When an article is written, various comments from other people may hold great deal of information regarding the topic. That's why it's very important to open discussion on web pages. In our company we mainly use WordPress, so I'll explain how to properly set up comments on WordPress. Our publishing platform Foliopress is based on WordPress version 2.2.3, so screenshots and settings will apply mainly to these versions, but other versions are surely, not so different.
First order of business is allowing discussion in wordpress. Settings for this are in Administration back-end in Options->Discussion. For our company these settings are preferred:
Information on these settings (from WordPress developers) are here.
Over the last month, the internet has been awash with stories of the fabled New York Times slow demise, as indicated by huge losses and impending layoffs. As the new Wall Street Journal hires, the New York Times fires.
The decline in New York Times revenue and readership surprised me somewhat, but I accepted the decline at face value. Given the New York Times atrocious editorial standards throughout the Bush regime, including aiming and abetting war crimes (Judith Miller), the loss in circulation seemed like just desserts.
But today, Comcast's list of the top 50 websites for March came across my desk. Based on unique visitors, guess who's at number 12 with 47 million unique visitors for the month? For refernce, that's just behind Wikipedia, Amazon and ahead of Facebook, CNET, Adobe, CBS and Craigslist: The New York Times Digital.
Which set me to thinking what kind of second rate media (advertising sales) strategy would it take to lose money with the number 12 website.
For years, I’ve been on the Site Build It list. SBI is the creation of the rather annoyingly gushy Ken Evoy who never stops his carnival barker cries about his one-stop-site-creation tool.
Evoy’s been at it since the bad old days when the internet was a mess and Site Built It! did have the advantage of actually getting a website up in some form – easier than coding html from scratch for the neophyte.
Throughout SBI’s history, Evoy has shrieked about his process and his proprietary tools. On the surface, a clear process and proprietary tools are a good idea. Probably worth the price of admission (or so I thought at the time). The issue with the proprietary tools (which otherwise might be a good deal) is that you can only use them a little bit. Come and play for one hour per week, see you next week. Not exactly inviting brainstorming or creativity.
In contrast, the indepdendent expensive (many of which are free) tools Evoy condemns let you use them as much as you like once you find them.
I've been wondering about WordPress plugin overhead for some time. How does one keep track of how much processor time and overhead any given plugin requires?
We run fairly streamlined WordPress installs at Foliovision with about 30 active plugins per site. A lot of them are one-trick ponies developed in-house so we know the code isn't creating a huge load.
But anyone who has been working on Macintosh computers from the old days (System 7, 8 & 9) knows very well that every extensions (and some people were running 50 of them) slows down your compuer and increases the chances of a system conflict. There were whole expensive utilities devoted to keeping extensions and control panels under control. Any one else remember long hours spent with Conflict Catcher?
Here's what WPdesigner.com has to say on his own plugin issues:
With the WP Download Monitor plugin, the front page of my blog had to operate with 136 queries on every page load. After uninstalling that plugin, the front page needed only 10 queries to work. 136 versus 10 and all I have to do is give up tracking the downloads, hmmm.. oh what, oh what should I do? I deactivated / uninstalled it, of course.
FAQ-Tastic – a FAQ – Ask Me solution for WordPress. Reviewed in depth.
Update 8 November 2010: Unfortunately neither Adobe PS4 nor PS5 include useful save for web droplets. With the disappearance of ImageReady, these droplets are gone, gone, gone. You can set up actions, but the actions won't use Save for Web but Save As. With Save As your outputted image has a preview as well as metadata baked in taking it from 50KB to 118 KB for instance. Lesson: don't uninstall ImageReady PS3 if you'd like to quickly and easily create really high quality web images. Nothing beats Photoshop as our GD and ImageMagick tests recently proved (ImageMagick came closer). Here's an Adobe forums post with some really tedious workarounds for web image droplets with CS4 and CS5.
