Posts Tagged ‘help’

Bending WP Biographia To Your Will; A Configuration Guide

WP Biographia has grown and matured quite a bit since it was first released. A quick glance through the multiple releases of the code that make up the plugin tells me that in v1.0, the plugin was 761 lines of PHP code and 46 lines of CSS. Now in v3.1, that’s increased to 2944 lines of PHP, 92 lines of JavaScript and 174 lines of CSS.

But more importantly, as the plugin has grown and changed and more and more features have been added, so have the number of configuration settings, from 22 in v1.0 to 43 in v3.1. While most people seem to use the plugin out of the box, with little or no customisation, if you do want to take full advantage of all that the plugin has to offer, this means you need to roll up your sleeves and trawl through all of the plugin’s settings, which can be a daunting task at times.

So with this in mind, assuming you’ve installed and activated the plugin, here’s a step by step and screen by screen guide to bending WP Biographia to your will.

Setting Up Your Biography

Firstly, set your biography details up. From the Dashboard, navigate to Users -> Your Profile. Under Name, fill in your First Name, Last Name and Nickname and choose how you want your name to be displayed publicly (you can’t change your username by the way).

Now add your Contact Info. WP Biographia adds fields for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Delicious, Flickr, Picasa, Vimeo, YouTube and Reddit to the contact info that WordPress provides out of the box. For each piece of contact information you want displayed in the Biography Box, add the corresponding URL.

Contact Info Gotcha: It’s important to note that you need to enter the full URL to your profile for each social media site. For example, for Twitter you’ll need to add http://twitter.com/user, not just @user.

Now add your biography text to the Biographical Info field under About Yourself.

Biography Gotcha: By default, WordPress restricts the HTML tags you can enter in this box to filter out potentially harmful and/or invalid tags (see $allowedtags in /wp-includes/kses.php for the current list). The most common additional HTML tag that people ask for is the line break tag. You can allow WordPress to accept this tag with a small amount of PHP added to your theme’s functions.php file ().

Finally, click on Update Profile to save all your changes.

Setting Up Your Author’s Picture

Next, set up your author picture, or avatar. By default, WordPress uses Gravatars, short for Globally Recognised Avatars, to display author pictures. Head over to the Gravatar site, sign up for an account and upload your author picture.

Avatar Gotcha: One important gotcha you need to know is that the link between your user profile on your WordPress blog and your author’s picture on the Gravatar site is your email address, so when you sign up you need to ensure you use the same email address as is listed in your user profile on your blog.

Avatar Gotcha: If for some reason you don’t want to use or sign up for a Gravatar, there are other WordPress plugins that can help you upload author pictures to your blog. The key thing is that the plugin you use has to be able to work with author pictures in the same way as WordPress does, otherwise WP Biographia won’t be able to display them in the Biography Box. See this FAQ for more information on this.

Once you’ve done this, head back to your blog’s Dashboard and navigate to Settings -> Discussion and under Avatars make sure that Show Avatars is checked under Avatar Display. Make sure you click on Save Changes.

WP Biographia Settings And Options

Now it’s time to make WP Biographia do what you want it to do. From the Dashboard navigate to Settings -> WP Biographia. You’ll see that there are 7 tabs of settings and options. The Display tab should be the first one that’s shown so let’s start there.

Basic Settings; The Display Tab

This tab has broad settings to control how the WP Biographia Biography Box is displayed and where. You can choose one or all of displaying on your blog’s front page, on individual posts, on post archives, on individual pages and in your blog’s RSS feed. You can also choose whether to display the Biography Box before or after the content of a post, a page, an archive or the RSS feed. If your blog has custom post types, perhaps provided by your theme, you’ll also see the option to control display of the Biography Box here.

Display Gotcha: If you choose to display the Biography Box on post archives, this will do so for all archive types, be that tag archives, author archives, category archives, date archives or so on. If you want to restrict the display to a particular type of archive, you’ll need to add some conditional tags to your theme’s template files.

Click on Save Display Settings before moving onto the Style tab.

Basic Settings; The Style Tab

This tab controls how the Biography Box is styled, its background colour and what sort of border, if any, is drawn around the Biography Box. You can enter the background colour as an HTML colour code or use the built-in colour picker tool.

Style Gotcha: The Style tab provides only a basic set of styling options. If you want more fine grained control, or if your theme’s style is interfering with the way in which the Biography Box looks, you’ll need to know how to control this via CSS and how to add extra CSS to your blog. This article should tell you how to do this.

