Breaking News: OnSwipe switches to free model for iPad theme/plugin

Last year we were fascinated with OnSwipe’s WordPress theme/plugin called “PadPressed” that made our WordPress blog look like an iPad optimized magazine viewer. We had our share of issues and frustration with it, but we thought it had a promising future.

Today Automattic announced that OnSwipe’s plugin/theme was being made available for hosted sites and that OnSwipe was now giving away the plugin for free for self hosted .org sites.

It’s interesting that this being listed as a plugin rather than a theme in the repository.

Get it: OnSwipe WordPress iPad theme/plugin

WP Plugin of the Week: Import Blogroll With Categories

A few weeks ago we showed you how to export your blogroll to a file so you could import it into another WordPress site. One of the things that frustrated us was that when you ran the standard WordPress plugin to import the links (aka blogroll) into the new blog, all the categories defaulted to one category and it didn’t retain the original settings.

It was frustrating to say the least in our situation, considering that we had over 30 links that were spread out over 5 categories. We were not looking forward to re-assigning the categories. We knew there had to be an “app” errr plugin for that. Luckily we found a plugin called “Import Blogroll With Categories” (by The Doubtful Rebel) at the directory.

Blogroll import categories

There’s not much to it other than installing the plugin and clicking on the “import” link under “links.” You’ll see an interface like the one above and the best option’s already selected for you. We uploaded our file and it worked like a charm on WordPress 3.1.

Get it: Import Blogroll With Categories

Quick Tip: changing old permalinks to new format while keeping the old URLs working

Let’s look at two plugins to help when your WordPress site URLs “go bad.”

One of the things that people sometimes forget or neglect to change in a new WordPress settings is the permalink settings. Using the permalinks settings you can generate search engine friendly URLs.  The default WordPress setting is a little obscure with post and page ID tag numbers. Despite what the name says, permalinks aren’t so permanent if you decide to switch URL settings, you’ll get in trouble with missing page errors.

So if you’ve already published a lot of posts with the default settings, and have decided to switch to a more search engine friendly format, check out Dean’s Permalink Migration plugin to help the old URLs keep working while using a more SEO friendly URL structure.

Here’s also another plugin called Redirection that will “manage 301 redirections, keep track of 404 errors, and generally tidy up any loose ends your site may have.” Sounds good right? Well on one of our WordPress sites, it caused the home page to be “permanently” mapped to a page called “home” page even after we turned it off in Settings -> Reading. The solution? Either de-activate the plugin or read this workaround at WP Optimization so you can keep plugin active for other things.

Bonus: A way to avoid having broken links during any future permalink change is to install something like le petite URL, and always publish links using that plugin’s abbreviated (shortened) links, that way you links should work regardless of permalink settings.

Automattic releases JetPack plugins for self hosted WP sites

Automattic has just released a swiss army knife of plugins for WordPress self hosted sites called Jetpack. It includes traffic stats, a Twitter Widget, Gravatar Hovercards, URL shortener, social network sharing buttons, LaTeX for mathematicians/scientists, grammar/spell checker, and other shortcodes.

You’ll need to have or create a to activate it’s features. Here’s a screenshot once it’s installed, activated, and hooked up to Click for larger size screenshots.

We activated the share feature on our site…

…and it seems to have some hiccups with an older WordPress theme and possible conflicts with another plugin.

Below is the “After the Deadline” plugin settings for proof reading.

Stay tuned for a full review later today.

Get it: Jetpack

Take “posts” to the next level with four WordPress plugins

One of the most confusing things for new WordPress users is understanding the difference between posts and pages. We won’t attempt to re-hash this subject as there are plenty of good references but here’s our take to tee up the purpose of this article.

We like to think of “posts” as a chronological stream of content a.k.a. a blog. You could also think of posts as “chunks” of content and you could relate or “tie” them together when you use the taxonomy features of WordPress by selecting categories, tags, and now “post types” in WordPress v3.1 for posts that you create.

We would then define “pages” as a way to have a static web page of content, for example an “About” or “Contact” pages. Pages are usually not updated as often as a posts. Technically, behind the scenes in WordPress there’s very little difference between posts and pages.

Finding flexible ways to show posts
So what if you want to have a “page” on the navigation bar to pull in blog posts within a certain category or tag? You could build a new page template by editing and creating some PHP but that’s a headache when you could use WordPress plugins to the same thing, right?

We found three indispensable plugins that will make your life easier if you want to create “pages” by pulling in and controlling content from your posts.

