plugins posts

WordPress plugin: changing rel-canonical

I serve my site over both HTTP and HTTPS to support older browser that can’t support modern or any HTTPS protocols. I prefer HTTPS for search engines and general use though, as it is more secure, increases user privacy, and is factored into SEO rankings. Due to an issue with my sitemap, Google ended up indexing all of my blog pages as HTTP. The first thing I’m going to try to get Google to show my blog pages as HTTPS is to set the rel-canonical link to the HTTPS version regardless of which protocol the visitor uses. WordPress doesn’t have a built in way to change the canonical URL, and I didn’t want to install a heavy SEO plugin just for this, so I wrote my own.

This simple plugin removes WordPress’s rel_canonical action, then replaces it with its own. I basically re-implemented WordPress’s own functionality, replacing the http with https before outputting the link. It looks like:

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WordPress code plugin, a quick solution

I’m slowly copying the markdown versions of my posts after my recent move of this blog. It really is tedious, and I don’t think I’ll finish anytime soon, so in the meantime I created a plugin to output the [ code] shortcode that wordpress.com put in my post export in the same way that markdown does. This is the first plugin and shortcode I’ve created in a long while, but it was relatively quick to do working off of my posts on plugins and shortcodes. The biggest time consumer was figuring out how to deal with whitespace issues. Apparently, WordPress sometimes will add <p> and <br /> to shortcode content. Also, there were leading and trailing line breaks adding unnecessary space. My quick solution:

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WordPress: My First Plugin

I made my first WordPress plugin today. It’s very simple and for my own site only: It adds the script bits for the Piwik analytics of my personal blog. It showed me just how easy it is to create a plugin in WordPress. Normally, for clients, I’d just add additional functionality in the “functions.php” file, but for my personal site I’m using the new default theme for WordPress 3.0 (in part out of laziness and in part to try out some of the new features it introduced). I decided rather than modify the theme at all I’d create a plugin, and was happy with how easily and well it worked.

Creating a simple plugin involves creating a PHP file in the ‘plugins’ folder (in ‘wp-content’). It can be named anything, and could also go inside of a folder if multiple files are needed. The plugin file starts with a snippet like the following:

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WordPress: XML Sitemap with XSLT WordPress Theme

For the Canine site, we wanted to have an XML sitemap to help search engines index the site. The sitemap can help search engines find all content on the site as well as tell it which pages are most important, how often they are updated, and when they were last modified.

There seems to be a number of plugins to generate the sitemap automatically for WordPress, but the Google XML Sitemaps plugin seems to have the highest rating and have gotten the most mention in blogs. Jason had used this plugin already for his site, so we knew a little about it already, thus we went with it.

After some minor configuration, it worked just fine. It regenerates a static file every time a page or post is updated. Not as dynamic, but it saves processor time. I doubt the plugin will work with Pods at all, since that’s outside the posts/pages dataset. Our Pods content probably won’t be as important anyway. I could potentially look into modifying the plugin if need be for that.

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Stearns: Slideshow, Media Tags

We wanted an image slideshow for our sidebar. I looked at some of the plugins available for doing this, but none looked to be exactly what we wanted, nor did they look very simple. I’ve worked with jQuery before with various image things, so I used it to build my own slideshow (building it in OO added to the development time, but it should be fairly versatile now). Then I had to get the appropriate images from WordPress to work with my javascript, which was quite a bit of work as well.

We want the images to easily be updatable by Stearns.  I don’t know why I was dead-set on having them be able to use the media library, but I was.  They could FTP files into a folder, which would be much easier for me.  But they might not even know how to do this, and letting them handle everything through the wordpress interface is preferable.  They’d have to crop and size them properly.  The images in the folder also wouldn’t have captions.  So I pressed on.

I thought perhaps I could have them update a gallery on a particular page, after having thought the gallery function wass very neat.  But it seems there is no way to add items from the media library to a gallery for a page (not in regular wordpress anyway) and I’m not sure that the “delete” link does what I want for removing items from the gallery (and I’m not willing to try).

