A couple of weeks ago I was trying to get a design out so a client could review it and let us know if they wanted us to keep working on the design. Fortunately they did! I was struggling to try and figure out how I could have pages with a different template design. I wanted to have a sidebar on one section of the website with a list of subpages. I knew there was a way to do it. I had heard of it before but I couldn’t quite figure it out. I then looked through the WordPress documentation and learned about WordPress page templates and how to create them! I was relieved because I was then able to quickly get a different template for a few pages put together.
It’s really easy to do. At the top of a PHP file in your theme’s root directly, place the following code:
Template Name: Facts
Then of course you’ll pull your header, sidebar, footer and other div elements just like you normally would. After you have gotten it put together upload the file into your theme directory. Go into your WordPress administration area and edit or create a new page. On the side click on the plus sign beside page template, use the drop down to choose your newly created page template. If you were already on the page before you uploaded you may have to refresh.
A couple of years ago I found out about Creative Commons. I watched the videos on their website and I was intrigued by it. Everytime I would create something I would stamp a CC license onto it because I thought it was so cool. A couple of years passed and I got out of the habit of CC’ing everything until the other day. I listened to MikeyPod‘s latest podcast where he interviews Joi Ito who is on the board of Creative Commons.
During the interview Joi Ito discusses Flickr and the benefits of having your images on Flickr having a Creative Commons license instead of the standard “All Rights Reserved” license. I would love for more people to use and see my photos. I don’t necessarily care whether I get paid for them or not as long as I get credit for them. I also would prefer that if people use them they have whatever they make be licensed under Creative Commons as well. I opted to change most of my photos to a Creative Commons Share Alike license. I didn’t change them all because I didn’t want photos of my family to be used by a commercial entity, they would not appreciate that. I changed a few of mine to CC, just in case someone decides I’m important enough for a Wikipedia article, someday!
During the interview Joi mentions the reasons people have really horrible pictures of themselves on their Wikipedia pages, that’s because a lot of images have copyright restrictions. I thought that was a really good point to bring up. A lot of people forget about that when they go to a portrait studio and have their photos taken and later on down the road want to have them re-printed but cannot find a photo copy center that will copy them because they are copyrighted by the photography studio. I know many people who have bought scanners because of this!
Also during the interview Joi mentions a plugin for WordPress for inserting Creative Commons meta information into your site. I have installed the plugin, I honestly don’t see where it has changed my source code. I don’t know if it’s suppose to or not. However. I just wanted to do my part of sharing my content to the world, just as long as I get credit and they share alike!
You should check out the interview MikeyPod did, it was really a great interview. Lots of valuable information. The interview has renewed my love of Creative Commons.
Over the weekend I had a great opportunity to help someone move from TypePad to WordPress running on their web hosting account. The reason the person wanted to do this is because they were no longer going to continue paying for their TyePad account. Understandable considering the fact that the person was paying for TypePad on top of their web hosting account.
Moving the Posts
Fortunately, getting the TypePad blog entries backed up and imported into WordPress was one of the simplest tasks to take care of. The first step is to login to your TypePad account and click on the Edit Posts link. Then you click on Import/Export. Once TypePad makes a backup of all your entries, which it will do in one file, you can right click on that file and save it to your computer.
The next step is also very easy to do. That is getting the posts you just exported into WordPress. All you have to do is go to your WordPress installation, login to the administration area, click on Manage, then Import. On the import page select “Movable Type and TypePad”. On the next page, click the browse button and find the file that you exported from TypePad (the file I downloaded from TypePad was an HTML file). Once you find the file click on “Upload file and import” and WordPress will import your posts into it’s database.
Moving Images from TypePad to WordPress
TypePad like any good blogging service allows it’s users to upload images to their servers so that images can be placed into blog posts. Although that’s a really great feature to offer the problem is what happens if you need a backup or want to move your images elsewhere? The solution that TypePad suggests and the one that I followed worked quite well. That is to use a program called Getleft. If you’re on a Mac you can use SiteSucker. These two programs download all of the files from a website as long as they are linked. Open the program, plug in the URLs and start the download process. When I did this I had to let it run for several hours before it got all the data. Once the software has downloaded the files you’ll want to upload the backup to your web hosting account. A great place to put these files is in your uploads folder (root directory/wp-content/uploads/).
Once you’ve got the files into the uploads folder the next thing that you’ll want to do is get the images re-linked. You could go through every single post and re-link the images by hand OR you could download the Search and Replace plugin. Download the plugin, extract it and upload it to your plugins directory (root directory/wp-content/plugins). Once it is on the server, go back to the WordPress administration area, go to Plugins and click on Activate for Search and Replace.
