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.
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
There’s been a lot of controversy over Apple’s decision to ban Flash (and Java for that matter) from the iPhone since the day it was released. Now, with the iPad about to hit retail, there’s been more debate on whether this was a technical decision or not, and whether it’s a severe limitation for the devices, or a blessing. Being both a Flash developer, an iPhone OS user an open source advocate, I thought I’d weigh in on the conversation.
Before I get started though, let me point out that I’m not a fan of Flash. I think it’s a real shame that there’s no open, official standard that lets web designers do the things Flash can. Adobe has the web in an awkward stranglehold right now, and I’d love to see that change. But the reality is that Flash is an integral part of the web today.
More My thoughts on Flash and the iPad
The templating system in WordPress is very flexible, and there’s rarely something you can’t do or that doesn’t work as you’d expect. A notable exception however is
the_date. Its purpose is simple enough. It displays the current post’s date of creation. But on pages with more than one post (such as on many blog home pages), something weird happens. If a number of posts on any given page were created on the same date,
the_date will only show that date for the first of those posts.
In the early days of blogging, posts were usually listed by date, much like a regular, paper diary. In the old default theme that comes with WordPress a big date title is used to separate posts into days. That’s what
the_date was created to do, and so it makes sense it only displays the same date once. In most modern themes however, people like the date to be among the meta data for each article, so
the_date falls short.
More How to show each post’s date in WordPress
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.