… Is available in a 3.0 compatible version now. If you installed the most recent version of the iPhone or iPod Touch operating system and then had trouble assigning categories to posts, the new WordPress for iPhone application corrects that problem. Yay!!
A new release of WordPress — version 2.6.2 — was recently made available. This is primarily a security-related release with a few bug fixes. More info here:
Release details describing the fixes are here:
More information from Lorelle on WordPress:
and from Keith Dsouza:
Once again, I recommend Keith’s WordPress Automatic Upgrade, having just run it on both of my sites with complete success. I can’t read the upgrade instructions as fast as Keith’s plugin takes care of the upgrade for me….
Good luck upgrading!
Continuing this series of articles…
… I wanted to describe a few more plugins I’ve installed on this site and/or afewgoodlenses.
I also installed Postalicious by Pablo Gómez Basanta. This post was created by Postalicious, which mimics the delicious daily blog posting function, with much, much greater flexibility than what delicious provides. You can configure a comprehensive set of options for automatically posting delicious links to your blog, by setting such things as a minimum number of bookmarks, the timings between posts, a scheduled time for posting, and an hourly search for new bookmarks. You also have control over the appearance and content of the generated post, with the additional options of specifying a layout for the titles or bookmarks, as well as date and time formats. And, if that wasn’t enough, here are my two favorite features: you can instruct Postalicious to create all new posts as drafts for you to edit later; and you can collect recent bookmarks into a post on demand by simply pressing a button. Smashing! I turned off the delicious daily blog posting function as soon as I saw what Postalicious had to offer.
I am looking into a sporadic problem I’m having with afewgoodlenses, where the WordPress wp_options table is getting corrupted. It happened twice on the weekend (and when it happened, my heart almost stopped when I accessed my site and was prompted to install WordPress), but hasn’t happened since. In both cases, I lost my Internet connection while writing a post using Windows Live Writer, so that may be the root cause. In any case, the experience prompted me to install the WordPress Clean Options plugin — but, honestly, I need to spend a little more time learning about the things it told me about wp_options.
In one of the previous posts, I mentioned that I hadn’t explored the new media library capabilities of WordPress, because I’m using Windows Live Writer to post images and articles. I directed you to a short training video, Managing the WordPress Media Library, but also now wanted to point you to this fine article from Rodney Smith of Hippo Web Solutions:
Thanks, Rod! Thanks for stopping by and for taking time to write that article.
Finally, please take a few minutes to read this excellent piece on WordPress and the WordPress community by Mark Ghosh of Weblog Tools Collection:
Mark’s article means a lot to me because, as I spend all this time gradually building — and building up — my two sites, I sometimes get a little discouraged about the amount of actual admin or maintenance work it takes to keep things moving. And, of course — like everyone — I get frustrated when something doesn’t work and it’s a struggle to figure out what’s gone wrong and get it working again. To be fair, the problem is almost never WordPress or a WordPress plugin; more likely, it’s one of the many sites and services that are connected to the blogs that are hiccupping in one way or another.
As I have probably said somewhere here before, I’m not a PHP or MySQL programmer, though I have a smattering of HTML and some web design skill. What I do have, however, is a technical background in various platforms that goes back decades, a willingness to experiment, and a fairly high degree of tolerance for stuff that goes in the ditch. And, I think, I do a decent job of explaining how I do things, or how I fix things, or, sometimes, how I just get over things when the doing and the fixing doesn’t work. So, even though I never intended for either of my sites to have a technical orientation, I realized after reading what Mark had to say that part of being a member of this community means sharing those technical and personal experiences that make the community what it is. Bravo, Mark, and this post is my answer to the questions you posed at the close of your article.
A bug-fix release of WordPress — version 2.6.1 — was made available today. More info here:
Release details describing the 60+ fixes included here:
I’ve run the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin to upgrade both of my sites, and all’s well.
