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New Responsive WooCommerce theme Sooperstore released

Ok it's pretty embarrassing how long it's been since I posted a blog update here. My last update was early July saying that a new theme was on the way "within a week" if I recall correctly. Well fast forward a week or 8 and I'm happy to announce that Sooperstore has finally been released! We actually released another theme in the...

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5 Stunning Responsive WordPress themes

While responsive web design is a relatively new phenomenon, the WordPress theme development ecosystem has exploded with a plethora of stunning responsive WordPress themes over the past few months. It's one of the things that I really love about the WordPress community - the speed at which theme developers themselves are so responsive :)...

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High Performance WordPress – Part 4

Alrighty folks, if you’ve been following along with the High Performance WordPress post series you will by now have experienced the awesomeness of a WordPress website running on nginx. If you’ve not been following along what are you waiting for? Go check out the following posts first: Part 1 - VPS Setup Part 2 - nginx/mysql...

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High Performance WordPress Part 3

Hey folks I’m back with Part Three of the High Performance WordPress guide. If you’ve not done so already, be sure to check out Parts One and Part Two which will take you from a position of having no server to a fully configured VPS machine running the kickass nginx web server and mysql - or a LEMP environment as those in the know...

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Well Hello There!

Hey there thanks for stopping by! ThemesForge is all about WordPress Themes. We don’t make ’em - but we pretty much live ’em, breath ’em, review ’em, rant about ’em and hope to keep you the you the discerning reader fully up to date about what is going on in the WordPress themes ecosystem.

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New Responsive WooCommerce theme Sooperstore released

04 September 2012 comment icon0 | Categories: commercial themes, featured, theme news

sooperstoreblog

Ok it’s pretty embarrassing how long it’s been since I posted a blog update here. My last update was early July saying that a new theme was on the way “within a week” if I recall correctly. Well fast forward a week or 8 and I’m happy to announce that Sooperstore has finally been released!

We actually released another theme in the interim which I’ll come back to you another time. Right now I’m excited to share details of Sooperstore.

What’s the skinny on Sooperstore?

  1. It’s a WooCommerce theme. What’s WooCommerce? Only one of the best WordPress ecommerce plugins on the planet (along with it’s distant relative Jigoshop).
  2. It’s responsive. A lot of time has been spent tuning the hell out the responsiveness of Sooperstore. I’m pretty satisfied that it’s one of the best responsive ecommerce themes you’ll find anywhere right now.
  3. It comes with 5 color schemes – and new color schemes are a doddle to add – just a few lines of css.
  4. It’s full of HTML5/CSS3 goodness.
  5. WooCommerce widgets galore – we’ve implemented some nice little widgets that really spruce up your stores homepage.
  6. 3 and 4 column shop grid layouts.
  7. Simple but useful Theme Options panel – sensible defaults are used elsewhere where ever possible to avoid bloatware.
  8. Shortcodes – but no sucky ones.
  9. 11 Widget areas including a fully widgetized homepage which effectively means you can drag n’ drop your homepage layout.
  10. Sliders, Portfolios and Deal Custom Post Types.

Of course theres lots more nice little details but I think you’d sooner take Sooperstore for a spin wouldn’t you?

Sooperstore Demo

Sooperstore is available for $55 over on themeforest.

Normal less irregular posting may resume now that Sooperstore is out in the wild.

New WooCommerce theme on the way!

07 July 2012 comment icon0 | Categories: theme news

So it’s a month since my last post. While the blog has been quiet, things have been moving a thousand miles an hour behind the scenes. A lot of work has gone into a new commercial WooCommerce theme which I’m pretty excited about. It’s taking a bit longer than I hoped to get it shipped which is normally the way these things go – but I really hope it’s worth it in the end – time will tell! All the core work is done and now it’s down to the final stretch of testing, testing and more testing. What I like to call the final 90% :)

As an aside – some good news – themesforge is to be added to the Alltop WordPress news feed. I’ve always found Alltop to be a really useful topic curation service and am delighted themesforge will soon be listed there too.

Stay tuned for more within the next 7 days and then normal more infrequent blogging will resume.

