July 26, 2007

Microsoft To Declare War On Google Analytics

Filed as News with 5 comments

It looks as if everyone’s favorite company (unless you are into open source, Linux and that whole “freeware” thing) has decided to take on Google in the realm of web analytics.

Code named Gatineau (which ironically is the name of a city in Canada), Microsoft hopes to be able to compete against the new version of Google Analytics.

But while Microsoft admits that its software is very similar to Google’s, they boast that their new analytics tool will be able to break down visitor stats by age as well as gender.
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WordPress: Dynamic Sub-Page Navigation

The more and more I study the WordPress architecture, the more and more convinced I become that WordPress is a great choice for use as a feature rich Content Management System (CMS). Basically, WordPress can be used, not only as a blog platform, but as software to manage the content of any website, with or without a blog. Because WP added the ability to use “Pages” to hold relatively static content, and because WP includes functions to call and display the content of those pages just about any way you can think of, all it takes is a good WordPress theme to get the job done.

But where WordPress lacks as a CMS is the ability to further exploit the sub-page system. Not so much in their use, but in their application to the actual website design.

However, this plugin did wonders for people looking to take advantage of the hierarchal structure of pages and sub-pages by allowing only the “parent” pages to be displayed on the homepage. And if a “parent” page has children, and that page’s link is clicked, then the child pages will “fold” down, displaying “deeper” options (much like the features of the more mainline CMS out there).

But There’s a Problem

I’m not here to just give props to a cool plugin. You see, I had a client who wanted the original “parent” list across the top of the page (just under the header image) and when one of the “parent” page links was clicked, he wanted the “sub-pages” to display as a list in the sidebar. As far as I could tell, there was no way to do that with the Fold Page List plugin. So, I went searching. I promise, if I could find the original website I got this from, I’d give a link. As it turns out, I can’t find it. Sorry :-)

First thing to do is just list your pages. Be sure to make it top-level only!

<?php wp_list_pages('title_li=&depth=1'); ?>

Then, I used the code I found (with a few modifications, I’m sure):

<?php
global $wp_query;

if( empty($wp_query->post->post_parent) ) {
$parent = $wp_query->post->ID;
} else {
$parent = $wp_query->post->post_parent;
} ?>
<?php if(wp_list_pages("title_li=&child_of=$parent&echo=0" )): ?>
<div id="submenu">
<ul>
<?php wp_list_pages("title_li=&child_of=$parent" ); ?>
</ul>
</div>
<?php endif; ?>

Without getting too technical, I’ll explain roughly what all that means.

if( empty($wp_query->post->post_parent) ) {
$parent = $wp_query->post->ID;
} else {
$parent = $wp_query->post->post_parent;
}

This code checks to see if the current page (the active page) as a parent. If it does NOT have a parent … it assigns the current page ID as the “parent”. If it DOES have a parent, it assigns the parent ID as the “parent”. The reason this is necessary is for top-level parents. If we simply used the parent ID to assign the “parent”, then if a top-level parent was active, the “parent” variable would be empty and we wouldn’t get our sub-page list.

<?php if(wp_list_pages("title_li=&child_of=$parent&echo=0" )): ?>
<div id="submenu">
<ul>
<?php wp_list_pages("title_li=&child_of=$parent" ); ?>
</ul>
</div>
<?php endif; ?>

This last part is pretty simple. All it checks for is IF there are any sub-pages (in a very rudimentary way). If it does have sub-pages, then it lists them (along with a title and some div wrappers for style).

One Limitation

I didn’t spend too much time doing research on this, but as far as I can tell, this only works 2 levels deep (top-level and 2nd level). If you have 3 levels of sub-pages, this won’t work (or at least won’t work like it’s supposed to). Sorry, but all I needed was 2 levels, so that’s all I developed it for :-)

Download the Source

Click Here to download the source for this script

So, if you are looking for a quick and dirty way to use WordPress as a CMS, this little bit of code can go a long way. I’ve used it several times since the time I developed it, and I plan on using it many times in the future!

Next week, I’m writing a tutorial on how to do the same thing we did here, but with categories and sub-categories. Don’t miss it!

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Blog Post Category Trauma: Changing Your Categories in WordPress

As part of series on maximizing your blog categories, I covered suggestions and considerations for choosing blog post categories, and how those badly choosen categories were fixed on the example blog. This series has covered how to define your blog categories, directing visitors to specific content and how search term specific keywords in your categories benefit your blog. Now, let’s change those categories in your WordPress blog.
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July 25, 2007

Some of the Best Things About Blogs are Free

This post is blogging motivation for anyone who likes a good deal.

Many things about blogging are free – as in $0.00, plus or minus $0.