Recently I wrote a little bit about my experiences so far with WordPress version 2.6 and a few of the new plugins I’ve been able to use since upgrading from version 2.0.2. One of the first things I noticed about the upgrade — owing partly, I imagine, to the fact that I upgraded across several releases at once — was that the WordPress dashboard and everything I do there is much, much faster than it was with the earlier version. Aside from performance, though, the dashboard has a clean and well-organized new look, along with a lot of new and improved functionality. Here are a few things I’ve noticed that I’ve made use of so far; for a complete description of the new features in each version, check the Release Category on the WordPress development blog.
- Pages can be assigned a page order. I think this capability existed in the earlier version, but I noticed that those template elements that display links to pages actually respect that order now … so if you want pages that are displayed in a drop down menu or in the template (depending on your template capabilities) to appear in a certain order, you can control that.
- Categories are much easier to manage. Better yet, you can create new categories (and even assign a parent relationship) on the fly as you’re writing a new post. If you use Windows Live Writer, WL allows you to do the same thing, and updates the categories on your site accordingly.
- I know tags have been added, though I think in a previous version. I haven’t explored their usage yet, but I do see you can have WordPress convert your categories to tags, so I may try that soon.
- I also haven’t explored the new Media Library, since I upload any images via Windows Live Writer and I don’t know how, or even if, the two work together. However, there’s a nice video tutorial on the Media Library here: Managing the WordPress Media Library
- The way plugins can now be managed may be my favorite new feature. When you first go you’re WordPress dashboard, you may see a bright red number above the "Plugins" link on the right side of the Admin panel — to let you know that one or more of your plugins has a new release available. On the plugins page itself, you can choose to download the update or install it automatically — both of which I’ve done several times, and it works well. You can also now delete a plugin from this page, rather than go to your web host to delete it. Recently active (but currently inactive) and inactive plugins are separated from the active plugins list, making the plugin page much better organized.
- A few other miscellaneous features I like:
- You can now see post word counts when writing posts (helps keep me from writing too much (yeah, right!!)).
- You can drag the "Press this" bookmarklet to your browser toolbar, then use it to create a post from any web page.
- Links to related dashboard pages are available from many more of the individual screens.
- WordPress creates post revisions that you can see, use, and compare to the current version of an article.
- WordPress now handles e-mail notifications that WP 2.0.2 couldn’t handle without additional plugins.
Now to the really fun stuff….
I’m using quite a few plugins now, many more than I was using on this site when it was at the previous WordPress version, so for this article I’ve separated them into three groups. Content Management Plugins are those I’m using to control what content is displayed on various pages, and how much. Comments Plugins include those that improve visitors’ experiences with respect to leaving, reading, or following comments. Miscellaneous Plugins include those that make site administration and management a little easier.
In the following, I’ve linked to the developer’s plugin home page, as provided on the WordPress plugins section of the Dashboard. I thought that you might find that more useful, as there is typically more information about the plugin, the developer, and reactions and other commentary from many users there that’s more detailed than in the WordPress Plugin Directory. You can download plugins from either place, though occasionally you may see a beta version or brand new release on the developer’s page that’s not yet released to the Directory.
Content Management Plugins
These are all new to me, and I found most of them while trying to decide how I wanted my photoblog to look. Advanced Category Excluder, for example, lets you decide what categories you want to hide from certain site sections or functions. You can selectively exclude categories from the archive pages (that is, the pages displayed when your visitor selects a single category or date), from the home page, from RSS feed posts or comments, or from searches. On this site, I’m only using this plugin (right now, anyway) to exclude the category internet clippings from the home page. I use this category solely for bookmarks I’ve saved on delicious that are posted back to this site by the delicious daily blog posting function. I felt like the delicious posts created here distracted from the flow of the main page articles, but I still wanted to include them and provided a separate link to those articles under "Navigation" in the sidebar.
