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
Recently, I came across discussions on Twitter, and a blog post about ‘hidden links’ in my WP-Cumulus WordPress plugin. Quite frankly, I’m a little embarrassed by this, and I’d like to explain how the situation came to be, and what I plan to change in upcoming versions.
More About the ‘hidden’ links in WP-Cumulus
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 hate having to do this, but I’m going to be closing the comments on most of the WP-Cumulus related posts on this blog. Because some have several hundred comments, they’ve become impossible to read and I find that the same questions keep getting asked over and over again. I’ve tried to patiently answer all of them, but I’m no longer able to keep up. Blog comments just aren’t a very good support mechanism.
If your question is about WP-Cumulus, the original WordPress plugin, not one of its ports or variations, please post it in the WordPress forums. This allows others to find the answers, and chances are your question has been discussed already. The forums are an invaluable resource, and offer a much better platform for WP-Cumulus support. If you add the “wp-cumulus” tag to your thread, I’ll almost certainly see it.
I’ll also try to update the FAQ more often. It’s a little out of date, but definitely still a good place to start. Oh, and for more info, see my support page.
WP-Cumulus has been ported to quite a few other platforms. I keep bumping into it, often on sites not running WordPress. I’ve given up trying to post about all of these spin-off projects, but this one feels a little special. Gautam Gupta has created a bbPress version. As far as I’m aware this is the first port to another Automattic project (I’m still waiting for a wordpress.com ‘port’, come on Matt 😉 ).
So, if you want your forum tags to fly like your blog tags, head over to http://bbpress.org/plugins/topic/bb-cumulus/ for the download.
The one feature I’ve always wanted to add to WP-Cumulus is true unicode support. Flash player 9 made this impossible because it needed to have the font characters embedded into the movie, and unicode fonts are simply too big for that. But with Flash 10, Adobe has introduced new ways of handling text, and those now allow for non-embedded text to be animated quite smoothly. There’s also no longer any need to specify an exact font name, you can simply tell the player to get a sans-serif font. Flash player 10 is on over 93% of computers now, so it starts to make sense to use it to finally add this long-awaited feature to WP-Cumulus.
More Help me test WP-Cumulus unicode support
Please update your copy of WP-Cumulus to 1.23 asap. For most users it should only take two clicks.
The should not affect how WP-Cumulus works on WordPress blogs. But there have been a number of ports and other projects that use the Flash movie. I urge the authors of those projects to examine the new Flash movie, and see if it still works in/with their product. The exploit is not unique to WordPress, and they may need to modify the security check to fit their project.
Over the last few months, I’ve not been able to dedicate as much time to the WP-Cumulus project as I’d hoped to. Freelance work has been keeping me pretty busy, and I’ve had to deal with acute issues rather than be able to focus on new features. That’s why I decided to look for help. Just around that time, Luke Morton launched a spin-off version of the plugin that implemented something I’d been meaning to work on too. I contacted Luke and I’m very happy he’s agreed to help develop WP-Cumulus from now on.
Some of the things we’ll be working on are pretty major. We’ll finally move to SWFObject 2.x, look into internationalization (both for the plugin and the Flash movie) and make improvements to the admin screen. We hope to be able to release a true 2.0 version sometime this year.
Yesterday, Thomas Scholz alerted me to a security weakness in WP-Cumulus. He noticed XSS hacking attempts targeted at wp-cumulus.php that could, in rare cases allow malicious code to be executed. This issue has been fixed in version 1.22, and I strongly recommend you upgrade straight away. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and the attack has already been seen ‘in the wild’.
WP-Cumulus can be downloaded here, but chances are your blog will notify you of the new version and allow you to upgrade automatically.
Tagnetic Poetry has been discontinued.
I guess it was about time I updated my Tagnetic Poetry plugin. WP-Cumulus’ lesser known brother now has shortcode support, as well as several other improvements. It’s not as mature as Cumulus, but it’s definitely stable enough to deserve a 1.0 version number.
The Flash movie now has support for the ‘xmlpath’ flashvar that WP-Cumulus has supported for a while now. This affects you only if you’re attempting to use it outside of the context of WordPress, but is very handy if you do. Putting more than one instance of the plugin on a page should also no longer cause issues, and several other little issues were fixed.
More Tagnetic Poetry 1.0 adds shortcode support