After the plugin has been installed, in your WordPress administration area click on “Manage” and then “Search and Replace.” The next step is a bit tricky. You need to find out the old URL and the new URL. You can get an idea of what I used from the screen shot below.
You can then click on “Replace!”. Once the process has completed go back to your blog and make sure that the images have been re-linked properly. Go back through your archives and see that images on old posts are linked properly as well.
Creating an authors list
The person that I did this for had a blog where several people contributed and they wanted to have a list of the authors on the sidebar. The idea is when you click on the author’s name you’ll get a page with all that author’s posts. I’ve inserted a screen shot below. From this you can tell how I integrated the required code into the sidebar of the theme this person chose.
Scratching the surface
I’m sure there are more features that could be ported over from TypePad to WordPress and I am sure a lot of them have been. What I have mentioned above is simply what I did on this particular project. If you’ve got other suggestions feel free to leave them in the comments section.
I was telling a friend about my experience with offline blogging software. He pointed me to MarsEdit. I hadn’t heard of it before, it wasn’t a free application. I usually don’t download anything but free software. This time I did download it and after using MarsEdit for a couple of weeks I decided to buy it. I have been using it ever since. I like it a lot and want to talk about what I like and some of the things that I would like to see in the application.
Why do I need this type of software?
You may be wondering what the point is in having offline blogging software. The main reason is because when I want to write a blog entry I hate having to open the browser, go to the blog, login and make a new entry. I’ve had bad experiences with writing blog posts and emails in the browser window. I am scared to death while I write my post the browser is going to crash! I know a lot of blogging software such as WordPress saves your post while you’re working on it. In my experience though, it’s never enough!
Another reason for offline blogging software is if you are like me and you have multiple blogs, it is really nice to be able to update them all from a convenient location. Currently, I have 4 blogs plugged into MarsEdit. Whenever I need to make a post on one of them I can simply open the application and make the post. Also, if I see a mistake that I have made in my entry it’s so much easier to open MarsEdit, make the change and re-submit instead of having to go to the browser, to the blog, re-login, etc. I can blog much more easily and more often!
What I like about MarsEdit
First of all I have to say I absolutely love the MarsEdit icon! I know I don’t talk about the icons of applications a lot but this is one of my absolute favorite icons. It’s very sexy on my dock!
There are a lot of great features in MarsEdit but there are not a ton of icons cluttering up the application. It’s very simple and clean and I really like that. Instead of having an icon for every little thing there is a drop down menu with a lot of options for inserting HTML or custom tags. I also love the fact that there are keyboard shortcuts for a lot of these, especially the command to paste a link (Option + Command + A).
For each blog you have, you can set up different options. You can choose what warnings you want to receive before your entry is posted; such as warning you if you’ve not set a category or entered a title for your post. You can also choose which services you would like to ping to let the blogging world know that you’ve just made a new entry on your blog.
I also really like the simplicity of the “Save as Draft” button. You click the button as many times as you’d like while you are working on your entry. If you exit the application you can come back and work on it at a later time. But what I really like about it is the fact that whenever I finish the post and I post it to my blog it is no longer in my drafts folder. In my opinion it’s a much better option than using the typical “Save” or “Save As.”
What I’d like to see in MarsEdit
The first change to the application that I would like to see is whenever you are uploading images to your post that the application know which blog you are working on and upload to the appropriate folder.
Using MarsEdit you can choose whether people can leave comments & TrackBacks for your entries. However, you cannot make a password protected post, change the slug, or many of the other things you can do with a WordPress blog.
Although I really love this application and am glad that I made the purchase of it; there is one more thing that I would really like to see added into this application. That is the ability to make new categories. You can select from already created categories but you can’t make new ones (to my knowledge). I have to post the entry and then go to the website and add the proper categories. Granted, I’d have to go to the website anyways to make sure the entry was posted correctly. It would just be really nice not to have to log back in if everything else is correct just to add a category.
I know what you’re probably thinking after reading those two paragraphs above and I’m going to address it right now. Since this application is a cross platform (supports many content management systems) blogging tool; it would be extremely difficult to get every single option that all the blogging platforms offer into the application. I don’t think it would be impossible but it would be difficult because there are always new features to all of these blogging platforms. Also, I am sure there are some limits as to what developers can implement with some blogging systems due to the fact that some systems are closed source.
Do I recommend this application to others?
Yes, I most certainly do recommend it. Since purchasing the application I have blogged a whole lot more because of it. It’s so nice just to be able to open up an application and start blogging. I realize there are other applications out there, even free alternatives. In my opinion none of them can compare to the ease of use of MarsEdit or how fast it works (the others took FOREVER to launch and were very clumsy). MarsEdit offers a LOT of features, I barely scratched the surface! I feel as though my $24.95 was well spent!