A real life scenario
Here’s an example, say you wanted to create a WordPress site with job listings. You could enter in the various open job positions into the posts editor and add tags and/or categorize them. Then you could setup pages on the navigation bar with labels like “mobile” or “PHP”. Then you could use a plugin that would pull in only job posts matching that taxonomy.

Both of these plugins, once you activate them, all you have to do is create your new page and then paste in the shortcode with some parameters like the ID number of the category or tags. We haven’t tried using them both at the same time but they definitely work on their own on some of our real life sites.

So the first plugin is called Posts by Tags for use when you want to create a page filled with posts from tags. All you do simply is paste in shortcode like this into your page editor:

[posts-by-tag tags = "tag1, tag2"][/posts-by-tag]

Simply replace 1 (and 2) with your tag ID number(s) to have that page show only posts matching those tags. We’ve noticed on certain templates you don’t have to put in the ending tag because it will show up on the published site.

On a side note, so how do you know what your tag ID numbers are? When you’re editing the tags in WordPress admin, look for the ID number in the URL string at the top of the page like in the screenshot:


And yes, there is also an plugin to show your ID numbers (newer more recently) updated plugin to show that info in the WP admin pages showing all your pages, posts, tags, categories, etc.

Publishing posts by Categories
So what if you want to show posts based on categories instead of tags? Give List Category Posts a try. This one was recently updated so it works with WordPress 3.1. It works in a similar way to the tag plugin but lets you use category names as well as ID numbers. In fact List Category will also support tags so if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, give this one a try first.

The other way to publish “pages” of posts
Yes, there is another way to reproduce this type of site structure by simply using WordPress 3x’s navigation bar menu builder to create URL based queries for the tags or categories (example: /category/name-of-cateogry/). However using this method, you wouldn’t have the ability to add (type out) content around the posts either at the top or the bottom of the page.

Hide posts without a need for password
And the final plugin that you’ll want to try out is WP Hide Posts. This one might be helpful even if you don’t need to pull in posts into pages. With WP Hide Posts, you can hide certain posts from appearing on the home page or other post pages.

It’s useful if you want to write a “test” post that you didn’t want the general public to see yet on the home page. For example you had an announcement that you were working on with a copy writer but didn’t want to give them access to WordPress admin but wanted them to look at it first without the public seeing it.

Wp hide posts

Think of it as a way to have a “quasi-hidden” posts category that doesn’t require a password for anyone to see that posts. You can email people the URL of that post without a password required. We’ve used WP Hide Posts on our P2 reloaded site to hide posts related to revision history that don’t need to appear on the home page.

Note that users may still be able to find your post if they are using a tag/category cloud widget, so that’s what we mean by “quasi-hidden” so if it’s something top secret, password protect it.

So we’ve talked a bit about four very powerful posts tools for WordPress that will let you expand the way you think posts normally work in WordPress. You can use these tools to write, organize, and publish information in WordPress that you normally wouldn’t think of.

Get it: Posts by Tags | Show IDs | List Category Posts | WP Hide Posts

Quick Tip: Show all your (blogroll) links on any page or post

The Links library (sometimes called the blogroll) is an often overlooked feature of WordPress but it can become a powerful ally if you have want to setup a resources “library” of outgoing links to other websites. Of course there’s the blogroll widget that will let you display these links on the sidebar. But how do you get these links into a page or post?

Here’s a super no brainer way to get all your links (a.k.a. Blogroll) created in WP admin to show up on any page or post by pasting in a simple shortcode into the editor. It’s aptly called Links Page and it works well so far. We’re using it for our new WordPress/LAMP jobs site…

Update: we also found another plugin called WP Render Blogroll Links. This one gives a little bit more flexibility that it allows you to specify which categories or turn off category headings.

Both of these plugins seem to work fine with WordPress 3.1.

Quick roundup of 3 lightbox plugins

Here’s a feature that content creators usually seek out upon starting out with WordPress: Lightbox plugins. What’s a “lightbox?” Click on any of the screenshots below to see an example.

Unfortunately for now, WordPress doesn’t have this as a standard feature, so new users have to search for a suitable plugin for their WordPress installation.

Let’s take a look at three photo lightbox plugins that maybe suitable for your particular need.

Let’s first take a look at Simple Lightbox. In our experience, it works well on WP sites that don’t have a lot of other plugins installed. Once the plugin is activated, you won’t have much else to do as it will automatically insert itself into pictures when you use the media button in the post / page editor as long as you follow our notes near the bottom of the review. Click the thumbnail of the simple lightbox settings below to see it in action.

