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Archive for December, 2009

WordPress Announces Canonical Plugins. Some Thoughts On proposed Names.

The WordPress Core Commit Team ended their meeting after WordCamp Orlando and has announced on the development blog that there will be canonical plugins in the future.

What are ‘canonical plugins’?

The first question which comes to mind is ‘What are canonical plugins?‘. The team has provided the following definition:

Canonical plugins would be plugins that are community developed (multiple developers, not just one person) and address the most popular functionality requests with superlative execution. These plugins would be GPL and live in the WordPress.org repo, and would be developed in close connection with WordPress core. There would be a very strong relationship between core and these plugins that ensured that a) the plugin code would be secure and the best possible example of coding standards, and b) that new versions of WordPress would be tested against these plugins prior to release to ensure compatibility.

Canonical plugins will not be developed by one plugin developer anymore but by the community. They will also have their official web presence on the wordpress.org plugin repository instead of on website of the (original) developer.
What does this mean for several plugin developers? If you have a popular plugin and your plugin contains a ‘Donate’ button, be prepared to ditch this button if you want your plugin to be taken in consideration. This would be the case for example for. Arne Brachold’s Google (XML) Sitemap Generator and Donncha’s WP Super Cache plugin.

How to name ‘canonical plugins’?

The team clearly identified that the term canonical rather niche is and asks the community to vote on how these ‘super plugins’ should be categorised/labelled. The entry on the develop blog offers some names for canonical plugins:

Read More

Categories: Opinion, WordPress News, WordPress Plugins
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Movable Type Monday: Updates on MT5

Happy Monday, folks! This week, Six Apart posted a couple of blog entries updating us on the status of Movable Type 5. First thing to note is that the North American and European release will not be tomorrow. Instead, MT5 will be released on December 16. The reason given is they need more time to work on developer documentation. Since a lack of documentation has been an issue in the past, this is probably a good move.

Also for MT5, 6A’s Beau Smith wrote up a new installation and upgrade guide. This set of instructions covers a lot of different scenarios, with additional reference material so you understand what is going on. This is probably the most extensive installation documentation for MT I’ve ever seen. Good work, Beau. Read More

Categories: Movable Type News
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WordPress 2.9 To Be Released Before The End of 2009?

WordPress.orgTranslation strings for WordPress 2.9 have been frozen. This means that no new changes other than bug corrections will be made to 2.9 anymore and we can expect a Release Candidate (RC1) anytime now.

The WP Core team is in Orlando, discussing the future of WordPress, the 3.0 branch and WPMu merge, and possible changes to the WordPress.org site after Matt filed a report of WordPress.org specific Trac tickets. An update about their decisions is expected today or tomorrow.

What do you think, can we expect WordPress 2.9 before Christmas? If you have been using Beta2 or update daily with the newest nightly build, how has your mileage been?
I have not experienced any problems on any of my sites.

Categories: WordPress News
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Blogging For The Now

One of the reasons blogging rose to prominence is because of the inherent recency of its content. No longer were people going to wait for the end of the day for a well-researched and well-written article to appear on the web, but a couple of hours would be enough.

There’s really no debate that blog posts should come out as soon as possible, but as as blogger, how concerned should you be about the shelf-life of your blog posts?

I got inspired by a little nugget of insight I saw in Twitter. I read that social media stories have a half-life of 69 minutes. That means that the popularity of a story posted in social media sites gets halved approximately every hour. Doing the math, by the time the day is approximately halfway through, your blog post would have disappeared into obscurity. Imagine that.

Of course there are other variables that come into play, such as the popularity of your blog, the audience you are catering to, and the “hotness” of the topic or issue, but nonetheless this gives bloggers the motivation to write for The Now—meaning write content that people will find relevant, interesting, or useful in the short term.

By blogging for The Now, bloggers cater to the increasing demand for new information and addressing the shortening attention span of the netizens.

Categories: Blogging Tips

Sunday Morning SEO: Breaking Through Traffic Plateaus

traffic-plateau-graphOne of the exciting times for any blogger is when he breaks through a traffic plateau and reaches new levels of pageviews and visitors. Fortunately, I’ve seen my blog overcome a couple plateaus. In this post, I talk about the steps I took to reach new traffic levels. Read More

Categories: Blogging Tips
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Plurk Opens API to Developers

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Plurk, one of the top micro-blogging services, has just opened up its API to developers!

Yep, you heard it right! Plurk’s official blog, Plurk Labs, announced the news today with much excitement.

As Plurk grows, the demand for different set of tools, applications or features to complement our product has also increased. While some of those requests are later added into our social platform, we fully aware it would be impossible for us to implement everything by ourselves. Our users love Plurk passionately and we love them back just as much. So if someone’s mom wants to read her Plurks from her kitchen microwave, she should be able to (provided someone else already wrote such application using our API).

For all those people scratching there heads on what API is, here’s a quick explanation: API means Application Programming Interface. By opening up Plurk’s API, developers can be able to make applications that can use Plurk’s features, data, etc.

Imagine what people could do with Plurk now its API is open. How about the ability to embed our plurk timelines on our blogs? That would be sweet!

Interested developers can head on over to http://plurk.com/API for the full documentation.

Categories: Microblogging

Expression Engine 2.0 Public Beta Released and There’s No Core Version

Expression EngineThe wait is finally over and Expression Engine 2.0 has finally been released by EllisLab more than 18 months after being introduced at SXSW 2008.