Article update: Wednesday, October 1, 2008: I have updated this article with screen shots from the latest version. I also updated the grammar, at least, I tried to. I have been updating the screen shots on TechButter so that the pages look uniform with the new theme.
The image uploading tool has been improved. You can now specify which blog you are uploading to. When you do open the image uploading tool it connects to the blog you are currently working on. You can now choose from previously uploaded images or images in your catalog. Also, you can connect MarsEdit to Flickr and use images in your account.
The ability to make new categories has been added. Also, you can now change the post slug (what the URL of the post will be). You can also edit the post excerpt and the tags. To my knowledge there is no way to password protect a post using MarsEdit.
I have to be honest with you. Although I really love MarsEdit and have paid for the updated version, I don’t use it as much as I use to. If I were on my Mac more often I probably would. Since getting a new monitor for my PC I’ve been using my Windows machine as my primary workstation again and I post entries to my blog using my web browser. I do think MarsEdit is a great application and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for that type of functionality.
When I am designing a theme for WordPress I always install a copy of WordPress onto my local server. I have my server set up in a virtual machine. It’s aggravating because I have to wait on that virtual machine to start up before I can do anything. I have been thinking about installing Apache, MySQL, PHP and phpMyAdmin onto my Mac so I can just leave it running and have a copy of WordPress running locally for whenever I need to test something. I just haven’t had the time to do this yet.
On my Linux virtual machine I have a copy of XAMPP running. I got to looking around and there is a version of XAMPP for the Mac but it only runs on Intel Macs. The iBook that I have has a PowerPC G3 processor, so that won’t work. Fortunately there is an alternative called MAMP. It’s got the basics of XAMPP and works pretty well. I downloaded it this morning, extracted and installed it.
I guess I should say what XAMPP and MAMP are. They include Apache, MySQL, PHP, phpMyAdmin and a few other things all in one package. They’re usually meant for developers on a network to test out projects and usually not meant for deploying websites publicly. You usually just install a package and you have a web server.
In under 20 minutes I was able to have WordPress up and running. It would have been quicker had I not run into a database connection issue. Also, the download was quite large, over 100 megabytes so I had to wait on that. The database problems that I ran into was that you can’t simply use ‘localhost’ as the MySQL server address, you have to use a port. I tried to use ‘localhost:8889’ but that did not work either. I then used the IP address of the machine ‘192.168.1.44:8889’ and that worked.
This is a great option for testing websites. I haven’t looked into it yet but if MAMP can be secured then I think it would be a good option for someone wanting to play with hosting their own websites or blogs. If you use XAMPP on Linux then you’ll know that you can easily secure XAMPP by running a simple command from the command line and answering a few questions. However, if MAMP can’t be secured then I think it’s still a good option for testing websites locally.
Other than making sure XAMPP is secure you’ll want to install an FTP server. There is an FTPd daemon already included in OS X. You can use PureFTPd Manager for Mac OS X to manage it.
I am wanting to convert my blogs that are running on Nucleus CMS to WordPress, there are several reasons why and first of all, I want to explain why and then I will tell you how to do this:
The first and major reason I am wanting to switch is because I do not feel as though my blogs are getting enough visitors. One reason I feel this is happening is because when a search engine spiders my blogs they are not able to index my posts. From my understanding this has to do with the URL scheme for permalinks that Nucleus uses, it’s too complicated. In the Nucleus CMS forums there are tutorials for how to change the way articles are linked, however, I have been completely un-sucessful with them.
There are more features in WordPress than in Nucleus and I am wanting them now, I don't want to have to wait on future versions. The development of Nucleus seems to have slowed down, tremendously. Features I am wanting that WordPress has out-of-the box right now:
- Static pages
- Password protection
- Multiple categories
- Better SPAM prevention
- Easier blog-rolling or linking.
- Dashboard that shows you news in the WordPress community as well as notifications when someone links to your site.
When you upload images using Nucleus CMS it creates a proprietary link instead of linking to the image. This is especially annoying for me because when I do convert to WordPress, I am going to have to update each post so that the images will actually work!
There are other reasons that I don't like Nucleus CMS. There are reasons why I like it. However, I seriously believe it is time for me to make the switch to WordPress CMS. If nothing else, just so I can get more visitors coming to this website! At least, I hope that will happen! So, here is how we do this!
- Backup your Nucleus CMS database! If something goes wrong, you might have problems accessing your site.
- Install fresh copy of WordPress 1.5. This is an older version of WordPress, however, the converter that we are going to use does not like the newer version of WordPress. Once we get the Nucleus CMS database imported into WordPress 1.5 we can upgrade to the latest version (currently 2.04).
