WordPress 2.5, my plugins, and a new look

I spent this past week playing around with WordPress 2.5. A great release that loads faster, a new admin side that I love and some new themes to play with.

So let me know what you think…I’m still testing it on all browsers and there an issue at the very bottom with the about part sliding down the page. But then again…this site is always a work in progress.

The theme is called Padangan 1.3 by Nurudin Jauhari. I fell in love with it and the php and css is very easy to hack up with clear image files as well. I love good themes that make it easy for you to turn them into your own design.

It’s funny to think that 2 years ago I didn’t know what php or a css was. Today I hack up themes for fun, run WordPress MU sites for my school, and understand more coding then I ever thought I would…all because of this blog.

Of course what makes WordPress amazing is all the plugins that allow you to completely make a site yours. I’ve added some real funtionality, I think anyway, to the blog this time and have also upgraded some of the ways in which I organize my posts. So if you are into WordPress and are looking to upgrade to 2.5 here are the plugins that I’m running and other geeky things I’m doing on this site.

Plugins

Add to Any- Bookmark Button: Lets readers share, save and bookmark your posts using any service and browser.

Easy plugin puts itself in the right spot on your blog post. With so many educators using Diigo I’m trying to find a way to move it up the list when you roll your mouse over the button.

Akismet: Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not.

A must have…but if you use WordPress you know that already. :)

Brian’s Threaded Commnets: This gives you threaded comments and a “wandering” comment form.

I’m probably excited most by this plugin that allows commenters to reply to a specific comment. This replaces the comment.php in your theme, but what I did is find the things I liked about the comments in this theme and then copy and pasted that code into the Brain’s Threaded Comments comments.php file and played with it until I liked what I saw. A lot of guess work involved but well worth the time…I hope


Creative Commons Configurator:
Adds a Creative Commons license to your blog pages and feeds. Also, provides some Template Tags for use in your theme templates. Please visit the plugin’s


A simple plugin that just works. I like plugins like this. Install, activate, walk through the menus and done!

Google Analytics for WordPress: This plugin makes it simple to add Google Analytics with extra search engines and automatic clickout and download tracking to your WordPress blog

Google Analytics is fun to play with….and this plugin allows you to look at traffic coming to and leaving your blog. If you are interested in this kind of stuff Google Analytics is a great place to start…and of course free.

Google XML Sitemaps: This plugin will generate a sitemaps.org compatible sitemap of your WordPress blog which is supported by Ask.com, Google, MSN Search and YAHOO.

Simple and easy. You can check out the site map at the bottom of my page in the footer.

Maintenance Mode: Adds a splash page to your blog that lets visitors know your blog is down for maintenance. Logged in administrators get full access to the blog including the front-end.

If you are constantly playing like I am, this is a great plugin that tells people you are working on the blog.

My Page Order: My Page Order allows you to set the order of pages through a drag and drop interface. The default method of setting the order page by page is extremely clumsy, especially with a large number of pages.

Let’s you order your pages the way you want. A great plugin!

Page Links To: Allows you to set a “links_to” meta key with a URI value that will be be used when listing WP pages. Good for setting up navigational links to non-WP sections of your blog.

Love this one….allows you to link pages to other sites. So when you click on My Bio above it takes you to an external site.

pMetrics: pMetrics base plugin

I love pMetrics a service I pay for (the only service I pay for) to track traffic on my sites. Love that it has RSS feeds so I can see who and where people are viewing my site from in an RSS reader. Between pMetrics and Google Analytics you can get a well rounded view of your blog or website traffic.

Riffly Video/Audio Comments: Mixed video and audio comments integrated with the standard comment system.

Fun and the future of commenting

Twitter Tools: A complete integration between your WordPress blog and Twitter. Bring your tweets into your blog and pass your blog posts to Twitter.

Use this to send a Twitter message everytime you post a new blog post. A lot of other features too.

WordPress Gravatars: Makes use of Gravatars and MyBlogLog Avatars, places Gravatars or MyBlogLog Avatars in the comments section. Uses the comment authors email to display their Gravatar. It also gives the user an Author Profile picture, based on his or hers Gravatar.