I personally have not had time yet to extensively test the new release but expectations are very high. In the past I have called Expression Engine the best self-hosted blogging platform on this site and am certainly looking forward to compare the new version to WordPress which I have come to love enough to use daily and customise for almost all projects, but often I have preferred the ease of EE 1.6.x when tailoring sites.

But First Things First.

The newly released EE2.0 PB (Public Beta) comes with a price and a new pricing structure:

  • Freelancer: $99.95
  • Non-commercial License: $149.95
  • Commercial License: $299.95

Although Expression Engine 1.6.8 Core still available is, there is no free Core version for EE2.0, instead EllisLab offers a 30-day free demo download. It certainly is a daring move and although many labour has gone in the release (more than 2 years), one can only wonder if EllisLab is cutting of the ever shrinking community and pricing itself out of the market. In a sector with as main competitors the free and open source platforms WordPress and Movable Type, this bald move must be admired. When Six Apart announced a change in licensing structure in 2004 WordPress almost single-handedly won the market and some years later SA announced a new opensource version of MT, which was released end 2007 but MT had already lost its position as market leader. Is EE headed for a similar obscurity?

It must also be said that the standard license fee has increased with $50 for normal users. To make the platform more appealing for developers and designers there is a new Freelancer license at $99.95. One of the biggest differences when comparing EE to WordPress is the availability of plugins and the new license structure is not bound to help the Expression Engine community.

That said, I am looking forward to play with EE2.0 over the next 30 days before I decide whether I want to invest in a license for something I can have freely somewhere else. A license I mainly need to continue playing with the platform and promote EE as a viable and (hopefully still) better alternative.
It will be sad if the license structure will seal the future of EE as I would love to see more choice and more viable alternatives to WordPress. I secretly hoped that EE2.0 would become open source like other platforms but who am I. Now I must play with EE, I only have 30 days!

Can you imagine replacing WordPress with EE? What impact would it have on your business, especially when running several blogs?

Update: Expression Engine 2.0.0 PB released (yes version 2.0.0).

Categories: Blog Software, Blogging News
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Update Your Analytics Tag For Faster Loading Times

Site speed is a big issue for Google and consequently the search giant has updated and improved the Google Analytics tracking tag for faster loading times. The new tag has multiple advantages:

  • Faster tracking code load times for your web pages due to improved browser execution
  • Enhanced data collection and accuracy
  • Elimination of tracking errors from dependencies when the JavaScript hasn’t fully loaded

With loading times rumoured to be one of the determining factors in search results in 2010 it is highly recommended to update your analytics tracking code

The new tag is immediately available to all Analytics users and further explained at Google Code. The structure of the new code can be found here. There is no doubt that most Google Analytics plugins for blogging platforms will be updated over the next days.

Categories: Blog Statistics
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Optimize your blog’s loading speed with Google’s Site Performance Tool

In their on-going effort in making the web faster, Google has just recently announced an experimental Webmaster Tools feature called Site Performance which shows how your site performs in terms of loading time and gives suggestions on how to make it more faster.

You can access this new feature on your Google Webmaster Tools account, under Labs > Site Performance. In this section, you are shown a performance overview of your whole site. It displays the average page load time, which refers to the amount of time it takes the entire page to fully display on your browser, as well as a comparison of it against other sites.

SitePerformance01

Site Performance tool in action showing the speed of one of the sites I handle.

Aside from the performance statistics, there is also a section called Page Speed Suggestions where it gives you suggestions on how to optimize the pages on your site. This feature is powered by Google’s Page Speed tool, a powerful program that runs a number of diagnostic tests against a web page, and analyzes the page’s performance according to a number of general page performance “rules” that are known to speed up page load times.

Since the Page Speed Suggestions evaluates only a few example pages from your site, you have the option to download and install the Page Speed FireFox Add-on which let’s you evaluate any web page and immediately get the result. (Important note: You need to have the FireBug FireFox add-on installed first before installing Page Speed).

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Page Speed FireBug add-on showing the performance summary of BloggingPro’s homepage

As you can see on the screenshot above, Page Speed lists down suggestions like caching, gzip compression, optimizing CSS, and many more. Thanks to this, we can now be able to know where we should focus our attention on when we want to make our blogs load faster.

To learn more about the Site Performance Tool, go here. To learn more about Google Page Speed, go here.


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Categories: Blog Statistics, Blogging Tools

The Dying Art of Live Blogging

No one is questioning the speed of technology today– what may be innovative today may be junk tomorrow (or worse,  junk by lunch time. ) Blogging is no exception.

One of the impending casualties of the blogging space obsolescence is live blogging. Yeah, there was a time when people blogged real-time in their respective blogs and kept updating one single post in rapid succession to cover an event. A couple of years ago, as blogs were slowly gaining prominence, live blogging was the apex of covering an event live via blogging.

But due to the emergence of microblogging and platforms such as Twitter and Plurk, live blogging is on its way to extinction. Microblogging is fast and automatic, making the process of constantly updating a blog post cumbersome and clunky. Add to that the proliferation of third-party sites and apps that support micro-blogging, live blogging can be officially be considered a dying art.

But before we say “good riddance” to live blogging,  I believe it can still have a place in the blogging ecosystem. Remember that one key limitation of microblogging is the number of characters (e.g. Twitter’s 140 character limit). Live blogging is essentially free from this constraint. Another is the multimedia aspect of live blogging, such as the ability to post audio and video streams into a blog post.

Live blogging may not be hottest thing right now, but I believe it still has a use in specific situations to keep it from becoming completely obsolete.

UPDATE: Nah, I change my mind. Live blogging is dead.

Categories: Blogging Sense, Microblogging
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