- Download the converter that we are going to use and then upload into a directory on your web server. Nucleus ConverterYou can see the original documentation for the converter here.
- Make sure you have available the username and password of both your Nucleus & WordPress databases. Also, make sure that your Nucleus database doesn't have a prefix. If it does, you'll need to write down what the prefix of the database is.
- Navigate to the converter script that you uploaded to your site.
- Plug in the fields and click on convert.
Your posts should now be converted into WordPress, at least, this worked for me. Now, make sure you upgrade to the latest version of WordPress and then you can start cleaning up your WordPress blog. Unfortunately, you'll have to edit individual posts and re-link your images.
If you have uploaded images to your nucleus installation you can download them from the media directory, my images were under “nucleus/media/1”. I plan to upload the images to another directory and then re-link each one. If there is a simpler solution that I come up with, I will update this post.
I had multiple blogs on my Nucleus installation and what I am planning to do is to turn each of those blogs into its own category in the new WordPress installation. I need to move a couple of blogs into their own installation. I'm hoping I can either come up with a way to export individual blogs or once they are converted, export into a new install and delete the posts I don't want. If anyone has a simple way to do this, please, let me know!
Also, I should note that when I did this I also installed a fresh copy of Nuclues onto my local server, just in case something went horribly wrong.
Definition of a web designer
Once upon a time the web designer of your website was responsible for everything. They designed the layout, they coded the site, they updated content for you whenever you needed them to, they also made sure everything was in proper working order. Today however, the role of the web designer is changing, in my opinion. The main change that I see is that the web designer is no longer and should no longer be responsible for the content on the client’s website. I do however think that the web designer is responsible for making sure that the site looks good, is maintained, is in working condition and is backed up regularly and can provide assistance to the customer. How is this possible? How can a client with no knowledge of web design principles or coding languages know how to update the website? Its called a content management system (CMS).
So what exactly is a CMS?
I always tell people that a CMS is an online application that you can install onto your website that allows YOU to manage YOUR content and the designer can manage the look of the site and maintain the site. You login to the administration area and create your content and publish it. There is no knowledge of coding languages required. The only thing you need to know, is how to navigate the CMS.
Reasons to implement a CMS
- Once the website is set up, you can assign a single user, multiple users or groups of users to manage the content on the website. A lot of business will have a secretary update the content on the website using the CMS. The best part about this is is that you don't have to email your designer, wait on them to update the content, wait on them to reply saying its updated. You can go ahead and make the changes yourself.
- You can apply different permissions to each user. If you wanted to assign an author permission to a user but not allow them to publish the content, you could assign someone else the ability to publish articles.
- Since it is simple to create and publish content, you can publish content more quickly and more often. You could update your site whenever any new news about your company is available: press releases, news items, new employees, new products, product updates, etc. This will help keep your website from feeling stagnated. You can also create a blog which will allow your customers to leave you comments. This allows you to have interaction with your customers.
- Backing up the website is also much easier. You can quickly make a backup of the database and your website theme. In the event that something was to happen to your website or you needed to move it, it could quickly be fixed or moved.
- Since the underlying framework of a CMS is already there for you, it is much easier and quicker to create the look and feel of the website. You could create your own CMS, but, why re-invent the wheel?
- There are MANY CMS' out there and MANY of them are free. You can pick and choose which one you'd like to use based on the features it has, the database and scripting software that it runs on, user interface, etc. Most CMS websites will have a demonstration area for their CMS.
- I think most CMS' do a really good job of search engine optimization (SEO). I think they do a better job at SEO than just having HTML/XHTML & CSS pages.
Problems with a CMS (there aren't many, fortunately)
- Although a CMS is reasonably secure (usually), your IT department or your web design department will need to make sure that your website is secure. They will need to make sure certain files remain hidden from the public (for database security). They will need to make sure the database is backed up, regularly.
- If you're going to create a blog on your website and allow comments, you will need to make sure comments are moderated so that you don't have SPAM or rude comments on your blogs. This can sometimes get out of hand and almost become a full-time job. You'll either need to make sure there is a way to take care of SPAM or simply not allow comments.
- You are taking money away from your designer! Since I am a web designer myself, I thought I'd throw that one in there. 😉
Which CMS to use?
The two that I am going to recommend to you are free AND open source. They are my two favorite CMS', they have plugins/modules that you can extend your CMS with. They're very user friendly. They're not too difficult to install either. Best of all, if you can't hire a web designer, you can download ready made themes for your site. The bad part about that is that it won't be custom to your company. Both CMS' have plugins/modules for e-commerce. The two I recommend are:
WordPress is more centered around blogging, however, you can tweak the code to allow it to be much more like a standard website.
If you'd like to try out the CMS' above or other ones, you can check out OpenSourceCMS.com