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WordPress Plugins for Content Management: Blogslot

Wordpress

Late last year there was a great amount of talk about using WordPress as a CMS. Stephan Spencer has always been an advocate of using WordPress as a CMS. I wrote my view on the issue – I was against using WordPress as a CMS because it was just too technical: Too much coding, for the average joe like myself, who doesn’t know much about code and programming.

WordPress is difficult to use as a CMS, even more so if you manage a multilingual blog such as this one. English speaking people (especially in the US) believe English is the language of the world, but it’s not. Writing or blogging multilingual isn’t a matter of translating content, but addressing issues that are of interest to different audiences:

Multilingual Blogging is a matter of culture and markets, not one of translations.

These specific needs were the drivers for the development of Blogslot – a WordPress Plugin to manage your content – let’s take a look at how it works …

Siderbar and Menu Management

The idea behind Blogsot is an easy and accessible management of your feeds and pages. With Blogslot you can organize and group your feeds (or pages) according to your needs – all you need to do is create a slot, anywhere on your page layout:

  • Header
  • Sidebar
  • Anywhere in the page

Screenshot of Blogslot Funcionalitiles Once you have defined your page layout, name each menu. Take a look at my sidebar – you’ll notice how I have arranged my feeds into 2 categories, English and Italian. There are also other elements like NEWS or International. That was all done via Blogslot. This is managed via the Page Slots element you find when you create or edit your pages. Same thing goes for your Feeds, you decide how to group them and leave the rest to Blogslot.

The Page Order functionality remains unaltered: choose a numbering system to arrange the order of appearance within the menu. There is no limit to the number of slots you can create, and you can have a page (or feed) appear in more than one slot as well.

Now to the tricky part – implementing a bit of code – just a little bit … you need to implement it within your template, just a small bit of code that uniquely identifies each and every slot (= menu) you create.

If you cannot code and ignore HTML your webmaster will certainly be of assistance – after all he did create your template, and it will take him literally minutes to do this for you.

Here’s what needs to be done step by step:

  1. Access your blog via FTP
  2. Position yourself in the folder where your active theme is placed – typically in a sub-folder of /wpcontent/themes/
  3. Download your template page or elements where you need to position your personalized menus (this can be the sidebar.php page in many WordPress templates)
  4. Backup your files before making any modifications – you never know, especially if you’re not a programmer …
  5. Identify the areas of the sidebar where you wish to position the new menus
  6. Copy and paste the following code (had to put some CRs you can eliminate:)
    <h2>MENU NAME</h2>
    <ul>
    <?php wp_list_pages(‘title_li=&sort_column=menu_order&slot=
    SLOT_NAME
    &depth=2′);?>
    <?php wp_list_categories(‘show_count=1&feed_image=
    /wp-content/themes/images/feed.gif&title_li=&slot=
    SLOT_NAME
    ‘); ?>
    </ul>

    MENU NAME = The name you have chosen for the menu – this is the header for your menu visible to the user on your page
    SLOT_NAME =
    The name you have chosen for your slot. Blogsot adds the slot parameter to the template tags wp_list_pages e wp_list_categories, filtering out elements that are not associated to that particular element (if you are a programmer you’ll be interested in this, otherwise just forget what you just read).

  7. You may have to review paths to your image files
  8. Once finished, upload the files to your server

Now that you have the files on the server, you’ll need the map you created earlier (remember ? I suggested you create a map of you page layout to identify your menus with names).
Keep that map handy so when you add new pages you know where they should be positioned: Use intuitive names for your menus – it helps a lot. an example of blogslot at work: a menu called “pippo”

Now comes the fun part. Create a new page you would like to allocate in a menu called Pippo. From your administration panel do as usual and create a new page. When you are ready to publish don’t forget to add the name of the menu where the page should be positioned. You’re done.

Like I mentioned earlier, Blogslot also allows you to mange your feeds, organizing them into groups: this is very useful if you are a bilingual blogger (like myself) or if you simply wish to break down your feeds into groups, significantly increasing overall usability.

Now some information for the programming community, interested in some programming details … if you’re not interested stop here and proceed to downloading the plugin.

Technical Details for Programmers

Blogslot was created for those who are not programmers with minimum HTML skills. But there are also a lot of power users who might be interested in the technical rational behind the plugin: many times plugins are lacking information that makes them a black box, so when you upgrade to a newer version of WordPress and loose functionalities, the plugin becomes obsolete and useless.

For wp_list_pages a new attribute called at_level has been introduced. It allows for filtering of all sub pages related to the current one, just like what happens here on the menus of my blog (the main menu across the top of the page).

This is the code:

<?php wp_list_pages(‘title_li=&sort_column=menu_order&slot=Main Menu&hierarchical=&at_level=1’);?>

As you can see in this code both at_level and slot were used in combination with others. Slot and at_level can be used with all other attributes, there is one limitation: you must remember to set to false the hierarchical attribute with hierarchical=.

Unfortunately this parameter cannot be set automatically with this version of wordpress (blogslot was created with 2.1.3 and successfully migrated to 2.2.1) perhaps it will be in future versions.

As for filtering, WordPress automatically adds the class current_page_item to menu items related to the current page. Blogslot extends this functionality to exploit the new features provided by at_level, automatically adding the class current_page_item to all menu items related to that element.

So here you are – download and enjoy using WordPress as a CMS ! And don’t be stingy … leave a comment and your feedback – I’d like to know how it works out for you. We will be working on this plugin … blog_slot.zip

UPDATES: 26/07/2007 for WordPress 2.2 compatibility

Here is a link to many other WordPress Multilingual plugins.

47 Replies

  1. Hello!
    Are you planning to support WordPress 2.2.2?
    I install this plugin on wp 2.2.2, but the box “Page Slots” is not appear in “Write post” section, only in “Write Page”.

