Posts Tagged ‘wordpress’

Hacking WP Biographia’s Appearance With CSS

The contents of the Biography Box that the WP Biographia WordPress plugin produces are easily customisable through the plugin’s settings and options. The upcoming new version of the plugin will add to this, allowing almost limitless options for adding to the Biography Box though cunning use of the WordPress filter mechanism. But what if you’re happy with the content of the Biography Box, but want to change the way in which the Biography Box looks? This is easily achievable with a little bit of CSS know-how.

The layout of the Biography Box that WP Biographia produces looks something like this …

<div class="wp-biographia-container-xxx" style="background-color:#FFFFFF;">
<div class="wp-biographia-pic" style="height:100px; width:100px;">
<img ... />
</div> <!-- end image div -->
<div class="wp-biographia-text">
<h3>Biography heading</h3>
<p>Biography text</p>
<div class="wp-biographia-links">
<small><ul class="wp-biographia-list wp-biographia-list-xxx">
</ul>
</small>
</div> <!-- end links div -->
</div> <!-- end biography text div -->
</div> <!-- end biography container div -->

The main container is styled by wp-biographia-container-xxx, where xxx is one of top, around or none depending on your chosen Biography Box border option.

The author’s photo, if present, is styled by wp-biographia-pic; note that the photo size is not CSS style-able as it’s specified by the plugin’s settings and the plugin emits the style="height:size-px; width:size-pix;" for you based on that setting.

The biography text and social media/contact links are styled by wp-biographia-text, the biography text by wp-biographia-text p and the links by wp-biographia-list and wp-biographia-list-xxx, where xxx is one of text or icon dependent on whether you’ve selected the links to be text or icons (oddly enough).

The links are also styled by ul.wp-biographia-list-xxx li (again xxx is one of text or icon) and if you’re using icons there’s also .wp-biographia-list-icon a:link and .wp-biographia-list-icon a:visited. Finally, the icon size is styled by .wp-biographia-item-icon.

All of this is in the plugin’s CSS file which is usually located at /wp-content/plugins/wp-biographia/css/wp-biographia.css.

Hopefully all of this will give you enough information to go on to add/tweak the CSS to your liking, but …

Where does the CSS you’ve tweaked go? There are several schools of thought on this.

Firstly, you can just hack the plugin’s CSS directly. It’s quick. It’s easy. But it’s also fraught with risk. Not only are you messing with the plugin, which may have strange and unforeseen side effects, but your changes will be over-written when you update the plugin to a new version.

Secondly, you can just hack your theme’s CSS directly. But as with the plugin’s CSS, this will get overwritten with an updated version when you upgrade the theme.

The third way, is to add the CSS to a new file and to use the theme’s functions.php file to load the CSS into your pages and posts. Now granted, the theme’s functions.php file may still be overwritten during an upgrade but themes tend to be updated less than plugins and you are still able to isolate the CSS in a file which isn’t part of the WordPress core, the plugin or the theme.

So here’s how you do this. Put the CSS you want in a file, let’s call it custom.css, and place this into the same directory as the root of your theme. If you’re using the TwentyTen theme for example, the path would look something like …

/wp-content/themes/twentyten/custom.css

Now you need to get your theme to load the custom CSS. To do this you need to add a function to load the CSS to the wp_enqueue_scripts hook and then within that function, make the CSS get loaded in addition to the other CSS your theme uses. This code goes into your theme’s functions.php and looks something like this …


add_action ('wp_enqueue_scripts', 'add_custom_css');
function add_custom_css () {
	$uri = get_stylesheet_directory_uri ();
	wp_enqueue_style ('custom-css', $uri . '/custom.css');
}

Written and posted from the Marriott Marquis, San Francisco (37.7581, -122.4056)

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)

WP Biographia Hits v2.1.1 In Time For Christmas

WP Biographia’s always had the ability to suppress the display of the plugin’s Biography Box for all users; unfortunately that’s been accomplished by simply not installing the plugin. But judging from requests on the WordPress forums as well as emails hitting my Inbox, suppressing the display of the Biography Box for some users ranks highest on the list of requested features.

