These posts document experiments in hacking and tweaking Wordpress; I hardly call myself expert, but I do like to tinker under the hood. If there is something I can do for you, bark my way or visit me at http://cogdog.it

ds106 Class Notes and Stuff, Wordpress

Menu-izing ds106 Assignments Site

Ir’s been fun to do some redesign and alignment of the ds106 web sites. I’ve long had an interest in trying to make the ds106 Assignments site into more of a template that could be used to create similar sites, and that just got a little bit closer to possibility.

The entire 106 fleet is a WordPress multisite, the main site and the Daily Create site both use the Parallelus Salutation theme, so they were easier to coordinate; the one change was using incorporating the stressed 106 logo as part of the TDC. They both use menus at the top, and I’ve set up the rightmost ones to be “ds106” navigation ones.

ds106 new 250
tdc new 250

The ds106 Assignments site was a different beast. It is built on a 960c theme, one of the generic 960 grid system themes. I gave brief thought to trying to render it in Salutation, but it’s a hugely customized theme, and I was not even sure how to do taxonomy archives in Salutation. As is the design is a close-enough match.

The front page used a lot of graphics, and they were all hard code into place (to add a new assignment group meant a new graphics and the template edited):


The “Mission ds106” title was another graphic with its tagline “An anthology of new media projects” that really was not too explanatory. Not only that, I was unable to find the original graphics or even fonts used to modify those graphics.

Likewise, the interior page template used some hard coded icons, which looked nice, for the top navigation. Not easy to update or make more generalized:

assigne icon header

My plan was then to implement the built in WordPress menus for the top navigation, so it would be common on all pages (and be flexible to edit) and maybe to make those front page main icons also be menu driven.


Building the ETMOOC Blog Hub (part 2)

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by epc

In my last post, I quickly overviewed the wordpress customizations I did to set up the ETMOOC Blog Hub. Using the Feedwordpress plugin for a few feeds is easy to do, and it does a rather slick job of finding feeds from a blog URL.

The messy part is dealing with a lot of blog feeds. Getting this part right is more than just tossing URLs into a magic box, you have to have a good grasp of how RSS feeds work in different blogs.

It’s messy.

Because of those pesky humans.

Over at ds106 we have a rather elegant blog registration system that Martha Burtis designed, that actually does a web registration and automatically enters someone’s new blog into Feedwordpress.

The thing is there is a bit of variability to deal with when allowing people to bring in any blog platform (that is what we want), because it can eb confusing to the individual, especially if they are new to blogging, what we ask of them.

The thing is, it’s most easy if someone says, “I am going to do this ETMOOC thing, so I am going to make a new blog just for that stuff” – all we need is the blog URL and Feedwordpress can figure out the right TSS feed to use.

It gets more complicated when someone has an existing blog they want to use to do ETMOOC writing. There is nothing wrong with this approach (especially since it is mine!) but we don’t want to subscribe to everything the blog publishes- we just want posts that are related to ETMOOC. So the person with the blog has to decide (and understand how) to use tags/categories in their posts to mark things they want to syndicate.

This is quite a powerful concept that is easy to overlook – it means I can do things like use a single blog to selectively push content to different places through an understanding of the flow.

This is compounded by the different ways blog platforms are st up for this kind of syndication.