Custom Query String Reloaded provides a way to control the amount of content that’s displayed in several sections of the blog. By default, the WordPress setting (on the Admin panel’s Reading tab) for "Blog pages show at most" defines the number of posts that appear on the main page and all category or archive pages. Custom Query String Reloaded lets you override that based on different criteria: archives, authors, categories, search pages, RSS feeds, pages, and tags. On this site, I am overriding my setting of five posts on the main page with 20 posts for the category and monthly archive pages, and 40 posts for the category internet clippings. On afewgoodlenses, I have set the home page to display only two posts to draw attention to specific recent photographs, but set the various archive pages to show 20 posts, making the site function more like a gallery or a content management system. With Custom Query String Reloaded, you can also set the post order to ascending or descending date, whichever you prefer.
Last night I added the Last.fm RPS plugin to this site; you can see the results directly under "Listen to My Music" in the sidebar. The Last.fm RPS plugin displays album covers for music I’ve recently listened to on that site (or when using Windows Media Player on my computer). The Last.fm radio widget and the moving album cover images below that are available using scripts you can get from Last.fm.
Microkid’s Related Posts is one of my favorite plugins, and I will gradually deploy it all throughout the site, including archive articles. This plugin adds related post functionality to the WordPress Write pages, letting you search through your posts by keyword and include a list of related posts. I like this particular plugin because connecting posts is partly automated and partly manual, giving me control over the relationships I want to create. And, for more fun, if you are writing Post A and create a related entry to Post B, the plugin automatically updates Post B to contain the related post link back to Post A. Grrreeeaaatttt You can see an example of this plugin in action at the end of this article.
Snazzy Archives lets you create an image-based representation of your posts on any page you want. The plugin is very simple and straightforward to use and works great. Click here for Snazzy Archives on this site; or click here for Snazzy Archives on my photoblog — where it’s even more visually compelling (or will be, once I get more posts with photos out there).
The last of the content management plugins — WP-Print — reformats the post for printing. I originally installed it because I wanted to be able to print previous posts when I was working on a series of articles like this one. I hope my readers occasionally benefit from it too.
Yay! I was finally able to deploy some decent plugins for comments on this site. So, you know, leave some comments — and tell all your friends to do the same!
Better Comments Manager adds excellent functionality to the WordPress Admin panel from which you can manage comments much more effectively. Among other improvements over the standard WordPress comments functions, you can reply to comments directly from the Admin panel rather than visiting your site. You can also edit, delete, approve or unapprove, view all comments on a post, and mark comments as spam.
Brian’s Threaded Comments lets visitors post comments by replying to others, and displays the relationships by indenting each comment after the first. I also just like the way it makes comments look on the site, much cleaner and easier to read. Better Comments Manager also integrates well with this plugin, allowing you to reply as a threaded comment when using the Better Comments Manager Admin panel enhancement.
Comment E-mail Responder is the only comments plugin I used on the old version of the site. I always liked the fact that it would allow me to reply to a specific comment (from the article itself) and it would shoot an e-mail to the respondent. I may use it less now, because I also installed Subscribe to Comments — which does exactly what it’s name says, lets visitors subscribe to e-mail notifications containing new comments. I figure if readers want the responses, they’ll subscribe, so will use Comment E-mail Responder judiciously.
These four comments plugins should help improve any visitor’s experience, and help kick start conversations and keep them going. I always liked sites that I saw that employed Brian’s Threaded Comments and Subscribe to Comments in particular, and I’m glad to now be able to include them here on mine.
I am of course using one of the standard WordPress plugins for managing spam — Akismet — on both of my sites. I’ve always been impressed with Akismet, and it seems that if the spam-catching capabilities in Microsoft Outlook or in my ISP’s spam filters were even half as good as Akismet, junk e-mail would be a thing of the past. I often check what Akismet marks as spam just to see how it’s doing, and in the nearly 15,000 spam-catches Akismet has made, I only noticed one legitimate comment show up. You can’t get much better than that….
