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Archive for September, 2009

Short Inside View of StudioPress

Jeff appears to have a great article up regarding StudioPress, and it helps answer some common questions about the company, its goals, and direction. If you are interested in knowing what Brian Gardner thinks of his critics, outsiders views on his goals, and his design style, you need to check out this post entitled An Inside Glance At StudioPress.

Who creates the graphical side of StudioPress designs?

95% of the graphic/design elements of StudioPress themes were created by me – while I’m not a trained graphic designer, I’ve been able to learn Photoshop and put together most of our work. We are now beginning to branch out and contract out upcoming theme designs for a few reasons. One, I’m so busy doing other things (like running StudioPress and overseeing all that goes on) and just don’t have the time to design, code, support, and provide tutorials for all of our themes. The other reason, and more significantly important reason, is that we want to offer a variety of designs to our users.

I think that more WordPress theme companies should open up their schedules to talk about what they are doing, who is involved and what they think of the WordPress community. There has long been flack given to Premium theme companies, and I think while that flack has lessened in recent months, a fair number of people still don’t totally understand what makes these companies worthwhile.

Categories: WordPress Themes

Epic Episode of WordPress Weekly Podcast

Recently, Jeff and I had a great episode of WordPress Weekly that I hope more people will listen to. The episode contains our thoughts on WordPress releases, its user base and its management of press due to hacks. I got a little heated during the podcast, but it made it all the more fun in my mind.

When passion is public, it can make great content.

I hope you’ll all check out episode 72 of the WordPress Weekly podcast.

Categories: Podcasting News, WordPress News

WordPress Role Management: New Plugin

I’ve never been happy with how WordPress deals with user permissions and roles. I’ve always wanted to customize it further, and while it is supposedly possible to do without a plugin, having a nice user interface makes the world of difference.

Justin Tadlock is currently working on a new Role Management Plugin that might add important features for those running multi-author sites.

Currently in beta, he is looking for testers for this plugin. What can it do?

  • Edit Roles: Edit your user roles and their capabilities.
  • New Roles: Create new roles for use on your site.
  • Content Permissions: Adds a meta box on your write post/page editor that allows you to restrict content to specific roles.
  • Widgets: Adds a login form widget and user-listing widget that you can use in any widget area on your site.
  • Shortcodes: Creates shortcodes that you can use to restrict or allow access to certain parts of your posts and pages (or any other shortcode-capable area).
  • Template Tags: New functions for use within your WordPress theme for various things.
  • Private Blog: Allows you to create a private blog that can only be accessed by users that are logged in (redirects them to the login page).

If you are interested in testing it, or just starting to use it on your blog, head on over to Justin’s site, and grab your copy today.

Categories: WordPress Plugins

RSS Cloud and WordPress

I’ve never had much issue with RSS, but some people say it was a dying format. Unlike the “real time web” of Twitter, Facebook and other services, the data from RSS wasn’t getting polled often enough to be useful. Heaven forbid you get the latest blog posts from someone half a day from now.

I understand that in the world of news, even an hour delay can kill the freshness of a story, and so it isn’t surprising that there are companies trying to create formats that will allow RSS to notify RSS readers of new stories faster than ever before.

One of those formats is RSS Cloud and it got a huge publicity boost recently with the backing of WordPress.

From the WordPress.com Blog:

Today we turned on support for all 7.5 million blogs on WordPress.com something called RSS Cloud, which is basically a way for people to get push notification that your feed has updated.

Why is this important? Right now how most people interact with feeds is by checking that it updated every now and then, usually about once an hour. Can you imagine waiting an hour to get your emails? (The world would probably be more productive.) RSS Cloud is an extra element in your RSS feed that allows subscribers to say “Hey, let me know as soon as you’ve updated, kthx.”

While there is only one RSS reader that currently supports this “push” feature, I have a feeling that many others will support it soon. There is also a WordPress.org plugin to activate this feature on your blog, and if you run a news focused site, this might be exactly what you’ve been hoping for.

For the rest of us, is instant RSS really that important? Let me know in the comments below.

Categories: WordPress News

Screencast: WordPress 2.9 Image Editing

For the longest time, I’ve been waiting for WordPress to handle images better, and allow built in editing tools. Most people don’t have Photoshop, or even understand how to use most basic image editing tools like Irfanview, and so building in a crop and resize tool into WordPress will further lower the barrier to placing images on blog posts, and potentially save bandwidth as people can choose what they want the public to see in a much more fine grain way.

Jeff Chandler has gone ahead and done up a screencast showing the basic tools available so far in the release. He does note that this might not be the final way the tools are set up, but it does give you some idea of what is being worked on for the next release with regards to image editing.

I fired up my local server today and installed the latest version of WordPress 2.9 and was surprised to see the basic image editing tools already available in the media library. I decided that the best way to display them in action was through video which also gave me another reason to open up CamtasiaStudio. In the video, I show off each individual tool as well as provide feedback on the crop tool as at this stage, does not appear to be user friendly. But, it’s very early in the development stage so it will most likely be better once it hits the public’s hands. Check out the video.

If you want to check out that screencast, head on over to WPTavern.com.

