A few days ago I mentioned I upgraded wordpress and picked a new theme. Today I am reporting the last piece – getting the latest and greatest plugins. I scanned some of the most popular ones and did some digging on my own. I must say i’m disappointed in the wordpress guys for making it so hard to find plugins. You can only search for plugins based on tags, but when there’s thousands of plugins to review, I would want to be able sort different ways. For example, I would love to see plugins in the top 10% in number of downloads, that have been updated in the last year, have at least 3 stars, at least 20 reviews, and match xxx tag. That would be great.
These are the plugins I found and liked.
- Akismet comment spam – comes by default, keeps spammers out of comments. Great.
- Add To Any – lets people bookmark, email, digg, or do something with your post in a good way.
- flickrRSS – puts thumbnails of my flickr pics tagged “best of” on my sidebar. Who doesn’t like pictures?
- Viper’s Video Quicktags – make it easy to embed video in a blog post, supports youtube, vimeo, flickr video, google video, dailymotion, metacafe, etc.
- Ultimate Google Analytics – This puts the GA code on every page, a must for detailed info on your site.
- Google XML Sitemaps – creates a sitemap.xml file to help search engines, scripts, and what nots find everything on the site.
- All In One SEO Pack – make it easier for people using google to find your posts and web pages.
- Search Everything – like it says, covers everything when user does a search from your site
- WP-Cumulus – makes a cool sphere of words, which are my categories on my site. just fun
- WP-PageNavi – makes a nice page navigation at bottom. For example, if somebody searches for iPhone and there 10 pages of results (about 10 per page), this lets users jump to page 10 right away.
- Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) – Best of the “related posts” plugins. Intelligent algorithm and more configurable than most. Basically lists similar posts at the end of a post page.
- PageMash – reorder pages as they appear at the top of the blog, including parents (My Page Order doesn’t do parents)
- Search Results Summary – OK, not a plugin, but code I wrote to simply list results at top so you don’t have to scroll down to see what the results are. Works well with PageNavi.
There’s a few more I’m evaluating (like statpress vs statpress-reloaded vs wassup … last.fm .. podpress, etc) so expect an update in a week or two.
A few I tried but deactivated
- Twitter Tools -Doesn’t allow you display tweets from certain people, this mainly lets you update your own twitter account
- WordPress Gravatars – My theme, Inove, does avatars better (matches theme)
- WordPress Related Posts – Not as intelligent or as configurable as YARPP above.
- WPVideo, Youtube Favorites – Not as good as Viper’s Video Quicktags (Vipers does youtube and more).
As mentioned in my previous post, I upgraded wordpress and am using the Inove theme. I chose it because it looks clean and has basic functionality (most wordpress themes do not). When I say clean, I mean I like the use of black, white, and grey colors, I like the fonts, I like having posts be black on white with the background of the page being grey (anything but white, helps focus attention to the posts). I also like the simple search box in the header, I like the small simple icons like green dots for lists, calendar icon, categories icon, tags icon, comments icon, etc. I like how how tables are done, pre format is done, and a few other things. However, it is not perfect for me. So …
Things I changed included
- Fixing bug where tag icon appears even if a post has no tag
- Moving categories and tags to the top of posts – I prefer having all the meta information in one place.
- Moving RSS code from top of sidebar.php to bottom
- Removing non-widget code from sidebar.php – If a widget is not chosen for N, S, E, W, defaults are shown like archives and categories. I don’t want 2 categories, as esserd said. If I want something, I will use widgets.
- Tweaked styles.css to add padding to bottom of lists (.post .content ul, .post .content ol)
- Changed header on search results and archive (tags, categories) from 2 lines to 1 line.
Overall great theme. Thanks mg12!!! Also, check inove forum for other issues.
UPDATE: You can find my changes in inove-1.0.5.diff.tgz, preview the readme or diff.
I’ve been wanting to update chadnorwood.com for a while, so over the weekend I upgraded wordpress from version 2.3.x to 2.6.3 and picked out a new theme. First I did a wordpress export of my blog as a backup. Then the upgrade was done using hostmonster’s fantastico deluxe, an automated installing system in cpanel. Some don’t like fantastico, but it took me 10 seconds to do the upgrade with no problems. Success.
