A Modern WordPress Developer's Toolkit

By Adam Wills | @heavymetaladam

About Me

  • Live and work in Hamilton
  • Making websites for 15+ years
  • WordPress for 6+ years
  • Still getting overwhelmed by tools


  • Explore problems
  • Explore tools
  • How do they apply to WordPress?
  • Relax

Let's talk about CSS

CSS Frustrations

Enter CSS Preprocessors!

Sass Less

Advantages of CSS Preprocessors


$brand-primary:  PapayaWhip;

.button {
    background-color: $brand-primary;
compiles to...

.button {
    background-color: PapayaWhip;



$brand-primary:  PapayaWhip;

.button:hover {
    background-color: darken($brand-primary,10%);
compiles to...

.button:hover {
  background-color: #ffdca2;



.sidebar {
    h2 {
        font-size: 0.9em;

    li {
        list-style: none;
compiles to...

.sidebar h2 {
    font-size: 0.9em;

.sidebar li {
    list-style: none;


// _reset.scss
ol {
   margin: 0;
  padding: 0;
compiles to...

// style.scss
@import "reset";
@import "typography";
@import "header";
@import "footer";

How can I use with WordPress?

Anywhere you write CSS.

Repetitive Tasks

  • Compiling SASS files
  • Concatenating JS files
  • Reloading browser
Repetitive tasks are the worst

Task runners!

Grunt Gulp

Anatomy of a Gulp file

// gulpfile.js

var gulp   = require('gulp'),
    sass   = require('gulp-sass');

gulp.task('build-css', function() {
  return gulp.src('assets/scss/**/*.scss')

gulp.task('watch', function() {
  gulp.watch('assets/scss/**/*.scss', ['build-css']);


Other useful tasks

  • Optimize images (imagemin)
  • Add vendor prefixes to css (autoprefixer)
  • Code error checking (jshint)
  • Minify CSS (minify)
  • Uglify JS (uglify)
  • Auto reload browser (Browsersync)

Command line not your thing?

Codekit Prepros

Codekit & Prepros

  • Compiles SASS, LESS, CoffeeScript
  • Auto refreshes browsers
  • Autoprefixer
  • Optimizes images

How can I use with WordPress?

  • Theme Development
  • Plugin Development

Source code issues

  • Overwrite each other's changes
  • Roll back changes?
  • Code review?
  • Code not backed up
  • Deploy... what changes?
Green Power Ranger is frustrated



Git helps!

  • Work in "branches"
  • Easily see changes made along project's history
  • Can easily roll back changes to project/files

Git Repo Hosting Services

Github BitBucket

Git Repo Hosting Services

  • Issue Tracking
  • Code review
  • Code backup!

Not into command line?

Don't worry - you're covered.

GitHub for Windows SourceTree
Git Tower

Working in a team? Establish a Workflow

Git Flow (nvie.com)

How can I use with WordPress?

  • Theme Development
  • Plugin Development
  • Entire WordPress Site

Other people's code

  • WordPress Plugins
  • WordPress Core
  • Front-end libraries (Bootstrap, Foundation)
  • Development tools (Grunt, Gulp)

Problems with other people's code

  • Bloat your git repository
  • Pain to get specific versions
  • Hassle to update

Package Managers!

  • Composer (PHP)
  • Bower (Front End)
  • Npm (Node)

Composer (PHP)

Anatomy of a composer.json file

    "name": "Adam's Awesome WordPress Site",
    "require": {
        "wpackagist-plugin/akismet": "3.1.*",
        "wpackagist-plugin/wordpress-seo": "2.1.*",
        "johnpbloch/wordpress": "4.2.2"
    "extra": {
        "installer-paths": {
          "web/app/plugins/{$name}/": ["type:wordpress-plugin"],
        "wordpress-install-dir": "wp"

How Do I Use Composer?

Install from composer.json

> composer install

Update from composer.json

> composer update

How can I use Composer in WordPress?

  • WordPress Core
  • WordPress Plugins
  • PHPUnit



How can I use Bower with WordPress

  • Adding CSS frameworks to a theme
  • Adding JS libraries to a plugin



How can I use npm with WordPress

  • Installing other tools like Gulp and Bower
  • Processes such as compiling SASS or LESS


  • Varying OS's
  • Broken Dependencies
  • Slow setup times
Works on my machine award


Benefits of Vagrant

  • Consistent environments
  • Consistent dependencies
  • Rapid setup
  • Automation

Common Vagrant WordPress Images

...Or Roll Your Own!

Puphpet Logo



One thing.

At first...

Failing is ok

Then something happens.

It all makes sense

Spend more time on development than on development issues.


Slides - http://adamwills.github.io/WordCamp2015/

Twitter - @heavymetaladam