Using this for the first time…we’ll see how it goes. I like that it pulls from a couple different sites.

WordPress PDA & iPhone: This plugin helps the users to view your blog in a pda and iPhone browser

I think this is a must have…especially with all the mobile devices out there and specifically the iPhone. Can someone check my site on their iPhone and let me know how it looks?

WP-DBManager: Manages your WordPress database. Allows you to optimize database, repair database, backup database, restore database, delete backup database , drop/empty tables and run selected queries. Supports
automatic scheduling of backing up and optimizing of database.

I’ve used a couple different database managers in the past, but this one is by far the best I’ve seen to date.

WP-DownloadManager: Adds a simple download manager to your WordPress blog.

Allows you to track downloads from your site. Also comes with a Sidebar Widget that you can easily install. Check the bottom of this page to see it in action.

WP-EMail: Allows people to recommand/send your WordPress blog’s post/page to a friend.

So easy to set up. You do need to put some code in your theme were you want this to show up. You’ll find mine in the comments section. Also comes with a Sidebar Widget so you can see what articles are being e-mailed the most.

WP-Print: Displays a printable version of your WordPress blog’s post/page.

A great plugin that formats a blog post for printing. I love it when stuff just works. You do need to add a snipt of code where you want it to appear. You can find mine again on a single post page.

WP-ServerInfo: Display your host’s server PHP and MYSQL information (integrated into WordPress Admin Style) on your WordPress dashboard.

If you’re into this sort of stuff…a good one. :)

WP-SpamFree: A powerful anti-spam plugin that virtually eliminates automated comment spam from bots. Finally, you can enjoy a spam-free WordPress blog!

I haven’t used this Spam plugin before but it’s had good reviews so I thought I’d give it a try. So far so good!

WP-UserOnline: Enable you to display how many users are online on your WordPress blog with detailed statistics of where they are and who there are(Members/Guests/Search Bots)

Ever wonder how many people are viewing your site at one time? A fun little plugin. Comes with a Sidebar Widget. Check mine out at the bottom.

WP Contact Form III: WP Contact Form III is a simple drop in form for users to contact you. It can be implemented on a page or a post using the code.

Again, really easy to use just install, activate, create a page called Contact Info and put the code on the page where you want the contact form to be shown. You should give people a way to contact you and this works great as it keeps your e-mail address off your site and can reduce your spam mails. 😉

WP tags to Technorati: Simple plugin to convert WordPress 2.3’s tags to Technorati (’http://technorati.com’)

Really excited about this one. I can now just use tags for my posts and this plugin automatically turns my site tags into Technorati tags. Write once and accomplish two tasks. I’ve been looking for a plugin like this!

So there you have it. My new theme and plugins for WordPress 2.5. You can see I’ve added the drop down box for archives and my tag cloud. To find past articles and ideas I’ve talked about.

But probably the best way to find information is to use the Search box at the top. I’ve created a Google Custom Search Engine that searchs not only this site but all 4 blogs that I run and post at. It works great and I use it all the time to find my own past articles. :)

You will also see for the first time I’ve put some ads on my site.

Bluehost.com is where I host all my websites and I highly recommend them. If you sign up via that link I get one year of hosting free. :)

I also highly recommend pMetrics as a stats program. I’ve been using it for two years now and love it.

Wetpaint wikis for educators is just a link to their site. I do not make money….just wanted to support them as I believe they are the best wiki out there for educators to get started with.

My new logo was created for me by my good friend David Gran. This year he is teaching elementary technology but next year will be back in the art department where he belongs. He blogs at U Tech Tips with me and his blog Carrot Revolution is a must read for Art teachers. He is a great digital artist and also has done all the logo work for the Learning 2.0 and Learning 2.008 Conferences we’ve put on. If you are looking for a logo…he’s your man!

My Amazon Picks are books I recommend from Amazon.com. I’ve seen more and more people put these on their site and I personally have found some great recommendations through them. I also make it a habbit of going to someones site and clicking on the link to purchase a book. You don’t get a lot of money through these ads but every bit helps right? :)

My Diigo Tags are all the bookmarks I have saved over the past two years of using Diigo.