After the upgrade it took me almost 4 hours to figure out why my category links were broken. WTF? Basically under 2.3 I had my permalinks setup so if the URL was http://chadnorwood.com/tag/travel/ wordpress would show posts under the tech category. So I upgrade to 2.6, and Settings-Permalinks show “tag” as the “Category Base” but /tag/travel is broken – no longer works in 2.6. Of course I didn’t think about changing this till I examined the mysql database tables, dug through thousands of lines of terrible wordpress code, and googled every phrase combination related to this I could think of. In the end, I reverted back to the basics and it all worked. I still had to resolve the 404 issue of the old tag links, which I did using template_redirect.
Picking the theme took even longer – but that was more fun. I basically viewed about 50 of the most popular wordpress themes, downloaded and installed 10 of them, activating one at a time and testing them for functionality and style. Only 4 seem to have all the basic functionality working correctly, and even tho I liked the wood in State of Mind, I went with the Inove theme. Inove is more clean and shayna thought the wood one was too academic. I also tweaked Inove .. but thats in the next post.
Overall the wordpress 2.6 is not much different. The admin pages look cleaner and are better organized for the most part, but the db has changed and some stuff is broken so I would only recommend upgrading if there was a specific theme or plugin that needs 2.6. I really love the plugins and themes – the number of great choices makes wordpress much better than all the other blogging platforms. It’s not perfect, and the documentation could improve alot, but these wordpress guys are still actively working on making a better blogging software which is a very good thing.
Before I upgraded to wordpress 2.6, I had URLs using tags like this:
After I upgraded I realized I liked categories better (they can have parent categories). So no more tags, all categories, but the problem was that google (and others) still link to /tag/travel/ which ended on a 404 page. Since I had no tags, I decided to redirect all my /tag/xxxx to /cat/xxxx – I also prefer /cat/xxx to /category/xxx, which I changed in Settings-Permalinks. Here’s how I did the redirect exactly:
Add the following to the end of ../wp-content/themes/<current_theme>/functions.php file
// added at the end of functions.php file, in my current theme's directory
add_action ('template_redirect', 'check_for_tag_404');
// custom function to redirect old tag links to new cat links
$pat = '/^\/tag\/(.*)$/';
// return if this URL does not begin with "/tag/"
if (!preg_match( $pat, $_SERVER["REQUEST_URI"])) return;
$uri = $_SERVER["REQUEST_URI"];
$uri = preg_replace( $pat, '/cat/$1', $uri);
$location = "http://" . $_SERVER["HTTP_HOST"] . $uri;
Big Ups to this template_redirect dude for giving me a clue.
I love wordpress.com, but I’m finally ready to move on. They are a free site, and i’m glad i started off blogging with them, but now its time to run my own site.
Welcome to ChadNorwood.com. I have much more control here over themes, plugins, stats, among other things. For now, i’ve picked a basic theme to get the ball rolling, ya know, get the new URLs up and running. Expect it to look a little different over the coming weeks.
UPDATE: I moved blog again, from free wordpress.com to my own server, chadnorwood.com, on 10/30/2007. More.
Well, i did it. I’ve started migrating stuff off of samo.org, my personal server at home. The only affect this has to my blog is that the URLs have changed .. instead of http://samo.org/blog/travel/40, the link will be http://chadnorwood.com/2006/12/21/pura-vida/. But since nobody directly links to my blog anyway, this will probably not matter.
I figure my blog would be one thing easy to move, and the great folks at wordpress made it easy. I considered blogger.com and another free wordpress hosting site, blogsome.com, but went with wordpress.com because of the import/export feature. See more on wordpress.com vs. blogsome.com. Knowing wordpress.com has an import feature, i first had to export my current blog and did so with wordpress export by Aaron Brazell. This was a easy script, but there was a couple things – You might want to abort unless you’re interested in techie stuff.
I installed the export plugin script, wp-xmlmigrate.php (nov 15 2006 version), but it gave me a MYSQL error with categories. I ended up having to edit the export_cat_list() function’s SELECT line – i removed “category_count” and it exported my blog to xml successfully.
On wordpress.com, my first import resulted in nothing. But then i decided to create all the categories/tags used in the xml blog file manually, then try import again. Success. Not sure if this is a result of my hack to export_cat_list().
That’s it. Now i’m off to play with themes and stuff.