Formatting WordPress Content

A Simple Question

On March 29, 2015, I asked a simple question on Twitter:

“When writing a post to use on a WordPress site, what do you use to write it, a text editor, a word processor, the new post screen?”

Different Approaches

I really didn’t expect to get such a multiplicity of approaches. It seems there is one major hallmark of the approach people take: ingenuity and improvisation. Oh, that’s two approaches. Bother. Well, let’s press on and see all the ways folks are formatting new posts, even including using the Add New Post screen! I’ve taken the liberty of slightly rearranging the order of the Tweets to make the narrative flow better.

  • @LeonieWatson: Write in HTML in a text editor, then cut/paste into WP (where the WYSIWYG editor is disabled). HTH.
  • @LeonieWatson: In the WP user profile settings it’s possible to disable the visual editor, which is what I do.
  • @fitzpatrickd: @LeonieWatson Exactly the same workflow here. I also do the same for Drupal stuff by the way.
  • @heydonworks: @LeonieWatson Same as Léonie normally. Sometimes in an external markdown editor like stackedit.io.
  • @vavroom: I write in MS Word. Spell check there. Then copy/paste into Dreamweaver. Adjust HTML. Then copy/paste in WordPress.
  • @vavroom: I apply styles in Word. Dreamweaver translates it into proper html.
  • @A11YChi: I code in the New Post window, Text tab.
  • @vdebolt: Sometimes BBEdit, sometimes Dreamweaver, most often the WP new post screen. Never a word processor.
  • @Accessible_Info: Jarte, a free and open source wordprocessor. Then, cut and paste.
  • @GWocher: The only problem with Jart is that you cannot read tables with a screen reader.
  • @GWocher: Sometimes Jart won’t report the correct formatting when using insert plus F in either JAWS or NVDA. Its rare though.
  • @Unuhinuii: I write it in the WP editor, using text controls from my keyboard. “html” / “visual” is #useless for me. #a11y.
  • @Unuhinuii: Sigh – Twitter has the same type @a11yteam #a11y issues for me. #visual #voiceoveruser issues huh? fn-cmd-f5 3clk.
  • @ewaccess: If typing: plain text editor, proof and publish using Marked 2. If Dragon: compose in Word, paste into new post screen.
  • @aardrian: I write as HTML in the text view. I disable the WYSIWYG editor altogether on some sites while building.
  • @steveofmaine: Struggling with that very question. I just discovered I can write and publish directly from MS Word.
  • @steveofmaine: That said, nothing, absolutely nothing beats @MarsEdit for Mac. It’s like the bestest best thing ever.
  • @awoods: @steveofmaine Instead of Word, use Windows Live Writer, and you’ll get better results. I write my content in plain text files.
  • @jaczad: Live Writer in source mode, #Markdown in admin panel. Sometimes WYSIWYG editor #TinyMCE.
  • @prakesh369: Text editor.
  • @csrinivasu: New post screen but as HTML.

Different Strokes

Clearly there are different approaches to creating content for your WordPress site. Here are the text editors and other tools mentioned in the Tweets plus some additional text editors:

Tools Mentioned in Tweets
Additional Text Editors

My Experience

Dreamweaver was created by Macromedia in 1997 and I started using it while it was in beta. I continued to use Dreamweaver every day, all day, through the Adobe takeover of Macromedia in 2005 and up until 2012 when I stopped using it as an every day tool. At the moment I format my posts using the WordPress admin post screen, working exclusively in the text tab. I type out the few bits of HTML I need, but now that I’ve heard from friends about how they use text editors I’ll probably try TextWrangler again. I used BBEdit for years in addition to Dreamweaver and TextWrangler has a subset of the features of BBEdit, just enough for me. Interesting to hear what others are doing.

Hackathons

Brass Ring

A few weeks ago Joe Devon and I discussed accessibility hackathons. Last week on Twitter I asked “Has anyone run an #accessibility #hackathon or have links to information about running one?” I got some great replies. Dennis Lembrée and Jennifer Sutton both suggested I write a post about it.

Sometimes my life is exactly like riding a merry-go-round and grabbing for a brass ring. The time needed to write a post comes around and around but something usually prevents me from doing it, like work or family responsibilities. Or getting ready for my presentations at the International Technology and Persons With Disabilities Conference in a few weeks.

Community Reports

Cameron Cundiff said “for an accessibility hackathon, maybe get devs to contribute to existing open source tools. Less barrier to entry.” I can certainly get behind that, there are some WordPress accessibility tickets to clean up.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Austin Seraphin helped organize #Hack4Access: Philly’s celebration of the National Day of Civic Hacking. I especially like their Rowhome Accessibility Checklist category. Christopher Wink added a link to the list of projects done during the Hack 4 Access 2014 event. Quite impressive and kudos to Philadephia, much accessibility activity there.

Los Angeles, California

Amanda Rush suggested I talk with Sina Bahram, and he referred me to an event I know well, Project: Possibility, a “nonprofit organization dedicated to creating open source software that benefits the disabilities community, and educating students on accessibility and universal design concepts.” Sean Goggin, who runs the whole shebang remembered: “Yep! Joseph even served as a judge at one of the campus SS12 Hack-a-thons.” I remember that it was a very enthusiastic group at the University of Southern California.

Austin, Texas

Katherine Mancuso remembered that the Knowbility Open Accessibility Internet Rally used to be a hackathon. This year I participated in OpenAIR as an accessibility mentor to a team building a WordPress site for A Plastic Brain, a non-profit run by Anne Forrest for survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The competition will be over soon and my team is in first place. Happy to get recognition for TBI and for the work being done by Anne. Sharon Rush of Knowbility said: “Yes was 8 hour hackathon in ’98, evolved to design competition.”

