Connecting the Blog to Facebook

Note: As of right now this plugin is pretty awful. I wasted a bunch of time trying to understand how it works and it does look promising, but I couldn’t publish anything to my timeline with it. Right now Jetpack is the way to go.

Facebook Plugin
Getting my hands dirty with Facebook’s WordPress plugin.

The integration of Facebook and your blog is pretty awesome and brought to you by Facebook so it should work flawlessly. What I’m most interested is how when you publish articles on your blog they will show up on your Facebook timeline (automatically) or on a page. You can also add recommendations, the like and share button, Facebook comments, and you get insights as well. Pretty much everything you want in a Facebook app.

I’m still learning the ropes because you need to get into the developers.facebook.com area to get things setup. I found a good How to Use Facebook for WordPress post and I was able to get things configured without too much trouble.

UPDATE: The app isn’t working yet. Probably because I need the app with Facebook to be approved (which is different than the plugin).

Moving from Joomla to WordPress with FG Joomla to WordPress

If you have talked to me in the past few months you know that I’m working on moving iTwixie from a Joomla environment to WordPress. Choirs of angels should chime in every time I utter that phrase.

The Method

Today was my first attempts testing the transition of any part of the database to WordPress. I have done a fair amount of Googling the subject and settled on FG Joomla to WordPress as my first attempt. This WordPress plugin reads your Joomla database and imports posts, categories, media and users.

How it Went

I started with the free version and then upgraded to the premium version to import the users. The premium version is more stable, way more stable as it executed the transfer faster, and I could tell it ran better than the free version. I am working via local host with XAMPP, so I was able to quickly create multiple instances of WordPress and run the plugin a few times.

Moving the articles to posts went smoothly however the plugin failed to move the media. There is probably an issue with how I have the Joomla site setup locally but when the images weren’t move all the tags in the posts had the src=”xx” removed. Which was kind of dumb because I could manually move the media folder and reassign the path in each post. So I’m still working on that. The plugin developer did respond to a few of my emails today so that is a good sign we can work this out.

Moving the users went smoothly as well except the plugin only moves username, name and email. We might need more database tables moved here in the end but I haven’t finished our testing. When I did import the users into our BuddyPress test site the users weren’t automatically setup as BP users. So that is something I’ll have to figure out as I move forward.

Thinking Back

This process took all day and mainly because it is my first and hopefully only time I will ever have to move a site from Joomla to WordPress. All in all this went as expected and I’m still have many loose ends to tie up with this database migration. I will say this though. When I added the 3,250 odd articles to the WordPress site on the server it took em like a champ and didn’t show any signs of slow or sluggish behavior.

Aside

On a personal note it is awesome to get my hands this dirty working with multiple databases and WordPress installs. I am so impressed with how robust these systems are and the fact that it’s relatively simple to do blows me away. I keep thinking why didn’t I get into this before. Well the answer is because I never had a reason to.

Using a local server like XAMPP or MAMP makes creating duplicate sites as easy as copying files into new folders. If you haven’t gotten into this get to it.

UPDATE

I couldn’t move the media folders because the plugin couldn’t write to the to “uploads” folder while it was inside Applications. Which is where XAMPP and its files are stored. So I had to edit the apache config file and change the XAMPP root directory and change user permissions. It is all explained not so clearly here.

WordPress Plugin Roundup

Over the past few weeks I’ve had a few people ask me about the plugins I’m using on various WordPress sites. I thought it would be a good idea to write a summary of some of my favorites and some that do a lot of work. You can find these plugins under extend on WordPress.org.

Jetpack

Jetpack is best described as a bundle of plugins used on WordPress.com. released about six months ago Jetpack brought together all the individual plugins released by Automatic including WP Stats, Twitter, Shortlinks, etc. Currently there are 8 features in Jetpack.

One that I’m using for the first time on the PodCamp Pittsburgh site is Sharedaddy. A basic share button tool that adds your social media share buttons to posts and pages. The Stats feature is how I have been primarily using Jetpack, because it is a nice complement to Google Analytics.

One last note, Jetpack has its own website.

Blackbird Pie

The next two are Twitter related and help make integrating Twitter into posts just that much easier. Blackbird Pie is cool because it easily lets you embed tweets without a lot of copy paste or screen cap upload. Once activated the plugin puts an icon of a blackbird in your editor toolbar. Simply find a tweet you like and copy the tweet id or url, click the blackbird and voilà.

Twitter Links Plus+

Next is a very simple plugin that does all the work for you. Simply put an [at] sign in front of any Twitter username and Twitter Links Plus+ will automatically make that text an active link to that user’s twitter page.

Lets say I wanted you to all follow @TableforOne because he’s my roommate and sometimes writes “punny” restaurant reviews. Or that you should follow the @PCPGH twitter account so you are always up-to-date on this great event.

Fast Secure Contact Form

Hands down the best contact form plugin I’ve used, because of its ability to add custom fields to the form. From extra phone number fields, to radio or check boxes this plugin can do it all. You can add prefilled information as examples or instructions, add extra html before or after a field, make a field required or not, rename everything, and insert them into any post or page with a simple short code. The plugin checks with Akismit to keep spammers out of your form and if that isn’t enough you can easily add a CAPTCHA. Additional features includes silent remote sending, data export, styling (css), tool tips, custom error messages, and backup.

I would say this plugin is for intermediate to advanced users simply by the fact it has so much going on. However, if you need a simple form with CAPTCHA enabled don’t be intimidated, because this plugin is awesome. If you want to see an example of the plugin in action visit the PodCamp Pittsburgh site and look at the Session Submission or the Volunteer Signup pages.

