should pay attention.

When we read Microsoft’s statement about End of IE Support, it states:

Beginning January 12, 2016, only the most current version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical supports and security updates. Internet Explorer 11 is the last version of Internet Explorer, and will continue to receive security updates, compatibility fixes, and technical support on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10.

Hm… missing something on your “Vista”?

Yes, Vista is not supported on a regular basis, but going deeper into the Windows lifecycle FAQ sheet, we learn that Vista SP2 is still supported under the Extended Support for Business and Development products.

And guest what?

Beginning January 12, 2016, only the most current version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates, as shown in the table below:

Windows Desktop Operating Systems Internet Explorer Version
Windows Vista SP2 Internet Explorer 9

So now, what should we do? Do we completely abandon Internet 9 and 10 and move forward with 11 and Edge support?

One thing to have in mind is to think who are your clients. They are the ones that will dictate the path that you should follow. Although it is always interesting to be on the bleeding edge of innovation, we still need to remember that there are a lot of legacy devices around.

According to W3Counter.com, December/2015 top 10 browsers showed that:

a) Internet Explorer 11 holds the 3rd place, after Chrome and Safari

b) No other version of Internet Explorer is on the rank.

Now, with this information, it is up to you to make the call.

Create a WordPress custom theme

Creating a WordPress custom Theme

Is 2016 a bit to “futuristic” for your? 2015 too old? Sometimes creating your own WordPress custom theme can give the flexibility that you need.

But where to start? Well, one could open notepad and design an amazing theme from the scratch. BUT… this might interest you:

Fantastic skeleton theme for your own creation, I personally use this.

Easy to setup .scss and .sass compiler, has options to minify your css on the go, highly recommended for theme creation.

Extremely flexible grid system, much easier and flexible than bootstrap and foundation, check their website, trust me.

Easy to setup menu. It does require some customization, would recommend customization through css instead of admin.

Why do I need a custom theme?

Well, you actually don’t, that is the great thing about WordPress. There is a myriad of themes and frameworks that suits all needs. But developing your own theme can really help to improve your coding skills. The level of customization that can be reached is limitless and it will depend really on your skills.

In coming articles, we will talk about responsive websites and how your custom theme can be easily transformed to suit different medias.

Create your own wordpress custom theme

WordPress 4.4 ‘Clifford’ is out

It’s been almost a month that WordPress 4.4 have been released. Between the many additions to it, like the new default theme Twenty Sixteen, an better support for responsive images and many forms of embed posts, one point was he highlight of this update:

Rest! And I don’t mean a ciesta, I mean WordPress 4.4 REST API.

Rest API for WordPress 4.4

If you are not familiar with rest, you should really check the official REST API page.

But hey, I should you and I bother about REST?

In a world where we are all trying to squeeze every byte, trying to make pages lighter and lighter, RESTful applications can alleviate the load on your server.

More info about it: Learn REST

Source: https://wordpress.org/news/2015/12/clifford/