WooCommerce Payment Gateway for Realex Payments released

06 June 2012 comment icon0 | Categories: plugins

So the last couple of weeks of May and the start of June have been really hectic and my posting schedule here has suffered big time as a result. Today I’m delighted to announce the release of my first payment gateway for WooCommerce. Realex Payments is a leading European online payment gateway. It’s really well established in Ireland for merchants who don’t want to use an intermediary like Paypal. It’s also increasingly popular in the UK with customers like Vodafone, Virgin Atlantic and Aer Lingus (Irelands flag carrier airline). I’ve been putting this WooCommerce extension together for a few months now but other commitments prevented me from putting the finishing touches to it so it’s to finally ship it.

Realex provide 2 main protocols for facilitating online payments – RealAuth Remote and RealAuth Redirect. This plugin provides support for both. RealAuth Remote requires an SSL certificate and provides a more seamless experience for users as transactions are sent directly from your website to Realex in the background via a secure XML based API. You don’t need to worry about PCI compliance as credit card details are not actually stored on your server. For those who don’t want to use an SSL certificate, RealAuth Redirect allows your customers to complete their payment directly on Realex’s payment screen (similarly to how Paypal works with WooCommerce et al.)

For those not aware, WooCommerce is the new kid on the WordPress eCommerce block. Originally forked out of the also fantastic Jigoshop plugin, WooCommerce is rapidly gaining popularity and a reputation as one of the best options for quickly setting up an online shop within WordPress. I must also say that it has been a very pleasant experience building an extension for WooCommerce system and the developer ecosystem around the plugin is rapidly growing. Stay tuned for more plugins in the future!

Plugin Features

  • RealAuth Remote Support (SSL Certificate and Curl are required – oh and a Realex account of course!)
  • RealAuth Redirect Support.
  • Detailed transaction logging within WooCommerce.
  • Over 10 years experience in building Realex integrations have gone into the design of the plugin.
  • Support for Realex Sub accounts.
  • 5 minute install process – plug and play baby!
  • Free lifetime upgrades.
  • Free lifetime support.

Special Launch Offer

Seeing as it’s summer and we all like a good offer, the plugin is being launched at the special low low price of €29.99 (normal price €39.99 which is still a bargain if you ask me! – custom Realex integrations can quite often cost hundreds if not thousands of euros!). What’s more we’ll provide 1 hours free installation assistance if you would like someone to assist you with getting up and running.

You can purchase the plugin for instant download from our new Shop (running on WooCommerce of course!)

WP App Store and Baby Stuff

15 May 2012 comment icon0 | Categories: theme news

2 pretty cool new things popped up on the wires today that I just had to share with you guys.

The first is an uber cool post from WordPress lead dev Mark Jaquith about his clever little new site – havebabyneedstuff.com

Mark is no stranger to publishing some fantastic tutorials on bleeding edge WordPress development best practices and this write up is full of awesome innovative approaches to building WordPress websites. If you want to see further evidence of the future of theme development go check out Mark’s blog post immediately and study it carefully – that’s the future right there folks.

Second up today is the launch of the WP App Store. This is big one that has been coming for a while and the potential to be massive – possibly the single biggest development in the commercial WordPress theme business in 2012. No exaggeration. In a nutshell, the WP App Store promises to do for WordPress what the Apple App Store did for iOS devices.

Check out the short video demonstrating how it works.

YouTube Preview Image

I think WordPress.org missed the boat on this a long while back and it was only a matter of time before the community stepped in to offer this as a platform. While I think it would have been better coming from within the WordPress.org project, my impression is that the core project is not interested in the concept of an App Store for the .org project at the moment – and that’s a shame. Commercial themes and plugins are a huge aspect of the WordPress community as a whole in 2012. An App Store will make the lives of less technical WordPress users so much easier and removes so many points of friction in the commercial WordPress theme purchase and install process that the sales of the theme shops on board are bound to explode on the back of this. I do however see a number of big challenges for the WP App Store. First, to use the WP App Store users first have to get their hands on the WP App Store plugin. While that’s a pretty simple plugin install process, it’s still a plugin install. If this was part of the core WordPress install this would take off like a rocket right now. It will take time for this to build momentum – but when it does it will spread like wildfire. Second, I can see .org being slightly concerned with the naming of the project. People are very familiar with the Apple App Store – and a lot of people understand that that App Store is curated and managed directly by Apple. It’s one of the few benefits of the closed ecosystem that is iOS development. You play by Apple’s rules and you get instant access to a massive market that trusts your products because Apple curates them. Will people assume that the WP App Store is curated by the WordPress project just like the main plugin and theme directories? Also, is it cool to even call this the WP App Store? Will Apple come knocking? I think WP App Store will need to be really clear communicating who is behind the service to gain the trust of potential customers.

