Semi-Programistan and Other Conundrums

I can create basic child themes. I can make some low level plugins. I can take themes and plugins as they’re given and live with the shortfalls. Lately I’ve become (more?) interested with the space between those two options. Can I use one or two plugins to create the equivalent of on-the-fly-child-themes? Can I teach other people who aren’t interested in making child themes how to do it? How replicable are the design/building patterns? To parallel that line walking, I’ve repeatedly tried to deal with the example/tool/tutorial structure in a way that might get people curious. Building lists of tools doesn’t appear to have advantages long term. I’ve done that too many times. Plus it puts the focus on the wrong element from the start. At the same time people need to see the association between tool and possibility.1 For this to ever really work well there has to be a fairly tight entwining of tool, possibility, and example. This site is supposed to show examples by discipline, tell how to make them (tutorial/FAQ), and add in other interesting and useful elements. It may be this matters more to us internally. It’ll help provide a quick way to find examples in the moment of need when talking to instructors and provides enough documentation for most of our internal people to […]

Add a Custom Masonry Layout with 2 Plugins

I’ve been meaning to set up a Masonry style layout for my weekly photography posts for a while. After my earlier post meshing together plugins, I figured now was the right time to show how to do it. Sure you could do this with a child theme and some specific themes have this layout. There are also some Masonry plugins that’ll get you some of this. This path allows you a good bit more freedom in the end and hopefully walks the middle path between intimidating coding and still having some real control over the end product/style etc. It’s also not a bad example pattern for integrating other javascript options without the hassle/upkeep of child themes etc. Plugins Needed Display Posts Shortcode – gets us the posts we want Specific CSS/JS for Posts/Pages – lets us tie in the masonry JavaScript library and custom CSS To Business Activate those plugins. Make a page where you want your Masonry layout to show up. You’ll have the option at the bottom of that page (or post) to link to the mansonry library and turn it on for the page. You can see that below. You can put the CSS in this area as well. Don’t forget to wrap it in the style tags. Since I was using a Bootstrap based theme I […]

Bootstrapping Nonprogramistan

I want to be like Alan Levine someday but as I slowly progressively acquire the necessary coding skills I often make do with various kinds of semi-programistan hackery. Today was an example of that and so worth a bit of blogging. Jesse Goldstein, one of a cadre of most favored sociologists, sent me an email asking how hard it’d be to do a few things with his course site for Understanding Capitalism. He wanted the front page to have – three columns- each from a separate category a way to highlight items of import in the leftmost column a static chunk of text in the leftmost column There are lots of ways to do this. I’m actually confident I could write a child theme to do this . . . but it was fun to do it without that and to do it in about 30 minutes as we sat at the .1 The Theme Jesse course started out with the tried and true Twenty Fourteen theme. It’s a nice theme but not really the one I’d choose for something with three columns. I’ve really been enjoying Flat Bootstrap lately. It’s nice and clean both in the code and in the presentation and it’s, as the name implies, built on the Bootstrap framework which makes all sorts of neat tricks […]

Gravity Forms: Exploring a Design Pattern

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by clement127 One of the things we use a lot is what I’ll call templated submissions using Gravity Forms. It’s a solid performer across a variety of activities, disciplines, and instructor technology comfort levels. Costs/Benefits The content is guided/scaffolded so you get consistently constructed products (core elements are there and presented in a consistent manner) in a way that never quite works out with free form entries.1 Want to make sure students apply four lenses of analysis to a website review and end up with consistent titles and formatting? This is the type of construction where forms really help. Often this pattern is used as a way to get the advantage of creating web content without having to give students their own usernames/blogs/etc.2 It does reduce that overhead and makes good sense in situations where a full blog or authoring rights to a common blog may be overkill. One of the main advantages of this type of pattern is ending up with a visible, interactive, and useful aggregation of content. Make that matter. When these assignments have a larger purpose and audience things get far more interesting. A Few Examples These are live classes so please don’t submit entries at these sites. PSY 323< - focused on student submission of video/presentations […]

WordPress Multisite- Quick Delete to Reuse Email

Image thanks to Armando. In WordPress Multisite, a user can sign up under an email address. They then decide to delete their account for some odd reason. If they try to sign up again under that same email, it’ll say the email address is being used and will become available in a few days. In a situation like ours (all accounts are restricted to VCU email addresses) that’s a problem. You can jump right into phpMyAdmin and delete the row that contains this information in the wp_signups table. That’s no big deal unless you have a giant database and then using phpMyAdmin1 is a very special kind of slow motion misery. The following two piece solution allows me to just go to a website, enter the email address I wish to expunge and presto change-o the email is available to be used again. This isn’t rocket science (but it may be helpful) and there may be alternate paths. Those who know better, feel free to warn and/or educate me. Piece 1 A little tiny HTML form. Piece 2 1 It’s likely someone with more skills would just use the command line to knock all this out but I’m not there yet. I’m working on it.