Let’s start from the beginning:

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WordPress Wednesday News: WordCamp, WordCamp, WordCamp, WordPress Theme Viewer, and Even More WordCamp News

WordPress WordCamp is the news of the week! The WordPress Theme Viewer is being totally revamped and cleaned up. WordPress.com and Facebook create a relationship. And more WordCamp news!

There is so much news and live blogging reports out there on WordCamp 2007, it’s overwhelming to keep up with all of it. I’ve included a few links to help you get started tracking the news down, but please add more in the comments.
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July 24, 2007

Social Networking: Am I a Person Or an Item?

In a World of Lists . . . Flashback to 1997

The project was a joint publishing venture. My team was working with a team in Australia. We were combining our expertise to build a 200+ book program for kids learning to read and the teachers who teach them. Most of the books were little readers — 8-, 16-, 24-, and 32-page books, written with subtle supports for early literacy.

Two parts of my role as the head of the department were to ensure that the supports were there and that the content would “travel.” The first part called for an understanding of how kids interact with text to gain meaning. The second required knowledge of whether content and presentation would work in classrooms from logging towns in Maine, through the Bible belt, in the land of “fruits and nuts,” to our diverse city schools.

The program was on an educational publishing timeline, which meant a missed deadline would cost an entire year. When a book didn’t work, the manuscript to replace it had to be fit the program and educational standards, had to be of highest quality, and had to be executed quickly — solutions had to be elegant and practical.

That’s when I started to notice. That was the year I first called the words “content,” not a story or a report. 1997. That’s when I noticed something happening in my office was also happening on TV. read more

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Blog Post Category Trauma: Fixing Those Useless Categories

When we started this category trauma series, I asked: Who thinks these are effective post categories? The categories included “I’ve Been Thinking”, “Some Blog Stuff”, “More Blog Stuff”, “My Thoughts”, “About My Car”, “Dreams and Wishes”, and “Left Over Junk”.

Yesterday’s post looked at some of your suggestions and answers to why these were ineffective post categories and the answer boiled down to:

  • The categories need to define and represent the content within the blog specifically.
  • The category titles need to be search terms and keywords.

In my Thursday post, I’ll talk about how to change and fix those category names on your WordPress blog, but let’s change the names of the example categories to something better suited to that blog’s content.
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July 23, 2007

Six Apart to support Palm Foleo

Filed as News with 3 comments

Six Apart is working with Palm, Inc. to give Palm Foleo mobile companion customers access to Six Apart’s wide range of blogging services, including Vox, LiveJournal, TypePad and Movable Type. With these services available on the Foleo, users can keep blog and journal entries up to date and stay current with their communities while on the go.

“It’s vitally important for our business and individual customers to have access to their blogs and journals,” said Aaron Emigh, executive vice president and general manager of core technology for Six Apart. “Our work with Palm allows our customers to keep their content fresh and current with the latest in mobile technology.”

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Plagiarism-Fighting Network Tools: Part One

For most, the hardest part in dealing with plagiarism is researching the case and either uncovering the plagiarist or discovering who the host is.

Doing that requires a certain amount of detective work and technical expertise. One must be something of an Internet sleuth, using the tools of the trade to follow the trail of the plagiarist to unveil both their identity and location.

To a novice, the process might seem complicated. The networking world littered with strange terms and ideas that can confuse even the brightest of minds. However, the tools themselves are actually very simple to use and all of the lookups needed can be performed via a Web browser.

All it takes is a few minutes to learn the names and functions of the various tools and you will be will on your way to becoming an Internet detective.

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Performancing Announces the New pMetrics Dashboard

Performancing has recently announced a refreshed pMetrics dashboard look. This revision is not only for aesthetics’ sake, but actually enhances the dashboard’s functionality.

pmetrics-new-dashboard.png

The new pMetrics Dashboard is designed to quickly and efficiently show you the traffic data that you care about. It is full of live refresh fun (many thanks to the jQuery JavaScript library), and includes the ability to drag and drop the modules to wherever you want on the screen. They’ll stay there forever until you move them again.

This makes pMetrics even easier to use as analytics tool for bloggers. From the dashboard you get to see the figures you think are important–since the dashboard is customizable, with modules that can be added, removed and rearranged as you please.

One other great addition is the trends column, which lets you see the percentage change in the values from the previous period.

Trend data from the previous period is shown on the right for each item, in green if your trend is good, or red if it’s bad. If you are viewing a single day, the previous period is the day before. If you are viewing a date range, for example the last 14 days, then the previous period is the 14 days before that.

If you still prefer the old Dashboard, there’s an easily accessible link right above that lets you switch between the old dashboard and the new version.

Disclaimer: Performancing and pMetrics are owned and run by Splashpress Media, the same great people behind the Blog Herald.

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