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  • Contributing To WordPress’ Five For The Future Movement

    In 2014 Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic, announced a plan to ensure the growth and stability of WordPress in the future as a free open source platform with 'Five for the Future'.  Essentially any company deriving revenue from WordPress should concentrate 5% of their time and energy generally devoted to WordPress related work to helping improve WordPress Core.  “Improving WordPress Core” is a very generalized statement, it can encompass anything from developing for WordPress, documenting WordPress, training the community or even responding to questions in the WP forum.

     

    After all, WordPress is one of the most feature-rich Content Management Systems ever made. The user interface for administering WordPress is quite possibly the most intuitive available.  Users of WordPress fit into pretty much any category you can think of from the casual blogger to Fortune 500 companies. Feature rich and extensible, WordPress can be used for nearly any type of website you can think of.  It is the open source nature of WordPress that allows it to transcend the blogging platform that it was initially designed to be anything the user wants. However, as it grows it requires more and more attention of its community to keep it up to date and stable.

     

    A2 Hosting is committed to ensure the stability of WordPress and will be participating in the Five for the Future movement.  There are many ways that A2 Hosting believes that it can help.  First, we will be sending representatives to WordPress Meetup help sessions in the Ann Arbor and Metro Detroit area.  Meetup help sessions are a great way for anyone having an issue with a WordPress site to get one-on-one help with their issue.  We are also developing a series of talks for WordCamps and WordPress Meetups as well as creating plugins to make optimizing and securing a WordPress site much easier.

     

    We look forward to participating in Five for the Future and encourage our community to do the same.

  • Is It Time To Stop Link Building?

    We've been warned about the potential dangers of link building schemes for years. Most site owners are well aware of the threat of having their website blacklisted by Google and avoid such schemes. Natural, white hat link building is still OK, isn't it? According to a recent Google+Hangout, it sure sounds like Google is telling us that link building should be avoided.

     

    Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller was asked, “Is link building, in any way, good?” His answer was quite interesting:

     

    "In general, I’d try to avoid that. So that you are really sure that your content kind of stands on its own and make it possible for other people of course to link to your content. Make it easy, maybe, put a little widget on your page, if you like this, this is how you can link to it. Make sure that the URLs on your web site are easy to copy and paste. All of those things make it a little bit easier.

     

    We do use links as part of our algorithm but we use lots and lots of other factors as well. So only focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site that actually helps."

     

    By specifically mentioning the importance of making sure your content is easy to link to, it appears Google is encouraging link baiting. If you're unfamiliar with link baiting, it's simply offering great content that other sites link to not because you submit your content or ask them to link to it, but because they want to link to it. Link baiting is great because not only does it drive more visitors to your site, but others are doing free work for you.

     

    Link baiting doesn't necessarily have to be articles either. Think of the items you link to on your site and social media profiles. Link baiting content can include:

     

    *Infographics

    *Videos

    *Lists (Top 5 or Top 10 etc.)

    *Help Guides

    *Interviews

    *Contest and Giveaways

    *Humor/Cartoons

  • Up To 20X Faster VPS Hosting & Dedicated Servers

    As we rolled out our Turbo Servers option for our Web Hosting customers, our VPS and Dedicated customers contacted us asking, "What about us?". We're excited to announce our Turbo Boost option on our VPS Hosting, Managed VPS Hosting and Dedicated Servers.

     

    Our Turbo Servers:

    • Use less CPU and memory than Apache
    • Handle connections faster and more efficiently
    • Provide enhanced stability
    • Include Turbo Cache Option (entire HTML contents of a page is stored by Turbo Cache and served without running PHP)

    The bottom line is our Turbo Boost with Turbo Cache load pages up to 20X faster compared to standard hosting.

     

    Choose one of our Turbo Boost Servers and see what the fuss is all about!

  • Speed Up Your Site - SwiftCache Options

    At A2 Hosting, we focus on offering you the fastest web hosting solutions possible. We recently launched our Turbo servers, our fastest hosting solution to date. One of the reasons our Turbo servers load sites so quickly is our SwiftCache Site Accelerator. SwiftCache is our exclusive cPanel plugin that quickly enables caching for your applications from a single interface for even faster page loads. Unlike other hosts who do not allow caching solutions on shared servers, Turbo customers get pre-configured caching with SwiftCache.