If you use Photoshop CS3 and post screenshots to the web, this little droplet will save you a lot of trouble. For some reason it is impossible to convert ImageReady or previous Photoshop versions Droplets to Photoshop CS3.
Installation and Usage Instructions:
- download the zip
- move to the folder of your choice (I have a special folder for Photoshop and Image Ready droplets)
- title your images for upload (spaces are okay - PS3 will convert them to hyphens)
- drop your images on the droplet
- your web ready GIF's will appear in your desktop folder
For equally unknown reasons is also extremely difficult to create a droplet which will actually open your image and resave it as you would like right in the folder where it lies.
Even my version here will save the GIF file to your desktop, rather than the folder where the original lies (my preference). Desktop isn't bad, as you can then upload the image and archive the extra desktop files every couple of days in a date named folder in a desktop archive folder.
I just read the strangest apologia for a new service: Uh, why’s the official Tumblr blog on WordPress? (broken link - http://blog.davidville.com/2007/02/23/why-wordpress/#comments)
Simply - all the CMSy stuff it comes with. Blogs are an awesome platform. WordPress lets our entire staff contribute to the same blog, maintain tags and slugs, save and give feedback on drafts, upload and store media, back and forward publish posts, group our archive by month, lets our audience comment, lists trackbacks, et cetera, et cetera. It’s awesome! Blogs rock! But we knew this. WordPress is the perfect way for a business like ours to communicate with our audience.
Sounds good to me. David Karp goes on to write about the advantages of Tumblr: "posting with zero obligations, little or no comment". Great for wisecracking, difficult for communicating.
WordPress are finally getting around to updating the Admin theme.
This is a great idea. From the beginning WordPress has generally looked great when going out with visitors but she dresses awfully sloppily around the house.
The front end just keeps getting better as the backend stagnates.
Unfortunately, current previews of the updated WordPress 2.4 Admin interface show a getup which looks worse if anything, than what's there now.
I'm having visions of Mambo circa 2004. What's with the dreadful new brown and orange? The blue on blue colour scheme is about all the WordPress Admin Panel has going for it aesthetically.
The only good looking Admin interface for WordPress has been Steve Smith's WordPress Tiger Administration, which first saw the light of day in June 2005.
One of the beta testers for Foliopress WYSIWYG has just complained that Foliopress WYSIWYG is not compatible with PHP4. Apparently PHP5 is still only 6% of the installed PHP base across all webhosts.
That figure should be enough to strike terror into any developer. But that number will change very soon as PHP4 has hit the end of the line.
PHP4 incompatibility started off not as a deliberate decision. Generally I like wider compatibility.
But on serious consideration, I’m not worried about Foliopress WYSIWYG being PHP5 only.
Just when you think you've got technology under control, some small gnat comes along to bit you. I had just added and styled the nice registration form for people interested in Foliopress WYSIWYG and SEO Images to the previous post :
and then I began seeing double. That is to say two me:
dd add signature plugin error
That nice headshot with the articles is created by Alastair Dagon Design's Add Signature Plugin. What's seems to be causing the doublevision is the inclusion of a form inside a post. I tried moving the form into a Sniplet (where it should have been in the first place, quite frankly and reuseable). I've cured a few WordPress malfunctions by pulling code outside a post and into a Sniplet - but that was pre-Foliopress WYSIWYG. Most of the WordPress Editors damage or modify code so a Sniplet can stop them from getting a chance to break code. But this time the Sniplet trick didn't work.
I couldn't find the issue in the plugin itself:
Nor does the issue seem to be in our template index.php file, although there seems to be room for such an issue there.
Spent most of the day working on Foliopress WYSIWYG together with Peter Baran.
Our solution for the WordPress WYSIWYG and image handling nightmare is coming along quite brilliantly well. This is what the basic toolbar looks like.
Foliopress WYSIWYG offers true What You See is What You Get Editing for WordPress.
