WordPress plugins

(Note added 10/5/09 – this post refers to a WordPress installation on my class server that no longer exists)

originally posted 3/4/09 on Amandarama! LIBR240 blog:

My Info. Tech. Tools class assignment for this week includes a requirement to add three plugins to WordPress. I decided to add the following tools:

All three plugins were easy to install. All I needed to do was download the .zip file to my computer, upload to my plugins directory in wordpress, and unzip the file using Terminal. Then I went in to the admin page for my blog and activated each plugin. I’m going to describe what each plugin does and any problems I encountered setting it up.

1. WP-Cumulus: The first plugin I activated is WP-Cumulus. What this plugin does is creates a flash movie of your tag cloud that rotates. There are three options to display this on your blog: as part of a static page or post, inserted into your theme, or you can use a widget that is included with the plugin. I decided it would be most useful as part of my blog’s sidebar so I decided to add the required code to the php file for my blog’s theme.

However, I was unable to save my changes! I had a message at the bottom of the page saying I needed to set up write permissions for the file, and I checked this to make sure the permissions allowed me to write. It still didn’t work. After combing through the support forums and finding unresolved questions about this very problem, I decided to try a different way. If you look at my current sidebar, you’ll see my rotating tag cloud. This is actually the widget. I found that adding this widget to my sidebar removed everything else: all my links and archives were gone. I found that I needed to add specific widgets for these as well.

Right now the tag cloud is kind of sparse since I don’t have a lot of posts. I hope it will be more interesting as I add more to the blog. The appearance of the tag cloud is customizable: you can change the size, the speed of the rotation, and the color of the tags and background. I changed the background and tag colors but I’m not sure I like it. It matches the header but doesn’t look quite right. I also set the option to include both tags and categories since I have so few tags.

2. Fast Tube: This plugin makes it simple to embed YouTube videos in a post. All you need to do is put the link or the video’s id within square brackets and it embeds the video within your post. I thought this might be useful in case I ever want to share videos that I stumble upon. If you’d like to see how it works, here’s an example. I just type:

{ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQHX-SjgQvQ} (except with square brackets instead of curly ones) and this displays:

Pretty cool, huh? There are options to change all sorts of settings with this plugin, such as the size of the video, colors of the border, whether it plays automatically, and what kind of info is displayed with the video. I kept it set to the defaults because it looked the way I wanted it already.

3. Broken Link Checker: I thought this plugin would be useful because of the dynamic nature of the web. Pages may move or disappear entirely, and I want to make sure I don’t have broken links in old posts. This plugin works in the background to check regularly for broken links and lists them for you so you can check and fix them. It also sets a style to show the link is broken (the default is a strikethrough). I kept the default settings, which set the plugin to check for broken links every 72 hours and applies a strikethrough style to the text of the broken link when it finds them. I don’t expect to have any broken links at this point since I just started the blog, but I hope this plugin will help in the future with site maintenance.

It took a long time for me to decide on these three plugins, but I am happy with my selections.


One response to “WordPress plugins

  1. Pingback: Fun with CSS « Amanda’s blog!

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