So it’s good to be able to say that as of v2.1.1 of the plugin, you can now do this and v2.1.1 is now live and able to be downloaded from GitHub as well as from within WordPress or via the WordPress plugin repository.

New!

As well as supporting the latest v3.3 version of the WordPress core, the complete list of changes for this latest version of the plugin is …

  • Add ability to suppress the Biography Box from being displayed on posts, on pages and on posts and pages on a per user basis
  • Add settings link to Settings / WP Biographia admin page from the plugin’s entry on the Dashboard / Plugins page
  • Add checks for avatar display in the Biography Box being requested with avatar support not enabled in the Settings / Discussions admin page
  • Add Help & Support sidebar box to Settings / WP Biographia admin page
  • Handle upgrades to configuration settings gracefully; fixed bug that didn’t persist unused/unchanged configuration settings
  • Cleaned up the wording for the Settings / WP Biographia admin page and made terminology consistent across all configurable options
  • Tweaked admin CSS to introduce padding between the settings container and sidebar container that changed in WordPress 3.3

As always, the WP Biographia home page has the full details. Consider this, if you will, an early visit from Santa. What’s next for the plugin? Internationalisation is probably on the cards as well as converting the plugin to use classes and not a simple set of WordPress PHP functions; but all of that will have to wait until after the Holiday season.

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

Revisiting The Online Me (On A Plane)

Although I fly a lot these days, I don’t fly on internal routes in the US that much and so flying Virgin America, which has onboard wifi, is still something that brings out the childish geek in me. In homage to a certain Mr. Aaron Cope, once again I am in the sky as I write this and starting to think that maybe I will only write blog posts from airplanes from now on.

While sitting in a hotel room about a week or so back, I realised that while vicchi.org has been the home of my blog for years and the current incarnation may have 267 pieces of bloggage tucked away in the bowels of WordPress (that’s 268 with this post), the theme has been pretty much static since sometime in 2007. The same goes for my other web presence over at garygale.com.

But back to this blog for a moment. Like a lot of people I started out with a stock WordPress install and theme. Then I went through the discovery of the WordPress theme repository, installing and uninstalling too many plugins, before finally becoming confident enough to start hacking the PHP and CSS of an existing theme into something vaguely approaching what I wanted. And thereby hangs the problem. My theme, which started out as Chandra Maharzan’s rather wonderful Cleanr, suffered from the problem that each time the theme was updated I needed to go through the changes and manually apply them to my hacked version. Scalable and fun this is not.

vicchi.org - Screen Grab

Enter the notion of WordPress child themes. These allow you to take an existing WordPress theme and build on top of that theme but without actually modifying or adding to the original theme. You start with just inheriting from the parent theme’s CSS and then you can add, adapt and otherwise hack as much or as little of the parent’s templates and PHP functions as you need. As you’re not actually touching the parent theme at all, any updates to that theme are automagically passed onto the child theme, so the need to keep a hacked theme in line with the original simply goes away.

I still rather liked the clean typography and colour scheme of my version of Cleanr so I was able to easily modify my child theme’s CSS to migrate this. I based the child theme on the WordPress Twenty Ten theme but changed the way in which post date formats were displayed, removed the built-in biography display so I could use my own WP Biographia plugin and modified the parent theme’s header image display to use my own imagery and to also rotate the images on page refresh.

Putting together a child theme to give my blog a long overdue facelift has been surprisingly easy; to see just how easy, the source code to the originally named Twenty Ten – Vicchi is over on GitHub to download, fork or otherwise hack around.

