Story Bible Website Development Project: 2

Last week, I wrote about a project I’m working on for myself. Since then, I got answers back to some of my questions, so I eliminated the USP plugin. The $40 pro version would let me submit multiple posts from the same form, but it would not reload the form without completely reloading the full page. That’d be annoying for what I’m working on.

While doing my research, I got a tip about Caldera Form. It would give me these abilities:

  • Create a custom form with ease
  • Submit the new content as the content type (page, post, custom) that I wanted
  • Would reload the form without reloading the entire page
  • Accepts multiple submissions from the same form

I’m happily testing it out though I did find some limitations:

  • Has limited support for taxonomies and categories (which is important so the post goes to the right place)
  • Support is going to cost you 
  • When I hit submit, the success message comes back with some odd gibberish and the form’s fields still have the content in them. When I checked, I can see that the post did in fact publish

Now it’s back to submitting a ticket to their WordPress.org forum and hoping for a response. Other forms I considered but avoided are Ninja Forms and Gravity Forms.  I chose not to go down that road since it cost money.  Things I read while evaluating Caldera Forms: 

Final thing I started looking into last week: using Encyclopedia/Glossary/Wiki plugin instead of Knowledge Base CPT. I’m checking out this plugin since it will auto-link text in other pages/posts/custom which include a word in the lexicon to the lexicon page.

This is where I’m leaving off this week. I hope you find some value in learning this background knowledge of how I’m developing this WordPress site.

Story Bible Website Development Project

For my WordPress eCourse students, I’m giving them a bonus behind-the-scenes look at how I evaluate plugins and try to find solutions for a personal website project. Since I’ve already got the text written up, I thought I’d share what I’m posting for them.

Site Purpose: Story Bible to keep track of all the details for this narrative.

Requirements:

Link pages to each other like a Wiki and show those relationships
Be nice if it was easy to link pages to each other using Wiki markup
Add paragraph-level annotations
Easy to create new posts without going to the backend

Plugins Currently Installed: (Not all of these are being used at the moment. I may have them installed to test later)

Advanced Custom Fields
Aesop Story Engine — for more of a Medium/longform writing experience. I like the timeline navigation abilities
Chat for Aesop Story Engine — don’t like this much
Contact Form 7 — theme wanted this plugin
Contextual Related Posts
Contextual Related Posts Taxonomy Tools so the above plugin is restricted to showing related posts of the same category or tag
Digress.it — love the idea of this plugin, but it no longer works with the latest versions of WP. It adds paragraph-level annotations
Featured Image Widget — so I can get the image in the sidebar as you see in the screenshot. This particular theme doesn’t allow it, so I lazily used a plugin for this feature instead of coding it myself.
Knowledge Base CPT — this is part of the wiki setup
Olympus Shortcodes — makes it easier to add features/functions. Part of the requirements for the theme
Paragraph Commenting — not visually attractive, but gives me the paragraph-level annotations
User Submitted Posts — allows me to put “create a new post” from the sidebar which works for my purposes. I need more features, but those are in a premium version. I’ll need to make that decision before deciding to invest in that.
WP What Links Here — need for the Wiki like function I wanted to add. I don’t have much control over it out of the box. It doesn’t recognize/see annotations which link to a certain page. I’d like to add this feature.
Theme: Apollo — not free, but I got it as a freebie

Anyways, this site isn’t complete yet and I’ve done a lot of experimentation so far with dozens of different plugins, Google searches, posting on the WP forums, and reviewing plugins in my pursuit of this project.

Panelist for “The Library Website”

Every library needs a website, but what makes a good site? How can you figure out how to most effectively allocate your resources and build a site that fits the needs of your patrons, your staff and your community? In “The Library Website” our panel of experts will look at the dos, should-dos, and dont’s of library websites. Please tune in Thursday, February 13 at 2 p.m. Eastern for this free, streaming video broadcast that you can view from your home, library or on-the-go.

Source

Whoo hoo! I’ve known for a month or so that I was going to be a part of this panel on library websites though American Libraries Live. We had our check-in last week and we’re going to be discussing questions related to library websites. If you have a suggestion or something for me to think about, leave a comment!

ALA_live_the_library_website

A Website Platform Challenge

I worked with a patron today who presented me with a conundrum: they had several Excel sheets documenting a project they had been working on for years. They wanted to import that data into a website. What would be the best way to do this?

I looked over their project, grew excited, and posed my questions: Should this be sortable? Do you have images? Will we link this information to maps? Based on that, I then dove into Googling to see which would be the best option for importing a CSV into nodes: WordPress, Drupal, or Omeka. I then realized that WordPress.com (as I thought) and Drupal Gardens would not allow an import through their self-hosted options. I did not follow up on Omeka because I got distracted. The patron was not interested in having their own server. Their tech skills were not up to that.

