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Archive for November, 2008

WordPress 2.7: What To Watch Out For

Don’t know what’s in it for you in WordPress 2.7? Aaron Brazelli of Technosailor.com has written a list of 10 things you need to look for in WordPress 2.7. I find it fascinating and it makes me all the more excited for the next version of WordPress. If 2.5 was focused on redesigning the WordPress backend, 2.7, according to Aaron, was a complete rebuild of WordPress and the result is a “semantically, aesthetically and structurally different WordPress” than previous versions.

To summarize Aaron’s excellent post, this are the things we need to look out for in WordPress 2.7:

  • Vertical Menus – This is a radical redesign of the WordPress backend. Aaron predicts that you might hate the new menu for a while, but it will grow on you.
  • Dashboard – The new redesigned dashboard doesn’t only look sexier – it’s easily customizable. The “Screen Options” button in the upper right gives you access to the Dashboard configuration panel, where you can select the modules you want to displayed on your dashboard. And changes you make as an admin are not universally implemented, so your users can configure their dashboard the way they want to.
  • QuickEdit and WP-admin Comment Reply – QuickEdit gives you access to most of the “non-content” portions of a post such as author, post title, tags, timestamp, etc. You can also reply to your comments while you are within WP-admin.
  • Configurable Layouts – Taking inspiration from iGoogle.com, you can now customize via drag-and-drop every component of your dashboard.
  • Threaded Comments and Comment Paging – If DISQUS and IntenseDebate could do it, why not WordPress?  You don’t need a plugin anymore!
  • Media Page – Still the same in 2.6, but much more accesible.
  • Complete Plugin Installation and Management – You can now install and manage plugins on WordPress without using FTP.
  • Sticky Posts – You can now designate a post as “sticky” and keep it on top, no matter how old it is.
  • Template Tags – New page templates that utilize some of the new features outlined abouve.
  • Comments API - Offline blog editors like Windows Live Writer or Marsedit can perform comment moderation and editing from an offline client.

Looks like 2.7 is the best version of WordPress yet. Are you excited for 2.7 as much as I am?

Categories: WordPress News

nextMEDIA: The Start and Will “Free” Save the Future?

For a full index of all the posts related to nextMEDIA, check out BrandingDavid.com where I will be updating everyone on various sessions.

Robert Montgomery, CEO of Achilles Media took the stage first to apologize for the various issues, from the registration line-up and onwards.

He was amusing as he introduced Mark Greenspan, Director of Digital Media at Achilles Media. Mark stood out in the crowd with his blazer and its white trim. He presented in a fairly monotone voice, but was fairly high energy, seeming excited about the event, and what it meant.

His hope is that the event gives a snapshot of digital media revenue today, a great idea, and hopefully it translates well going forward. Some of the sources for revenue building that they wanted to cover is multi-platform advertising, sponsorship and branded entertainment, e-commerce, pay per use and licensing.

“Our goal is to make the most relevant mix possible and service the industry the best we can” – Mark Greenspan.

One amazing thing that they have created this year was their Match Maker system, that allows people to connect with others in their field or people that might be helpful to their businesses.

Read More

Categories: Advertising

2.7 Dashboard: Project Icon

Part of the road map to WordPress 2.7 would be Project Icon. The 2.7 development team asked for help from icon designers all over the world, and an icon contest was held. The submissions were shown to the WordPress community, where people voted for the icons they want. And here are the results of Project Icon:

  • More than 3,700 people participated in and completed the survey.
  • The winner of the contest, garnering 35% of the votes, is Ben Dunkle. His icon set (you could see it on the right side) will be the one you’ll see in the default 2.7 Dashboard.
  • The first runner up would be Verena Segert, and her work would be included as an alternate icon set.
  • Ben and Verena will be doing revisions to some of their icons so that both sets will use the same metaphors, creating the colored “on” states, and creating the larger size of each icon for use in the h2 screen headers.

The survey also showed that a few of the individual icon metaphors also had a significant lead over the other choices.

Dashboard: 1333 voters (40%) chose a house as the best metaphor. Both Ben and Verena will be replacing their dashboard icons to reflect the taste of the community.

Media: 2097 voters (65%) chose the combination camera + musical note icon, which was part of Ben’s set. Verena will be amending her media icon to incorporate this idea.

Plugins: 1682 voters (53%) selected the outlet plug metaphor. Ben and Verena used the same idea in their sets.

Tools: 1581 voters (49%) liked the combination of two tools better than anything else. Ben and Verena will be changing their icons as well to reflect this.

Also, there’s apparently a demand for a plugin that will let people upload their own icon sets if the two sets included aren’t up to their taste. Plugin writers, take note.

Now that Project Icon is finished, we can’t wait to see Ben and Verena’s icons in 2.7 RC1 and in 2.7 final.

