What is it about Sass that turns me into a fanatic? How is Sass like your favorite TV show? And why am I often alone at parties?
Ever since I read “The Sass Jerk”, I think of it every time I feel myself getting a bit too evangelical about some tech. I think to myself, “OK, better tone it down or I’ll be the https://t.co/GotRar26hi jerk.” https://t.co/WwfEnShqKb
— Fiona Voss (@fionajvoss) June 16, 2018
I love how you’re trying to take control of all of the parts of your website. In particular, I think it’s a great idea to improve the usability of particular pages (both for yourself as well as for others) based on how you’re using the pages. I think more people should be considering this as an option.
Certainly having multiple WordPress installs can be a headache, though it will obviously work. I know some IndieWeb tech related to syndicating to various silos and using services like Brid.gy for backfeed will be hard to do when using more than two domains and targeting a single silo presence, so it’s not only a maintenance tax, but you might not have the flexibility you’d like if you syndicate content in multiple locations.
Another option is to use the same WordPress install to run multiple websites, which is also a possibility. Or you could also run a multi-site installation and go that route. This at least would cut down on needing to maintain and update multiple sites one at a time.
Possibly the best option, however, is to know that you can custom theme any and every page generated within your website. This isn’t done quite as often as it may take a bit more upfront development work and knowledge of how WordPress works internally as well as how to tweak your theme. The easiest thing to do is to create custom templates for each of the particular pages you want to change. When WordPress tries to build a page it relies on a nested hierarchy of templates potentially available within your theme. It starts at the top and stops when it finds one available and then uses that template. By targeting the particular page you’re making (by a variety of means) you can have direct control over what your page will look like. The nice part is if you’ve got templates from other themes, you can use those as a guide and include their CSS files to get the exact look and feel you want.
Now that you know it exists as an option, there are a huge variety of resources on the web that you can consult to begin tinkering. Below are a few potentially useful ones:
- A Detailed Guide To A Custom WordPress Page Templates
- Creating Custom Page Templates in WordPress
- How to Create a Custom Page in WordPress
- Page Templates (documentation from WordPress Developer)
- Taxonomy Templates (documentation from WordPress Developer)
I suspect even for those without a development background, one could do a bit of reading followed by some judicious cutting and pasting to get some reasonable results. I’m far from an expert in this area myself, but I was recently able to create a sort of landing page template for my podcast recently by creating a custom page that displays when the archive page for my ‘podcast’ category is rendered. Essentially I copied the archive template from my theme, added a bit of detail about the podcast just above the part where it renders the reverse chronological order of the category posts (I did this in simple raw HTML, without any ‘real’ coding), gave the file a new name
category-podcast.php so it would trigger when
/category/podcast/ is the URL, put it into my child theme (so it wouldn’t be overwritten if I update my theme), and voila–a landing page for the podcast!
If you’re not much of a developer/tinkerer, you could likely ask your departmental, divisional, or institutional web developer, someone at a local WordPress meetup or maybe a Homebrew Website Club to help you out a bit. I think once you’ve done it once with even some simple changes like I did on one page, you’ll have the gist of it and the sky is the limit for every other page on your site.
While the conversation is WordPress-centric, there are a lot of discussions here relevant to a broader IndieWeb audience about adding new types of posts to your site, trying to design things flexibly (although a developer’s guide is probably needed), etc.
I’ve been meaning to write regular updates to highlight some of the useful changes in the functionality of the IndieWeb suite of WordPress plugins, but never gotten around to it. There’s been a few really interesting ones lately, so I thought I’d start. Observant watchers who read through either the code or even the scant change logs before they update their code may catch some of these features, but sometimes interesting tidbits can slip by the most vigilant. Here are some interesting recent ones:
Display of Reads, Listens, and Watches in comments sections
David Shanske’s excellent Post Kinds Plugin allows one to post what they’re reading, listening to, or watching in simple IndieWeb fashion. (Examples of these on my site: read posts, listen posts, watch posts.) These posts types automatically include the appropriate microformats classes so the user doesn’t need to bother doing them manually. For a long time when replying to another’s site, bookmarking it, or even mentioning it when also using the Webmentions plugin would send the site a Webmention that would generally cause it to show up as a native comment, bookmark or mention. With an update late last year, from within the
Discussion settings in WordPress, one could set toggles so that many of these webmentions could be displayed as facepiles. Other broadly unsupported post types would typically default to a simple mention.