Either way there’s some of the biggest theme shops on the planet who have already signed up to be part of the new WP App Store so it looks like they are off to a strong start. I think theme marketplaces like Themeforest and MoJo Themes will be kicking themselves right now for not doing something like this a long time ago. Kudos to Brad Touesnard & Co for bringing a really exciting innovation to the commercial theme/plugin world.

The future of theme development

14 May 2012 comment icon4 | Categories: opinion

WordPress theme development has come a long way in the past few years. We are in the middle of an explosion in the number of different methods a theme developer can choose when it comes to building WordPress themes. This explosion is partly a result of a seismic shift in the broader web design and development community. Just about every single aspect of how we as a community build frontend code is changing – and in multiple directions with different options.

Let’s take a quick look at some of these.

HTML5

HTML5 is a lot more than just an increment on the bedrock markup standard that the modern web is built upon. Heck, it’s single handedly killing flash. HTML5 opens up a whole slew of new and exciting protocols such as web sockets. While it’s early days yet, the prospect of adopting bleeding edge tech like web sockets into the core of WordPress is an exciting prospect and will have major implications for theme developers in the coming years. For now, many theme developers are switching doc types to HTML5 and utilising the new slew of html tags that help to make our markup more semantic and meaningful – but this is just the start.

Mobile

For anyone who doubted how important the mobile web is becoming, the recent purchase of Instagram by Facebook for a mind boggling $1 billion dollars is a watershed moment. Theme developers to date have built lots of nice iPhone optimised themes but have we as an industry really looked to leverage the mobile web with our themes? Personally I don’t think so and I think the potential for delivering WordPress powered mobile experiences is huge. On the authoring side of the house we have WordPress for iOS which is cool. But where are the apps that render our content natively on the device instead of just a nice mobile theme? I realise I’m straying beyond conventional theme design here – but that’s the point. The web as a whole is moving beyond conventional frontend user interface engineering and it’s time for theme developers to start getting creative about this rapidly growing market.

Responsive Design

Somewhat related to the explosion in mobile content is the rise of responsive design. Personally I think there is a lot of hype and hyperbole written about responsive web design. I can see a time in the near future where the chatter dies down and that all our conventional frontend user interfaces will in some form be responsive. I make a distinction between Mobile and Responsive design because they are not the same. Creating a responsive design is not the same as creating a mobile experience. There are use cases and scenarios where the very content we are consuming is designed purely for the desktop or the mobile. Case in point, the Instagram app is the worlds first mobile only social network. They still don’t have a desktop user interface! Hell, they may never have one! Responsive design works great when repurposing article/blog post driven websites. But for web apps built on top of WordPress, user interface design decisions will need to be thought about in much more detail.

CSS gets Sassy (and LESSy – oh – not to mention CSS3)

For years we bitched and moaned about working with CSS as we tried to make it do what we wanted it to do. But deep down while we bitched and moaned – we could at least tame the beast we knew – and that’s pretty much the way things stayed for the best part of 10 years. Today things are changing quickly. CSS3 opens up a brave new world of cool new interesting things we can do with CSS. Bad news? Getting to grips with it and learning how different browsers support different features. Added to that we now have a whole new set of tools known as CSS compilers which promise to make our lives much easier when it comes to rapidly building modern web interfaces. 2 such compilers are Sass and LESS. Read a nice intro and comparison to both here. Both are pretty cool and will change how you write CSS forever.

