Experimenting with BuddyPress

One of the biggest developments in the WordPress software field this year is the release of the first version of BuddyPress – a social network layer to run on top of WordPress MultiUser (the software that runs UofCBlogs.ca).

The most compelling features of BuddyPress are the ability for members to create their own groups, and to follow activity of their “friends” across multiple blogsites without having to literally follow them to the other sites. It’s like a hybrid of WordPress and Facebook.

I’ll be testing it out for the next little while. If it works out, we’ll probably keep running it here, at least as a “side” blog if not as the “main” blog site for the service…

magazeen theme?

I’m experimenting with some magazine-like themes. They are just regular themes, in that you don’t really have to do anything differently, but if you do things like adding images to your posts, and providing excerpts, they start to display the content a little more nicely. Like magazines, even. Very slick stuff.

picture-1Testing out the shiny new Magazeen Theme. Looks like it will be very handy for publishing online magazines/newspapers using WordPress.

It lets you add an image for each post to be automagically displayed on the front of the site. Cool? Unsure yet. Looks like a pretty manual process of adding the images, but that might not be too bad…

Nope. Magazeen apparently doesn’t grok WordPress Multiuser. Doh.

testing the new Embed RSS plugin

Trying out the sweet looking new plugin cets_EmbedRSS, which lets you embed any RSS feed into a WordPress post or page.

Ferinstance, here’s (hopefully) a live display of posts from my main blog:

[cetsEmbedRSS id=’http://www.darcynorman.net/feed/rss/’ itemcount=’5′ itemdate=’1′]

And my latest Flickr photos:

[cetsEmbedRSS id=’http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/photos_public.gne?id=51035644987@N01?=en-us&format=rss_200′ itemcount=’5′ itemdate=’1′ itemcontent=’1′]

and del.icio.us bookmarks:

[cetsEmbedRSS id=’http://feeds.delicious.com/v2/rss/dnorman?count=15′ itemcount=’5′ itemdate=’1′]

Hmm… Looks really, really sweet. But the Flickr feed failed for some reason…

Using Flickr Photos

If you’ve got a Flickr account, it’s now really simple to use your photos from Flickr and embed them in posts and pages on your UofCBlogs.ca site. I’ve just enabled a plugin that adds a Flickr media button above the editing form, like this (it’s the 2 dots, taken from the Flickr logo):

If you click that, you’ll be presented with a utility to select photos from your Flickr account:

You can search your own photos, or photos posted by other Flickr users. Once you select a photo, you can define the size and placement of the image using the controls provided:

and once selected, the Flickr photo is embedded in a post, like this:

dawn over the bow

Before using it, you’ll have to authorize UofCBlogs.ca to allow access to your Flickr account – it’s safe, and the plugin walks you through it in the Settings section of the WordPress Admin interface.

Just click the “Flickr authenticate” button, and a new browser window will open, where Flickr.com will ask if you authorize this connection between your blog and Flickr account. You can revoke this at any time, and it won’t add or edit anything on Flickr. If you approve this, just follow the instructions on that page, and close that browser window (or tab) when finished.

Then, just click the “Finish authenticate” button, so your blog will store your Flickr account ID.

Blogging in other languages

I just installed a few language packs for WordPress, which provide native versions of the administrative interface in various languages.

To select the language to use while administering a blog, go to the admin page, and hit “Settings” – scroll down that page to the bottom, and you’ll see this language selector:

Languages available for the WordPress administration interface
Languages available for the WordPress administration interface

For now, I’ve only added a handful of languages, but if I’ve missed a language that you want to use, please let me know and I’ll add it ASAP.

It’s not perfect, and not every bit of text is displayed in the selected language, but it is much better than a non-localizable admin interface. Here’s what the admin interface of my blog looks like with Chinese selected:

My blog's admin interface with Chinese selected as the active language.
My blog's admin interface with Chinese selected as the active language.

Of course, the actual content has to be written in whatever language you need, and this won’t do any translation, but it should help by providing the administrative interface in various languages.

Using WordPress as a CMS

This article is currently on the WordPress admin dashboard, so people who obsessively check their WordPress admin page will have seen it already. But, it’s worth pointing to the article again as it outlines some things to consider when using WordPress as a CMS. I’m still a pretty hardcore Drupal guy – I use it for dozens of website projects, and it’s the Officially Supported Web Content Management System on campus (YAY!) – but there’s just something so nice, clean, and elegant about the WordPress UI.

And since we’re at a point now where the exact technology chosen really Does Not Matter Anymore (you can get pretty much any web software to do pretty much anything with proper prodding and understanding – and they pretty much all now properly grok RSS and tags, so it’s easy to reuse and republish what you get out there in multiple other formats and locations), it’s good to keep an open mind. Especially when getting ready to start rolling out a campus blogging system based on WPMU

Posting from iPhone or iPod Touch

Now that I’ve updated this site to WordPress MultiUser 2.6, the cool new native iPhone and iPod Touch blogging app will work. Just point it to your blog, give it your ucalgaryblogs.ca username and password, and you’re off and running!

For example, I used dlnorman.ucalgaryblogs.ca as the blog address, and gave it my login info. It will work with multiple blogs, too – but each blog needs to be configured separately.

photo photo photo

WordPress MultiUser 2.6

This site is now up to date, running the shiniest of shiny versions of WordPress MultiUser – 2.6 – which synchronizes with the “main” WordPress 2.6 version. This means stuff like tagging, image uploading, updated rich text editor, etc… Lots of great stuff.

I’ll do some more testing, but this is looking stable enough to start rolling out. I may need to put together a UofC theme, though…

How ’bout image uploading?