Recently David Shanske and I started a podcast, and he thought it would be useful if his site could accept listen posts and show them visually within his comments section just like these replies, bookmarks, and mentions. Thus over the past month he’s added code to the Semantic Linkbacks Plugin to add the functionality for these types of posts to properly render showing facepiles for listens, reads, and watches.
This is what webmentions of listen posts look like on his site in his comments section:
Listen (or scrobble) posts can send webmentions (or notifications) to the original content potentially with the experimental
listen-of microformat. In the case of scrobbles of podcasts, these webmentions could be displayed as “Listens” which would provide the canonical copy of the podcast some indicator of its popularity and actual audience. It is tremendously difficult to obtain data on the actual number of listens within most of the podcast community and typically a fraction of the number of downloads must be used as an indicator of the actual reach. Being able to display listens could potentially be a boon to the podcasting market, particularly with respect to advertising as this type of open social web functionality spreads.
Similarly read posts with the
read-of microformat and watches with
watch-of will be accepted and show up within the comments section. Like the previous types, they can be set to display as facepiles within the user interface.
Knowing that this read functionality would be available, this week I helped ColoradoBoulevard.net set up their site to be able to accept and display reads of their articles. Here’s an example from their site:
I haven’t yet seen one for watches in the wild yet, but maybe you’ll be either the first to send or receive one?
The microformats on these posts is generally considered to be experimental, but with the ~500+ users of this suite of tools as well as others who are already using them on other sites, they’ve now taken a dramatic step into the open internet and more widespread use and potential official adoption.
Editable Webmention Types and Avatars
Just yesterday, I spent a few minutes in the IndieWeb chat helping someone to laboriously delve into their mySQL databaset and find a particular snippet of data so they could manually change a received webmention from being a simple
mention to being a
reply so that it would display as a native comment on their website. I’ve often done this to take what sometimes seem like simple mentions and change them to replies to reveal the richer content they often contain for the broader conversation. Sadly the process is boring, laborious, and fraught with potential ways to mess things up.
As of this weekend, this process is no longer necessary. One can now go to the admin interface for their comments and webmentions (found at the path
/wp-admin/edit-comments.php), click on
edit for the particular comment they’re changing and then scroll down to reveal a droplist interface to be able to manually change the webmention type.
As another example of a use for this functionality, perhaps you’ve received a listen mention on one of your podcast episodes that has a lot of useful notes or commentary germane to your episode? Instead of hiding it as a simple listen, why not change the type to
reply to allow a richer conversation around your content? After all, with a reasonable reply it will be implicit that the commenter actually listened to the episode, right?
Because there is currently no functionality in WordPress for saving or caching the avatars of commenters via webmention, when users change their profile images on siloed services like Facebook, Twitter, et al. the link to their old avatars quits working and they were displaying blank spaces. This is an unfortunate form of linkrot, but one that can become more visually apparent over time.
As one can see in the image for the commenting edit box above, the field for the
Avatar is now editable. This means one can update out-of-date or blank avatars. One now also has the ability to moderate/edit or easily remove/switch avatars if users are sending inappropriate photos for one’s site’s audience.
Development & business workflows are deeply personal opinions we all have when it comes to creating with WordPress. Over the years I’ve become more and more opinionated as I continue creating sites for clients. I’d like to share my current setup in the hopes that...
Alex has some great stuff here, though I wish there were even more links!
Perhaps in the vein of what you might be looking for, I’ve got a multi-user site built on WithKnown. It functions much like a stand-alone-Facebook-like service where users have their own accounts and can interact with each other on the service. It also has an OAuth server which allows users to use their own websites to log in and be able to post or syndicate content from their own websites into it, that way they have a choice of owning all of the content they post to it or not.