Montreal, Canada

Arthur Rigaud of marvelous Montreal reminded me that there was an accessibility hackathon there in 2012 specifically on videos with Denis Boudreau and Christian Aubrey. Also in 2012 they had a Drupal Accessibility Sprint with Evolving Web, webchick, Jesse Beach, Matt Parker, Mike Gifford, and Everett Zufelt. Montreal is a hotbed of accessibility activity, even if it is around zero degrees Fahrenheit there right now.

Sydney, Australia

Monica O. shared a link to the 2014 Enabled by Design-athon held at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. I especially like the word “design” in the title. As the site says: “The event brings together people from a diverse range of backgrounds and experience (including designers, makers, health and social care professionals, engineers and people with disabilities) to work together in teams.”

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Jeffrey Bigham clued me in to ATHack at MIT which is happening now. William Li and Dhruv Jain are running the event. According to the site: “The goal of ATHack is to bring awareness to the important field of developing assistive technologies. We pair teams of students with clients in the Boston/Cambridge community who live with a disability. Each client has a problem in mind which they face because of their disability. Over the course of the hackathon, students brainstorm, design, and create prototype solutions for their client.” I like this approach very much.

Solutions

Each of these events have devised multiple solutions for challenges facing people with disabilities. Especially notable is the Sydney event where people from multiple disciplines participated and the MIT event that is pairing people with disabilities with team members well in advance of the conclusion of their projects. Thanks to all who took the time to contribute to this list of events.

Accessible WordPress Themes

Are There Accessible WordPress Themes?

Recently I had a Twitter conversation with Marco Zehe @MarcoInEnglish in which he asked me about availability of accessible WordPress themes. I’m asked this question all the time.

WordPress Accessibility Team members have been working very hard on core, documentation, and a theme check process for accessible themes. We’ve devised an enterprise accessibility statement for WordPress. We have prepared a draft accessibility theme check process.

We have prepared the way for accessible WordPress themes to be created, uploaded, theme checked for accessibility, and made available in the WordPress Theme Directory. I’m attempting to do something about the lack of accessible WordPress themes with Cities, but the fact is that there are still very few accessible themes available. Here is a list of themes that claim accessibility.

A List of Accessible WordPress Themes

Themes constructed based on accessibility principles are only accessible in practice after they have been loaded with content and resulting pages are checked. Some of these are child themes, and you have to load the parent theme first. Some of them are not available in the theme directory and require manual uploading and installation.

In Theme Directory

Not In Theme Directory

Mel Pedley

Introduction

Mel is a mainstay of the WordPress volunteer accessibility group, devoted tirelessly to leading discussions and devising solutions. She offers WordPress and web design services at Black Widow Web Design. I asked her a few questions and she replied.

Shoe Size?

Um – none! I’m much happier padding around barefoot or in stocking feet, preferably in my own hand-knitted socks (what can I say – knitting socks is actually algorithmic & I have the PHP scripts to prove it).

Pride?

Getting the current Make WordPress Accessible group up & running. The previous mailing list died almost as soon as it was created and there was a lot of negativity when this group was set up. It’s taken a while but I think we have a really good core group now with a growing following.

Biggest Challenge?

WordPress is huge – both in terms of scripts & its development community. Web accessibility, almost by definition, impacts almost every part of it. Trying to keep up with new developments and ensure that accessibility remains high on the list of priorities is a massive task.

Change Most Needed?

Information, feedback & practical suggestions. The will is actually there in many cases. It’s just that developers are unsure how to check for access barriers and what solutions they should be implementing. The more dialogue we initiate, the more chance we have of better, more informed, core developers.

Growth of Make WordPress Accessible?

More bodies! We need developers so that we have a range of skills to draw upon when advising core developers. Talking in generalities is all well & good but if we can come up with hard, practical suggestions (right down to what markup tags to use or a bit of jQuery that works), the far greater the chance that we will get the right changes implemented quickly. Longer term, it would be great to have devs with accessibility experience in every WPORG team submitting code patches.

Disabled Users Needed?

We also need more disabled users to get involved. The greater the range of disabled user groups we have working with us, the greater the chance of identifying barriers and removing them.

Joe Dolson

Introduction

Joe is a very talented developer who devotes considerable time to the WordPress accessibility group and to creating and maintaining outstanding WordPress plugins such as WP Accessibility. He is available @joedolson and provides WordPress and web consulting services at Accessible Web Design.

Shoe Size?

10.5

Pride?

In terms of completed projects, I’m proud of my WP Accessibility plug-in, for what it offers. In terms of incomplete projects, I’m most proud of the push for better exposure of accessibility as regarding themes.

Biggest Challenge?

Effective communication. As an open-source, community-developed project, effective and efficient information sharing is very important. It’s not possible or practical for everybody to keep updated on every aspect of development in WordPress core, let alone elsewhere – so communicating well is crucial – and not something we’ve always done well.

Change Most Needed?

The changes aren’t just something that need to happen in the WordPress community. It’s a change that needs to happen on a far broader stage: if accessibility achieves an equal voice on the stage of web development, that will shift into the WordPress community. But as long as accessibility is not fully mainstream in all web development, it has no chance of making it that far in any community. It comes back, again, to the open source world: the contributors to WordPress all need to buy into accessibility, and understand it as a priority. The only other option is to build WordPress as an open source police state — but that would not be an improvement, as it would also crush the environment of contribution to the ecosystem.