Categories: WordPress News

WordPress 2.7 Beta 3 Has Been Released

We’re on the fast track to WordPress 2.7. The new dashboard has been subjected to a couple of surveys, the icons to be used for the admin interface will be decided upon with a contest, and a new 2.7 beta has been released. The version has the following new features, such as:

  • Numerous style improvements and refinements.
  • All admin notices now go under the page title.
  • PHP Notice fixes.
  • Dashboard widget options now properly save.
  • Menu fixes.
  • New design for Quick Edit.
  • Canonical feed URL fixes.
  • Walker fixes.
  • An update for Hello Dolly.
  • Plugin installer updates.
  • Numerous font updates.
  • Updated login logo.
  • Switch position of “Save Draft” and “Preview” buttons in publish module.
  • File upload support for MS Office 2007+ file formats.
  • Media upload buttons won’t show if the user doesn’t have the upload capability.
  • Canonical redirects only do yes-www or no-www redirection for domains.
  • Shift-click checkbox range selection improvement.
  • Add New User page now separate.
  • Tag suggest only suggests tags (not other taxonomy terms).
  • QuickPress shows “Submit for Review” if user cannot publish.
  • Private posts/pages, and password-protected posts/pages are rolled into new “Visibility” section of publish module.

If you Beta 1 or Beta 2 installed already, just go to Tools -> Update to upgrade to Beta 3. If you encounter problems in upgrading, or if this is the first time you’ll be using 2.7 beta, just upgrade the old-fashioned way: through manual uploading for the files via FTP.

Remember, this is a beta release. Do not use this on an important blog, as 2.7 in its current state may break it. If you have a minor or a test blog around, or if you absolutely know what you’re doing, do upgrade. You can download WordPress 2.7 Beta 3 from here.

Categories: WordPress News

IntenseDebate out of private beta, offers new WordPress plugin.

A little less than two months ago, IntenseDebate was acquired by WordPress’s parent company Automattic. They spent the time in beta to scale Intense Debate’s infrastructure to handle the additional traffic that is likely to come when WordPress starts to include Intense Debate features by default. The purchase promised new features for the upcoming WordPress 2.7 like comment threading.

But now, IntenseDebate is out of beta and is offering a new WordPress plugin that offers the following features for your blog:

Two-Way Comment Sync

Comments made in IntenseDebate are automatically backed-up to your WordPress comment system, while your existing WordPress comments are automatically imported into IntenseDebate. In case you want to leave IntenseDebate and go back to the default comment system, your comments are safely migrated.

Admin Panel Integration

IntenseDebate has been interated to the WordPress admin panel, making the switch as smooth as possible.

Search Engine Optimization

IntenseDebate intelligently outputs the standard WordPress comments, which makes your comments easily indexed by search engines that ignore JavaScript. And it also makes visitors with JavaScript disabled on their browsers easily interact and make comments.

Trackbacks

Trackbacks and pingbacks are also easily integrated with IntenseDebate.

Profile Sync

You can login to IntenseDebate with WordPress, and vice versa.

Post Settings

WordPress admin settings like closing and opening comments on a post, and even changing your post titles, are automatically recognized and reflected in your IntenseDebate settings.

Other features included in the plugin would be:

  • Threaded comments
  • The ability to vote on comments and show comment reputations
  • Simultaneously post a comment to a blog and Twitter
  • Replly to comments and moderate comments by email
  • Commentor profiles can include links to social networking pages
  • Ability to add sidebar widgets with information on things like your top commentors

Intense Debate also works with Blogger, TypePad, and Tumblr.

Categories: General, WordPress Plugins

Are You Getting Spammed Too?

The other day I opened up my blogs and I saw that they had this huge influx of comments. As this was rather unusual, I checked the moderation queue and to my surprise, I found a huge number of comment spam. Weirdly though, the spam contained none of the usual links, and instead found a random string of letters and numbers, like “j2miob2e5gylwz9w”.

Comment Spam

As if that wasn’t weird enough, it seems that the spam got through Akismet multiple times. The spam messages came from these IP addresses:

  • 94.102.60.150
  • 94.102.60.151
  • 94.102.60.152
  • 94.102.60.153

Searching Google with the IP addresses brings up a lot of discussion about the spamming incident. Apparently, this has happened to a lot of blogs over a short period of time, and most, if not all, of the affected blogs were on WordPress.

So, what on earth was that about? It seems like somebody’s testing a brand-new spam tool that actively tagrets WordPress blogs. I’ve already blocked the said IP addresses via .htaccess, but who knows when the next spam attack will come?

This is probably the best time to brush up on some basic comment spam prevention tips. WordPress has some built-in spam prevention features, like:

  • Keep comment modderation on; make sure that people need to have a previous comment approved first before they can successfully comment.
  • If a comment has more than two links contained in it, it should be automatically moderated.
  • Fill out the “common spam words” form in WordPress so that comments get moderated when anything within the comment (including the author URI, author name, author email and the body of the comment itself) matches the words in the blacklist.
  • Akismet may not be built in WordPress by default, but it is included in the installation and installing it is the first thing I do when setting up a new blog. It still is the best spam filter out there.