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Stearns: Flutter now Magic Fields, Adminimize

Flutter/Magic Fields

Magic Fields is a fork of Flutter that is open source GPL and seems to have more active development going on.  It also seems to be much more streamlined and simplified.  It doesn’t have all of the features of Flutter, but I didn’t know what those features were anyway and wasn’t using them.  I switched to it for these reasons and in hopes that it would fix a problem I’m having.

The problem is that posts created outside of the Flutter write panels do not appear inside of that panels “Manage” pane, nor do posts on write panels that have no custom fields.  Two of the panels had no custom fields, and some items were not added with the write panel at all, so the “manage” panels were not working for us.  I discovered that Flutter associates its custom fields with posts in a particular table, and the “manage” pane only shows items in that table.

Moving to Magic Fields, I thought it might fix this.  They provide a script to move all panels and items from Flutter, which made that easy.  Unfortunately, the plugin still uses the same method of populating the “manage” panes, and so didn’t fix my problem at all.

I really just want that pane to have all items from the related category, whether they have populated custom fields or not, whether they were added through the write panel or the posts panel.  I may have to modify the plugin to make this happen.  Otherwise, I will have to somehow craft a script to find unassociated items from a given category, insert a custom field with the relevant name for that type, and then insert the cross-reference row.  That would be a complicated affair and would do nothing for new items created after the script is run.  But I am worried that not having an associated field set in the database will cause problems when those items are displayed.  We’ll see what I can manage and have time for.

Adminimize

This plugin was recommended by Kevin Behrens, maker of Role Scoper.  It allows removal of panels and individual items from the admin section based on role/group.  So far, I only have used it to remove the “Add New” pane of the posts section, but I think it will allow me to remove the HTML tab from TinyMCE as well as a few other things to clean up the interface for the Stearns folk.  The easier we make it for them, the better.

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Stearns: Move, Menu, Flutter and Permissions

The Move

We finally bought the domain name and hosting account for Stearns, at stearnshomestead.com.  We were expecting them to want a .org due to their nonprofit status, but I guess they wanted the familiarity of the .com.  They have no company credit card, so Angela had to set up the account and will bill them for a check.  I don’t know what they’ll do in the future:  They’ll probably have to have one of their members do a similar thing.

We moved our WordPress install from its temporary location in a subfolder of one of Angela’s sites to the root of the new site.  There was perhaps a bit of trouble moving the site, but once we figured it out, the install worked perfectly.  To move, we transferred from one site to the other via FTP all site files.  We then used PHPMyAdmin to export the site data as SQL and then import it to the new site (didn’t have to use PHPMyAdmin for the new site, as the host has an import function in their control panel).  We then had to update the config file for WordPress to reference the new database.  Finally, we had to change two URLs in the options table in the database.  Everything now works.

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Stearns: Using WordPress as CMS

I mentioned my concerns of using WordPress as a CMS in a previous post, but now it is getting to be the time to find solutions to our problems.  We have installed a test wordpress site and have begun working on it.  The style is still bare, but I am looking at functionality issues.  I used those links from the previous post plus some other sites found on Google to find potential solutions.  I haven’t made any final decisions yet on what should work for us, but I’ll document some of my considerations

Events and Recipes

One issue we will have is needing custom data fields for the events and the recipes.  WordPress has custom fields built in, but it would be best if the fields could be there automatically, without them having to add them and get the names exactly right each time.

Flutter is one plugin solution that looks nice.  It allows custom write panels to be created in the admin section, so that events or recipes could be managed and added separately from the normal posts.  It allows custom fields to be defined for each panel as well.  It even allows data types to be defined, so dates for the events could be entered easily.  It does have some issues, such as some bugginess and rumored slowness when post numbers get high.  This did sell me on the custom write panel idea though.

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