Click on Save Style Settings before moving onto the Content tab.

Basic Settings; The Content Tab

This tab controls what information is and what isn’t displayed in the Biography Box. You can choose to override the prefix, the text that’s display before the author’s name, how the author’s name is displayed, whether the author’s picture is displayed, whether the author’s biography is displayed and whether to show the author’s profile’s contact links as text or as icons.

Content Gotcha: To ensure that a contact link is displayed in the Biography Box, you’ll need to ensure that it’s not only enabled in the Content tab but also that there’s a valid URL in the corresponding contact information field in your profile. If you do the former but not the latter, the Biography Box won’t know to display the link. If you do the latter but not the former, the plugin isn’t clever enough to know what the link needs to be without you telling it.

Content Gotcha: WP Biographia supports 12 different contact/social media links, but to keep the settings and options under control, that number won’t be growing anytime soon. But what if you want to display a link to one of the ever growing number of social media sites that isn’t supported natively by the plugin? With a little bit of PHP coding in your theme’s functions.php you can add as many contact links as you like. This FAQ tells you how to do this, with some further reading, plus working code examples, on the plugin filters you’ll need to use here.

Click on Save Content Settings. That’s pretty much it for WP Biographia’s basic settings and options. The Exclusions and Admin tabs contain more advanced and fine grained settings.

Advanced Settings; The Exclusions Tab

This tab allows you to control where the Biography Box is displayed, or not, with much finer control that the broad controls on the Display tab.

Firstly, the Post, Page and Custom Post Type Exclusion Settings allow you to stop the Biography Box being displayed on one or more single posts, for all ways in which one or more posts might be displayed, such as singly, one the front page or on an archive page and for one or more pages. To do this you’ll need the Post ID or the Page ID for the posts or pages you want to restrict the Biography Box from being displayed on.

Exclusions Gotcha: If you’re using the default permalink structure (found from the Dashboard under Settings -> Permalinks), the Post ID or Page ID is part of the URL to the post or page you’re viewing, something like http://www.vicchi.org/?p=123. But if you’re using a custom permalink structure such as http://www.vicchi.org/2012/05/18/sample-post/ the Post or Page ID is hidden. To find the ID you need, from the Dashboard, navigate to Posts -> All Posts or Pages -> All Pages. Hover your mouse over the post or page name and then under Edit and you’ll see the URL to edit the post or page in your browser’s status bar, along the lines of http://www.vicchi.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=2628&action=edit; the Post ID (in this case) is 2628.

The Category Exclusion Settings allow you to stop the Biography Box being displayed on a single post or custom post by the post’s category. Simply click on the category or categories you want to exclude and click on the Add button.

The User Suppression Settings allows you to stop the Biography Box being displayed on all posts and/or pages by one or more authors. Select and add the users in the same way as you do for category exclusions.

Don’t forget to click on Save Exclusion Settings to preserve your changes.

Advanced Settings; The Admin Tab

By default, if you add a new user/author to your blog, that author automatically has the Biography Box added to their posts and pages, subject to the other configuration settings you’ve enabled. The New User Settings allows you to automatically add newly created users to the list of excluded users which is managed on the Exclusions tab, under User Suppression settings. You can then choose to selectively re-enable your new users as you wish.

Also by default, WP Biographia adds two settings to each user’s profile to allow the user to control whether the Biography Box is displayed for their posts and for their pages. The User Profile settings allows you to hide these settings from your users on a per-user basis.

Finally, the plugin uses the standard WordPress the_content and the_excerpt filters to add the Biography Box to your posts and pages, either at the start or at the end of the content. As this is a standard WordPress feature, you may find other plugins and/or themes do exactly the same thing, which means that if you have multiple additions to a post or a page via this mechanism you may not end up with the additional content in the order you want. The Content And Excerpt Priority Settings allows you to adjust the filter priority to get the order you really want; a lower priority means the plugin’s filters will fire earlier, thus bumping them up the order in which the additional content is added, a higher priority will fire later, with the opposite effect.

So that’s about it; hopefully a gentle and thorough guide to bending WP Biographia to your will. If you’re still not sure about what to do, or something’s not working the way you expect it, firstly consult the plugin’s FAQs. If this doesn’t help then please read this first and get in touch.

Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

Asking For WordPress Plugin Help And Support Without Tears

When you release some code you’ve written under one of the many open source licenses that exist today, if you’re lucky then you can expect to get asked for help using that code. Note that I say if you’re lucky. Some people I know view giving help and support as, frankly, a pain; it gets in the way and stops them thinking about a new feature or the next big thing. I take the opposite view though, I see being asked for help as a compliment; it means someone has found the code I’ve written and actually thinks it might, maybe, be useful, so they’re using it and need a bit of support in getting it to do what they want it to do.

So if getting asked questions about code I’ve written isn’t a problem for me, then why am I writing this? It’s not the being asked as much as it is what is being asked. Support questions such as …

“It doesn’t work, can you help me?”

… will almost always be answered with …

“Of course, I’ll do my best, but what doesn’t work? What’s happening? I need a bit more information to try to help you”.

This is the reason I’m writing this. This is a handy, cut-out-and-keep, guide to the questions I will probably be asking you, if you ask me for help. Put simply, I’ll need to know about your WordPress installation, your theme, the plugin that isn’t working the way you expected or want it to and what has actually happened.

WordPress is simple, easy to use and extremely powerful. It’s also almost infinitely extensible; there’s almost 19,000 plugins and 1,500 themes in the official WordPress repositories alone. It’s impossible to test every plugin against every other plugin and theme and that means that sometimes things break or don’t play well together. So when this does happen, and it does happen, here’s the first steps you need to take.

Firstly, there’s your WordPress installation …

  • What version of WordPress are you running?
  • Is is a self-hosted WordPress installation or one hosted as part of wordpress.com?
  • If it’s self-hosted, are you running a single site for yourself, a single site for multiple authors or contributors or even a network/WordPress MU site?

Secondly, there’s the site’s theme …

  • What theme are you using?
  • What version is the theme?
  • Is the theme free or a premium or paid theme. If it’s a free theme, where did it come from? If not from the WordPress Theme directory, then a URL where I can download the theme would be helpful. If it’s a paid for theme, then it’s less likely I can help as I can’t pay out of my own pocket to test every theme (and there’s 10’s of thousands of these out there).
  • Is the theme standalone, a child theme or does it build on top of a theme framework, such as Genesis?

Thirdly, there’s the plugin …

  • What version of the plugin are you running?
  • What settings and options have you configured? A listing of these, a screen shot of the admin screens, or the contents of the settings from your WordPress database will help here. If you’re running one of my plugins, you’ll find the settings in a field called wp_'plugin-name'_settings which is usually found in the wp_options field.
    • For WP Biographia, this information can be found in the Colophon tab of the plugin’s admin settings, from v3.1 of the plugin onwards.

Finally, there’s what’s happening that shouldn’t, or what should be happening that isn’t …

  • What, exactly, is happening?
  • Did this happen as soon as you installed the plugin? Or has this been happening since a plugin upgrade?
  • What else happened on your site when this started happening? Did you upgrade WordPress, your theme or another plugin or plugins?
  • Have you tried disabling your other plugins? Does this help?
  • Have you tried swapping to one of the WordPress supplied themes, such as TwentyTen or TwentyEleven? Did this help?
  • Have you got screenshots of what’s happening (or not happening) or a URL where I can see this for myself?

All of this may seem like a lot of work on your part, but trust me, I’ll probably end up needing most, if not all, of this information and if it’s there upfront, then I’ll probably be able to help a lot quicker and we can both get on with the other, interesting and cool stuff, which is probably want we want at the end of the day.

Photo Credits: Mark Hillary on Flickr.
Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

In the Spirit of Experimentation

Posterous is a service that just begs for experimentation; not only because it’s a beautifully simplistic yet rich service but also because the Help and FAQ pages can be a little bit light on detail for some of the less obvious questions; probably to avoid scaring those of a less-power-user-frame-of-mind away.

So the Posterous FAQ at http://posterous.com/faq says this “We’ll do smarter things for photos, MP3’s, documents and video (both links AND files)”.

Link eh? In the spirit of experimentation let’s try this, firstly from the easy and obvious one … twitpic.com

… and rival yfrog.com …

… and from my Flickr photostream …

… and finally a more challenging one, from my Facebook photo album …

… there’s only one way to find out, so let’s send this to Posterous right now and see what happens; all in the spirit of experimentation naturally.

Posted via email from Gary’s Posterous