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WordPress Plugin Spotlight: Embed Google Docs in your Posts

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

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.

This plugin requires little in the way of explanation. If you have a document hosted on Google Docs or Google Drive and want to embed it in a blog post or page, enable the Google Docs Shortcode plugin in your site’s administration interface. This plugin supports embedding documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and forms. You can use some shortcode like this to add your documents:

[gdoc link="LINK_TO_GOOGLE_DOC" height="600"]

Documentation on getting the link for the shortcode is available at that link. As an example, here’s are presentation slides from a session I gave on our Drupal architecture:

WordPress Plugin Spotlight: Embed Google Docs in your Posts

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

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.

This plugin requires little in the way of explanation. If you have a document hosted on Google Docs or Google Drive and want to embed it in a blog post or page, enable the Google Docs Shortcode plugin in your site’s administration interface. This plugin supports embedding documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and forms. You can use some shortcode like this to add your documents:

[gdoc link="LINK_TO_GOOGLE_DOC" height="600"]

Documentation on getting the link for the shortcode is available at that link. As an example, here’s are presentation slides from a session I gave on our Drupal architecture:

WordPress Plugin Spotlight: Tons of Features in Jetpack (Part 2)

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

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. This post describes the Contact Forms feature, but descriptions of other features can be found in part one of this post and 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.

Contact Forms

The Jetpack plugin adds a feature for collecting simple feedback and information from visitors to your site through a custom form. Before we start, here are some things that these forms are not good at:

  • Collecting sensitive or personally identifiable information. This should never be done in our WordPress or Drupal sites. If you need to collect this type of information, please contact LIS so we can work on finding an appropriate solution.
  • Reporting. There’s no export feature for the data these forms collect. If you need to download the form data to Excel, consider using the Webform module in our Drupal site instead.
  • Complex form logic, branching, and advanced survey fields like scales and grids. These forms have only a few basic field types available and everything needs to be on the same page. Advanced survey features are available through our KeySurvey application and you can contact LIS for access.

But if you just want to add a basic feedback form or a poll to your blog or site in WordPress, this can be a handy tool.

Creating Forms

To add a new form to a post, click the form button to the right of the Add Media button while editing the post. This will bring up an interface with some example fields.

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Modify that sample form to suit your needs and click the “Add this form to my post” button. This will put a bunch of shortcode text into the body of your post, but when you Publish the post visitors to your post will see the form.

Getting Feedback

When people submit the form, the results will be stored in the “Feedbacks” section available in the left sidebar of your site’s Dashboard.

Screen Shot 2013-02-07 at 3.22.52 PM

Also, when creating your form, there is an “Email Notifications” tab that you can click on to send the form results to one or more email addresses.

Let us know what you think

[contact-form]

 

 

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

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

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

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 11.34.34 AM

 

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:

IMG_0090.JPG IMG_0080.JPG IMG_0088.JPG IMG_0082.JPG IMG_0085.JPG IMG_0099.JPG IMG_0086.JPG

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

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

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.

screenshot-1

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

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

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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