Mar 21, 2011 by Matt | Posted in WordPress
WP Utility Short Codes is a WordPress plugin that helps you easily add callout boxes to your posts with simple shortcodes. (Some examples here.)
Using WordPress short codes, this plugin will allow you to easily insert message boxes and buttons into your WordPress posts and pages. With easy to use options, there are over 1,000 possible display configurations. All buttons and message boxes include multiple color and size options.
I haven’t tried it out myself, but it seems like a good plugin. The code is very straightforward, too. It shouldn’t be too difficult to override the default stylesheet in favor of your own box styling, if you’re not a fan of the default.
Mar 9, 2011 by Matt | Posted in WordPress
Jeff Starr (co-author of Digging into WordPress) has released a new WordPress plugin for allowing users to submit guest posts to your blog. User Submitted Posts lets users write posts and upload images through a form embeddable in any page or post using a shortcode. You can customize the fields shown a bit, the maximum number of images and their dimensions, things like that. The post state (draft, publish, or “publish after some number of approved posts”) is also configurable.
Once a user has submitted a post, it’s saved as a “Draft” by default, but may optionally be set to “Publish Immediately” or even to publish if the author has “x” number of approved submissions. The plugin also displays a User Submitted Posts button at the top of the Posts Page that lets you filter all user-submitted posts/drafts with the click of a button.
This seems like a great option for community-oriented blogs looking for a way to open up to guest submissions. I do wonder whether spam submissions might get to be a problem, though. It could be handy if the plugin could hook into the Akismet API or at least offer a CAPTCHA option.
Jan 24, 2011 by Matt | Posted in WordPress
WP Engineer had an interesting post recently about a WordPress “Transients API” that is used for caching bits of data temporarily. I often use the Options API to cache things from external servers, such as Twitter statuses, so I don’t hit Twitter’s servers more often than necessary (which would slow down page loads). The Transients API is similar, but with the addition of an expiration field. This makes it a much easier solution, even without its other added benefit.
Also of note is that Transients are inherently sped up by caching plugins, where normal options are not. A memcached plugin, for example, would make WordPress store transient values in fast memory instead of in the database. For this reason, transients should be used to store any data that is expected to expire, or which can expire at any time.
It’s simple enough to use the API. You just call the set_transient(), get_transient() and delete_transient() functions where appropriate. You can read up on the usage over at WP Engineer or the WordPress Codex.
Dec 8, 2010 by Matt | Posted in WordPress
WPCandy, the prolific WordPress blog, has just released a new iPhone app for easy mobile access to their content. The interesting part isn’t the app so much as their “reverse launch” deal.
The app costs $0.99 normally, but they are charging $5.99 instead for the first few weeks. They’re sort of doing what Apple did with the original iPhone: dropping the price after the early adopters made them enough money to pay for the R&D.
Why would we do this? We want to give you, the awesome WPCandy readers and community members, the chance to support what we’re doing here. We run an ad-free site, with regular, high quality content containing zero affiliate links. We publish things that are of community interest (tutorials, comprehensive WordPress news, editorials) and we do it every single day. Many have called us crazy for not allowing advertising. They say we can’t make any money without ads. They say a community-driven site just doesn’t work.
We want to prove them wrong.
I still think they are a bit crazy for their no-advertising policy. (There’s nothing wrong with some minimal advertising, and companies like Fusion Ads help publishers make some good money by selling less ads.) Not so much that they don’t run ads, but their subscription to the pervasive attitude that ads are bad. However, I do like the reverse-launch idea. I don’t know if just any developer could get away with it, though. It takes a certain critical mass of users.
Introducing the WPCandy iPhone app, and our reverse-launch deal [WPCandy]
Dec 3, 2010 by Matt | Posted in WordPress
MediaElement.js is a nifty jQuery plugin that allows you to use the HTML5 video and audio elements while still supplying a Flash or Silverlight backup for compatibility.