Javascript

Once to poor child of the web community, Javascript has undergone somewhat of a reinvention to the hottest web development language on the planet. Why? Several reasons. On the server side of the house, the fervour and hype machine is bigging up nodejs to become the next Ruby on Rails. It’s a lightning fast server side framework for building web apps completely in javascript. Added to this jQuery continues to innovate rapidly with so many cool new plugins that it’s hard to keep up with it. Throw in things like Backbone, Spine and Meteor and you have some of the smartest developers on the web focusing their minds on building the next generation of web apps in a language many of us despised for years. What are the implications for us when it comes to theme development? I think the time is near when we will start to see the next generation of WordPress themes that leverage javascript of build our frontend UI’s and communicate with WordPress via JSON API’s which will give us much more flexibility about how we build websites on top of WordPress.

Framework Overload

Closer to the present day, we have new frameworks popping up seemingly every day for different things. Most commercial theme shops have adopted their own theme development framework as it naturally allows them to speed up their development cycle. Many theme shops have gone a step further and released their frameworks to the wider WordPress community. Some do this as a way of giving back to the community. Others do it in the hope that their framework might gain critical mass in the community thereby giving them a better shot of selling themes to the community at large. Either way, we have a huge amount of repetition going on. Add to that you have frameworks emerging in individual disciples such as the HTML5 Boilerplate which some theme frameworks such as Roots have incorporated into their framework. Same goes for Responsive design where you have lots of theme frameworks popping up which incorporate popular responsive HTML/CSS frameworks.

Don’t forget Theme Options

This was a tough nut to crack for entry level theme developers for a long time. Now it would seem there is an embarrassment of riches available (really recommend checking out the best and worst theme options available)when it comes to deciding how to implement theme options in a WordPress theme. The danger for those new to theme option design is to go nuts. Don’t do this. You’ll grow hair on the backs of your palms and may go blind*
Take a leaf from Apples book and think a lot more about sensible defaults and limiting theme options to the things that really matter.

Where now for theme developers?

There was a time not too long ago where theme design and development was pretty simple. To be honest it’s not all that difficult now either. What is difficult even for experienced theme developers is deciding where to focus your time. Things are changing fast and the road is opening up in front of us. For those starting to learn how to design and develop WordPress themes in 2012 – things must look very tricky indeed. Which framework should I choose? Should I build my own? (HINT: Don’t). Do I need to worry about Theme Options? (HINT: Not as much as you might think – and check out this nice Theme Options framework. http://upthemes.com/upthemes-framework/). For those of us who have been doing this a long time this is second nature. But I think we as a community could do more to help those who are getting started to avoid some of the common mistakes we all made along the way. Food for thought and something I’ll be more conscious of here with future blog posts.

*Actual palm hair growth and blindness is not a direct consequence of overloaded theme options but I’m willing to threaten anything to make this stop.

Top Themeforest authors estimated to gross over $700,000 per month

10 May 2012 comment icon0 | Categories: theme news

So it would seem the Themeforest juggernaut continues to grow from strength to strength. First off a disclaimer – I’m not a financial analyst, nor do I work for themeforest or envato. These calculations are my own estimates based on the information made freely available on themeforest. I’m merely a very interested and curious WordPress junkie who likes looking at these kind of things from time to time. Note I’ve also not deducted or split out numbers to account for themeforest author revenue splits which while could be projected I do not wish to shine a light on specific author net earnings – I’m interested in the macro view of the themeforest world.

If anyone from themeforest or envato would like to correct me feel free to get in touch.

I did some rough math this evening and took a look at the top selling WordPress themes on themeforest and some of the numbers are staggering. The WordPress economy is on fire.

Some quick highlights:

  • The Top 20 Themes are grossing over $80,000 per week - There were approx. 2437 theme sales to the week ending May 6th 2012. By far the most common theme price amongst the Top 20 Theme Authors last week was $35 (18 out of 20), 1 theme was $40 and 1 was $45. This amounts $87,580 – not bad for 7 days of sales. This is also just the Top 20 selling themes. I’m guessing that the Top 20 selling themes probably account for a small percentage of overall weekly sales on themeforest given long tail sales against what must now be thousands of WordPress themes available on themeforest.
  • So you think those figures are impressive? You ain’t seen nothing yet!
  • I estimate that the combined Top 20 Authors on themeforest in April 2012 sold over $700,000 in WordPress themes. That’s over $32,000 per author per month. The basis for this calculation? Themeforest list their Top 20 authors by month (available here in the right hand side column). Between them, the Top 20 authors sold approx. 21975 themes in April. I’ve already noted above that the average theme sale price is $35. So get your abacus out kids: 21975*35 = $769,125. And remember this is just the Top 20 authors. I think it is easily conceivable that as a business themeforest must now be grossing in excess of $1 million dollars per month.
  • Another interesting fact is that the Number 1 selling theme last week (the omnipresent U-Design) grossed almost twice as much as the number 2 theme (Modernize)