Note: this particular test site is meant more for folks to do quick test drives of the Known platform rather than serving as a platform in the way you’re describing. As an example of what you may be looking for though, here’s an original post on my own website (note the “also on” link at the bottom) and here’s the copy that was syndicated into the separate “community service” on an entirely different domain.
I suspect you could use other sites/services like WordPress to do something like this as well.
For ease-of-use as well as to help designers, theme builders, and maybe even Gen2 it might be useful to have a “master template” for views which includes all of the output of the data fields within Post Kinds in a single view.
If done in a relatively modular fashion with good commenting, perhaps even Gen2 folks could more easily delete or move pieces within such a master template to mash up various pieces to get what they’d like to display. Including alternate versions for displaying things could be useful as well (eg: raw display of things like start time and end time as well as a separate calculated duration time based on these two.)
At a time when millions are losing trust in the the web’s biggest sites, it’s worth revisiting the idea that the web was supposed to be made out of countless little sites. Here’s a look at the neglected technologies that were supposed to make it possible.
Though the world wide web has been around for more than a quarter century, people have been theorizing about hypertext and linked documents and a global network of apps for at least 75 years, and perhaps longer. And while some of those ideas are now obsolete, or were hopelessly academic as concepts, or seem incredibly obvious in a world where we’re all on the web every day, the time is perfect to revisit a few of the overlooked gems from past eras. Perhaps modern versions of these concepts could be what helps us rebuild the web into something that has the potential, excitement, and openness that got so many of us excited about it in the first place.
Anil is great at describing a fundamental problem on the web here. I feel a bit like he’s written a variation of this article a few times now.1–3
I wish that when he pivoted from ThinkUp he’d moved towards building an open platform for helping to fix the problem. He’s the sort of thinker and creator we could use working directly on this problem.
I do think he’d have a bit more gravitas if he were writing this on his own website though instead of on Medium.
Over the last year and a bit, the MDN Web Docs team has been designing, building, and implementing interactive examples for our reference pages. The motivation for this was the idea that MDN should do more to help “action-oriented” users: people who like to learn by seeing and playing around with example code, rather than by reading about it.
h/t to @rachelandrew
Syndicated copies to:
— Rachel Andrew (@rachelandrew) March 22, 2018
This is a test or alpha episode of An Indieweb Podcast (working title).
In it, David Shanske and and I talk about a variety of Indieweb topics, with the theme of “Considering the User”, inspired by an article we were reading this week. Other topics include: home automation, generations, itches, Webmention, and some examples of the Post Kinds Plugin in practice (exercise, issues, chickens).
In the future we hope to have additional broad ranging conversations and perhaps interviews with others about various IndieWeb related topics.
Part of this is also an opportunity to improve audio post presentations on our websites over time. While David posted the “original” of this post on his site, I had to debate whether or not I would technically repost it or make an original of my own. Ultimately I opted for the latter.
David, by far the more veteran podcaster, deserves the lion’s share of the credit for his audio set up and recording facilities.
You can subscribe to future episodes here: http://boffosocko.com/tag/an-indieweb-podcast/feed/
If you need more IndieWeb content, guidance, or even help, an embarrassment of riches can be found on the wiki, including the following resources:
- Subscribe to: This Week in the IndieWeb newsletter
- Listen to: podcasts about the IndieWeb
- Watch: videos about the IndieWeb, presentations about the IndieWeb
- Read: Posts about the IndieWeb, IndieNews
- Discuss: IndieWeb Chat
Wait… What is that?
Fragmention is a portmanteau word made up of fragment and mention (or even Webmention), but in more technical terms, it’s a simple way of creating a URL that not only targets a particular page on the internet, but allows you to target a specific sub-section of that page whether it’s a photo, paragraph, a few words, or even specific HTML elements like
<span> on such a page. In short, it’s like a permalink to content within a web page instead of just the page itself.