- It is backwards compatible with legacy code (hello Xstandard/TinyMCE)
- It doesn't break complex forms (hello TinyMCE/Xstandard)
- It doesn't discard whole posts (hello Xstandard)
- It doesn't go haywire and create more and more nested P tags (hello WYSIWYG Pro)
- It doesn't look like hell in the WordPress interface (hello normal FCK)
- It doesn't make uploading images a never ending and hopeless struggle (hello WordPress uploader)
- It doesn't make your clients hopping mad and lead them to breaking everything (Plaintext/RAW html)
- Your drafts look like exactly like your posts will, without having to waste time with a preview function (hello Xstandard)
- You have unlimited standard undo from the keyboard (hello Xstandard)
- Very easy to configure (including site WYSIWYG) (hello Xstandard, TinyMCE, FCK)
In short, Foliopress WYSIWYG is what you always wished the WordPress Editor would do. I'm using it now and can't believe no one created and editor like this earlier.
Does software crime pay?
On paper, it looks like it does. And very well.
Over at roughlydrafted.com, Daniel Eran Dilger gives a short history of how Microsoft, embraced, extended and extinguished through the eighties and nineties. In the end it turns, out Microsoft has paid more than $4.2 billion in antitrust and patent infringements, not counting the impending EU (European Union) settlement.
The latest addition to the How to Hack a WordPress Theme covers how to get those cool edit buttons on to both pages and posts by changing just a single php file in your template.
Why all this fascination with Ruby on Rails?
The success of 37signals...these guys have built some cool stuff in very small teams.
But in general I believe that a lot of the coding developers (as opposed to user interface developers such as myself) like trying new languages like some men like trying fresh girlfriends.
Each time a new language comes along they think this might be the one.
For those of us just trying to produce working applications efficiently for clients, switching languages is a waste of time and money.
i.e. we will switch but only if the incentives are enormous or our current technology has badly dated.
Many developers are choosing to remain in PHP. CakePHP is PHP's answer to the Rails framework on Ruby.
Dominican developer Kevin Lloyd has written a succinct list of the reasons to choose CakePHP over RoR:
- shared host support
All the convenience methods and syntactical sugar that makes Rails such a pleasure for coders ends up being absolutely punishing, performance-wise....there shouldn’t be doubt in anybody’s mind at this point that Ruby itself is slow. It’s great that people are hard at work on faster implementations of the language, but right now, it’s tough. If you’re looking to deploy a big web application and you’re language-agnostic, realize that the same operation in Ruby will take less time in Python. All of us working on Twitter are big Ruby fans, but I think it’s worth being frank that this isn’t one of those relativistic language issues. Ruby is slow.
I don’t do Web Development for my health or for fun. I design web applications for clients. A lot of my work involves redesign of already existing sites. How do I say to a client: Hey, although your current web host that you’ve prepaid a year for is sufficient for 90% or the stuff you can throw at it, I’m using this new technology and you need to shell out some more $$$ for a host that can handle it.
That's our situation as well. We love web development but it is a means to an end. User interface, front end, user convenience. Of course reliability and security are very important to us as well, but that is more a question of coding practice than coding language.
We've been having quite a few issues with speed and server load, something which we'd never had to worry about in the past. We've been building more and more web apps and fewer and fewer simple websites.
We are also facing mod security restrictions on our webhost. Cartika (no longer recommended) are strapped down pretty tightly, but that makes sense. They also let us know right away if a website of ours is facing security attacks or if it is being scraped every day.
Apparently not all PHP is created equal and it is time to batten down the hatches.
Once we get to functionality we will have to put a full-fledged optimisation phase in the development cycle: the Code Optimization Phase.
In that phase we will specifically target PHP speed and security (as functionality will already be completely in place).
I will start by asking all Foliovision developers to read the article 40 Tips for optimizing your php Code. The top twenty or so are below.
How to escape HTML for weblog entries from any computer with a single click of the mouse.