SPLOT Fest – Story Forker using Gravity Forms

One of the things I love about my little community of people is the in-process sharing1 of work. Alan is a master of this and he puts in serious work.2 In an attempt to give a little bit of energy back I present you a very rough version of the LPC3 SPLOT Story Brancher. To get at the roots of this idea, go read Alan’s initiating post. Alan’s making little web tools that don’t require logins and are focused on doing one small thing well (smallest possible online learning tools). Alan is capable of doing far more coding than I can so I tend to try to compensate by choosing non-programistan paths. This proof of concept took about 10 minutes this morning and probably shows that but it might inspire some deeper thoughts down the road. This is a quick and dirty example of how Gravity Forms would enable you to- create one form that enables the duplication/forking of whatever post it is in w/o requiring user login/account or creating new forms have the option to do some sort of incremental titling trackback to the parent post automatically for some sort of x begat y begat z etc. etc. navigation Get the Body This is the only code-ish piece. The gist below, added to your theme’s functions.php file, takes the […]

Gravity Forms Black Magic

Gravity Forms makes my list of Non-Programistan tools. I haven’t seen quite enough posts celebrating the fact that Gravity Forms can do magic. The key feature at the moment that is kind of blowing my mind is the ability to use modifiers on the submissions fields— the ability to have the label (what the user sees/answers) be one thing and the value be something entirely different. It has the potential to enable some SPLOT like activities without the coding on the tool maker end1 . . . I know that sounds like nonsense but just follow me a bit . . . It’s easy to miss the checkbox that turns on the values. You can see it in the fairly annoying GIF above. The cool thing is you can put virtually anything in the value field- images, HTML chunks etc. This plus the ability to create content templates2 gives you the ability to have user form interactions create some fairly sophisticated content.3 In this example the user selects “Awesome” as the answer to a question and the form would record that AND the following HTML (stored as the value for that answer) The part where this starts to come together is in the construction of a post using the content template option. You get options detailed in the image below. […]

Embed Google Drive Folder in WordPress

>>>>>You can find an updated version here. As WordPress and Google Drive continue to blend in a variety of ways the desire to embed the contents of Google Drive folders has come up a few times. I found this Stack Overflow post a while back and had been using it myself. But in an attempt to get around iframe issues and make it a little friendlier I wrote a quick and dead simple plugin today. It seems to do the trick . . . Directions Assuming the plugin is installed and activated . . . Go to Google Docs. Get the unique ID for the folder you want to embed- seen in the highlighted portion of the URL in the image below. Then paste it between the shortcodes like so . . . and you get a nice little window that acts as a live interactive portal to the folder.

Geo Tagging WordPress

First, go try it out if you want. Submit something. It’ll help it make more sense. I thought this would be a lot easier than I made it. I tried lots of paths and considered spending various amounts of money to make this easier. Please benefit (probably) from my wandering. I try to link in where I learned different things and, more importantly, I tried to emphasize vocabulary that might be useful to you. My goal1 was to- have a Google2 Map interface that auto-located the device allow the user to drag the marker to adjust the location plot the resulting WordPress posts on a map To make this work you do need a Google Maps API3 key and on the WordPress side you’ll need the Gravity Forms (Costs money but worth it) and Geo Mashup (free) plugins. Gravity Forms will let you create posts via a form and provision form elements via URL parameters. Geo Mashup is the friendliest way I found to display posts on a Google Map based on lat/long parameters associated with the post. Auto Locate I went to a few different places for this but ended up finding/using the handy example posted in the Google Maps API documentation. It took me a while to get there- “geolocation” is the key term. Add it to your […]

Pre-Filling Forms via URL

I have to figure out a rather unpleasant and boring thing. I am, however, learning some fairly odd and interesting tricks as a result. This is one that might be useful to someone. Google Forms You can pre-fill Google form entries with a URL. That might be useful if you had 720 students in groups of 6 reviewing one another but didn’t want to build a form with 720 student names or build a 120 forms with 6 student names. I don’t think I’m going to end up using this for this purpose1 but maybe it’ll prove useful to someone else and it’s dead simple. Step one – Build your form. Step two – Go to Responses in the Form Editor view and select “Get pre-filled URL”. You then fill out the form the way you want and it creates the URL. In this case, I’m filling out a multiple choice question and a free form text entry. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1P5_6vTv53MEKCEjd87xecI483goNqDg1-nPlFH84Mz0/viewform?entry.1615031756=Bob+Smith&entry.1012634392=I,+for+one,+have+always+admired+the+number+two. Now, you might wonder what would happen if in the URL you set a multiple choice answer to something not available as an option- like ‘Freddy Kruger’ for the first field in the form. I wondered that. It just comes up blank in the spreadsheet.2 Sadly, as I mucked around I couldn’t come up with a decent way to hide the […]