A Fragmention Example
Back in December Aaron Davis had made a quote card for one of his posts that included a quote from one of my posts. While I don’t think he pinged (or webmentioned) it within his own post, I ran across it in his Twitter feed and he cross-posted it to his Flickr account where he credited where the underlying photo and quote came from along with their relevant URLs.
Fragmentions could have not only let him link to the source page of the quote, it would have let him directly target the section or the paragraph where the quote originated or–even more directly–the actual line of the quote.
Here’s the fragmention URL that would have allowed him to do that: http://boffosocko.com/2017/10/27/reply-to-laying-the-standards-for-a-blogging-renaissance-by-aaron-davis/#I%E2%80%99m%20not%20looking
Go ahead and click on it (or the photo) to see the fragmention in action.
Let’s compare the two URLs:
Note: rather than the numbers and percent symbols, one could also frequently use the “+” to stand in for white spaces like so: http://boffosocko.com/2017/10/27/reply-to-laying-the-standards-for-a-blogging-renaissance-by-aaron-davis/#not+looking+for+just This makes the URL a bit more human readable. You’ll also notice I took out the code for the apostrophe by omitting the word “I’m” and adding another word or two, but I still get the same highlight result.
This can be a very useful thing, particularly on pages with huge amounts of text. I use it quite often in my own posts to direct people to particular sub-parts of my website to better highlight the pieces I think they’ll find useful.
It can be even more useful for academics and researchers who want to highlight or even bookmark specific passages of text online. Those with experience on the Medium.com platform will also notice how useful highlighting can be, but having a specific permalink structure for it goes a step further.
I will note however, that it’s been rare, if ever, that anyone besides myself has used this functionality on my site. Why? We’ll look at that in just a moment.
Extending fragmentions for easier usability.
Recently as a result of multiple conversations with Aaron Davis (on and between our websites via webmention with syndication to Twitter), I’ve been thinking more about notes, highlights, and annotations on the web. He wrotewhich discusses “Page Bookmarks” which are an interesting way of manually adding anchors on web pages to allow for targeting specific portions of web pages. This can make it easy for the user to click on links on a page to let them scroll up and down specific pages. Sadly, these are very painful to create and use both for a site owner and even more so for the outside public which has absolutely no control over them whatsoever.
His post reminded me immediately of fragmentions. It also reminded me that there was a second bit of user interface related to fragmentions that I’d always meant to also add to my site, but somehow never got around to connecting: a “fragmentioner” to make it more obvious that you could use fragmentions on my site.
In short, how could a user know that my website even supports fragmentions? How could I make it easier for them to create a fragmention from my site to share out with others? Fortunately for me, our IndieWeb friend Kartik Prabhu had already wired up the details for his own personal website and released the code and some pointers for others who were interested in setting it up themselves. It’s freely available on Github and includes some reasonable details for installation.
So with a small bit of tweaking and one or two refinements, I got the code up and running and voilà! I now have a natural UI for highlighting things.
What else would be nice?
I can’t help but think that it would be fantastic if the WordPress Fragmention plugin added the UI piece for highlight and sharing text via an automatically generated link.
Perhaps in the future one could allow a highlight and click interaction not only get the link, but to get a copy of both the highlighted text and the link to the URL. I’ve seen this behavior on some very socially savvy news websites. This would certainly make a common practice of cutting and pasting content much easier to do while also cleverly including a reference link.
Medium-like highlighting and comments suddenly become a little easier for websites to support. With some additional code, it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump to dovetail this fragmention functionality with the W3C Webmentions spec to allow inline marginalia on posts. One can create a fragmention targeting text on a website and write a reply to it. With some UI built out, by sending a webmention to the site, it could pick up the comment and display it as a marginal note at that particular spot instead of as a traditional comment below the post where it might otherwise loose the context of being associated at the related point in the main text. In fact our friend Kartik Prabhu has done just this on his website. Here’s an example of it in his post announcing the feature.
You’ll notice that small quotation bubbles appear at various points in the text indicating marginalia. By clicking on them, the bubble turns green and the page expands to show the comment at that location. One could easily imagine CSS that allows the marginalia to actually display in the margin of the page for wider screens.