Optimizing the performance of WordPress

It’s no secret that I LOVE WordPress. I’ve been using the software for 6 years and have no plans to stop any time soon. Last year I attended WordCamp LA with @JasonKeller, it was awesome. I knew that I had to be involved with WordCamp 2010.

When WordCamp 2010 was announced, I signed up as a speaker. My topic, “Improving the performance of WordPress”.

I had a great time preparing and delivering my presentation. A lot of people asked me to post the slides online. I decided to do one better, and post a recorded version of my presentation.

[vimeo width=”500″ height=”375″]http://vimeo.com/14949829[/vimeo]

Download the slides in PDF format

WordPress asking for FTP username/password?

Are you annoyed with your wordpress install asking you for your FTP cradentials everytime you try to upgrade a plugin? I know I was.  Thankfully, there’s a simple solution which will save the FTP login (username/password/server) so WordPress stops asking you for them.  Here’s how you do it.

  1. Locate your WordPress root diectory and find the “wp-config.php” file.
  2. Edit the file and insert this somewhere in the middle as it’s own block, we normally put it after the mysql username/password block.
define("FTP_HOST", "localhost");
define("FTP_USER", "yourftpusername");
define("FTP_PASS", "yourftppassword");

Once you’ve made that edit, save the file and voila! No more punching in your ftp username and password all the time.

timthumb.php returns a 404 Error in WordPress

timthumb is a great little php script that helps create thumbnail images (http://code.google.com/p/timthumb). I’ve used it before, but recently I purchased a wordpress theme that used it, and it wasn’t working.

I would get a 404 error when I tired to access the directly via a url like this:

After some digging around in log files on my server I realized the error

SoftException in Application.cpp:610: Directory “/home/usernamehere/public_html/wp-content” is writable by others

My problem had to so with the directory permissions! “writable by others” means that the permission on the directory were set to “777”. I changed the permissions of the directory using chmod to 755, and everything started to work.

Lesson learned, if timthumb.php is not working at giving you 404 errors, check the permission of the directory that contains the php file.

Create WordPress Thumbnails Automatically

create wordpress thumbnails automaticallyWordPress has the ability to allow post authors to assign custom fields to a post. This arbitrary extra information is known as meta-data. This meta-data can be used by theme authors to do some pretty cool things.

The theme I am currently using allows for a custom field named “thumb”. If you create the “thumb” custom field in a post and pass in the path to an image, for example “wp-content/uploads/2008/12/wordpress_logo.png”, a thumb nail version of the image will appear next the posts title on the home page of my blog. Awesome stuff.

When I discovered this theme and the “thumb” custom field, I already had 225 posts in my blog. I didn’t want to go back and manually create all the custom fields for the existing posts, so I wrote a PHP script to do it for me.

The PHP script cycles through your existing posts and looks for the first image in the post, and creates the thumb field based on it’s location. The script is configurable, your theme may want a different custom field name, like “thumbnail” or “image”.

This code is provided as is. If you aren’t a developer, you should be messing with stuff like this. Be sure to back up your wordpress database before running this.


  • download this code
  • configure the database connection info and custom field name
  • upload this code onto your server
  • point your browser to the file
  • watch the script do it’s magic
  • remove the file from your server
  • donate $2 to my paypal account ([email protected])

Note: This is a one time deal, when you create new posts you will need to add the “thumb” field and image path manually


Modifying MimboPro to Add Paged Navigation To Category Pages

Recently I have been doing a lot of work with WordPress. I love WordPress. one of the things I like most about WordPress is the plugins and themes.

I recently bought a copy of the MimboPro theme. Mimbo is clean and very professional. More of a CMS theme then a blogging theme, prefect for what I want to use it for.

As I dug into MimboPro and WordPress, I realized something strange, the MimboPro theme doesn’t support paging in a category view. What this means is EVERY SINGLE post you make is shown on one page. If you have a very active site, like the one I’m working on, this quickly gets out of hand. Look at this image and you will see what I mean (click for full version).

One of the reasons I like MimboPro was the support that the authors of the theme offer. I headed over to their message forums and found other people like me asking for the Additon of Paged Navigation To Category Pages. The original post was 8 months ago, and no one had resolved anything. I made a post to the MimboPro authors only to be told that there is going to be a new theme that will handle this and it will be available at a deep discount to MimboPro owner. This upset me a bit, so taking matters into my own hand, I fixed what Mimbo wont, and I am handing out my own patch to solve this issue. Below are the instructions to hack your own files, or you can just download my zip file with the pre-hacked files.

Pre-Hacked Files:
Download with pre-hacked files: JoshHighlands_MimboPro_CategoryPagingHack.zip

DIY INSTRUCTIONS (click images for full sizes):

  1. Save a copy of your current categories.php and styles.css files inside of the MimboPro theme directory to a safe location
  2. Open up categories.php inside of the MimboPro theme directory, and find line 17
  3. Comment line 17 with a double back slash (//)
  4. Go to line 87 of category.php and add the following code
  5. Save and close category.php
  6. Open up style.css inside of the MimboPro theme directory
  7. Add the following CSS code to the bottom of the file (should be close to line 852)
  8. Save styles.css
  9. Upload categories.php and styles.css to the MimboPro theme directory on your server
  10. Everything should be working. Here is what my wordpress running MimboPro looks like

That’s it! MimboPro will now have paging in all of the categories. The next and previous links will only show up when you have enough posts. The WordPress default is 10 posts. You can edit the number of posts by going to change the number of posts to show on a category page, go into to the admin and under “setting” > “reading” you will find the option, as highlighted here.

If you had any problem reading the code in the image files, download the zip files with the pre-hacked files in them.

Download with pre-hacked files: JoshHighlands_MimboPro_CategoryPagingHack.zip

If you have any further questions, please post them in the comment.