One web presence down, one to go. Next it was time to give my personal vanity page some facelift attention. The original design for this site was heavily influenced by Christian Heilmann’s approach to web technologies. Chris and I worked together at Yahoo! and he taught me so much about how web pages worked. The original version of this site was dynamically generated from RSS feeds fed through Yahoo’s YQL. Sadly, the YQL API got ever more flaky over the last few years and I ended up having to transition over to use the SimplePie PHP library just to keep the site up and running. It wasn’t the world’s fastest loading site but it was nice and dynamic and at the time, that was important, to me at least.

But in keeping with the clean and spare layout of my blog, I’d been intrigued by the less-is-more approach that about.me had taken. But despite having my own page on about.me’s site I wanted to host my own under my garygale.com domain.

garygale.com - Screen Grab

A random browse through GitHub yielded The Personal Page, a clean, lightweight home page design that appealed to me. One GitHub fork later, plus a photo of me taken at last year’s Geo-Loco conference in San Francisco that I didn’t look too appalling in and the new, Personal Page’d version was up and running. Really, it took all of about half an hour and that’s including testing and finding a social media icon set that integrated nicely with the look and feel of the site. Of course, the web site’s code is also up on GitHub for the aforementioned hacking around.

All of the above verbiage can be boiled down to the simple fact that armed with a little knowledge of CSS, PHP and HTML it’s very, very easy to create a new and, I hope, effective web presence, all of which is powered by open source tools and techniques and that, utterly appeals to the grown up geek in me.

Written and posted on Virgin America flight VX837, between Chicago O’Hare and San Francisco International airports, roundabout overhead Maryville, MO (40.347, -94.873)

Beta No More; WP Biographia Hits Version 2.0

It’s taken a while but after 20 commits on GitHub, 1000 odd lines of PHP code, 40 odd WordPress forum posts and, what to me is a staggering, 1100 odd WordPress downloads, WP Biographia finally hits version 2.0. As I’ve written before, this is very much an ongoing learning process and putting version 2.0 out into the wild hasn’t been entirely trouble free, as this thread on the WordPress forums amply shows.

But despite the initial teething problems, version 2.0 is out and the list of enhancements and fixes remains unchanged from the beta version, but the official version 2.0 release of this plugin is now both on GitHub and the WordPress plugin repository and while my Codeage page still remains the official home for this plugin, there’s a nicer looking home on GitHub for WP Biographia courtesy of GitHub’s pages feature.

I Want The Biography Of My Life ...

The vast majority of those 1100 odd WordPress downloads are thanks to the WordPress community itself, who’ve had some nice things to say about WP Biographia, such as Kevin Muldoon on wpmods.com  …

As you will have established by now, I think WP Biographia is a great little plugin. Being able to insert the author box directly into an RSS feed will benefit anyone who runs a multi-author blog or website (or those who accept guest posts regularly). The plugin also adds new social media profile fields to users profile and displays them in the author box automatically.

I encourage you to try it out yourselves and see what the plugin can do.

… and on Smashing Magazine’s noupe.com

Arguably the best looking author bio plugin available for WordPress, WP Biographia gives you complete control over what is shown in the bio area and adds Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ profile fields to every users profile. You can choose whether the box is shown on posts, pages, archives and/or the home page and you can customise the colour scheme and border too.

Without a doubt the plugins best feature is the ability to display author bios in the RSS feed. 99% of blogs don’t include a link to the authors posts or website through their RSS feed therefore the guest poster loses a lot of potential traffic from RSS readers. WP Biographia corrects this by displaying a beautiful looking bio at the end of every post in the RSS feed.

… and Rick Bjarnason

Authors like credit. Make sure you are using this plugin so everybody knows who the writer is. Adds Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus profiles, but the real killer feature is that it works in RSS feeds.

A next version of WP Biographia, which will probably end up as v2.1 is now in the works, which includes some of the additional feature requests that people have asked for on the WordPress forums as well as directly by email. Trying to keep the usual home life, work life, coding life balance in check means that quite when v2.1 will see the light of day is unclear and as the Christmas Holiday season is fast approaching it may well be sometime in early 2012, but only time will tell.

