I’m trying to do a better job documenting how to do some of the things people ask me to do. I’m doing it anyway, might as well do the documentation and share the love. This was request to make a gallery page from/for a series of interviews on listening for a music appreciation course conducted by the wonderful Steve Ashby. This particular series was done in pages and, very helpfully, they were all child-pages of a particular parent-page which makes this really very easy.1 The page-list plugin will make this very easy.2 I think it was one that Alan pointed out at sometime in the past. In any case, I can see the parameters for the shortcode here. We want all the child-pages and to show some sort of image. All we need to make that happen is this shortcode [pagelist_ext show_first_image=”1″] on the parent-page. Presto, we get what you see below (or at this link towards the bottom of the page). All in all, less than 10 minutes of work including writing this post. 1 If they’d been posts instead of pages I could have done something very, very similar with list category posts plugin. If they weren’t organized by category or by parent-child relationship, I would have been sad. 2 If you know it exists.
This is why things are more difficult than they might be . . . a story of why I have no idea about anything or maybe it’s a parable of complexity and human frailty. In the beginning, we created a WordPress Multisite install and turned on BuddyPress. To make the groups works correctly we network activated bbPress. As a result, anyone logged into their accounts who visited any other rampages site became a Participant of that site (a bbPress user role that allows forum participation). People got very nervous about people being in their user roles. Other people became very unhappy their My Sites list had too many sites. I had to figure out two things as a result. First, I needed to stop auto-Participant association. I eventually found a way to do that but I still had to deal with the stuff that already happened. The right way to do it was to delete the users who were participants across the multisite. But . . . at that time we couldn’t access our database through anything but php myadmin and it wouldn’t run because the database was too big. So I had to treat the problem and strip the sites from the displayed list. Fast forward a year or so. At this point, we were able to turn off […]
This post is specifically about addressing a syllabus submission problem but it’s worth thinking about more broadly. It should be pretty applicable to any structured data entry problem you have. These are often administrative chores (like this one) but could also be about cataloging grave markers or indexing resources or Collecting the syllabi for their department is one of those miserable things department chairs often have to do. They then need to store and reference those syllabi for a few years.1 The normal pattern is to ask people to email the syllabus and there is usually some desperate plea for a common naming convention.2 This plea is followed by ~2 people. People are bad at directions (giving and following). Email makes this basic flaw 20 times worse.3 This particular pattern for misery incarnate is repeated over and over at VCU and across universities everywhere. I recently met with a faculty member who’d at least been asked to submit the syllabus to a shared Google Drive folder but he was having issues because of directions and Google’s interface for this kind of thing being not what it might be. The department chair was also stuck with the naming convention falling apart already and they only had about 8 syllabi in there. Please don’t do that. It’s best to avoid directions as […]
Because I’ve been messing with The Events Calendar for the RVArts project, along came another conversation where that plugin seemed like a good answer. It answered all their needs except for one – the wanted to have the month view of events be the homepage for the site. I knew that didn’t happen natively but I figured I could do it. The first step is to create a custom page template. There are a number of tutorials on how to do that. I usually just duplicate the page template for the theme I’m using as a parent and go from there. The one I’m using is below. The Events Calendar has this nice function (tribe_show_month) which’ll pull the month’s data by default. That’ll get you something that looks like below (depending on your theme). It’s the right content but it’s not applying the same CSS/JS that’s on the regular month view. You could go in and rewrite CSS and JS etc. but that would suck for this particular project. It turns out you have to enqueue the right stuff and this post was so very helpful in telling what to enqueue. I updated it to the newer functions and presto everything worked just like the normal month events view. It goes into my child theme’s functions.php. This particular version only […]
I often get requests from instructors that ask me to get WordPress to behave in a way that’s just different enough that WordPress fights them. Now that I can mostly program, I could make quick child themes to deal with this but that causes me the hassle of keeping all that stuff straight so I still do some quick and dirty stuff with plugins. This example is based on an instructor who wanted one particular category (lesson plans) to list from oldest to newest rather than the default WP blog layout of newest to oldest. That’s a pretty easy thing to do if you use the List Category Post plugin. Once you’ve got the plugin on and you’ve found the category id (mouse over the category when you’re in Dashboard>Categories and look for id= in the URL at the bottom of the page) all you need to do is put in [catlist id=9 numberposts=-1 order=asc] In this case, it says get the posts in the category with id 9, -1 means get all of them, and order them from lowest to highest/ or oldest/newest. That’s it. I’ve now got a page that shows all 41 lesson plans from oldest to newest and no child theme to keep track of.
We have an awesome general education course starting this semester called Cultural Passport (aka RVArts). The goal is to get students involved with the community’s cultural events – participating, promoting, reviewing them. The web side of this ends up being pretty interesting. See their video below for more details on the course. When we started this conversation last year, I thought I was going to go the Gravity Form submission route1 and use a js library to make it possible to add the events to various calendars. Like most projects, particulars shifted and we started changing things pretty radically right before winter break. We ended up shooting for full WordPress editor access for students to create events and the desire to write three different types of responses (interviews, reviews, and features) that would be associated with a specific event. Also, like most projects, this was all a bit beyond what I’d ever done before. I started off thinking I’d create a custom post type for events. I was trying to make up my mind between using Advanced Custom Fields and CMB to help do that when I realized I hadn’t really thought about repeat events. The complexities involved there really made me rethink my decision to do this from scratch. After that I started trying various plugins and eventually decided […]
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 […]