    I’d like to use this great plugin for wp_list_categories too.
    “BlogSlot” is a very useful plugin for me, it’s a pity “BlogSlot” don’t work with wp_list_categories in wordpress 2.2.2โ€ฆ

    Nevertheless thanks for plugin!

  2. We’ll check it out – it is very strange that you encounter this kind of problem !

  3. Using wordpress as a CMS for me it is a good CMS tool that i ever use since i start making blogs and site compare to other CMS application on the specifically Joomla and Mambo first I use this kind of CMS in making blogs but sad to say its difficult so when i found wordpress first i found difficult to handle but later on as i continue to use i found that i start already to wordpress. One thing that i appreciate wordpress is the availability of the plugins and support.

    Revero
    make link say – Make Money With Blogs

  4. Will this still work for WP 2.3.3?

  5. Yes it does – it was upgraded just recently fora Clients WordPress Multilingual Blog – you should be fine ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. FMS

    Thanks ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. waleras

    there are some special themes for WP,so nobody could not recognize, the word press blog

  8. Writing a multi-language blog is actually a huge undertaking, blogslot makes it a lot easier and I love the RSS handling portion.

  9. Glad you like it – so far the feedback has been largely positive for blogslot amongst the multilingual blogging community

  10. Hi Sante,

    Great tip on FTP for WordPress. I’m actually looking for youtube and Google Video plugin for my wordpress template. If you know of links or templates with that do let me know.

    Thanks
    Edmund

  11. Nice post, and I really agree that the coding used on WordPress is just to complicated for an average user, the not-so-techy.

  12. Nice Post,I am also agree with you The man about the coding. and thanks for FTP tip…..Thank again….

  13. I think the main reason that WordPress will not be seen by the masses as a CMS is because it requires some technical knowledge to really get going. If you consider the likes of Joomla! have arguably more features and are easy to use, I’d come down on this side each time.

  14. Great tip on FTP for WordPress. Iโ€™m actually looking for youtube and Google Video plugin for my wordpress template. If you know of links or templates with that do let me know.

    Thanks
    Edmund

  15. Hello!

    Very interesting post, thanks for the links to the multilingual plugins. Having a multilingual site or blog is not as easy as it seams, so thanks for these resources.

  16. London Sightseeing Tours

    The multi-lingual plugin is great, and is what will make me pick WordPress over Joomla for example. It makes it so much easier.

  17. Fresh web content

    I started building websites with FrontPage, moved on to DreamWeaver followed byXSite Pro and finally Word Press. With the range of free plugins it is my favourite content management system now.

  18. Add URL

    Frontpage cannot compare to WordPress. I’m glad to see that Microsoft will be dropping the frontpage extensions.

    Frontpage was a poor choice that lowered the bar too low.

  19. I create my bilingual WordPress – based blog using various 2 mysql bases.

  20. That’s very interesting Walera,
    woudl you like to illustrate what you do in a guest post here on my blog ? I’d be more than happy to offer hospitality !

  21. Internet Marketing Blog

    I’m a HUGE WordPress fan, especially once you really dive down into all the functions and the plugins available. When I first started I was somewhat intimidated, but after having time to play I find it an exceptional CMS.

  22. This is an interesting hack, but will it work for WP 2.6?

  23. Yes it works with 2.6 download and try if you are having problems I can send you an update

  24. Great tutorial Sante!
    I will test it with the newest update next week ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Great article. I never realized how much work really goes into a multilingual site, until I started working on one. Blogslot has been great. Thanks again!!

    Cheers.

  26. Thank you Sante ,very informative , though a little complicated , will certainly give it a go , after I have set up a new blog( I am sure to mess it up!)
    I am sure to be returnig frequently!
    Vec

  27. Great multi-lingual plugins! Also enjoyed the tips for FTP for WordPress, Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Great article. However, Some time is a lot simple and easier to manage 2 or 3 site. each site for each language then to handle the multy lingual system.

  29. I disagree with this approach – IMO it’s a lot better to have one big site rather than 3 smaller ones – this is my experience. Then there is the issue that managing 3 sites is a lot of extra work, and extra work is always to be avoided whenever possible ๐Ÿ˜‰

  30. Blogging is a very unique medium. Personally, I’m glad there are many different languages and cultures around the world and I feel that if you go to another country you should at the very least make an attempt at learning and speaking their language. Blogging however has no borders – so let me ask you a question – do you find that if you blog only in Italian it limits your readership? Are we heading towards no language barriers with the increased abundance of online translators (on the fly even)? I think the bi-lingual blogging idea is a great one, what do you do if you want to reach – say – Japanese speaking readers?

  31. I have seen many readers use online translators in an attempt to understand what I am writing – it would be nice to be able to speak a number of languages wouldn’t it !! ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. A good post… I understand exactly what you’re saying more than I understand some of the wordpress coding! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  33. Trying to run one language of WordPress is hard enough I can’t imagine trying to run multiple languages.

  34. canada fly in

    Thank god I switched from frontpage to wordpres!

  35. Sante,

    Thanks for taking the time to put this together. I’ve been toying with looking at Drupal since so many people swear by it, but I’d rather use WordPress as my CMS if it can do what I want. Thanks for the tips on blogslot. – Matt

  36. WordPress is fairly easy to convert / use into a small CMS but I never bother anymore as its faster to template and more scalable with Joomla.

  37. Great post,I also want to know if it works under WP 2.7,thanks!

  38. yes it shold work under 2.7 too try it out and let me know how it works for you

  39. this post is very useful to me just what I needed
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  40. thank very good post

  41. Your technical details are rather difficult to follow. But after a thorough study, it does prove illuminating.

  42. Your post reads like a tutorial, but a precise and insightful tutorial, for the WP plug in