Tag Archives: WordPress

The system that runs sites.middlebury.edu

WordPress Plugin Spotlight: Tons of Features in Jetpack (Part 1)

This is an ongoing series of posts to highlight some of the features that we have installed in WordPress that you might like to use on your site, but might not know are available.

WordPress is an open-source, community-built platform, but it also has a company behind it that coordinates activity and runs WordPress.com. This company Automattic, has released some of the most popular features of WordPress.com as a plugin they support named Jetpack. By connecting your site with a WordPress.com account, you get access to many additional features. We’ll describe a few of these features here, and in a follow-up post, but descriptions are also available at their site.

Activating the Plugin

You can activate Jetpack as you would any other plugin in the WordPress administration interface for your site. After you activate the plugin, you need to connect it with a WordPress.com account. These are free to register on their site, but if you do not wish to create an account, let us know and we can connect it using one of ours. It is important to note at this point that all features of Jetpack are currently free to use, but some may require an additional payment in the future.

Useful Features

Here are some of the things that you can do with the Jetpack plugin.

Site Stats

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Jetpack can be used to collect information about the people visiting your site and display that data in an interface that is significantly easier to use than Google Analytics. This allows you to see which of your posts were the most popular, how people are finding your site, and the geographic distribution of visitors to your site.

Extra Shortcodes

In addition to the embedable items you have access to with the WordPress Video Plugin, Jetpack adds some extra shortcodes allowing you to add Google Maps, Scribd and SlideShare documents.

There is also code for adding LaTeX markup to your posts, making is easy (well, easier) to write things like this:

i\hbar\frac{\partial}{\partial t}\left|\Psi(t)\right>=H\left|\Psi(t)\right>

Extra Sidebar Widgets

Jetpack adds three extra widgets that you can add to site sidebars:

  • Twitter: show the latest tweets from your account to encourage people to follow you on Twitter.
  • RSS Links: add a link to the RSS feeds for the posts and/or comments on your site.
  • Image: add an image to your sidebar for extra visual appeal.

More Image Galleries

While we have the NextGen Gallery Plugin for advanced image galleries, with Jetpack you get access to two more simple image gallery layouts: Tiled Galleries and Carousels. Here is an example of a Tiled Gallery in a post:

Stay Tuned

In the next post in this series, we’ll cover the Contact Forms feature of the Jetpack plugin.

WordPress Plugin Spotlight: Organize your Widgets with Display Widgets

This is an ongoing series of posts to highlight some of the features that we have installed in WordPress that you might like to use on your site, but might not know are available.

Widgets are a powerful feature of WordPress that allow you to easily add dynamic features to your site sidebars like tag clouds, a list of authors on your site, links to other resources, search forms, and social media features. Sometimes, though, you only want a widget to appear on a specific page of your site and by default adding a widget to a sidebar will make it show up everywhere.


Activating the Display Widgets plugin on your site will allow you to control where widgets appear. Once activated, your widget settings screen will contain a list of pages with checkboxes. You can choose to either show or hide each of your widgets on the selected pages. With this, you can do things like tailor a list of resource links to a particular topic page, or only show your Facebook like button on the homepage.

WordPress Plugin Spotlight: Liveblog

This is an ongoing series of posts to highlight some of the features that we have installed in WordPress that you might like to use on your site, but might not know are available.

Liveblogging is the practice of covering an event as it happens on your blog. Rather than a composed post that covers your thoughts on a subject and is published once, a live blog post is updated with snippets of your thoughts on the event as it occurs. Common uses of liveblogging are covering a speech, television show, or sporting event. The practice allows the author to interact with their readers in real time via comments on the live blog post.

We now offer a plugin to help you do this. If you activate the Liveblog plugin, you’ll be able to mark certain posts as live blog posts. This will add an interface for the author to make short posts to the live blog without having to use the normal back-end WordPress editing interface. Readers will see updates appear on the post page without needing to refresh their browsers. This video covers how to use the plugin in practice.


As an example of this plugin in use at Middlebury, Professor Matt Dickinson used it to cover the US election returns on his site.

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WordPress Plugin Spotlight: Let it snow with WP Snowfall!

Would you like to add some seasonal cheer to your WordPress site? If you activate the WP Snowfall plugin, you’ll notice a virtual version of what we can all hope to see outside in the coming days. You may need to change the background color your theme uses to a darker color so that you can get the full effect.

Enjoy the break and see you in the new year!

WordPress Plugin Spotlight: Assigning multiple authors with Co-Authors Plus

This will be an ongoing series of posts to highlight some of the features that we have installed in WordPress that you might like to use on your site, but don’t know are available.

The Co-Authors Plus plugin lets you assign multiple authors to a single post or page. Each of these authors will have access to edit the post. This makes it a helpful tool for collaborative writing or reports from group projects.

If you’re using a theme that supports it (which all of the Middlebury-produced “Translucence” family of themes do), each author will also appear in the byline of the post. If you’re using a theme that doesn’t support this, let us know and we can add it to that theme.

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The newest version of Co-Authors Plus also lets you add Guest Authors to your site. This is helpful if you want to have a post appear from a guest blogger who doesn’t have an account in the Middlebury system, or to post primary source material in the original author’s name. This can also be used on department or office sites to have posts appear under the name of the group, rather than a single person. Guest authors don’t have any privileges on the site, the post simply appears as if authored by them.

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The Co-Authors Plus plugin can be enabled if you are an Administrator of a WordPress site in the Plugins section of the dashboard. Guest Authors can be added in the Users section.

Maintenance on sites.middlebury.edu this Sunday morning

During our established maintenance window this Sunday morning at approximately 9:00 am EDT we will be upgrading the wordpress server that houses sites.middlebury.edu and www.nereview.org, we expect the interruption of service to be less than 10 minutes.

Thank you for your patience as we strive to keep our systems performing optimally.

WordPress Upgraded to version 3.4

The Middlebury and MIIS blogging communities are now running on WordPress 3.4. This introduces three new features.

  • A theme customizer that lets you change your site’s settings and styles in one interface.
  • Automatic Twitter embeds. Paste the URL of a Tweet into one of your posts and it will automatically show up in the post, like the example below.
  • HTML Image Captions. When writing an image caption you can include some HTML tags like <b>, <i>, and <a> to add information to your caption.

Here’s a video that highlights these features.

There is more information available about WordPress 3.4 in their official blog and developer documentation.

New Plugin for WordPress: Show Thumbnails in the Posts List

If you use Featured Images for posts in your WordPress site, you can now enable a plugin for your site that will show these images to you on the All Posts page in the administration interface for your site. This can help you quickly identify posts in the list. The name of the plugin is “Midd Post Thumbnails”. Simply activate it on the Plugins administration page and your posts list will now look something like this.