These last few posts are an attempt to document both how things I post on this blog come back up and help me do new things and an attempt to document how I come to solutions for things that I don’t understand how to do. Then there’s an attempt to explain what I did in case anyone else wants to do the same. I hope that it’s a narrative on my learning process as much as it is a tutorial on the particular topic.
So I’m fairly focused on making things easier for myself for the simple fact that if they don’t make sense/work with my current life then I tend not to keep them up. A good examples is that way back in 20111 I modified the WordPress “Press This” bookmarklet in combination with the WordPress Snap plugin to allow me to auto generate screenshots of pages.
I used it a few times after that but it didn’t fit my workflow. It solved one problem- I wanted visuals of these websites to make the posts more engaging but I didn’t want to take screenshots, upload them etc.2 So one problem solved but the fact remained that I didn’t use “Press This” to bookmark pages. I used Diigo for that kind of thing so despite solving one workflow problem the “solution” died a relatively quick death. It’d be easy to write it off as a waste of time and a failure but it planted the seed in my head that I can modify bookmarklets to better do my bidding and it just required that I tweak it a bit more. I just needed a more pressing need to drive me to figure it out.
Enter the Need
At VCU we’re looking to aggregate a variety of interesting use cases of WordPress as a course website, open education projects, and other neat things. I’ve, once again, built things like this a number of times (mainly in Exhibit) in the past both at the Univ. of Richmond3 and HCPS. They are always well intended and start strong but quickly die, even with multiple authors, because they aren’t part of a workflow and episodic hurculean efforts are not a good way to get things like this done. You want them to live and grow and for that to happen it has to fit in the way people work.
My goal was to use Diigo to post sites with the tag “item” to a blog. I wanted those posts to have a preview image of the page.
Install the FeedWordPress plugin
in the WordPress blog I was going to use. I decided on the highly creative tag of “item” to indicate the posts I wanted to go to this blog. Now in Diigo I just had to use the URL https://www.diigo.com/rss/user/bionicteaching/item to get that stuff into FeedWP and thus into the blog. So now anything I tag “item” becomes a blog post on that site and the tags from Diigo are tags in WordPress. Nice and seamless.
Adding Images- Snag #1
I installed WordPress Snap (it still works). I was going to have to come back and hand enter the shortcode but figured it was more likely to happen than taking screenshots. This didn’t quite work. Even when I could add information after allowing the syndicated copy to be modified the shortcode was still non-functioning. I was also missing the Visual/Text tabs in the editor which confused me. I went to Twitter for help.
Got RSS to post via FeedWP, enabled manual editing but still no visual/html editor tab & shortcodes not functioning? Any ideas? #wordpress
— Tom Woodward (@twoodwar) February 26, 2014
This of course, prompted me to search more and figure it out.
— Tom Woodward (@twoodwar) February 26, 2014
Turns out that under Syndication>Posts & Links>Formatting you need to turn ON formatting filters. Which is pretty much the opposite of what I would have thought. At this point I decided to test and see if writing the shortcode in the Diigo bookmark would work and surprise, surprise it did.
My Memory- Snag #2
I couldn’t remember the shortcode for more than a few hours at a time. I’d change it to all sorts of things that were close but not close enough. Plus I didn’t do a good job remember the numbers etc. Granted I could have made a note somewhere and referenced it but this is the kind of things computers are for. I don’t want to have to do a repetitive thing or remember something boring and standardized. This sparked my memory of the previous bookmarklet.
The Revised Diigo Bookmark
I knew that the Chrome extension was likely to be overkill for what I wanted but I figured the lower weight Diigo bookmark would meet my needs and keep things simple enough to parse out quickly. I found a simple Diigo bookmarks someplace. Once you drag it to your bookmark bar you can right click on it and select edit. That got me this code.
+'[snap url="'+url+'" width="600px" height="350px" link="on"]' which seems pretty simple now. I used single quotes to enclose the string so that I could freely use double quotes. The plus signs allow me to stick string together and get what I want.
So if you wanted to use this, you can create a bookmark for any page and then edit it and replace the URL with the code above.
I remain unable to get tags to auto enter through the bookmarklet. That whole section of the created URL seems to get ignored but I decided it wasn’t that big a deal for this use.