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

WP Biographia v2.0 Goes Into Beta

I continue to be genuinely gobsmacked at the reception that WP Biographia has received since I first released it in August of this year. People are downloading it; people are emailing me about it; people are discussing it and asking for new features on the WordPress forums and since I put the code up on GitHub, people are even forking it, improving on it and sending me pull requests. But I’ve been buried deep in my day job over the last month or so and as a result coding has had to play second fiddle to what I do for a living.

But thanks to Travis Smith getting in touch with me via Twitter and taking the time to make his changes and bug fixes on a GitHub fork there’s now a new beta version of WP Biographia up on GitHub for testing or for those who like to live on the bleeding edge.

NEW & IMPROVED 50% BRIGHTER LIGHTS

In addition to Travis’ changes I’ve also reworked the plugin structure to reflect the recommended WordPress plugin file and directory layout and this, coupled with 6 other new features and big fixes is sufficient, I think, to up the version number straight to v2.0.0. Here’s what’s new.

  • You can now set the size of the author’s Gravatar image
  • The plugin now supports the [wp_biographia] shortcode
  • You can now exclude the Biography Box from specific posts based on the post’s ID
  • You can now place the Biography Box at the top of the post as well as the bottom of the post
  • You can now further customise the behaviour of the plugin through a short circuit filter
  • The issues with CSS on some WordPress installations have been fixed.

Once the beta’s been tested out and given the general community nod of approval I’ll push the new version to the WordPress Subversion repository so people who are using the plugin and don’t want to manually update the plugin or test the new version out will get the automagic update notification in their WordPress dashboard.

Photo Credits: Leo Reynolds on Flickr.
Written and posted from Theresa Avenue, Campbell, California (37.2654, -121.9643)

WP Biographia In The Real World

It’s been almost a month since I released the first version of WP Biographia and in that time, according to the stats on the WordPress plugin page, it’s been downloaded 212 times. That’s rather gratifying. Several people have also emailed me to tell me that they’re using the plugin. That’s even more gratifying.

But despite its simplicity, a typical WordPress install is almost infinitely customisable and so is almost never what’s supplied in the installation download. People add in plugins, widgets and themes. This blog alone has 18 active plugins and a custom theme. While the plugins, widgets and themes should all play nicely together, sometimes there’s strange and unforeseen side effects; here’s two that have come to light over the first month of WP Biographia in the real world and not in the safe, sand-boxed environment of my blog.

Firstly there’s a CSS clash between WP Biographia and the WPtouch plugin, which displays a mobile optimised version of WordPress when visiting the site on a smartphone browser. The combination of the default options for WPtouch sometimes messes slightly with the CSS for the Biography Box as can be seen below.

WPtouch - Restricted Mode Off

This is something I’ll have to look into in more detail, but for now, the workaround is to enable WPtouch restricted mode; once that’s done, the CSS reverts to how it should look.

WPtouch - Restricted Mode On

Another interesting oddity is when running WP Biographia with the Biography Box configured to be displayed on Archive pages. Some themes display this fine, but for other themes the Biography Box never appears. Each time I’ve seen this it turns out to be down to the way in which the theme renders the archive page. If the theme’s archive.php uses the_content() as part of the WordPress Loop then the Biography Box appears as it should, but if the theme uses the_excerpt() as part of the Loop, then either the first 55 characters of the post or the post’s specific excerpt will be displayed. As WP Biographia appends the Biography Box to the end of each post’s content, themes which use the_excerpt() will, sadly, never display as intended when used with WP Biographia. Thankfully, this is less a shortcoming of the plugin or of the theme, it’s simply the way in which WordPress handles post excerpts.

All of this will appear in the FAQ section of the plugin’s README on the next release, which should, if I manage to write it, make the Biography Box available as a sidebar widget as well.