We found the second plugin, Photo Lightbox, also works well on WordPress sites that have a minimal set of plugins that are activated. Like Simple Lightbox, it will automatically link up your photos as long as you use the insert media command. The only thing is that it adds a somewhat gaudy slideshow media player buttons at the top of the page.

Note: When using both plugins above, we noticed that new installations of WordPress may specify the link URL as an “attachment,” so make sure you click on “File URL” (see below) as the the target otherwise the plugin won’t work.

Wp upload media

The third plugin is not a traditional plugin but part of library of shortcodes sold at Evnato’s Code Canyon called Styles with Shortcodes. The library offers an extensive set of useful WordPress functions including social network icons, block quotes, Google maps, tables, and more. This particular solution is not as user friendly as the other two plugins reviewed here but we were able to get it to work in our environment with ten active plugins.

The steps to use this plugin require more manual work as it doesn’t automatically link up pictures using the usual WordPress workflow. First, you upload the picture using the standard WordPress media dialog box. Copy the uploaded image path into your clipboard. Then click on the “S” button that appears on the toolbar. Then you have to copy/paste the URLs and enter in various settings into the dialog box shown here:

[sws_overlay src=”” title=”” subtitle=”” description=”Shortcodes Overlay lightbox” thumb_width=”404″ thumb_height=”273″ icon=”red” Align=””] [/sws_overlay]

We wish there was a fourth contender, as we used to use Flexible Lightbox but the developer stopped updating it about a year ago and we haven’t had any luck with it since WordPress 3.0.1.

Let us know what your favorite lightbox plugin is and why you like it.

WordPress 3.1 feature: Internal Linking

Here’s a quick look at what should become of one of the more popular features of the new WordPress 3.1 release, internal linking.

Wp3 1 internal links
To link something to another page or post, in the editor, simply highlight some text or picture, click on the link icon in the toolbar, the new lightbox dialog box will come up, then click on the arrow for “Or link to existing content” to reveal the keyword field, and finally type some keywords. Results for both pages and posts show up dynamically as you type them.

The keyword don’t have to be in the title of the post or page, I am guessing it probably uses the same site search database. Once you see the post or page you want, then just click on the item you want to link to and click on “Add Link.” Done!

Update: a friend of ours pointed out the internal linker only shows currently published posts and will not show posts dated to publish on a future date. A manual workaround is to copy/paste in the permalink URL of the future post into the field at the top of the dialog box.

Two finds of the day: Another WP theme finder and best WP shortcodes

Here’s another WordPress theme finder, that’s not as visual as WP Candy’s but nevertheless may be useful for some. It’s called QualiThemes. We like it as it includes both free and commercial themes and you can rate them. Our nitpicks: the original theme developer doesn’t get listed on the page and the drop down menus to filter the themes could use some visual work and spacing.


We also noticed there’s a huge list of awesome WPshortcodes at WordPress Answers by Stack Exchange including: delay RSS posts, add excerpts to pages, customize the order of the admin menu navigation, and profile the database performance.

Get it: QualiThemes | WordPress Answers


Four options for copy editing & proof reading

I’ve been writing for almost 20+ years now and I still have some embarrassing typos or grammatical errors pop up here and there. It’s not a big deal when it’s in your personal email but yikes (!) do you want that happening on your blog when the general public is reading it?

What to? You first step is an almost no brainer, install “After the Deadline” plugin for WordPress, it expands on WP’s built-in spell checker with a grammar checker. It works right inside of your WordPress post/page editor in the toolbar. It’s probably not going to fix and solve everything for you but it will catch things you miss.

The next step is to subscribe to a paid service called “Wordy.” It’s basically a service where you out source your editing to a virtual editing team. Their “Wordy” plugin lets you submit posts and pages to them for review. They claim very fast turnaround time. The workflow is integrated into WordPress so you shouldn’t have to leave your WordPress interface. Their WordPress plugin differs slightly from their pre-paid plans as you get an instant quote as to how much it would cost you to copy-edit this. For example, this post would cost us approximately $10.

If you want more of an all you can eat model, check out Grammarly. For $20/month you can copy/paste as much into their web app window. Unfortunately there is no WordPress integration but it maybe the best bang for the buck for now.

And if you’re on tight budget, PaperRater is similar to Grammarly but free, works quickly and efficiently. Just like Grammarly, you’ll have to copy and paste into a web browser but heck it’s free.

Get it: After the DeadlineWordyGrammarlyPaperRate