It will be interesting to see the numbers remain consistent and/or grow in May. I’m also curious to see if the same authors retain their rankings in the Top 20 author listings. If a theme author were able to do so over the course of a year it would amount to an average earning of $384,000 per annum! Nice work if you can get it!

While the commercial WordPress theme marketplace remains extremely competitive, it’s clear the rewards for the best of the best are substantial.

themezilla goes live

08 May 2012 comment icon2 | Categories: theme news

tzilla

This is a big one. After teasing us for a couple of weeks, themezilla has finally gone live. For those of you not familiar with themezilla, there is a good chance that if you’ve purchased a commercial WordPress theme from themeforest in the past couple of years – you actually are. themezilla is the brainchild of none other than Orman Clark – one of the most successful themeforest authors of all time.

To celebrate the launch, themezilla has 2 new themes, Volumes which is a commercial theme aimed at digital agencies (one of Orman’s more popular theme categories in the past) and the appropriately named Launch which is a fantastic free tumblog style theme.

Big congrats to Orman and the rest of the themezilla team on their launch. It would appear that the launch is already proving very successful as the site is wee bit slow at the moment as it takes a pounding from all the traffic it’s getting. Not a bad problem to have. Orman if you’re listening we have a couple of tuts on a kickass high performance WordPress setup :)

Highly infrequent links of the day – May 2

02 May 2012 comment icon0 | Categories: theme news

The WordPress newswires are buzzing with lots of interesting things today.

New Theme shop Themefurnace Launches 

Oli from WPLift has taken the wrappers off Themefurnace. Between the ‘Furnace and ‘Forge, I think Oli and I have all the fire driven analogies covered in the WordPress community :) Oli has written a great post about the first 24 hours of the launch. It’s a great read for anyone thinking about getting into the WordPress Theme business.

New Pay what want ThemeThrift site launches

The “Pay what you want” business model has been popping up more and more in recent years in the music industry and to a lesser extent the restaurant business. While it’s an interesting business model I’ve always been a skeptic about it’s long term viability. Which is weird because in general I tend to see the good in people rather than the bad. But when it comes to WordPress themes, I think there has often been a prevailing sense of entitlement that themes should be free. This certainly has changed over the years but I think there is still this perception and where offered my guess is people will choose not to pay – I hope I’m wrong.

It will be interesting to see how this experiment works out.

And finally…. it’s great to see WooThemes are on course to pretty much make a complete recovery after their nightmare week last week. Not long after they came back online last week, they were hit with a pretty big DDOS attack which took them back offline for a short time. Kudos to WPEngine for keeping the WooThemes show on the road.

WooThemes Suffers Severe Hack

25 April 2012 comment icon5 | Categories: theme news

Last night I noticed that WooThemes had gone offline. At the time I didn’t think much of it as every site ends up going down once in a blue moon. But then this morning I noticed it was still down and showing a cpanel holding page I knew something strange was up.

Turns out, WooThemes was targeted by a very severe and malicious hack. This attack was so disruptive that WooThemes may be offline for another couple of days while an alternative server and hosting infrastructure is put in place. This is not the first time WooThemes has been targeted. Back in December 2010, the site suffered a prolonged DDOS attack which brought the site to it’s knees for over 24 hours but this attack appears to be even worse.

I feel terrible for the WooThemes folks for the moment as this has clearly turned their business upside down not to mention the nightmare that trying to maintain customer service must be right now. That said, true to form, it would appear that the Woo team are pulling all the stops out to keep the show on the road while the main site is offline – follow ongoing service status updates here.

From a recent update:

Please feel free to direct technical support queries to techsupport@woothemes.com & non-technical queries to support@woothemes.com. Our whole team is on standby there if you need us.

If you need access to your downloadable products, please ping us techsupport@woothemes.com & we’ll get you access to the files from our alternative storage in the meantime.

