Keeping up to date
This site has been somewhat quiet for a while.
Usually I post here on Linux related matters, but things have been very quiet on that front. Instead I have been turning my attention to WordPress and hosting.
There is a major upheaval on the horizon with the arrival of PHP7. Most sites currently run on PHP5 but a lot of coding has been depreciated and in 7 has been eliminated altogether. So at some stage in the future, hosting companies are going to upgrade to PHP7 and sites across the board will suddenly lose a lot of functionality, or worse.
So I have been spending a considerable amount of time trawling through my sites (there's a lot of them) finding plugins that aren't PHP7 compatible. A lot of them aren't. Some of the latter are essential, in which case I contacted the authors and they updated their code (they were extremely grateful for the warning!). Some plugins that were not so critical I just replaced with suitable alternatives and some I just left to chance. The plugin I used in this part of the exercise is PHP Compatibility Checker.
Ultimately I made the switch on the majority of my sites, leaving just a few that as yet haven't got PHP7 as an option on the servers. I hope to migrate those sites to newer servers in the coming weeks.
Another factor I have been working on is to upgrade sites to secure connections, as this another way the Internet is moving. Google apparently intend to (or actually do) penalise non-secure sites.
The main problem with moving to SSL is the need for certificates, which are expensive and are beyond the scope of the hobbyist or even the small business. The simple answer I found is to move all sites to CloudFlare Content Delivery Network. As part of their free package they provide easily installable certificates.
Lastly (but by no means least) I used Weaver II as a theme builder on many of my sites. While this was a very powerful theme creator/customiser it is now depreciated and has been replaced by Weaver Xtreme. At first I found that the latter had a very steep learning curve and was reluctant to switch. However I persevered and eventually found that Weaver Xtreme is immensely powerful and is far superior to the old Weaver. It is also fully PHP7 compatible, uses more efficient coding and is therefore a lot faster.
In the course of all this work, I kept a stern eye on page speed, tweaking plugins (and replacing many) with an ultimate goal of getting every site on my books to load in under 3 seconds. That was not easy. One client in particular had a great fondness for sliding image galleries on his front page – six or seven of them. On of those galleries alone contained 36 images, none of which was reduced in dimensions or compressed. The overall size of the front page was well in excess of 50Mb. Plugins and tweaks can do a lot, but this was the only case where I had to intervene and strongly suggest some alternative layouts!
So, as you can see, I haven't been idle!
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