Field Botany WordPress Site Breakdown

The Field Botany class is underway and the vegetation is rolling in despite floods and hail. There are 20 student participating on 20 different blogs. Right now we have almost 700 posts in the mother blog. Amazing to see all this great work and to be able to keep it instead of having it stuck in paper notebooks which only a few people ever saw and no one in the public could use. This early days for the site but in the end the intrepid biology duo of Jill Reid and Dianne Jennings will worked with their students to create a site that local residents can use to identify plants in our James River Park System. The nice thing about this setup is it can be used as is or modified to support a variety of other scenarios pretty readily. It has already inspired a sister project that will be documenting mortality and local cemeteries with Susan Bodnar-Deren (who just finished the first round of theOnline Course Development Initiative). Plugins Used On The Mother Blog/Set Up NS Cloner – Site Copier – This was handy for setup. In this case we wanted student sites to have the categories, pages, themes, and plugins already activated. This plugin let me do that easily from a blank template site. The free version doesn’t […]

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WordPress Short Code Plugin

It wasn’t too long ago I wrote my first WordPress plugin. Essentially, I Googled “wordpress plugin tutorial” and wandered from there. Another helpful piece for me is downloading plugins that do something close to what I want and trying to figure out what they did. Inspired in part by Boone Gorges and his description of how he handled iframe embed issues in multisite, and David asking for some way for students to embed Debate Graph I figured I could write a plugin to allow a shortcode embed for that site. The dead simple example is below.1 It allows you to put [debategraph url=”http://debategraph.com/whatevertheurl”] and it returns the needed embed code. I’ll probably set it up with height/width as a user option but I wanted it as pure as possible initially. I’ll also need to tie them in with the main WP editor sooner or later. In writing this and trying to piece together how I figured this out, I also found this shortcode generator which might be very helpful in the future. This was hiding2 at the bottom of the WP Codex page on shortcodes. This is pretty much a barebones template so when we had a little stutter this morning around embedding Google Forms. I was able to alter it in a few minutes and have something functional. I’ll […]

oEmbed Additions in WordPress

One of the minor hassles of running WordPress Multisite is dealing with the rules about HTML cleansing- mainly the removal of iframe elements. You could install unfiltered MU but the plugin itself warns you that’s end-of-the-world dangerous and the plugin hasn’t been updated in two years. The combination might make one a bit nervous. In this particular case, I have a group who wants to use videos from dotsub.com. Turns out it’s a good site for captioning and other things that make the video more accessible. This group is working on universal design so dotsub makes doubly good sense. WordPress supports a number of sites using oEmbed. That’s the magic that allows you to paste in a YouTube URL and the embed codes are taken care of without you having to do anything. WordPress essentially run off a white list of sites that it accepts off the bat. It turns out that oEmbed lists a bunch of sites that support the API and dotsub.com ended up being one of them.1 That means I just have to add dotsub.com to the WordPress install’s whitelist. The ever handy WordPress codex lets me know that I do that using wp_oembed_add_provider and further down on that page you’ll see that lives wp-includes/media.php. I could have done it this way but I don’t like editing […]

Biology Field Journal Continues

I think this is kind of a neat WordPress theme trick. You can download/fork it here if you want or go over here and try it out. I took the mixitup child theme from a little while back and modified it a bit. This new page template uses posts rather than attachments and adds the page text above the images. It is also smarter about removing some of the sorting categories it displays for the posts. Directions create a page name that page the same name as one of your category posts apply the template (Featured image sort by page name/category) now all the posts from that category show up under the body of that post in sortable format The Changes I’m trying out the Syntax Highlighter plugin given how much more often I’m posting code lately. I also really commented up the page. I am still struggling to find a decent way to do this kind of exposition about code and the process it took to figure out the code.