Edit Flow

Finally, a plugin I haven’t used but looks interesting. I don’t have much to say about Edit Flow other than it’s meant for sites that want to work like newspapers and magazines with editors and multiple contributors. A short list of features include custom statuses, editorial comments, email notifications and user groups. I don’t have a project that would take advantage of this type of feature but it looks solid. Edit Flow also has its own website.

Well that is the roundup. Of course I’m using many more plugins but we’ll save some for another post.

Using WordPress for a Short Term Project

Originally posted on PodCamp Pittsburgh.

In today’s world we have lots of side projects. Some are small hobbies other are business initiatives with a short shelf life. Many times when I’m in a meeting about an event or project the need for a web site arises. More often than not the best solution is a WordPress. In the past few months I’ve used WordPress to quickly manage two unique project AiP Summer Studio 2010 and Allegheny County’s Green Roof project.

Rock the Campus

This year’s theme for Summer Studio (basically a summer camp for aspiring artists) was Rock the Campus. Where we took our normal event and added local musician, Kellee Maize. We wanted the event to be more exciting for the students this year and when we started to brainstorm this concept all the pieces just came together. I knew that we were going to want to put all of this content online and we have very limited web resources at the moment.

Turning to WordPress as simple solution for uploading lots of photos and bringing in YouTube videos. I was able to manage the whole site myself and provide a great resource to everyone involved in Summer Studio. Now we have a constant connection to all the students who attended our event and will be visiting this site as they enter their senior year of high school before making final college choices.

I’m not going to deceive you, adding all of the content to the site took some effort. Capturing photos, editing, writing and organizing is not always a simple task. However I was never lacking the web tools to bring this great project to the masses.

AlleghenyGreenRoof.com

This project began when the County of Allegheny County approached The Art Institute about capturing their green roof construction. After organizing a team of students I set them up with a WordPress site, AlleghenyGreenRoof.com, to use as the document collection tool for the county.

Now that the construction on the roof is completed we have a great tool to use to educate others about the impact a green roof can have on a building and the community.

Learn About WordPress

Most of my posts leading up to PodCamp Pittsburgh 5 have been about using WordPress. It is a great tool and there are many applications for it. When you attend PodCamp this year you will see how others are using similar tools to accomplish their small and large projects. See you at PodCamp!

Pushing your Envelope with WordPress

Note: Originally Published on PodCamp Pittsburgh

Using the Modern Web

As the mainstream move to accept Web 2.0 (without being conscious of it) the tools for sharing have gotten more and more sophisticated. The lines between a website, blog, and social network are becoming blurred. Websites like Linkedin and Facebook are incorporating Twitter “like” functions. We have seen this for a long time in the realm of photo sharing and video sharing is not far behind. Sharing and creating content online is an expected aspect of “surfing” the web today.

The modern web provides us with excellent tools to create, share and build communities. From complex social networks to quick and dirty blog sites. These tools strive to giving users access to dynamic sharing with as few clicks as possible. I even have my mom using a blog, now that is progress. But my point is that sharing is now very simple and these simple sites are actually very powerful tools.

Recently I had a discussion with a colleague about using Tumblr as their main site for content. Now to be clear I don’t have anything against Tumblr, nor do I want to discourage people from using these tools. However in this situation I was surprised at how few hits the site was getting. Especially, because she is starting to attract advertisers and how often there is new content on the Tumblr.

When You Hit the Ceiling

Some Monsters Are Too Large To Fit

Flickr Photo by CarbonNYC

The more I thought about the situation the more I realized that the site probably started as a fun little hobby and has grown into a popular page. Applying basic SEO think to the situation I thought there had to be a reason the Tumblr isn’t getting more traffic. How can you maximize keywords, does creating keyword links help, naming photos, meta data, generating links to your site, etc are all questions that came to mind.

So my bigger question is when do you hit the ceiling with free web services? Even WordPress.com and Blogger have their limitations. The answer to that question ultimately lies in your goals and reason for publishing content in the first place. Perhaps your goal has changed or grown, maybe you see new potential, you are ready to monetize, or, perhaps, you are just so awesome you need more control over your content. Each site will have it’s own set of circumstances.

What WordPress.org Can Do For You

When you realize you have hit the proverbial ceiling you will know it. My content manager of choice is WordPress.org and I encourage everyone to give it a serious look. In WordPress 3.0 you have more options that ever before in how you can post, organize, and direct traffic on your site. Creating multiple blogs on one domain is a new dynamic tool that is still being realized by bloggers.

Currently I’m using WordPress 3.0 for a familiy blog where each family member can have their own site and pull content into one main feed. I’m also using it to power an online store to sell Magic: the Gathering cards. At AiP we are considering it to give the school unlimited sub domain sites for one off projects by faculty and students.

With a little tinkering, you’ll find that your basic functions are available on WordPress and then begin to realize how the sky is the limit.

PodCamp Pittsburgh 5

With that said this is why you need to come to PodCamp Pittsburgh. To learn more about what these tools can do for you. At PodCamp you will:

  • learn about how to use these tools, including WordPress
  • meet people who can help you
  • take your blog/podcast/Tumblr to the next level

Finally Not only is WordPress free, but so is PodCamp Pittsburgh! Technology is making our lives better.

WordPress 3.0

Thursday, June 17 I will be speaking at Refresh Pittsburgh on WordPress 3.0. Currently they are about to release the “RC3” (release candidate 3) and the final version is scheduled to drop on June 14. Just in time for the meeting. Currently I’m running multiple WP 3.0 prerelease versions and at Refresh I’ll review some of the new features including; multi-site, menus, instillation, and child themes.

If you want to get familiar with 3.0 in advance visit wordpress.org codex for more info.