Burningbird Weblogging

WordPress 1.2 update

WordPress is heading into beta test on 1.2, and I’ve installed this with my Practical RDF weblog (though I don’t have the old MT entries ported yet).

This release made some very good changes to the interface, including providing options that allow you to set how long a post entry field is, and what to show on the weblog edit page–the page that lists published weblog posts. You can now turn off full content and just show titles, or titles and excerpts. Much cleaner, and much easier to work with.

Excellent bulk comment management has been integrated into 1.2–the best I’ve seen on a weblogging tool. I will be modifying it to search for comments based on timeframe, to be able to bulk delete the sometimes hundreds of comments left by a spam blitz.

In addition to the change to the bulk comment management form, I have other modifications planned. For instance, both comment preview and post preview in 1.2 are based on in-page innerHTML blocks, I believe, and I don’t care for this. At all. I’ve already made a simple hack to preview a draft post within the same look and feel as my individual published posts, and I absolutely love this. I will be carrying this over with me to 1.2.

I’ll also be providing a full comment preview, rather than the inline preview. What can I say? I don’t like inline previews.

In addition, I am modifying the comment option on each post to include ‘moderated’. With this, I can turn moderation on in a per post basis. I’ve been using this with my posts over 30 days old (this being managed with another plugin), and I really like it. Now I can catch comments from spammers before they go on the page, not to mention the Google Kiddies; however, thoughtful posts are now coming through, as you may have noticed in my “Recent Comments” list. This combined with the good comment management and the throttling to prevent crapfloods is probably all I’ll do to manage comments.

I want to modify NEXTPAGE behavior to use either page numbers or ‘next’ and ‘previous’ page links. I’d also like to be able to add a ‘full page’ link to those posts where I use it. Lots of people didn’t like NEXTPAGE, and if I use it again, I want to be able to provide a workaround for those readers.

To be realistic, though, I think that there is an expectation about weblog posts that precludes them being very large; no matter the subject or the writer. You can only assume you have your readers’ attention for a specific length of time. Either you can disregard this assumption, and their attention; or you adjust your writing accordingly, and perhaps save larger works for different venues. Something to think on.

Once these changes are made, I’ll provide the code to the developers and I hope they’ll add them into the main body of the code. We’ll see.

I’ve also been playing with some of the third-party plugins and hacks. One of the advantages to a PHP-based system is it seems more natural to look at integrating other existing open source PHP-based applications into the product. For instance, a couple of efforts are integrating WordPress in with several PHP-based photographic management packages, including Gallery. Another using existing PHP code to generate PDF files for a post, including the comments. Once this is vetted to 1.2, and seems safe from abuse, I’m tempted to add this to my posts.

I am pleased with WordPress and felt this move was a good one. I was, however, a bit unhappy about some discussion on the WordPress support forum last week. It seems that one WordPress weblog was shutdown because the ISP felt it was causing a problem, but then rather than focus on fixing the situation, it became a spiteful game of ‘he said/he said’. This led to one of my initial concerns I had about WordPress is that is does have a very loyal user base that doesn’t tend to brook disagreement.

(Personally, I’m no longer interested in anything even remotely resembling religious wars about technology. All of this stuff–all of it–is just code, with an occasional segue into specs. Personalizing the tech to such an extent that being critical of the code is equated with being critical of the people behind the tech is utter nonsense, and tiresome. Not to mention deadly dull. )

However, from what I can see of the developers behind WordPress, they’re not encouraging this fan following, and take criticism in the spirit to which it is intended–an effort to help make a better product. As more people start using WordPress, I think we’ll see a more detached viewpoint of the product.

Still, there was two incidents last week when ISPs had to shut down WordPress. It does sound like it may be 1.2, and since that’s still alpha, I’m not overly concerned. The code for WordPress is clean and easy to move around; if a problem occurs, I imagine a fix will be uploaded quickly. That’s the joy of open source.

Speaking of ISPs banning software, you might want to think carefully before installing The MT Plugin Manager, third-party software to make installing plugins for Movable Type more simple. It has been banned on Hosting Matters, my own ISP, and several others I know of. But it does look like the creator is returning to work on the product.

(And did you notice that WordPress automatically translates double dashes into the ‘em’ character? )

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