     

    Get Turbo with SwiftCache                    Upgrade My Account To Turbo

     

    So what is caching? Caching can involve the use of RAM or hard disk to store a temporary copy of a database query, PHP script or even an entire page for faster loading speeds. The caching solutions OpCode Cache (Zend OPCache or APC), Memcached (coming soon to SwiftCache) and Turbo Cache can work together at different levels within SwiftCache to produce an extremely fast web experience for your users. In short, OPcache is used for making PHP faster, Memcached increases MySQL speed and Turbo Cache speeds up page loads even further by caching the entire web page.

     

    OPcache is used to accelerate the execution of PHP scripts.  PHP is a scripting language that must be parsed and compiled into bytecode each time it is executed (as opposed to C++ which is compiled once and run from a binary file).  OPcache allows the system to store a copy of the intermediary bytecode that is the last step before a PHP script is executed.  This saves up to several tenths of a second each time a PHP file is requested.  OPcache works at the server level and does not need to be configured by an application.

     

    Memcached works at a different level than OPcache.  An application can store database query results or html fragments in RAM by placing it in a Memcached data store.  It can be used to quickly access the result of a query that might normally be run several times per page load.  This reduces the processing power required to run your web application at the expense of a little memory.

     

    Turbo Cache is a static file cache that stores a copy of an entire page that has been rendered by PHP.  The entire contents of the HTML for a page is stored by Turbo Cache and can be quickly served up by the web server without ever executing PHP.  This makes popular web pages extremely fast and significantly reduces the processing power required to run your web application to increase the number of customers that your site can serve at one time.

     

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  • Five JavaScript TIps for PHP Developers

    PHP and JavaScript both have a similar, C-like syntax. This can be both a help and a hindrance to PHP developers who are beginning to write JavaScript. The familiarity can both help and lead them astray. I thought it might be useful here to compile a list of some stumbling blocks to avoid and practices to adopt in order to ease the transition into writing JavaScript.

    Type out your own semicolons. One thing new JavaScript developers sometimes think is cool is that JavaScript allows you to skip writing your own semicolons to end your statements. The JavaScript interpreter will assume where you wanted them based on your newlines and put them in for you. But it doesn't do a perfect job, and sometimes you will have ambiguity that will lead to problems in your code. Not only that, but your code will be harder to read without explicit semicolons. Don't fall into this trap.

    Use dot notation. JavaScript allows you to use square brackets such as foo['bar'] just like you would in PHP. But JavaScript also allows for dot notation such as foo.bar. The current convention is to use dot notation most of the time, and only use square brackets when you need to, such as accessing by value (e.g. var baz = 'bar'; foo[baz].) Dot notation is preferable in JavaScript, since not only is it 3 fewer characters, but it is also easier to read. Especially when you are accessing Object properties whicha are functions like foo.bar().

    Don't use globals. You shouldn't be using globals in PHP either. But in case you think ti's OK in JavaScript, it's not. It's even worse in JavaScript, because your global variable (a variable declared explicitly or implicitly at the top level of your JavaScript code) is available everywhere, and might break someone else's code that you're triyng to include in your page. Which leads us to the next tip.

    Encapsulate your code. Don't just put a script tag on your page and start writing code in it. Put it inside of a new function and then call that function within a document ready function. Isolate your code from any other code that may be running on your page. This will help prevent your code from breaking other scripts you want to include on the page. Even from multiple scripts of your own conflicting with each other.

    Use triple equals ('==='). In PHP we use the simple foo == bar in conditionals and it mostly works. In JavaScript double equals is just completely broken. It tries to help you, but in doing so will give you totally unintended results. Instead, you should use triple equal ('===') to check for actual complete equivalence in two values. This also requires you to write your code so that you really are checking for truly intended values. Which, if you weren't doing this already, will improve the quality of your code.

    There's a lot of other practices and tips that may help you out. For a good overview I recommend checking out JavaScript: the Good Parts which will cover most of the above points in more detail, as well as many others. If you follow the advice given by Douglas Crockford you will find writing JavaScript to be a much less stressful exercise.

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