Tagged: publishing

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What I learnt today: learning happens everyday

In a recent episode of the unfinished business podcast, Andy Clarke is joined by Jeffrey Zeldman and Jeremy Keith to talk about writing on the web. Jeremy explains his 100 words project and stresses the importance of writing for yourself on your own website. They also touch briefly on the subject of learning and how we sometimes feel we stagnate in learning new things.

This very inspiring conversation got me thinking. To be honest, I’ve been guilty of holding back and self-censorship when it came to writing, although I’ve always wanted to write more. And the reasons are always the same: either I thought the subject I was going to write about wasn’t interesting enough, or I assumed someone else had already written about it.

But when it comes to learning, I don’t really have the feeling of stagnation. Although I’ve been working in web design and development for about 8 years now, I’m picking up new things every day – not to mention the stuff I’m learning outside of work.

I think it really depends on what we define as learning. If we’re talking about picking up a new skill then sure, we don’t learn new things everyday, simply because it usually takes more than one day to do something completely new with confidence. But for me, learning is much more than familiarizing myself with a new technique. In it’s essence, I see learning as a gaining of knowledge. I think people are constantly learning new things, however small they may be, but they’re not really aware of it anymore.

To overcome one issue and appreciate the other, I decided to write about the things I learn everyday. This may be something web design or development related or something completely different. The point is, to recognise that learning happens every day and to be conscious of it.

And that’s what I learnt today.

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A custom posting interface for Processwire

After attending IndieWebCamp in Düsseldorf, I started posting to Twitter from my own website. I would log into the CMS I’m using (Processwire), create a new post and publish it. When published, a module would be invoked which then would automatically sent the post to Twitter.

Sounds easy, right? However the reality is that I’ve been using Twitter almost exclusively on my phone and things got a little bit more complicated. Although Processwire provides a responsive backend, creating and managing pages became too much of a hassle.

So I decided to write a simple interface myself and integrate it into Processwire. I defined the basic functionality like this:

  • Enter text and show the remaining characters
  • Upload photos directly from camera or existing albums
  • Adding location information

To integrate the interface, which would basically be a form, into Processwire, I needed two things:

  1. A page restricted to admin users where the form could be displayed
  2. A persistent session to be able to view the page without having to log in everytime I wanted to use it

First, I created a new template containing the form and the relevant fields. If sent, a PHP script creates a new page in Processwire, fills the content field and—if available—uploads and adds images and location information. It then publishes that page which invokes the already existing TwitterConnect-Module which takes it from there.

I restricted access for the template to admin users and created a hidden page. Thankfully there was already a module for persistent sessions and I didn’t have to write it on my own.

A custom posting interface for tweets

The interface itself is pretty straight forward. Images can be added using the camera or by choosing an existing one. Before adding a location, an AJAX request feeds the Twitter API with position coordinates and retrieves a list of nearby places which can then be added to the tweet.

I’m pretty pleased with the result – it works really well and I might turn it into a proper module someday.

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A fresh start

Although the relaunch isn’t much of a relaunch. It is more of a fresh start – a new launch. This site used to be my online portfolio and blog where I shared the way I had been working as a photographer.

When I started doing webdesign in 2007, I instantly fell in love with the web. Becoming very passionate about it, I spent a lot of time learning and later setting up my own business in 2009. The frequency of my writing declined until I finally stopped altogether.

Writing has always been a part of my life. I’m also a great believer in sharing – that’s why I started writing in the first place. So I decided to share and write about stuff related to the things I do now. The things that I am passionate about.