Look out 2018, SPLOTs are gonna be in ya.

I’ve had a great twitter conversation with Daniel Villar at Coventry University’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab where he has been working on their Domain of One’s Own efforts as coventry.domains.

It appears he has a fondness for SPLOTs too. He put the Image Collector one to great use on a site for A202DMLL Module (Develop your Online Presence & Own your Web Domain) where students posted images of their Visitor Residents Maps and Internet Mapping Project efforts. We’ve talked some too about using some WordPress plugins to create importable “Instant SPLOTs” that have a fully built out SPLOT as a starter site. (still testing these out, your mileage will vary).

And then he shared this use of the Image Collector I would have never imagined, but makes great sense…

It’s a participant directory, where each student posts their image of choice, some info about themselves as a caption, and free tags that create ways to see common interests.

His request was for any way to allow hyperlinks in the captions- as is now, all HTML is stripped from the submission form because they were really meant to be simple captions.

I could not help myself by tinkering yesterday. The first approach, which mostly worked, was making use of a function I already use in another form field that automatically turns URLs into hyperlinks:

I was able to write a theme function to filter the content (for single posts) and run the function over it, so any URL in the content, gets linked.

It worked.

And it did not.

The problem is, if you want too, you can put a URL like for a YouTube video or a tweet, on a blank line, and you get an autoembed. Not many people use it, but it’s a worth feature. The problem with my approach was it messed with URLS that are inside the embed code that WordPress generates.

A few efforts to fiddle with the regular expression failed.

So I had to back up and try it from a different angle. I thought about allowing a href tags in the caption input, but people loathe HTML too.

My solution (for now) came to me while walking the dog last night, create a shortcode people can use in the caption (which do pass through the editor) that can render a hypertext link. So it’s there now, instructions appear in the submission form of the newest version of the theme.

You can try it on the SPLOT demo site now.

It still requires some syntax to add it:

When published it makes it a hyperlink. If you omit the text= then the url becomes the link text.

For those that love code, this is the function that does the work:

Some would scream THIS SHOULD BE MARKDOWN! (very few humans enjoy or try markdown).

I’m hoping it’s workable. SPLOT is always alpha, not even beta.

As I was thinking about this, I thought for Daniel’s case, the default ordering of “items ” (essentially posts) with the newest first was maybe not the best for a directory. It seems kind of.. random.

He did not request this feature, but I tossed it in anyhow, a new set of theme options to allow ordering by Date published (default) or Title and to sort it either Descending (default for date published, newest first) or Ascending (if you use title and want them ordered alphabetically.

New SPLOT Collector display sort options

This should work on the front page, tag and category archives, and search results:

It’s been lightly tested but seems to work.

And Daniel came back today with another idea.. he likely will get his request.

Requests are coming in from elsewhere too…

I’m not sure of these as potential yet. The SPLOT ideas usually emerge from some thing a person is wanting to do, less than from existing tools (though the first SPLOT really came from an existing jQuery library).

Some possibilities are brewing in 2018 that might afford me to develop some more SPLOTs. It’s been a while since a new one appeared. Two that have been rummaging around:

  • A Blackout Poetry one, inpsired as often does but work Tom Woodward has done.
  • A means to build collections of web sites, annotated, that can be developed for/shared with others (someone seeks an alternative to Bag The Web). There’s bunches of curation tools out there, they come and go, are loaded with ads. And this seems worthy considering the recent sudden announcement of Storify’s being put 6 feet under.
  • The Brancher was an idea from the original SPLOT days that never happened. As was another idea for a place of shared deas or notes, a Notery

I’m open to adding features that are general enough to be used by others, rather than a project specific one. And always, my approach is on adding new features is never do something that will break an existing site, so the default for a new setting is always that it is not used.

Got SPLOT requests? Dial them in!

Featured Image: Added a few SPLOT images to Banana Joe and John Lennon at WFIL radio, Philadelphia , 1975 a Wikimedia Commons photo by Bananajoe56 shared under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA license

You never know what the image search will show up, I tried a few variations of “radio request line” and “radio show call in” and loved the vintage feel of this photo. The caption reads, “Banana Joe Montione on air at WFIL “Helping Hand Marathon”, May, 1975. It was one of Lennon’s last public appearances.” Eerie. And Banana Joe? aka Joe Montione “started in radio when he was 13, when he set up his own radio station in his Pittston PA basement.” That’s very SPLOT-like!

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. I need to get in gear and make the blackout poetry plugin. I also have a kind of interesting idea-iteration/fork theme that might have some appeal. Just have to move to full splot rather than my gravity forms crutch for both of these.

    Jeff will have a slick map-based setup ready soon for splotification.

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