It’s been well over a year since I last blogged about WP-Cumulus. In the mean time, there have been all sorts of developments. I’ve been in serious talks with a potential buyer. That didn’t work out. I’ve tried, a number of times, to do a rewrite. That didn’t work out either. But most importantly, I gradually lost interest. Which is why I’ve decided I’ll no longer dedicate any time to Cumulus.
More I’ll no longer be developing WP-Cumulus
Ever since pages got added to WordPress in version 1.5, wp_list_pages has been the way to get a list of pages. In the pre-widgets era, it used to be coded into pretty much every theme’s sidebar or header to generate the site’s menu.
Nowadays wp_list_pages is at the heart of the Pages widget, and it’s perfect for blog-type sites with a modest number of pages. But if you’re using WordPress as a CMS, and most of your content is written as pages, using wp_list_pages can cause serious performance issues.
More Taming wp_list_pages
Recently, Picasa started serving its RSS feeds over https. From what I can tell, this has caused quite a view “clients” to fail. Digital photo frames seem to be affected, and so is my Flickr widget. Fortunately, there’s a quick fix.
I’ve run a few tests, and it seems that simply removing the “s” from “https” fixes the issue. Every feed I tried could be called up over regular old http as well, and all of them worked with my widget.
More Getting my Flickr/Picasa widget working again with Picasa’s new feeds
Just a quick post in case anyone else ever runs into this and manages to find their way to my blog.
I just came across this in a client project I’m working on. I was using a TextField in Flash CS5, and needed to know the width of the actual text inside it for positioning purposes. What I found was that in about 50% of cases, the textWidth property would return zero instead of the strings length in pixels. I tried using autoSize on the TextField and found that it would shorten half of its instances to a single character or less, causing the rest of the line to be invisible.
At first I thought there was something wrong with the font file, but the same happened with Verdana. So I started randomly changing settings, and it turns out that the “anti-alias for readability” setting was causing this. As soon as I changed that setting to “anti-alias for readability” the textfields were being autosized properly, and reported their actual lengths through the textWidth property.
More Erratic behavior with Flash’s textWidth property
When I first started using WPMU, the now-integrated multisite version of WordPress, I found it strange that there were no built-in tools to aggregate content onto the main blog. It seemed to me that that was something plenty of people would want to do. Sure, there were plugins and hacks, but none of them were as polished as I’d like them to be.
Fortunately, things have changed. WordPress 3.0 now has multisite capabilities built right into it, and Bjorn Wijers, a friend of mine and one of Holland’s top WordPress developers, has created a really cool plugin to handle content aggregation. Called bbAggregate, this plugin doesn’t just collect posts from blogs to be displayed on the home page, it allows you to display aggregated content on any of your network’s blogs. And to do this it introduces the concept of streams.
More bbAggregate lets you mix and match WordPress content
Don’t get me wrong. I hate nag screens as much as anyone, but after playing the free version of iBubble Shooter for quite some time I’m can’t really blame them for trying to get me to upgrade. The game is based on the classic bust-a-move principle, in which you shoot bubbles from the bottom of the screen trying to group them together based on color. It’s pretty good, certainly the best touch screen translation of the concept that I’ve played. At € 0.80 it’s a steal. But that was even more true for the original free version.
More iBubble Shooter now has nag screens, but can you really blame Absolutist?
For a project I’m working on, I needed to create a split menu, where the top level navigation was in a horizontal menu in the header, with all underlying content listed elsewhere on the page. This turned out to be a little harder than I had anticipated, but I managed to get it working. Here’s how I did it. Feel free to add suggestions in the comments if you see room for improvement.
More Creating a split menu in WordPress 3.0
As some of you may know, Twitter is fading out support for “basic authentication”. This basically means that app developers (like myself) can’t just send a user’s login information to Twitter’s server when we want to send a tweet or change a setting. Instead the application needs to be “authorized” by the user using a process called oAuth.
For Snapatar, this meant I needed to make a lot of changes. OAuth is far from trivial to implement, and I was lucky to find a library that handles most of the complicated stuff. With it, I was able to get oAuth working on snapatar.com, and beat the August 16 deadline. More Snapatar now uses oAuth (phew!)
I’ve been promising a new version of WP-Cumulus for a long time. I’ve tried working with more experienced PHP developers, but it’s been hard to find a really good one who’s able to devote time to the project. I still think a plugin like this should be a team effort, but for now I’m going to kick things back into motion again myself.
What’s ready at this point is a much cleaner rewrite of the plugin files, with the display logic in a neat little class that port authors will hopefully be able to reuse. I’ve also got a Flash movie that uses a user-defined system font, as a result is much smaller, and supports unicode tags.
More WP-Cumulus 2.0 is finally in development (again)
I used to be a real nitpicker when it came to preparing images for the web. I’d laugh at people using large images in web pages, showing them in a smaller format by setting the width and height properties.
In the days before broadband was everywhere it was bad karma to do this, because a large image file would take a long time to download. You needed to prepare the image at the size you were going to be displaying it. Nowadays, things are a little different.
More Browsers are pretty quick at scaling images