Written and posted from the Nokia gate5 office in Schönhauser Allee, Berlin (52.5308072, 13.4108176)

WP Biographia Is But A Quarter Of The Way To WP Mappa

In a way, this was all Matt Whatsit‘s fault; he writes very profane and very funny blog posts and reading his recent The Five Stages Of P****d Wife (which you should read if you haven’t already, err, read it) made me laugh, hell, it made me ROFL and LMAO at the same time but it also made me think, though not necessarily about wives or drunkenness …

Now background reading and general swotting up on a topic is all very well but to really learn how to do something you just have to roll your sleeves up and do it yourself. Though it’s probably stretching a comparison too far, you don’t learn to drive a car through reading the highway code; you actually get behind the wheel (preferably under supervision) and … drive. You don’t learn about what food tastes good from a recipe book; you … taste the stuff yourself.

And so it is with writing code and using new and unfamiliar APIs. It was definitely the case with my recent (reacquaintance of, and) foray into JavaScript and the addition of support for Nokia’s Ovi Maps API to the Mapstraction project, with the added benefit of having to teach myself how to move from my (by now very dated) knowledge of version and revision control under CVS to git.

May the source code be with you

So, first JavaScript and Mapstraction and the Nokia Maps API and now to PHP and the WordPress API. There’s a lot of WordPress plugins that do geo-related stuff with your blog but none of them actually do what I want. WP Geo comes close, but it uses Google Maps and Google Maps only. Now I have nothing against Google Maps or the Google Maps APIs but I want maps from the company I work for on my blog.

When I came to add Nokia’s Maps API to Mapstraction I at least had a head start. I’d done some JavaScript and I was at least familiar with the Mapstraction API. But writing a WordPress plugin was another thing entirely. Despite hosting my blog on WordPress since 2004 and being able to hack a moderate amount of PHP, I’d never needed to use the WordPress API. Until now.

Bearing in mind the old adage about walking before you can run I decided the best way to tackle this was to write a WordPress plugin for something much more simplistic and this is where Matt Whatsit comes in. At the foot of each post is a nice little biography; in Matt’s case it read “Stole some Chewits in 1979. The guilt still haunts me“.

So I searched for a plugin that would give me this capability. There’s lots. But as with the desire for a geo-related plugin, none of them did exactly what I wanted. The closest I could find was Jon Bishop’s WP About Author plugin. So, as all WordPress plugins are licensed under the version 2 of the GNU Public License, I took Jon’s plugin and hacked it to do what I wanted it to do. The result is what I’ve called WP Biographia and you should be able to see the results of it at the foot of this post, if you’re reading it from this URL.

 

I now know, or at least understand at a conceptual level with much web searching of the WordPress Codex, how to write and structure a WordPress plugin. I still need to know how to write and structure a WordPress widget but that will form part of the next version of WP Biographia. By then, I should be armed with enough WordPress API knowledge to start to write what I really wanted to write, which is my geo-related plugin, which may, or may not be called WP Mappa. I’m only a quarter of the way there, but it’s a quarter more than when I started this.

In the meantime, WP Biographia is now part of the official WordPress plugin repository and is also up on github as well. It also now has a resident page here on my blog which I’ll update as and when I make sufficient changes and improvements to warrant a new version.

Starting to code again is addictive and I seem to have managed to rack up a few github repositories of recent. WP Biographia is but one of what I’ve christened, in line with the theme of Gary’s Bloggage, Gary’s Codeage. For now, it’s a holding pen for those code projects that live in github but for which I’ve yet to write a formal page on. These may appear sometime in the not too distant future as and when time permits.

Photo Credits: ficek1618 on Flickr.
Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

Adding Windows Phone 7 Support To WordPress Blogs

Regular visitors to the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Internet that is my blog may be aware that I use WordPress as a blogging platform. Those visitors who come here via a browser on a phone may even be aware that WordPress automagically presents a mobile friendly version of the site. This magic happens because of the user-agent string your browser sends to the web server hosting my blog; this string tells the web server what sort of browser (and more importantly what sort of device) is trying to view my blog. If WordPress sees a user-agent string like this …

Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.2; en-us; Nexus One Build/FRF91) AppleWebKit/533.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/533.1

… it knows that I’m browsing from my Google Nexus One and serves up the mobile version of the site, but if it sees a user-agent string like this …

Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10_6_6; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.19.4 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.3 Safari/533.19.4

… it knows that I’m browsing from Safari on a Mac and serves up the normal version of the site. Actually it’s not WordPress that knows how to act on a browser’s user-agent string, it’s a neat WordPress plugin called WPTouch that does the magic.

