1/100: Advanced Custom Fields, Custom Post Types UI and Essential WP Hierarchy

Hi there. This is the beginning of a 100 day project to improve my programming skills.

My coding isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. So, while my dear friend and Richmond, Virginia artist Alyssa Sicard engages in a 100 day challenge for her art, I thought I’d jump in on her Day 19 with a programming challenge.

These posts will be short and sweet, since they will be daily. But since this is the first, a short introduction: I’ve always loved computers, and I’ve always been good with them. I’m going through the important phase in any early career where I am trying to define my niche and invest in myself. While I appreciate my business skills, I am actually a lot more interested in making than selling and I don’t believe that one has much to contribute as a technology entrepreneur without considerable coding chops. This challenge seemed like a natural choice.

I anticipate these posts are going to hinge on the edge of humor and absurdity. A strange effect of being me is that I often learn things out of order: I liked the Beatles so I could sing Beatles songs before I could speak English, I was clever with a computer so I started my first technology company without being able to define the word “startup.” In line with this pattern, I managed to commercialize a major WordPress product and can tell you about git workflow, hybrid apps using Laravel and the WordPress REST API, and I have opinions on JavaScript frameworks, but I’ve written about 15 lines of code in my life thus far.

That should change. Day 1.

Day 1/100 of the programming challenge: April 23rd, 2018.┬áThe holy grail of programming, obviously, is mining bitcoin. But we all have to start somewhere, so I’m making a website for my mom. She wants to take orders for cakes.

I’ve spent the past 2 years talking about Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) and Custom Post Types (CPTs) like I know everything. Dirty secret: first time setting up either one on my own was about 30 minutes ago.

A screenshot of the CPT "Coding Posts" in the WP admin menu.
Look! It’s the first custom post type I’ve ever made myself. I’ve used them a ton, but never actually made my own.

CPTs were super easy: searched the WordPress plugin repo for “Custom Post Types UI,” installed the plugin, clicked around. I now have a “Coding Posts” section on my personal blog to separate these posts from the regular blog posts. I don’t know if that means these will get pushed out to my subscribers as my regular blog posts do. I guess we’ll see.

On the cake website, I set up a CPT for cakes and used Advanced Custom Fields to add some details about the cakes. I know enough about WordPress and what I want to do for this site for my momma to know that eventually these will just be WooCommerce products, but for the exercise, it was good.

A CPT “Cakes,” with custom fields for price and a text area for me to collect my mom’s scattered thoughts about cake flavors.

I’m doing all of this while following along Zac Gordon’s WordPress Development course on Udemy.com. I’m what you would describe as a ruthless expert on the WordPress admin, but not too great with anything that involves custom code added to WordPress. That is changing, and Zac’s course is an excellent tool for anybody who would also describe themselves in this way.

A screenshot of the WordPress admin theme area, with a custom theme that shows “Carolina Cakes”

The last video I did for today was about template hierarchy. So, I set up a simple theme with blank pages for style.css, functions.php, and index.php. My theme does nothing yet, but look how good it looks in the admin!