Suddenly I had a flash of insight: Can Google Sites handle just copying and pasting the data? I logged into my own Google account and set up a quick site. It worked! We just had to pick a template which did not use a sidebar. I walked the patron through the process of creating a page, copying and pasting data, and how to add pages to the top nav. My lesson stumbled at times because I was learning to use Google Sites at the same time.

Today’s realization is that sometimes simple is best. This project has so much potential, but I had to adjust my recommendation and help based upon the technical capabilities of the patron.

Review of Evanced Summer Reading Software

Provided by Evanced!

Property of Darien Library

This year we choose to do something a little different for our summer reading website. Last year’s website was a single page with me adding custom icons that reacted to being hovered over. Kiera, the head of the Children’s Library, decided that she wanted to go “all online” this year. She wanted to have children to be automatically entered in the drawing whenever they read X amount of minutes. She then discovered that we could use the Evanced Summer Reader software since we are a Connecticut library (check to see if your state library offers any goodies to your library).

Kiera and I attended one in-person training session to learn the product. It was promoted as being easy to customize. Within moments I realized that I would have to do some major overrides in the CSS to get what we wanted out of the system. My first attempts were shaky as the backend is broken down into dozens of CSS stylesheets. It’s somewhat difficult to figure out where you need to make a change to keep it consistent! So I wrote in to Evanced and they gave me some pointers. After that I was able to make changes on my own. I did discover a last minute weird behavior where I could not position the Registration button above the dynamic text. This surprised me to say the least!

You can see in the screenshot above what the initial site looked like and the comparison to our live site. Since the design for this year came in a bit later that I anticipated, the site is not fully customized as to how I’d like.

Details:

  • The spies/logo was designed by a freelancer that we hired.
  • The bright starburst background was originally in the logo, but I edited it out and placed it as the background of the website instead.
  • Using more spy language like “Gumshoe” and “Agent Name” was an inspired last minute change on my end.
  • The strange placement of items on the page is two fold:
    1. The system does not recognize between a logged in vs. a logged out user.
    2. Browser differences.

Overall, I’m pleased with our website. I’m all hyped up with an idea for next year’s theme. Check back then to see if it happens!

Work in Progress: New Drupal 7 Website

Evernote’s Clip toolbar thing is not working well, so I decided to document the resources I’m using to build my new website here. The things I am looking to accomplish:

  • Have a node for each article which links to the people mentioned in the article (with backlinks from the person to each article they are mentioned in).
  • Create individual profile pages for each person which will include these fields: Name, Bio, Race, Description, Parents, Siblings, Partners, Children, list of all articles they are mentioned in, and photos.
  • Short story collection which is tagged to the correct person (just like article).
  • Use the diff module to see what changes are made to each node.
  • Wiki-like tools so that hyperlinking to pages is easier. DONE
  • Auto link people’s names to their profile page. DONE with the use of Alinks.

Issues I’ve been investigating:
Backlinking between nodes
Reverse node reference
Creating relationships between people (parent to child, etc.) — this prevents the fields from showing in Views so I cannot manipulate the appearance of fields. It’s cool how you can show ancestors and decedents, but there is no way to show siblings. I also need to be able to customize relationship types since the ones present were too restricting.

Issues with setting up Drupal 7:
1&1 issue that I had to fix with a bit of code to the .htacess
1&1 issue with Clean URLs
Posted for help in figuring out if I can choose which content type a freelink goes to.

Modules installed:
Alink
Automatic Nodetitle
Backup and Migrate
Ctools
Diff
Entity Reference
Entity API
Freelinking
Pathauto
Talk
Token
Views
Wikitools

Resources:

To create automatic node titles so that only the first word shows as the title (which will make linking in Alinks super easy since you only need to enter the first name of the person):
First, download Automatic Nodetitles and enable it.
Second, in your selected content type, create the field which will be replacing the title field. In my example, it is called xyz9990 so I enter that in the bold section of code.
Then on your content type, select Automatically generate the title and hide the title field and then enter the below code:


field_xyz9990[$node->language][0]['value'];

$text = strip_tags($text);
$words = str_word_count($text, 2);
$pos = array_keys($words);
if (count($words) > $limit) {
$text = substr( $text, 0, $pos[$limit]);
$text = trim( $text );
$text = rtrim( $text, '.' );
}

return $text;
?>

Make sure to check off the Evaluate PHP in pattern box.

Theme Ideas:
Twitter Bootstrap for Drupal

Things to consider:
What will the Conversation title field be? — Make sure to change it back since it is currently the sample Automatic Nodetitle example from above.
When configuring the freelinking module, you need to make sure to specify the relative path.
A wiki might not be what I’m after since they’re wanting to create other wiki pages instead of linking to other node types.
To create a revision, you need to check off on the revision tab in your node to make a node that you’re making a revision. This is not auto like in WordPress.