But then I tried viewing my blog on my new Windows Phone 7 handset and WPTouch doesn’t work its magic.

It turns out that there’s a clue to the solution in the name; WPTouch was designed to serve up the mobile view of a WordPress blog for the iPhone and the iPod Touch. Support was then added for Android and Blackberry handsets, but not for Windows Phone 7. Luckily, the plugin supports custom user-agent strings so adding support for Windows Phone 7 should be trivial. Well maybe not that trivial. A quick web search shows that there’s at least 10 variants of the Windows Phone 7 user-agent.

But rather than list them all explicitly, simply adding “iemobile“, the lowest common denominator, as a custom user-agent string catches them all.

Armed with all this information, my blog now support Windows Phone 7 with ease, plus adding “nokia, symbian” as additional custom user-agent strings means that my Nokia N8 can also view the mobile version of my blog.

As a final footnote, if you’re wondering why I’ve used photos of Windows Phone 7 rather than screenshots, it’s because along with multi-tasking and copy-and-paste, Windows Phone 7 doesn’t currently support taking screen shots. Yet. But then again, the original version of the iPhone lacked a lot of this functionality too, which did nothing to dent the uptake of that handset. Multi-tasking and copy-and-paste is promised in the next upcoming WP 7 OS update, hopefully with screenshot taking as well.

Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

A Posterous Wish List

I’ve been using Posterous for a while now, a quick trawl back through the archives shows the first post I wrote via the service was in August 2009, and I’ve been using it ever since.

It’s fiendishly simple and works like this :-
  • I write a blog post in my email client and send it to post@posterous.com.
  • Posterous expands any links that it can, such as links to my Flickr account, and embeds the graphic inline in the text.
  • Posterous autoposts any embedded photos to my Flickr account.
  • Posterous looks for any tags in the subject line and autoposts to my Delicous account.
  • Posterous date and timestamps the post and puts it up on my Posterous blog at http://vicchi.posterous.com/.
  • Posterous autposts the entire blog post to my main, WordPress powered, blog at http://www.vicchi.org/.
So far, so good. My WordPress blog then uses the Twitter Tools – Bit.ly URLs plugin to announce my new blog post to my Twitter account, neatly linked into my Bit.ly account so I can track clicks and usage of the URL. It also used to publicise the new blog post to my Facebook account via the WordBook plugin but that stopped working several WordPress versions ago and posting to Facebook remains the sole manual process in my blog-flow.
So what’s there not to like? Well there’s a few niggles, most of which are autopost related.
Attach a photo to a (rich text) mail, centre it, post it and the photo is displayed in the autopost to a WordPress blog with the default alignment, which is usually left justified. Why? Because Posterous’s autopost assumes that all alignment in the original email refers to text and that works fine for text, but not for images and that was what was being aligned in the first place. Unless you know about the aligncenter class in the first class and have defined it beforehand.
Posterous provides URL shortening via the post.ly service, which doesn’t allow per account click tracking or other reporting such as that which bit.ly provides. Not that URL shortening by either is ideal and we should really be using canonical links via rev=”canonical”.
And then there’s autopost itself; it’s an all or nothing feature. So please, turn it off by default if I edit a post in Posterous I do not want to auto(re)post it, thus creating a duplicate blog post on my WordPress post and let me select on a per post basis whether I want to autopost or not.
All of the above needs to be tempered with the fact that Posterous is i) free, ii) incredibly responsive, iii) free and iv) free … it could just be so much better if these minor niggles went away.
Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

Posted via email from Gary’s Posterous