Introducing WordPress 3, Featuring Custom Post Types, A Native Menu Editor, and More

The following first appeared on my employer’s site, cmurrayconsulting.com.

Today’s release of WordPress 3.0 brings some exciting enhancements and new features that strengthen the software’s position in the realm of content management systems. For developers such as us, two sets of features in particular should prove invaluable in implementing WordPress-based solutions for our clients.

First, version 3 expands WordPress beyond the traditional blogging constructs of posts and pages by allowing users to specify custom post types. These custom types can function either like posts, organized linearly, or like pages, having a hierarchical structure. This feature builds on the custom taxonomies introduced in WordPress 2.9, which let users expand the organizational options for content beyond just categories and tags. Now, combining custom post types with custom taxonomies, users have complete control over how content is organized and displayed.

Custom post types don’t just let users segregate press releases from product pages, for example, but also simplify the addition of fields specific to each post type. A product post type could include pricing and availability, whereas a press release could hold media contact information. Following this example, separate taxonomies can be assigned to each, reaffirming a clear organization of content.

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No CAPTCHAs for Intense Debate

Since switching this site to the Intense Debate (ID) commenting system, one function I missed was the ability to integrate reCAPTCHA1 into my comment forms. While I understand some are not fans of the system that adds nearly inscrutable text to a form that then must be typed in to the accompanying box to continue, the mechanism does significantly reduce the volume of comment spam.

reCAPTCHA
reCAPTCHA challenge - the obscured text must be entered into the box below it before a form is submitted

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  1. reCAPTCHA is one form of a challenge system, known as CAPTCHA or Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart, developed at Carnegie Mellon University. More information is available on Wikipedia.

Plugins Move to ethitter.com/plugins

To better showcase my web development work, I’ve relocated the pages related to my WordPress plugins to http://www.ethitter.com/plugins/. Any future announcements concerning plugin updates and new offerings will be hosted at ethitter.com.

As part of the move, my plugin development feed is now http://feeds.ldmh.us/ETHPluginDev. FeedBurner does not automatically redirect renamed feeds, so please update your reader accordingly. Anyone subscribed by email, however, should continue to receive updates.

WordCamp Boston 2010

For the past few months, I’ve helped organize the inaugural WordCamp Boston, happening this weekend in Cambridge. For the uninitiated, WordCamps are community-organized events for users of the WordPress platform of all experience levels (WordPress just so happens to power this site).

Having never organized a conference before, the experience has been enlightening, to say the least. Luckily for our attendees, my fellow organizers have much more experience with these types of things, ensuring this weekend’s event will be one of the coolest, most unique WordCamps thus far.

If you can’t make it or couldn’t get a ticket, be sure to keep an eye on wordcampboston.com throughout the day Saturday for a glimpse into what the camp holds. In the weeks following the event, videos of the sessions will be available online, likely at WordPress.tv.

Trackback Mystery Solved, At Last

I’ve written recently and with much frustration of the disappearance of trackbacks from my site.

At first, I erroneously attributed this problem to my theme’s omission of the trackback RDF and URL codes. After adding both codes to the Journalist theme, it seemed that trackbacks had returned, but I soon realized that the links were only intermittently appearing.

Then, in the process of upgrading my site to the latest version of WordPress, I identified the true reason for my missing trackbacks. As part of the upgrade, I eliminated a few redundant plugins, including WP Captcha-Free. This plugin, which claims that it won’t block pingbacks or trackbacks, did just that.

I can confidently attribute the cause of this mystery to WP Captcha-Free because trackbacks from uberVU and Topsy once again appear in the IntenseDebate moderation queue.

After a month of confusion and consternation, I can happily report that I’ve resolved the mystery of the missing trackbacks.

Trackbacks Mystery Continues

On Friday, I wrote about the mysterious disappearance of trackbacks from my site. At the time, I believed I’d solved the problem by adding the trackback RDF and URL codes to my theme, as neither is included in the original design.

Now, I’m noticing that trackbacks still aren’t appearing. So, the mystery continues.

Has anyone else encountered this problem with the Journalist theme, or any other theme for that matter? If so, were you able to resolve this issue, and how did you resurrect your trackbacks?

Mystery of the Missing Trackbacks

A few weeks ago, I switched my site’s design from the Carrington framework to Lucian Marin’s Journalist theme. While I liked the visual design of the Carrington framework, it includes many features I never used. These options, in part due to problems with my host, were slowing my site down considerably. In an attempt to reduce the errors my blog generated, I switched to the Journalist theme for its lightweight coding and clean, yet appealing, design.

Shortly after making the switch, I began to notice that trackbacks weren’t appearing on my posts. At first, I assumed that the ongoing problems with my host were to blame, but since these issues have been largely resolved, I began to wonder if something else was amiss. As I discovered yesterday, the Journalist theme does not include either the trackback RDF code or trackback URLs. With the addition of one line of code, however, trackbacks are once again appearing on my posts.

If you’ve noticed the same problem with your WordPress theme, adding <!-- <?php trackback_rdf(); ?> --> to your theme’s index.php, page.php, and single.php files (just before the <?php endforeach; else: ?> line) will solve the problem. I recommend adding a trackback link, using the <a rel="trackback" href="<?php trackback_url(); ?>"><?php trackback_url(); ?></a> code as well, to ensure compatibility with the widest variety of sites.

Response from DreamHost Regarding Its Ongoing Nightmare

My web host, DreamHost, recently moved its operations to a new datacenter, resulting in major outages and headaches for myself and its many other customers (see “Regarding My Site’s Downtime” and “Ongoing Server Problems Test My Patience, Hamper Productivity“). So overwhelmed with complaints was its support staff that the company resorted to canned responses to customers’ inquiries.

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Tag Dropdown Widget Now Supports Trimming In More Instances

Yesterday, I released version 1.0 of the Tag Dropdown Widget plugin for WordPress. The plugin allows WordPress users to display their tags as a dropdown menu rather than in the standard tag cloud.

In addition to letting the user specify the dropdown’s label, the plugin allows a user to trim long tag names to fit theme constraints. Today, I updated the plugin to extend the trimming feature beyond the widget. Now, when the plugin is implemented using the makeTagDropdown() function, the maximum tag length can be specified. This change, while minor, offers greater flexibility when including the tag dropdown outside of the sidebar or in themes that either do not utilize a sidebar or widgets.

The new version, numbered 1.1, is available on the Tag Dropdown Widget page or in the WordPress plugins directory at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/tag-dropdown-widget/.