WordPress 2.6 introduced revisioning and autosave functionality. A revision was created every time a post was saved, and autosave had some timer in it that automatically saved a post (and maybe saved it as a revision) at specified intervals. Since I use Windows Live Writer for almost all of my blog writing, the revision and autosave feature didn’t interest me that much. And, oddly, the revisions were not displayed on the Write page on this site (though they were on my other site), even though I could see them in my database. If you don’t like these features, you can install and activate Disable Revisions and Autosave as I have.
The No Self Pings plugin eliminates something about writing articles in WordPress that has always annoyed me — the creation of a pingback (which would appear as a comment on a post) whenever I linked to my own site from inside an article. So, in effect, it makes it unnecessary to go back and clean up after your newly posted article pings your site.
Broken Link Checker scans all your articles and their internal links to verify that none of them are broken. I haven’t kept this plugin continuously active, though did check my entire site after upgrading and changing many of my categories, and, happily, there were no broken links.
I described Theme Test Drive in the previous article in this series. It’s a useful and excellent tool, allowing you to make and check out theme changes before committing them for your visitors to see.
Finally, and as I also mentioned in the previous article, WordPress Automatic Upgrade is nothing short of a miracle as far as I’m concerned. I almost look forward to the next version of WordPress, just so I can run it again.
That’s it for the plugin list. I know this has turned out to be a very long article, but I thought some folks might benefit from my experiences with them and from the reasons I’m using some of them. I’m looking into a few others, but haven’t installed them yet, including:
All-in-One SEO Pack, which I’ll activating and setting up soon;
Google XML Sitemaps, which I’ll install as soon as I understand why I need a sitemap; and
Tubepress, which will bring my selected YouTube content to the sidebars.
… so will have more to say about those after a while….
Thanks for reading!
Now that I’ve updated this site from WordPress 2.0.2 to version 2.6, and completed migrating my theme changes from the old theme, I thought I would devote an article or two to some of the things I learned during that process — and at the same time, relate my early impressions of the new version as well as some of the plugins I’ve installed, most for the first time. Since I made such a long version-leap, I don’t know that much about how and when some of the new features came about; to me, it’s all new to 2.6. And I’m not going to cover everything that’s new; instead, I’ll include those things that have caught my attention so far while maintaining this site, or maintaining the new one, my afewgoodlenses.com photoblog.
I installed version 2.5 on afewgoodlenses first, as a "from scratch" installation that I took on mainly because I had never loaded WordPress to a host myself, and wanted to learn how to do it. My older site, this one, had originally been a Yahoo! one-click install, and as a result I had no idea how the installation process worked. I’d been poking around for about six months, digging up whatever I could on what I might expect upgrading the Yahoo! install myself. While there’s a lot of information out there, the key to a successful Yahoo! install or upgrade is spelled out in this article on the WordPress Codex:
The short version is simply that Yahoo! doesn’t set up a user’s MySql database with access rights that allow a WordPress install or upgrade to run successfully, and this article explains how to address that. For those who are squeamish about such things, I’ll just say that I’m a database novice in many ways; while I have plenty of database design experience and can poke around and write some SQL queries, I had no idea about the database that drives WordPress or about database administration utilities like "phpmyadmin." Nevertheless, by reading this article (several times!) and following it carefully, I was able to set the database rights correctly, install WordPress on afewgoodlenses, upgrade afewgoodlenses from version 2.5 to 2.6, and upgrade the original Yahoo! install of this site from 2.0.2 to 2.6.
I did both upgrades using Keith Dsouza’s WordPress Automatic Upgrade (WPAU) plugin, a heaven-sent plugin if there ever was one. I sat here at my desk one Friday evening deciding, finally, that if WPAU upgraded afewgoodlenses successfully, I was going to dive in and try it on this site. Both upgrades, obviously, were highly successful. I do mention a couple of quirky things that happened in the previous article — but they were minor and didn’t stop the show from going forward at all.
