Part of my job as Web Application Developer at Maryville is to evaluate the tools we use for our website and decide if they are functioning the way they should. We’ve had our fair share of problems with our current content management system (CMS) that we implemented in 2008 and have decided to make the move to WordPress Multisite. For those unfamiliar with WordPress Multisite, it allows you to take a normal WordPress site and create multiple WordPress sites (a network) within one installation of WordPress.
Part of my role in this migration will be setting up the proper permissions for users across the network. If you are at all familiar with WordPress (or pretty much any CMS) it has the idea of roles for a user. Am I an administrator, editor, contributor and what actions can I do in the CMS? With WordPress Multisite, this is slightly more complicated; a user can be an editor in the Academics site, but only be a contributor in the Admissions site (or not have any permissions at all). There is a set of standard roles built in to WordPress, but you have the option to create some unique roles. Now, I want to keep this as simple for myself as possible; I don’t want to recreate that same role on 20 different WordPress sites across our network (Academics, Admissions, Student Life, etc).
Enter the Multisite Roles plugin! Initially, I was going to build a brand new plugin for creating roles network-wide, and I decided to leverage an existing plugin: Members. WordPress has this idea of hooks built into it; as a developer, you can leave a spot for other developers to “hook” into your code and do something. After a short email discussion with the developer of the Members plugin, he has agreed to put a couple hooks into his next release. This will allow my plugin to synchronize roles between all of the sites on our WordPress network when one of the roles is updated.
As soon as the next version of the Members plugin is released, you can expect to see the Multisite Roles plugin land on the wordpress.org plugin repository.
While browsing this site, you may have noticed in the comments that some people have photos and some don’t. Well, WordPress uses a nifty service called Gravatar that allows you to create an account and setup photos to be used in comments on various sites.
It allows you to enter multiple email addresses and set a different photo for each email (as seen below). All of this happens automatically with WordPress once you’ve created your gravatar account. You might have to wait a few minutes for it to become active.
Well, WordCamp St. Louis 2011 is officially over. It was great to see close to 200 WordPress enthusiasts roaming the halls of Maryville University. We even had Matt Mullenweg grace us with his presence and answer questions in a Q&A session. We were also blessed to have 20+ Automattic employees running the happiness bar where fellow WordPress users could get help with their websites. Unfortunately, from what I saw, this was highly under-utilized.
Hopefully Maryville has the opportunity to be the venue for this event again next year. Watch for video to come online soon at WordPress.TV. For a recap of some of the useful information, check out the twitter hash tag, #WCSTL. It was however trending and managed to pick up some spam, so watch out for some of the tweets.
I am so proud of our campus community and the way they have embraced our new blogging platform. Students, staff, faculty, groups and organizations have all developed blogs since we launch last year. But now that we have reached the point where the new car smell is beginning to fade, I ask you, are you taking care of your blog? Just like the family station wagon, your blog deserves a look under the hood and an oil change every few thousand miles.
Have you posted to your blog in 2010? If not, now is a good time. Take some time to think about your subject matter and your audience and decide how often it makes sense to update your posts. Don’t feel like you have to do it daily, or even weekly. But do make sure you are adding new content frequently enough to engage your audience and keep them interested in your site.
While I am sure your readers hang on your every word, try giving them a little more to chew on such as photographs and videos. It is very simple to upload these to your post. Take a few minutes to watch this video on the WordPress Media Library and if you have more questions, let me know.
To watch the video full-screen, click here.