I’ve had a number of requests to simplify WordPress, to make it more Tumblr like. I get that. It was mentioned again while I was at Thompson Rivers University and that inspired me to get it done. WordPress has a lot more complexity than Tumblr and that allows you to do a lot more. Doing complex things often requires tools with some complexity. The thing that interests me is when and how you make that complexity visible.1 So could we do something more Tumblr like in WordPress? There are certainly ways to completely re-write the dashboard and to set up user roles that only have limited kinds of access. That seems a bit heavy-handed to me and I don’t want to wall this stuff off. I simply want to make things very accessible to inexperienced users. The full re-write is also somewhat beyond what I have the time to do. I could take the time but in “innovation” land time is energy lost and I must ride the mixed-metaphor wave of getting stuff done fast. So in the time honored spirit of throwing stuff together with duct tape, I offer this for consideration. WordPress does have a simplified authoring view. Really. You can activate it using the ‘Press This’ bookmarklet and despite a slick revamp in WP 4.2 virtually no […]
I had a conversation with a professor from the School of Art yesterday that ended up someplace fun for me. The focus was on how technology might help art educators reflect on their work in a visual way. It took me a while to get that she really wanted something outside the norm but we got there eventually. One of the ideas that came up was taking the featured image from the last 30 posts and applying a blur to it (I had this DS106 assignment in mind). With bit of CSS and a new plugin (Better Rest API Featured Images Plugin1) I was able to repurpose the Angular template I used for counting links in about 5 minutes. I also made another version that tries to overlay all the images in one spot. Both need some tender loving CSS care and some additional focus to make sure they’re really capturing the right data but they’re examples that start to open the door to really different ways we can start to look at work in the digital realm. These abstractions can lead to reflection that wouldn’t necessarily be apparent from viewing the images in non-abstract form. You can see I tend towards black and white images. A number of my posts don’t seem to have featured images. (I’ll have to […]
The idea that technology ought to help students reflect on their use of technology seems to make sense. As we have more and more students engaging in online writing little things come to light. Take the humble/magical hyperlink for example. We often look at the use of hyperlinks as a marker for progress in digital fluency. Are students using the thing that makes the web so webby? Can we help make that a point of reflection for them?1 I had a conversation with Laura a while back about pulling out URLs and looking at the their use over time by students.2 Clearly, these aren’t pure quantitative things. You’ll never say “Six links? Failure!” or even “Seventy four links? That’s an A+.” Not that I would ever think that about you but this is on the Internet and I don’t want anyone tying hyperlink numbers to Bloom’s levels and then linking to me. But it would be interesting to look back over your writing and see when you use lots of links and when you don’t. So, at the moment, that’s what this plugin does. It’ll do some more tricks in the future but these are early days. The plugin as it sits now (below) will do three things. It’ll run a regex on the post and store all the URLs […]
Before Mark left us for the green dusty start-up fields of Austin TX we had a conversation about creating a better, faster way to do our examples page. The idea of having a resource like this is always popular but people don’t add content.1 My current belief is that it’s because it’s a hassle and despite good intentions people just don’t do it. After seeing what Mark did to associate users with their blogs in the mother blog plugin, I figured he could also automatically pull the theme, plugins, and admin email of any blog on our system based on the URL . . . and indeed he could. This theme requires Advanced Custom Fields and the Benson plugin to tie in the Angular stuff. The one thing he wasn’t able to do was to auto-generate the screenshot from the URL. I’ve looked into that in the past and done it in a variety of ways but none of them were quite satisfactory. I didn’t really want to end up reliant on a 3rd party system and then Mark sent me http2pic yesterday. So now I just needed to install it and get it working. That led to a bit of an adventure for me. There are directions on the github page but they’re written for someone who is a […]
Current rampages.us stats . . . 11,772 sites remain of 11,900 created 12,029 users 229 plugins (not all visible to all users) 229 Themes1 (not all visible to all users) 153 GBs of data You throw a few other elements in there . . . 4 other WordPress installs, a separate server with its own WordPress environment, a Discourse install on Linode . . . you end up with a lot of infrastructure to manage. Things to upgrade, users to support, issues to track down and fix . . . not to mention learning the particularities of different server environments and software packages . . . most of it done on the fly. It’s a lot of pieces and a lot of people. I start to feel like things are complex. I start to understand why people lock stuff down, give users a plugin or two . . . streamline administration. It is sensible. It is hard to keep up and keep track. But I keep thinking about the two billion lines of code that Google deals with and how they do it. Google engineers modify 15 million lines of code across 250,000 files each week. Sure, some code is more locked down than other code but it seems pretty open.2 Clearly I’m not Google and, as is frequently the […]
The following plugin (network activated) will strip out all blogs from your My Sites list where you aren’t an admin. I cobbled it together from some stuff Mark did to generate a list of blogs for the Mother Blog plugin. While it would be great for me, it would not work all that well for other people on rampages. Part of this is being driven by the BuddyPress/bbPress decision to add any logged in member who visits any other blog as a “Participant.” I had something that was stopping this previously but it seems to have stopped working. So I thought I could just flip this a bit and make it do the opposite (kick out any blogs where I am a participant). It works fine for the normal roles but not for participant. I’m not sure why. Anyone have a clue? Special roles are accessed some other way? UPDATE Turns out the slug is bbp_participant. Pays to look more deeply.
It sounds like an exciting new buddy movie . . . but it’s an attempt to better integrate elements of our Discourse install in WordPress using Benson (a neat plugin Mark made that lets you use Angular w/in WordPress). I decided to look into this after seeing this example using Twig. Ordinarily, I’d do something like this using Discourse’s RSS feeds and probably manipulating it with FacetWP. I’m opting to look at these other options for a few reasons. One, with WordPress expanding JSON I want a better idea of how all that works in comparison to RSS. Two, I don’t really like duplicating all this content through the syndication option if I can achieve the same effect in other ways. I’m not so worried about space (although I don’t like to waste it) but there are occasionally issues with updates and duplications using RSS the way we do. I wonder if JSON will straighten some of that out. Angular also opens up a realm of options as you get closer to writing code rather than relying on plugins. And finally, I want to knit Discourse more tightly to WordPress. That’ll matter because of the strong resistance to “another site?” responses. What can you get out of Discourse via JSON? Short answer- lots of stuff. Much like WordPress you can […]
flickr photo shared by Little Orange Crow under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license The goal here was simply to take the Flickr API knowledge I’d gained earlier and apply it within a WordPress widget. In doing so, I learned a few things. The primary one being that I often harm myself by being fairly good at making stuff work rather than understanding what I’m doing. That’s what I did here. The Flickr API thing was pretty legitimate. I knew what I was doing there but I pretty much crammed it into a widget plugin template without really understanding the whole thing. That led to more confusion around print