WordPress 3.2 and New Default Theme Twenty Eleven

WordPress 3.2 is out, along with a new default theme “Twenty Eleven”.  You can check out the theme on this very site.  Still working out a few bugs in getting my images into the header.  As for the WordPress update the most obvious change is the new admin interface.  Very slick!  Thanks to the WordPress team for another great update.

WordPress App for Mobile Devices

So I’m actually in the bathroom right now.  Too much information? Sorry, but I wanted to make it clear that you can now update your WordPress powered site from anywhere. Even from places that you probably shouldn’t.

Checkout the official post, WordPress On The Go, or the individual development sites:

Well all done here – more posts from the can in the future.

WordCamp Toronto 2010 Review

Just got done with WordCamp Toronto 2010.  What a great event, congrats to Mathieu and Melissa for a job well done.  It was great to meet a wide range of people, that are either just starting with blogging or WordPress, all the way up to theme/plugin developers.

My top ten list of things I like about the weekend:

  1. The networking was great.  There was lots of time for chatting with other attendees and directly with speakers.
  2. The Brad Gosse SEO talk was filled with great tips on a topic that many, including myself struggle with.
  3. I am actually thinking of getting a Twitter account, which was something I said would never happen.  Thanks to Jeremy Wright for kick starting that process.
  4. The Trailmeme plugin demo was great, more about this in another post, but I do think this is something that could impact the way we interact with the web.
  5. I am pumped about WordPress 3.0, which should be out in May.  Charles thanks for the demo of the new menu system on your site, and for coming all the way out from New Brunswick.
  6. I am starting to rethink my approach to the Capital Dining project, that we have been working on for a long time.  It currently uses a custom build plugin to manage reviews of restaurants, developed mostly by Steve Morton.  At the time that site was launched on  WordPress 2.4, it seemed like the only way forward. Thanks to the several speakers that talked about WordPress as a CMS for the tips.
  7. It was amazing to see how people have pushed WordPress into domains that were once held by custom CMS systems.  Some of the stories, that talked about the insane amount of money given to developers to come up with something that WordPress does for free, were inspiring.  I plan to take up this challenge in Ottawa by getting more people hooked on WordPress.
  8. Facilities were great.
  9. Well organized and well attended.
  10. It left me wanting more.

I hope to be back at WordCamp Toronto 2011 and maybe to Montreal this summer for their WordCamp.

WordPress Plugins

WordPress on its own is a great framework for a website. For the average user it comes complete with everything you would need for a personal blog. But what makes this platform my choice for now 8 websites is the dedicated users of WordPress that have created an outstanding library of plugins to enhance the features of your site. I wanted to give you a few ideas of plugins that are being used on this site and others that I am running.

NextGEN Gallery
Well might as well start with the best plugin I have found yet for WordPress. NextGEN gallery is the brain child of Alex. He has continued to upgrade the plugin on a regular basis and each time I am amazed by the new functionality being added.

So what makes it great. The most important to me is the interface to add photos to a gallery. With the latest version this is done via flash, so multiple files can be quickly uploaded at the same time. This allows the user to follow a very simple and streamlined process for creating new galleries.

The other great thing about this plugin is the control over each gallery and the whole plugin. Photos can be hand sorted into the order you like. Every detail about a photo can be adjusted from the menus. The user can control the end style to create a look that blends the gallery into their site. Being able to control which type of users can access the gallery admin has been great for several sites I have setup for organizations (some other plugins require everyone to be an admin to use the gallery tool).

Akismet Spam Filter
Yes not only is it bad enough that you get spam in your email but you also can get spam in your blog comments. Akismet is the solution to that. All you need is a WordPress.com API key. I consider this a plugin a must have for all the sites I run. I can’t imagine the drudgery of having to go through all the junk comments on my own.

WordPress.com Stats (Now part of Jetpack)
This plugin gives you a simple view of how the site is doing in attracting attention. It is easy to setup and you will need the same API key as above. Most themes have the necessary code to hit the counters – if your theme is missing it then a simple online change will take care of it.

The plugin is not without its flaws. For example the graphs need a y-axis title for what units are being use – I have this annoying voice in my head from some grade school math teacher nagging us to label our graphs properly. It would also be nice to show an average on each graph, this would allow me to quickly tell website owners how the site is doing that week. Most importantly it would be nice to give other contributors to a site the ability to see the stats within the dashboard.

Overall an easy to use plugin that will provide you with the basic information about your site hits.

Dagon Design Form Mailer
I am using this plugin on the SLSC site to create a simple registration form. There seems to be lots of form plugins but most are geared to being only a contact form. This plugin allows you to create any type of simple form you would need. It also has built in spam blocking via a random verification phrase.

Event Calendar
A perfect tool for a site that needs to show upcoming events. It has widget support for both a visual calendar and a list of upcoming events. The tool is perfectly integrated into the WordPress new post panel using the special category Event.

Role Manager
Role Manager does exactly what the name suggests. It allows you to control what each type of user can do on the site. This is great for controlling access for site with multiple contributors – some who are not tech savy and need only minimal access to the admin panels.