Social Bookmarking in WordPress

At the time of writing this post you’ll probably notice (and it has been there a while) a “ShareThis” option at the bottom of each post and page. This allows readers to share the details on one of many Social Bookmarking sites using the popular ShareThis service i.

Unfortunately, using a third party such as this does present problems. First of all it’s not the smallest ii and it does rely heavily on JavaScript, which causes problems if you want to add a share facility in a news feed. They also spend a lot of the time trying to further push their service, adding on facilities you may now want and constantly trying to get the user to sign up. Not only that, but to be all things to all sites, it present a very long list of  bookmark possibilities. If anything, this is more than likely going to confuse the amateur user.

And, back to the technical downsides, you’re often reliant on third party apps to provide the bookmarking system on your site, which limits what you can do. Well, it’s either that or learn their API.

The BBC uses it’s own method and that’s to simply present a few of the most popular – it doesn’t use JavaScript, just simple images and links to the resultant bookmarking sites. And, because it doesn’t use JavaScript, you can stick the same details on the bottom of your news feeds. So, you lose access to some of the less popular bookmarking services – is that a great problem? They often come with their own bookmarklets and plugins anyway.

So, over the coming weeks you will find the ShareThis plugin being replaced with seperate bookmarking options. Yes, I will be writing this as a plugin which I will then publish – it will integrate Simple Twitter Link and Simple Facebook Link as well. But I digest

Here, simply because I had to compile them anyway, are the URLs required for some of the more popular social bookmarking services…

Delicious –[url]&title=[title]
Digg –[url]&title=[title]
Diigo –[url]&title=[title]
Facebook –[url]&t=[title]
Fark –[url]&h=[title]
reddit –[url]&title=[title]
StumbleUpon –[url]&title=[title]

In all cases, replace [url] with the URL and [title] with, erm, the title.

  1. and, as always, other such services exist elsewhere![]
  2. as in terms of code size and, therefore, the speed of your site[]

Writing WordPress plugins – what I’ve learnt

On January 28th of this year I made available my first WordPress plugin – Simple AdSense Insert. I now have 6 in my portfolio, with another 2 about to be published. And in this short amount of time I’ve already learnt a few things.

  1. Users don’t talk to you much, unless something isn’t working. Not that it’s a bad thing – I’ve been able to tweak instructions and even create new versions of my plugins thanks to this kind of response. However, I’d love to hear about what people would like to see in the way of improvements or even new plugins!
  2. Users don’t donate 😉 So I’ll just have to keep trying to make my money from advertising!
  3. Niche products aren’t so popular. I’ve created plugins for Wakoopa, TheThingsIWant and Readbag, but all have failed to do well. However, those for Twitter, Adsense and PayPal are doing a lot, lot better.

To demonstrate my last point, here is a graphical representation of how many people have downloaded my current plugins…


Pretty conclusive. Having said that, some of those result are scewed because of the length of time the plugins have been made available. So let’s change the results to represent the number of downloads over the days the plugin has been available…

Graph 2

Wow, that makes a huge different to my code embed plugin – the only one of the popular ones that isn’t somehow linked to another product.

In this case it’s popular, well, because it’s not linked to another service and it’s filling a role that doesn’t currently exist. When I wanted to put some code into my posts I couldn’t find a plugin to do it. There was one but the author kept the download to his site i and insisted on your email address (for sending you emails at a later time all about his other great stuff) before letting you know how to download it.

And this is it – populariting comes through one of two things.

  1. A link to a service – money making or social networking – that’s rather popular
  2. Being unique and providing a service that people are looking for

Now all I need to do is think of that one plugin that ticks both boxes. Of course, if you have an idea, I’m happy to hear your views!

  1. if it’s not on the WordPress plugins site it won’t automatically inform you when a new version is available[]

Improving WordPress Search : Update

A couple of months ago, I talked about improving the search facility built into WordPress. However, soon after, I also mentioned problems I was having with the plugin Search Unleashed.

Sadly the plugin is no better and I’ve had it disabled all this time.

The friend that I originally researched this all for reported, however, that Search Unleashed was not reporting by relevance after all. Since then I’ve seen details on Better Search, an alternative plugin that (supposedly) does provide relevance-based results. I’d try it out and report back back but after my initial activation, I deactivated it again. Rather than build upon your existing search template, it uses its own. So, by default, the search page doesn’t even look like your theme – you have to start the layout, etc, from scratch. That’s not something I’d like to do unless I really wanted to use the plugin. And I’m not that fussed.

But if anybody else does give it a go, please let me know!


Getting Help for my WordPress Plugins

Since I’ve started writing WordPress plugins, I’ve had a few questions about them.

These I don’t mind at all and I’m very happy to answer them. However, I’m often limited as to how much help I can give by what details I’m actually sent.

So, to help out, I’ve immediately implemented an attachment feature on the contact page so that you can send me examples of you code – this attachment feature only allows limited size files and only certain extensions. For code, none of these should cause an issue.

Let’s assume you’ve tried one of my plugins and it’s not working properly. In that case I’d need the following…

  1. What’s actually happening when you try it? Is any output appearing? Are there any error messages?
  2. Please send me a copy of the file in which you’ve added my code. In most cases this will be sidebar.php.
  3. Lastly, let me know the URL of the page where it’s going wrong, assuming you’ve not turned off the plugin or removed the offending code.

Send me this and there’s a good chance the return email from myself will have the answer in it!


WordPress goes widescreen

Well, my blog has. Yes, I’ve added an extra column to it.

I thought the information down the left hand side was getting a little long. The further down the screen it goes, the less chance of it being read. So I’ve split it into 2 and divided it onto both sides of the page. The left hand side is for information about me. The right hand side is for information about the blog.

And it’s still XHTML compliant.

But in doing so I found a problem with my Simple Wakoopa List plugin – when displaying “newly used” software the links don’t work properly. After having a bit of a fumble about, it would appear the problem is the feed from Wakoopa rather than my plugin – it doesn’t appear the supply them in certain circumstances. A quick fix would be to not display a link if one is not forthcoming from the XML feed. However, just after I wrote the plugin, Wakoopa launched a new API – my plan, therefore, is to move to this. The one downside, though, is that I can’t find an equivalent of “newly used” with the new system. So I’ve contacted Wakoopa. As soon as I get a response I’ll code a fix.