Spent a few minute to finally set up my website with Brid.gy so that it’s now pulling responses back from Mastodon. It’s so nice to see all the interactions that were once “lost” to me coming back to live with their proper contexts on my website.
For those looking to tinker with their websites as it relates to interacting with Mastodon, the IndieWeb has a reasonable number of potential options in addition to your ability to roll your own.
This morning, after reading a brief, but interesting snippet in the IndieWeb WordPress chat from last night, David Shanske made me think about an old itch I had to have a quicker and more stripped down posting interface for notes on my website. I immediately thought of WordPress’s P2 and 02 themes/products which had a built-in simple posting interface reminiscent of Twitter’s UI.
Not wanting to wait to see what David might come up with before the next couple of IndieWebCamps, I thought I’d at least do some research to see what was hiding in the good old WordPress repository. I found a few old plugins that were roughly the sort of idea I was looking for, but they were last maintained about 8-10 years ago.
Apparently the plugin itself had an early simple start before the developer came across Jon Smajda’s plugin Posthaste which was apparently repurposed for the Prologue/P2 code that WordPress used for that product/theme. He’s since rewritten a large chunk of it based on Posthaste’s original code and added in some basic formatting options and the ability to add media, so one can post a quick note along with a photo.
Settings for the plugin are hiding in Settings << Writing admin interface (or at the path /wp-admin/options-writing.php on your website) which includes the ability to choose which pages to display the “widget” and allowing one to hide the title, tags, categories, draft seclector, one’s Gravatar, and the Greeting and Links. I’d personally pare my version down to just provide tags, categories, and the draft options to keep the interface as clean as possible.
Finally the developer notes that within the user interface “if you leave the ‘Category:’ box at its default setting it posts to your default category. However… If you have a category named ‘asides’, it will put posts with empty titles into the ‘asides’ category even if you do not explicitly specify the ‘asides’ category in the dropdown. You can then style them as asides.”
I’ve already discussed some of the immediate benefits for easily and quickly posting directly from my own website. Just below I’ll add a few others.
Most importantly for me at the moment, the plugin works with the Classic Editor in WordPress. The interface also only shows up when one is logged into their website, so visitors won’t ever see it.
The plugin automatically takes the first 40 characters of your note and posts that into the title field, so you don’t have to bother with it. Sadly, this means that feed readers and other services will take your status updates and give them a title. (Though in the wild, most feed readers do something like this anyway. I am hearing strong rumors that Inoreader is about to have better support for social media-like posts soon.) For those using the plugin for IndieWeb use and prefer to keep their notes/asides/status updates titleless, you can spelunk into the code pretty easily and make a quick change which the developer kindly documents in his support page:
But, if you want to modify the title character limit it is easy to do.
Go to this plugin’s folder and open the narwhal-microblog.php file.
In this file you will see a line for this max character limit and you will see the number 40. You could just increase it to something like 100, 3500, or 999999. Depending on how long you are willing to let your titles get.
In my case, I think I’ll just decrease the character limit to 0 and then rely on the Post Kinds plugin to add it’s customary pseudo-title to the admin interface on my back end so that I can distinguish my posts in the posts pages.
The category chooser could be a little cleaner and provide a dropdown of all my pre-existing categories with the ability to select multiple ones. I suspect that somewhere in the WordPress universe there’s a way to do this even if it means swiping a snippet of code from core’s editor.
The basic text box for entering text could be a bit smaller on the page to accept 2-4 lines of text since it’s meant for short posts. As it stands now, it defaults to 10, but it also smartly already has a slider that appears when you type more than the available number of lines and it also has a handle in the corner to allow you to increase the boxes size.
I’ve mentioned doing natively titleless notes above, but to make things a bit more user friendly, it would be nice to have the ability in the settings page to enter a number for the text excerpt, so that users could configure it without needing code. I suspect that most in the IndieWeb space would set the title excerpt to zero so as to not have titles on their notes.
It will take me some time to dig into it, but it would be nice if the developer had some notes about the CSS classes used in the plugin so that one might more easily style the display of the output on one’s website. Fortunately the defaults to match one’s current theme seem relatively solid.
At present, there isn’t any UI for including syndication targets to external services like Twitter, Mastodon, etc. It would be nice if there was some tie into syndication services or functionality like that provided with Syndication Links plugin and brid.gy publish or brid.gy fed if those pieces are present.
The last dovetail that would be nice to have, particularly within an IndieWeb framing, would be to have better direct integration of this plugin with the Post Kinds plugin. This could extend to auto-setting the post kind to “note”, which should in turn allow the automatic setting of Post Formats to either “status” or “aside”.
In sum, this plugin is really fantastic for allowing a simple and lightweight means of posting quick status updates or notes to one’s WordPress website! It’s the next best thing to using any of the variety of Micropub clients, particularly when you already happen to be at your own site.
I suspect this plugin is the sort of thing that many within the IndieWeb and WordPress communities will love using–and at least one person in the chat has already said they think it’s a great find. There are currently less than 10 active installations of the plugin, but I think it deserves a magnitude or more. Let’s see what we can do about that!
Micropub Plugin work for WordPress
It will include a Media endpoint
Code for integration with the WordPress REST API
This sketch solution may be an end-around the issue of getting WordPress (or potentially other CMSes) Themes to be microformats 2 compatible, and allow a larger range of inter-compatibility for websites and communication.
Summary: Facebook has recently announced it will be shutting off its API access on August 1st for automating posts into its ecosystem. For a large number of users this means it will be much more difficult to crosspost or syndicate their content into the platform. As a result, this week David Shanske and I discuss the good and the bad of this move as well as some general thoughts around the ideas of syndicating content from one site to another.
David also discusses plans he’s got for changes to both the Bridgy Publish Plugin and the Syndication Links Plugin.
I spent some time this morning doing a dry run through setting up a suite of IndieWeb plugins on a fresh WordPress installation. Going off of a scant outline I talked for almost two hours describing IndieWeb functionality as I set it all up. Hopefully it will provide a useful guide to newcomers to the space until I can write up a more solid outline and take a more polished approach. Apologies in advance for the roughness of the audio, lack of quality, and even live mistakes. Hopefully folks won’t mind suffering through until we can come up with some better tutorials.
As prerequisites, I assume you’ve already got your own domain and have installed WordPress on a server or other host. I actually finish setting up the WordPress install as I start the video and then sign in for the first time as we begin.
While many of the core plugins are straightforward, there is a huge amount of leeway in how folks can choose (or not) to syndicate to sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others. Here I make the choice to use the Bridgy Publish plugin and only demonstrate it with Twitter. With one example shown, hopefully other silos can be set up with Brid.gy as well. The IndieWeb wiki details other options for those who want other methods.
At the end I walk through creating and syndicating a post to Twitter. Then I demonstrate commenting on that post using another CMS (WithKnown) from a separate domain.
I do my best to provide verbal descriptions and visual examples, but these can certainly be supplemented with further detail on the IndieWeb wiki. I hope to come back and add some diagrams at a later date, but this will have to suffice for now.
For those who would like an audio only version of this talk, you can listen here (.mp3):