Categories: WordPress Tools

WordPress Cheat Sheet

There are numerous cheat sheets for WordPress, and they’ll continue to be created, edited and re-released, but I wanted to highlight a new one for those in search of one that fits the bill for WordPress 2.8.x.

Ekin Ertac has created a new sheet entitled “Free Complete WordPress Cheat Sheet” where you can look over WordPress specific tags for various theming needs.

It is one page, and in PDF form.

Categories: WordPress Tips

A Story of Fear: WordPress Hacks

I went away from home, on a micro weekend vacation, and on arrival to where I was staying there were numerous e-mails waiting in my account. It seems as though old versions of WordPress were being hacked and many clients and friends wanted their versions of WordPress upgraded. One of them, a business owner was very nervous about his WordPress blog, as he derives a reasonable amount of revenue from it.

The blog was running 2.8.3, one version behind the current 2.8.4. I did a quick check, and saw that 2.8.3 was secure from the issue going around, but the state of panic that spread through the blogosphere about making sure you had 2.8.4 left me having to defend my vacation.

I didn’t have the server details to do anything from where I was and the automatic upgrade wouldn’t work due to the strict folder permissions on their site.

It was interesting though that through the issue of a mass hack, it brought to the attention of many people that previously gave little thought to upgrading, an eye opening warning but it didn’t make them try to learn more about WordPress, the issue or the community. It only created panic and ridiculous hysterics.

The fact is that these security issues do little more than create panic when not properly reported to the public. Automattic was very good in their own blog, and worked on pushing out useful information, hopefully quelling some of the ridiculousness spreading through the blogosphere.

Some of my clients have become rather paranoid over the whole upgrading thing, still not heeding my warnings that a good backup system should also be in place for their files and database.

The fact is: WordPress has a low barrier for entry and attracts people that aren’t computer savvy to use it. WordPress has done as much as possible to help protect these people from themselves, through the use of the core upgrade tool, and the community driven backup and security plugins.

Now, what needs to happen is that those running on platforms like WordPress either need to take an active interest in the community, hire someone that has an active interest, or revert back to an HTML website that is so basic that there are no scripts to hack.

That’s just my two cents. If you want to read more on this issue, I suggest checking out a great article by Jeff Chandler entitled “Are You Responsible Enough To Run WordPress?”

Categories: WordPress News

For The Case of WordPress, Against Self-Indulgent Promoters Who Were Hacked

Last weekend was filled with controversy and the reason for this was a worm hitting many self-hosted WordPress blogs. We warned and urged everyone to upgrade, although the most recent version of WordPress, 2.8.4, was released almost 3 weeks earlier. WordPress 2.8.4 was the second security update for the 2.8 branch in less than 2 weeks. This update was released only 2 days after the vulnerability was discovered, proving how hard the WordPress community has worked to improve and secure the platform.

Ever since WordPress 2.3, which was released almost exactly 2 years ago, every WordPress blogger receives an update notification whenever a new version available is. The majority of new releases are bug fixes and security updates.
Personally, whenever I see that yellow new release notification I can not hit update now fast enough. If it weren’t for the security aspect then it is for the ugliness of the notification.

Nevertheless, in these days some people are given a megaphone online and can not resist the need to be vocal, even though they were the only ones who were to blame. One of these people last weekend was Robert Scoble. His post I don’t feel safe with WordPress, Hackers broke in and took things quickly went viral Robert received support but also bashing. Gruber even went as far to say that Movable Type safer is. Read More

Categories: Opinion, WordPress News
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Movable Type Monday: MT 5, Media Manager, SEO

Happy Monday, folks! Big news this week: Six Apart announced the beta for Movable Type 5. The plan is to have a two month beta period, with the release coming sometime in November. Let’s take a look at some of the big new features in MT 5:

* Websites — MT 5 will have the concept of a website, which includes blogs and pages. This makes it more of a CMS, and makes it much simpler to use MT to maintain your entire site.

* Revision History — Entries, pages, and templates will all maintain a revision history. I’m particularly excited about this feature. The ability to modify templates, and return to previous version, is very useful.

* Custom Fields — Custom fields are now available on more objects and can be imported and exported. Plus, you can map them to a category/folder, so that they only appear if an entry/page is within that category/folder.

* Themes — MT 5 will have a whole new theme engine, which allows the bundling of templates, CSS, images, etc. together as a complete website theme.

…and lots more. MT5 will be a huge change from previous versions, pushing the platform more towards a CMS and further away from being a personal blog engine. We should get more details about these other changes in the coming months. Read More

Categories: Movable Type News
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An Introduction to Custom Fields

One of the most confusing thing about WordPress is custom fields. The shame of it is that custom fields are one of the most powerful features of WordPress, allowing you to do all kinds of very interesting things.

Over on WordPress.tv, there is now a video introducing people to custom fields, how they work, and how to use them.

Using custom fields can be confusing to new WordPress users. Scott Ellis provides an introductory explanation of how to use custom fields for image placement and the components that go into making custom fields work from front end placement to back end utilization and code.

I hope to see more detailed videos regarding custom fields and their use in the future. I think it is entirely an underused and under appreciated feature in WordPress.

Categories: WordPress Tips

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