Tag Archives: Toby Mckes

Making Custom Theme Options Easy

Toby Mckes, a WordPress developer at I Can Has Cheezburber, gave the second talk at WordCamp Developers on the theme options panels their sites use. CheezCAP is the custom theme options panel they’ve open sourced.

Cheezburger runs over 50 sites on WordPress.com VIP. CheezCAP, which stands for Cheezburger Custom Administration Panel, makes their deployment process for themes really simple.

Background

The internet is a series of tubes filled with cats. Toby started on the farm team at Cheezburber where they were putting out many sites every week. The goal was “OMG moar sites plz.”

Their initial theme deployment process was terrible. Toby had to spend half his time as a server admin. On Thanksgiving 2009 one of their sites was posted to the Guardian UK and hit 700,000 pageviews. He got to spend his Thanksgiving rebooting the server.

They also didn’t have version control. There was no way of tracking what was being changed and many sites were hacked together to the point of looking pretty bad. It was easy to make new sites but difficult to update and maintain them. They switched to a unified theme on WordPress.com.

Early on they had 10 sites running this unified theme and one file which contained all of the customization options for the sites. CheezCAP was the solution to make this easier.

CheezCAP

Licensed under the GPL v2 CheezCAP adds an options panel to make customization easy. There’s a pre-configured config file that you can customize to your liking. Its core contains a few key aspects:

  • Boolean options create as basic toggle switches.
  • Text options can represent alphanumeric strings to be inserted.
  • Dropdown options serve as more complex options.
  • User caps to limit editing ability to specific user roles.

All of this goes right into your Dashboard and lets you get new sites set up and running with custom options that require minor configuration changes. Google Analytics integration, A/B testing, custom 404 pages, and much more can all be configured with CheezCAP.

The killer feature of all this is import/export. All of these options can be exported from one site and seamlessly imported into a new site. Setting up development sites is super easy using this.

Update: Toby gave a similar talk at WordCamp Seattle and will be updating the slides from that talk.