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Diigo + FeedWordPress & WordPress Snap Workflow

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. The Past 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 […]

A WordPress Child Theme with MixItUp

Earlier, I attempted to integrate a slick javascript sorting library called MixItUp into a WordPress theme. It didn’t go all that well despite a series of tutorials from different people. After a decent amount of effort- You can see a working example at this link. Click on “Moo” and it’ll sort. Click on “All” and it’ll revert to state. Some categories have no images attached so you’ll get nothing.1 The following is mainly based around this karine.do tutorial that I couldn’t quite get to work properly. Alan Levine saved me2 after I backed myself in a corner where the “tiles” would sort . . . and then immediately unsort. I’d get into the the details of the issues but essentially, be careful what you name you CSS elements (#gallery, for instance, will likely have conflicts) and call jquery by its name not by $. Anyway, I hope having all this together will help someone down the line. Step one was seeing what WordPress suggested regarding child themes. I’ve never done it before but it seems pretty straight forward. Essentially, name your folder whatevertheme-child, in this case twentytwelve-child. All you need to make a child is one style.css file. In this case, we’re going to need a bit more. Overview Notes style.css – This will have the extra CSS to format […]

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Some Interesting WP Landing Pages

The link bait title should have been something like “5 Must See Themes for WordPress Multisite” but in any case, I’m wandering around the Internet looking for interesting/useful looking examples1 (educational and otherwise). I started by browsing this old Google spreadsheet of WordPress in education examples2 and then moved on to the WordPress showcase but focusing on BuddyPress and multisite flavors. Clean layout with some links out to multimedia elements (Roundtable Radio). This is a nice additional example to show that while DS106 is undeniably great, there are other people in education pushing at the transmedia publishing. Slick graphic design and lots of content without feeling too overwhelming. I think it’s a good balance of static/activity. The WordPress inclusion write ups are also interesting reading. Interesting to see how they display 60 some odd blogs. A different focus/look but one worth considering for example browsing. I’d consider randomizing the examples on refresh and possibly adding some method for drilling down to site based on some level of categorization. A literary magazine with a varied layout. It feels a bit busy to me but they have put a lot of pieces together in a way that’s worth looking at. An Aside Mozilla’s site runs on WordPress. I flipped to view source to see what theme they were using out of curiosity […]

Diigo Summary Posts CSS Modification

I haven’t found a better way to do the weekly summary posts than Diigo, so I spent five minutes messing with the CSS to make it look a little more like what I’d like. You can do this in WordPress from the WP Admin sidebar under Appearance>Edit CSS. .diigo-linkroll li { list-style-type: none; } .diigo-link a { background: #e6e6e6; font-size: 1.25em; padding: 2px; display: block; } .diigo-tags { display: none; } The first piece (.diigo-linkroll li) gets rid of the unordered list structure. The second portion (.diigo-link a) makes slightly larger text and puts a gray background behind the links- which essentially function like headers for the different articles referenced. The final piece (.diigo-tags) just makes the auto-included tags invisible. I may need to rethink this but it does clean up the post which looked far too messy for my tastes. You can see the side by side comparison below.

Bounty of the Sea, Fluidity of the Web

Digital media flows and that’s part of what makes so many interesting things possible.1 The Sea You are literally adrift in a sea of content. There are so many people out there who do an amazing amount of work to find and write interesting things. Gather them. Use them. Add and prune these sites until you get what you really want. This should be your own beautiful ocean of content- sparking ideas and giving you great enjoyment. If it isn’t then you have only yourself to blame. These are some sites that perform well for me. Your needs and interests will likely vary but there are worse places to start. The Harvest Now that you have many good things flowing by, you’ll need a way to save all this good stuff. Some you’ll use in the moment, many other things you’ll tuck away for later, or for someone else, or just in case. This is painless and comes with so many benefits.2 Back in the day I used Delicious. I now use Diigo (which backs up to Delicious and Pinboard).3 Diigo allows you to create groups as well. A number of our content specialists are using it to multiply their power. They’ve chosen some teachers to add to their groups. The specialists can then skim the cream of the links […]

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Four Paths to WordPress

There are many ways1 to get content into WordPress other than writing in the normal WP post editor. I figured I’d sketch out at least four and why you might choose one over another. Press This I don’t believe many people notice or use the “Press This” bookmarklet that is located under Settings>Writing or under Tools. There’s a 3 minute video below detailing where to find it and how it works below. Think of it like the bookmarklet you might use with Delicious or Diigo only with more flexibility behind it. The ability to nearly seamlessly add media from the reference page (seen at about 1:27 in the video) is the main thing I find that makes this tool particularly useful. I’m using it instead of Diigo for the Word Games site because I want to embed a mixture of media and all of it will be from external pages. Think of it as having the capabilities of Pinterest but with the additional ability to embed video and text. Via Email This used to be a hassle but Automatic’s Jetpack plugin makes it very simple. You will need a WordPress.com account but it’s free and you’ve already given away all your information to Google or Apple anyway. You can see a tutorial on how to do that here but it’s […]