Well there you go. WordPress 2.5 is worth the upgrade if you have a theme that you love you might need to wait awhile for the maker to update it. Or you now have an excuse to change your theme!

Click here for WordPress 2.5 compatibility themes

and

WordPress 2.5 compatibility plugins

Next up a new look/theme for U Tech Tips. :)

16 Comments

  1. Thanks for the list of plugins. My only problem with 2.5 so far has been that the gallery to wordpress integration that I have used in the past does not work under 2.5 Maybe now that I m moving out from the blocks here in the UAE I should just start learning more about Flickr.

  2. Jeff, I was a bout to install 2.5 the other day, but got cold feet. I’m always afraid I’m going to accidentally delete some file or folder, or that all my plugins won’t be there anymore when the install is done. If bluehost doesn’t offer an automatic install from the control panel, I avoid trying to do it manually. Any advice? Is it work doing or should I wait till Bluehost offers the auto install option? – Jason

    • At this point I would probably wait for Bluehost. They make it easy. What I would do if I were you though is have a test site that you use to play with and get use to installing wordpress yourself. It really is pretty easy and directions are really good.

      For upgrades, just make sure you make a backup of your database file before you upgrade. You just never know. :)

      Take it from someone who found out the hard way. :)

  3. think Bluehost has another script setup that includes wp 2.5.
    Jeff site looks fine on my sons touch. Typing is not as bad as I thought it might be.

    • Thanks Gary!

      Need to borrow a iPhone from a student at school and have a look. Yeah the new script thing they added seems to have updated scripts. Fantastico still has 2.3.3 but that new script install has 2.5.

  4. In case you didn’t see my tweet I thought the site looked great on Aaron’s Itouch but when I looked at the website that described the plugin I realized that I was not seeing what they had posted I should see. According to their video at least…. sorry. The alternate theme did not come through for me. Apple is sure making some nice toys though and the site looked good as is and commenting with an Itouch was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

  5. It relieves me to hear you say “the site is always a work in progress.” Lately, as I discover new widgets, gizmos, –I find myself wanting to change my site, improve it, make it better, rethink how I’ve organized my content and navigation.

    I love your portfolio. I’m currently leading my students through their own portfolio creations, trying to improve my own as a model for them. Tackling the portfolio, as we’re discovering, can be daunting. It’s a bit like Spring cleaning: the deeper into you get, the messier it becomes, and temporary disorder seems to be a natural byproduct of the process.

    • Are you kidding. This site is just a big playground for me. Always things to add things to move around, new looks, etc. With WordPress release a major update about every 8 months or so it keeps you on your toes. But that’s a good thing. Continue to push myself to learn more coding, think about design, etc.

  6. The new look is great!

  7. AWESOME design and a great list of plugins I’ve never heard of! Thanks for sharing!!

  8. We’re never really done with our blogs, are we? I like that part of them; that we can always improve on them. I really like the functionality of 2.5. I don’t post from there, as I have a couple of different blog editing apps that I use instead, but everything else is handier. I’m glad I upgraded right away.

    You’ve got a nice set of plugins here that I haven’t heard of; I’m going to add this one to my del.icio.us links list (link to del.icio.us) and come back and check it out later when I have more time. Thanks for posting these!

  9. Any chance of these themes and plugins being added to WordPress MU????
    They sound fantastic……come on Jeff give it to me baby!!!!!

    • Sorry Simon most of these themes I’m using are not portable to WordPress MU. Hopefully some day as WordPress MU is on it’s way to releasing Version 2.0.

  10. Does Page_Links_To still work for you? I found that in 2.5 it stopped working. Of course, there was no warning.

    • Still works for me. I didn’t see it on the list of plugins for 2.5 at the time of this writing, but I installed it anyway and it seems to work. I even added the new “My Universe” page at the top a couple days ago and it works great. Remember when you create a page you need to add a new command that is links_to and then the value is the complete web address including http:// works for me….maybe a theme thing?

  11. Thanks for the list always looking for ideas from other schools for our own sites.

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