Since this site’s old theme worked quite well with WP 2.6, I spent a long time (days, in fact) trying out different themes until I found one I really liked. I had previously chosen a theme (called Munch) developed by miloIIIVII for afewgoodlenses, and found many of her themes right up my alley from a design perspective. I ended out choosing a second miloIIIVII theme for this site, the Garden theme. I couldn’t be more pleased with the appearance and functionality of both sites, and I certainly hope my visitors like them too.
While trying out different themes, I found the WordPress theme preview function (that runs automatically when you select a new theme) very useful. Once I started migrating changes from the old theme, however, I used a great plugin called Theme Test Drive by Vladimir Prelovac. Theme Test Drive lets you activate and use a new theme while you’re signed in at the admin panel, but visitors to your site see the original theme. With Theme Test Drive, you can make changes and apply them to your new theme, leaving the old one intact until you’re done. And unlike the WordPress theme preview, the theme as presented by Theme Test Drive is fully functional, so you can test as much as you want before committing your changes.
I had quite a few customizations to my old theme, more than I realized. I had about thirty distinct changes to move over, and it took a few hours but was really quite painless. I still have some tidying up to do on both sites, but both are fully functional. I don’t have any significant advice to give about migrating customizations, other than take your time and be patient … and, before you start, make sure you have a copy of the unmodified theme so you can, if necessary, easily replace a file. My fingers flutter all over the keyboard a lot, and you’d by surprised how easy it is to accidentally paste something over the entire contents of a theme file and hit save before you can stop yourself. The backup is good insurance, and it’s a good idea to do it again after you’ve migrated your changes and gotten the site running. Oh, and remember to indicate in the file itself where you’ve made changes, to make them easy to find if you need to change or remove them. Just keep in mind that any comments you key in may be visible to anyone who uses a function like "view page source" in Firefox when they access your site.
This is getting quite long (no surprise to any of my regular readers, I’m sure), so I’ll break here and pick up on the plugins in more detail tomorrow, along with more on WP 2.6. I ended out installing about a dozen plugins that I could never use before (either because of the database issue I described above, or because they weren’t compatible as far back as WP 2.0.2). All of them give me much more control of the site’s appearance, navigation, links, and functionality. I’m sure I’ll add more as time goes on, but the one’s I’ve got running so far have made it possible to do things with both sites that I had wanted to do all along with this one, but never could….
Stay tuned… and thanks, as always, for stopping by….
Ahhhh… finally! This afternoon I finished moving all the modifications I had done to this site’s previous theme, so here we are with the relaunch of afewgoodpens. I still have some tweaking I want to do with the site’s appearance, and I have not — so far — decided whether to move any of the Google or Amazon ads from the previous version of this site. I think I’ll take a little time to re-think the whole monetization thing … I might like to veer away from the standard approach a little and see who besides Amazon and Google have something to offer.
I’ll have a longer post up tomorrow about the experience of migrating the theme modifications, along with a few notes on the plugins I’ve been able to incorporate into this site now that it’s at the most recent release of WordPress … which, by the way, really ROCKS from what I’ve seen so far….
Through a series of mis-steps this evening, I managed to quite effectively destroy my fledgling photoblog, afewgoodlenses. It wasn’t as hard as you might think, and I did it while trying to solve a "problem" that really didn’t need solving, after reading this article:
There’s certainly nothing wrong with this article, or with the instructions. The change is appropriate to a situation where you’ve installed WordPress in a subfolder (such as "blog") but don’t want users to have to key in a URL that includes "blog" to get to your site. And following the instructions worked, but I didn’t like the fact that after I got it working, keying in the following URL…
… exposed the directory structure for my site. So, I attempted to reverse the procedure, got it wonky somehow, and afewgoodlenses became inaccessible. I tried for an hour or so to twitch things around and get it functioning again, but finally gave up. Someone with more WordPress experience than I have would probably have been able to figure it out, but I couldn’t and decided to just reinstall WordPress and start over.