One must question what the motives behind severe attacks such as this. Normally the nature of many website hacks is simply to demonstrate the hackers skillz to their peers which while extremely annoying can be rapidly fixed. Was there a WordPress vulnerability involved in the attack? If so, this will no doubt cause ripples of concern across the WordPress community. I’m sure it’s the last thing on Adii’s mind right now but I think once normal service is resumed that some disclosure of the nature of the attack would be important to reassure customers and the WordPress community at large. I know at one point Woothemes.com was hosted on vps.net who I moved all my business away from about 12 months ago due to fears I had about their infrastructure after I had several data loss scares.

Planning a disaster such as this is extremely complex – especially for a business like WooThemes was completely relies on the web to run it’s business. I think many other WordPress based businesses could learn some lessons from this attack and take a long hard look at their Disaster Recovery plans should the worst happen.

For now, I wish Adii & Co. the best of luck getting everything back online as soon as possible and hope that there is no long term damage from this incident.

4 Excellent WordPress Books

24 April 2012 comment icon1 | Categories: best of

One of the great things about working with WordPress is the huge wealth of freely available content online covering just about anything you might want to do with WordPress. Got some weird php error after upgrading one of your sites? Chances are you won’t be alone and a simple Google search will solve your problem in a couple of minutes. Want to know about how to optimise your WordPress site for millions of pageviews? Yip, theres tons of stuff online about that too (including *cough*) But sometimes there’s nothing like sitting down and immersing oneself in a really well written book to take you beyond specific problems and queries and broadens your horizons a bit. Tons of books have been published about WordPress in recent years, catering from the absolute beginner to the wannabe rock star theme developer. To be honest, there’s also been some pretty crap ones too. Here’s a selection of the best WordPress books that will help you deepen your WordPress skills in no time.

WordPress for Dummies

by Lisa Sabin Wilson

Lisa is well known in the WordPress community for putting in a massive amount of time to create the definitive go to resource for newbies getting to grips with WordPress for the first time. If you’ve been using WordPress for some time now, this book might be a little bit too high level for your needs. But don’t discount the dummies tag, this book covers just about everything one would want to know about to get the most out of WordPress.

Lisa’s writing style is very easy going and you’ll fly through this book in no time.

Buy now from Amazon

 

Digging into WordPress

by Chris Coyier and Jeff Staff

We’ve been promoting this one for a long time. Digging into WordPress is for anyone who wants to build their own WordPress site from scratch. The book has regular updates which are published shortly after new WordPress versions are released. The scope of the 400 page book is very broad, covering themes, plugins and a whole load of other WordPress tidbits like rss customisations, search engine optimisation and comment management. This one will take from WordPress novice to competent website maker in no time.

Oh and if you choose to get the hard copy version it’s a damn fine looking book!

Buy Digging into WordPress

 

Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog

by Thord Daniel Hedengren

Smashing Magazine are one of the juggernauts of the online world and when they go and publish a book on WordPress one expects Smashing to deliver. In this case, they most certainly did. Many people have gone on record to say that this is the best mid level WordPress book out there.  This is NOT a beginner WordPress book. Mind you if you’re a stickler for details you might be disappointed to find some typos and grammar errors throughout. If you find a way to get past that, what you’ll find is an embarrassment of WordPress riches covering many intermediate topics in great detail including child themes, plugin development and everything you need to fast track your WordPress development skills.
Buy Smashing WordPress on Amazon

Professional WordPress Plugin Development

by Brad Williams, Ozh Richard and Justin Tadlock

You might have noticed that the books on this are getting increasingly advanced. Well that’s no accident and this last book is the go to resource if you want to become a world class WordPress developer. Brad, Ozh and Justin are all really well known guys in the WordPress community and while this book is primarily targetted as plugin developers, I found this book to be excellent for advanced theme developers aswell. Modern theme design is becoming increasingly a development task rather than a conventional design task and in that regard Professional WordPress Plugin Development is a must have for anyone writing a single line of code to do with WordPress in 2012.

This book will not be for everyone – if you never see yourself writing WordPress code – save your money. If you are evening thinking about developing for WordPress save yourself hundreds of hours on Google and get this now.

Buy Professional WordPress Plugin Development on Amazon