If you have other anti-spam measures you implement on your blogs, just drop a comment and tell me about it.

Categories: General, WordPress Tips

WordPress Plugin: WordPlurk

One of the best ways to promote your blog is to post updates on your microblogging services, whether it be Twitter, Jaiku, or whatever it is they use. It helps you have more channels for people to discover and get updates, and your followers can get instantaneous updates on your entries.

And of course automating the process via web apps or plugins will make things a lot easier for us. On the Twitter side of the microblogging spectrum, we have Twitterfeed, which gets updates from your blog RSS and updates Twitter with it. WordPress have a lot of plugins a lot of plugins to choose from, the most famous of which would be Alex King‘s Twitter Tools.

For the longest time, users of Plurk have been stuck with manually updating their timeline whenever they post a new blog entry. However, with the release of the unofficial API, we see plugin developers hard at work creating ways to integrate Plurk with WordPress.

One early effort would be WordPlurk. It easily creats a complete integration between your WordPress blog with Plurk. It creates a post on Plurk whenever you post in your blog, with a link to the blog post.

The plugin is in its early stages though, and the barebones interface of the plugin shows it. In fact, there are a few things left to be desired in this plugin:

  • Only one Plurk account is supported (not one account per author).
  • When a post is deleted, the Plurk update isn’t.
  • Plurk login details are not checked to see if they’re correct.
  • No sidebar widget, or any other way to put the latest Plurk on the sidebar is available.

Despite the caveats in WordPlurk, this seems to be a great start for the plugin. This is on plugin we should definitely keep an eye on. You can download WordPlurk from here.

Categories: WordPress Plugins

WordPress Showcase

Here’s a cool development from the WordPress.org pages.  They have recently launched a section called “WordPress Showcase”, which is a page dedicated to display great WordPress implementations by users just like us.  I’m not really sure how many sites are displayed there now but by the look of things it may be just a little less than a hundred.  I say that because the tag counts on the left sidebar are still climbing up to the 50s.  I’m pretty sure it will grow exponentially in due time.  Suggest a site (!), one of the marvelous ways you can get the WordPress community take a look at your work.

WordPress Showcase sections would be the usual Feature Sites, Recently Added Sites, Top Rated Sites, Tagged Sites & Search for a site.  

I like how the Featured Site section shows a good mid-sized thumbnail of the featured site.  It is very encouraging, for one, to see that their webpages are shown to the community, attract visitors, site admirers and hopefully loyal following too.

I think this feature will go a long way in encouraging the WordPress community to build more performing sites.  This gives everyone a good view of how WordPress is used across the globe.

 

 

Categories: WordPress News

Is Your Blog Dial-Up Friendly?

While most people nowadays have broadband connections from home or office (or even mobile phones), there are still some who are connected via dial-up services. Performancing’s Jeff Chandler recently posted an analysis of a Pingdom.com report on the Technorati top 100. And in gist, the average size of the front pages of these blogs is about 1 megabyte.

Sure, with broadband, that would only take seconds to load. But with dial-up connections, one megabyte would take about five minutes to open. And not only that, even fast broadband connections will not assure you of quick page loading. Some images, scripts and other media would actually be caught in processing bottlenecks on your computer or browser.

According to the analysis, the total average size of the front page was 934 KB. Out of the top 100 blogs, at least one of them reaches a front page load size close to 6 MB! However, 93% of the blogs were below 2 MB in size. Not surprisingly, images were the main culprit for the large load sizes. Scripts along with HTML code came in at a distant second and third place respectively.

Average number of images per blog came out to be 63. In the report, there is one blog which has 201-225 images on their front page while a different blog has 251-275 images per page. I’m pretty interested in figuring out which blog on the Technorati 100 has over 200 images on their front page. That is a nightmare even for those who have broadband connections. (What do you say we try and figure out which blogs these are? If you find the culprits, post them in the comments!)

It does pay to have a fast loading page. Not only do your readers get to view your site more quickly, but you save up on bandwidth, too. Some tips:

  • If you’re using WordPress, use the MORE tag or use an excerpt to cut the text from the front page. That way, the entirety of the post (including images and other media) is not published on front page, but can instead be accessed thru the single post page.
  • Use image thumbnails instead of the full size one (and simply link to the bigger size). This way, people who may not necessarily want to view the whole thing could just pick which images they want to see in full.
  • Take out unnecessary sidebar items and scripts. Most of these add clutter, anyway.
  • If you’re running important Javascript (like metrics or ad scripts) make sure these are at the bottom of the page instead of the top. Some service providers would tell you that it’s best to put their scripts at the top, but this can be problematic if their server is slow. You would end up having a slow loading page.

Any other tips worth considering?

Categories: General

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