It occurred to me after I cleared my WordPress database that I probably could have backed it up and restored the contents to the freshly installed tables, but having not done that before probably would have gotten me in even deeper.
On the bright side, the theme modifications I made so far remained intact and the photos I had posted were still on my host, so it’s just a matter of setting up categories again and re-posting them — which I’ll do over the next couple of evenings. In the meantime, if you linked to any of the posts on afewgoodlenses, the link is now broken and will likely have a different URL when I repost the articles. My apologies for the inconvenience, but you may want to remove those links.
The experience does raise a couple of questions in my mind about backing up a WordPress installation, something I’ve never even looked into. Please post suggestions in the comment section if you have any experience with that; I’d be especially interested in hearing from any one who has actually restored a WordPress backup successfully.
Thanks for reading!
Last night I updated this site to the most recent version of WordPress. I ran the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin with great success, first using it on my still-under-construction photoblog — afewgoodlenses.com — then holding my breath and taking the plunge on this site. I had installed WordPress for the photoblog a couple of months ago to learn about setting up a site from scratch on my own (as opposed to using the automated install Yahoo! provides), and it was an update from version 2.5. I had no issues with that upgrade, with the minor exception of being unable to log in toward the end of the upgrade (when the tool attempted to reactivate plugins). Clearing private data in Firefox solved that problem.
Upgrading this site — which was at version 2.0.2 and was a Yahoo! install originally — also went quite well despite a couple of minor problems. The plugin wouldn’t activate at first, though I’ve experienced that on occasion with other plugins so I know it has nothing to do with the plugin itself. It’s either a Yahoo! hosting issue or a WordPress 2.0.2 issue, which, strangely, seems to happen more often when I access the plugin panel with Firefox rather than Internet Explorer. So even though Firefox is my default browser, switching to IE got the plugin activated and I was able to continue.
The upgrade plugin does two backups at the very start, and provides links to download the zip files it creates to your computer. The links didn’t work; Yahoo! kept returning a 404 page-not-found error, so I used FTP (FileZilla, an excellent FTP utility) to locate and download the zip files myself. After this, the remaining steps in the upgrade completed normally, in about five minutes.
I was surprised — though I’m not sure why — that the theme I’m currently using still worked. I hadn’t expected that, had chosen a new theme to replace it, and will probably still do so when I can spend a few hours (or days, which is more likely) customizing it.
I did run into two problems that required correction. First, I was unable to navigate the site using the “previous” link at the bottom of the page, which turned out to be a problem with the permalinks. I don’t know why this problem occurs, but I think it has to do with the way Yahoo! handles permalinks, which are structured as “friendly links” containing the day a post is created and the post title. Recreating them didn’t work, though setting them to the WordPress default style did work. Switching to the default permalink style, however, meant that all my internal linking was busted, and any external links to posts or pages on my site would no longer work. I found a solution to the problem here…
… which consisted of installing and activating the plugin Tony Adam describes and recreating the original permalink structure. I have no idea what “canonical redirects” are, but the solution worked great!
The second problem, a strange one, was that none of my category descriptions came over from the old version of the site. The WordPress categories panel showed a couple dozen blank lines instead of the categories, and even displayed the number of posts in each (blank!) category. I wasn’t able to find a solution for that problem that I understood how to employ, so I ended out deleting all the blank categories, creating fresh ones, and reassigning categories to each of the posts. With about 90 articles on this site, it took me a couple of hours to get it done, which wasn’t too bad but certainly wouldn’t have been an appealing option if I had hundreds of posts.
So… overall I think the upgrade was a smashing success, and, with that (and quite a bit of non-blogging life-stuff that has kept me busy for the past few months) behind me, please stay tuned while I catch up on my networking activities and start churning out some new content.
Thanks, as always, for reading and for stopping by….