There’s now a convenient MediaElement.js WordPress plugin that gives you easy-to-use shortcodes for use in the post editor. To embed a video when you have the plugin installed, all you have to do is put this in your post:
[video src="http://example.org/video.mp4" width="640" height="480"]
The MPEG 4 video will be served-up to supporting browsers, and others get the Flash backup. Supported formats also include WebM, MP3 and Ogg Theora. Multiple formats can be specified in one shortcode, if you have encoded multiple versions. You can serve Safari and Mobile Safari an MP4 version, Firefox an Ogg Theora, and Chrome the little-supported WebM.
Nov 15, 2010 by Matt | Posted in WordPress
Want to easily embed individual twitter messages in your blog posts? There’s a WordPress plugin for that. Twitter Blackbird Pie adds several options that allow you to embed a nicely-rendered HTML representation of a tweet. It adds buttons to the editor, shortcodes, even oEmbed support.
It uses a variation of the Blackbird Pie tool that Twitter created, but integrates it into WordPress itself.
If you’re using WordPress.com, this functionality is now built-in as well.
Nov 12, 2010 by Matt | Posted in WordPress
I’ve talked a little before about how WordPress 3.0’s custom post types made it possible, if you don’t mind doing a bit of coding, to turn your WordPress blog into a “tumbleblog.” A little while after, WooThemes released a plugin to make it a bit simpler.
Now, with development for WordPress 3.1 underway, there has been some talk of building “post formats” into the WordPress core. The general idea thus far is to create optional post formats that behave like Tumblr, enabling theme developers to turn them on selectively. Suppose I ran a photography blog that published one-off photos now and then between full posts. It would be great to be able to easily style these posts differently in the theme and to have a separate posting interface tooled with images in mind. Or you could use it to do Gruber-style link posts.
There’s an ongoing discussion going on over at the WordPress development prologue.
Nov 3, 2010 by Matt | Posted in WordPress
WooThemes has launched an iPhone app, called Express, for their tumbleblog themes. It makes it easy to post Tumblr-style to your WordPress blog.
If you’re not using one of the supported tumbleblog themes, they have also built a WordPress plugin that will add the tumbleblog functionality. (I may have to take a look at the code one day to see how they have it set up. I assume it probably involves Custom Post Types or Custom Taxonomies somehow.)
I like this idea. It would be great if you could continue to use the normal post type, but add in some mixed media with the tumbleblog plugin (for links and the occasional podcast).
Sep 15, 2010 by Matt | Posted in WordPress
Automattic, the company behind the WordPress.com service and much of the development of the WordPress software, has donated the “WordPress” trademark to the WordPress foundation. The foundation was launched by Matt Mullenweg, who of course is the founder of Automattic and the WordPress project.
The point of the foundation is to ensure free access, in perpetuity, to the software projects we support. People and businesses may come and go, so it is important to ensure that the source code for these projects will survive beyond the current contributor base, that we may create a stable platform for web publishing for generations to come. As part of this mission, the Foundation will be responsible for protecting the WordPress, WordCamp, and related trademarks. A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the WordPress Foundation will also pursue a charter to educate the public about WordPress and related open source software.
This means that the “WordPress” trademark should theoretically remain separate from the business interests of Automattic. Hopefully the Foundation will refrain from the overprotective practices many businesses and nonprofits practice.
Aug 25, 2010 by Matt | Posted in WordPress
Some of Smashing Magazine’s most popular posts have been their roundups of free WordPress themes. It has been about a year since the last one, and most of the themes featured are looking kind of dated. I was surprised to see a new roundup appear in my feed reader recently, full of modern themes that are more up to today’s standards.
It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since our last WordPress theme collection, but there you have it — the time has come again. Once a year we feature the most useful and interesting WordPress-themes that we are collecting over months and present them in a nice quick overview. The collections from 2007, 2008 and last year are still useful, but some of the themes are outdated or updated now.
100 Free High Quality WordPress Themes: 2010 Edition [Smashing Magazine]