Leadership in an OpenSource Project

In the past week have been confronted with several issues related to project planning, task & time management and project execution. Just defining the “deliverables” has been a real challenge. Given that the workforce of the company I work for is largely constituted of people who consider themselves to be volunteers, it makes for an interesting work environment. I naturally gravitate towards planning for tactical success and wanting to view things from the “big picture” perspective – knowing how the parts fit together. Project planning and project execution involves a lot of decision making and a lot of communicating about decisions.

Over the last year I have been watching with some interest the UI development of WordPress. UI design is an area that I really enjoy. So when I saw Jane presenting on this issue of “How decisions get made at WordPress” (on the Open Source part of the project), I thought I would watch it. I thought that I would be watching how a company does UI decision making. But the focus of the talk was broader than that. It was generally good to see a model at work in a company where there is a successful product. As I listened to the discussion I was struck at how their project deals with:

  • Decision Making
  • Community Involvement
  • Consensus Building
  • Project Planning
  • Leadership
  • Sustainability

In many respects the company I work with deals with these same issues. It was good to see how another company/project deals with these issues, and sees these kinds of issues as important to the success of their product.

Better Extended Live Archives

A long time a go, when WordPress was young (like version 1.5), And K2 was young. There was a plugin called Extended Live Archive (ELA).

I love the organization that this plugin gave to a bolg’s entries. It is still my preferred presentation of posts on a blog. Over the years all the software has developed K2 is now in version 1.0.3, WordPress is in version 3.0 and ELA has become Better Extended Live Archive (BELA) thanks to Charles

Here is a series of links – in no particular order – which talk about the development of ELA.


I have had a problem with how BELA Presents the entries by Date:

Better Live Archives by Date

Better Live Archives By Date

Notice how all the blog entires at the bottom are displayed on top of each other.
I can not figure out how to un-do that.

Notice also in the following two pictures of the sort by Tags and sort by Category list the entries are not displayed on top of each other.

Better Live Archives By Tag

Better Live Archives By Tag

Better Live Archives By Category

Better Live Archives By Category

For checking this live: you can look at the archive. This has been checked in several browsers:

  • Safari
  • Flock
  • Firefox
  • Cruz

All to no avail. (That is it does not appear to be a Browser based issue.)

The Offending Element:


Things to Change per Charles.

Javascript Charts…

These are some really cool looking Javascript Charts from Highcharts.

Highcharts Javascript charts

Another opinion on Highcharts.

They run off of JQuery, which is already used by WordPress and K2. It would be nice if someone could wrap this into a WordPress Plugin with a cool way to add / manage data from the WP admin panel. Let me see if someone did….

For WordPress there is WP-Table by alex.rabe. This project was handed over to another developer, Tobias Bäthge and retitled WP-Table Reloaded.
Tobias says

[one] can have both wp-Table and WP-Table Reloaded installed in your WordPress! They will not interfere (as they are not using anything together). They are completely independent from each other. If WP-Table Reloaded finds the wp-Table database tables, it can import the found tables into it’s own format, so that you can completely upgrade from wp-Table to WP-Table Reloaded.

There are some updated instructions for version 1.5, which didin’t seem to make to the WP plugin repository.

There is another jQuery plugin, called Visualize, that takes data from an HTML table and displays it as a chart. Cool. I wonder which, Visualize or Highcharts is better and why?

After we graph these data, is it possible to also make the data drive a SIMILE chart/timeline?

It looks like one can add data sets to be graphed with the WP-SIMILE plugin. Why not pull these directly from the current display table? or make SIMILE / TIMEPLOT graph time depth change. i.e. if the data displayed in the HTML table is propagated from a MySQL table then why not have several entries in the MySQL database with a time code to change? in a way tracking momentum. That is over time how much have these data changed? i.e. Display the same data set from 1945, from 1950, and 1955.

Why should we still use HTML tables instead of CSS?

ASIDE: My next question is: How do I keep track of all the jQuery plugins I use?
Is there an efficient way to do that?

FYI: There are several other Charting options currently available for WordPress. Most of these involve managing your data somewhere else and then using an API to bring that data to your WP install. The truth of the matter is that it is most likely that you are going to manage your data somewhere else anyway. However, I do not use Google docs to manage my data so I can not pull data from that source directly into my my WP install.
However, there is a plugin Easy Chart Builder. This plugin does not have “nice” admin section for creating the charts but does create an image from a data set inserted with a short code.

Some solutions when using google apps to present data, but if Data Ownership is an issue. Then why use google apps?

Multi-WordPress Blog Management

I run several WordPress Blogs.

I would like to:

  • Write content for different blogs from the same admin section.
  • Allow users to on various blogs access to my other blogs with a single sign on.


Will this plugin help?


How about this one?



Update: 2012… WP 3.5. It seems that for what I am doing that a WP Multi-site is the way to go.

Making your WordPress site iPhone friendly

What are the crucial questions to ask when I think: “I want to make my site mobile friendly.”

How do I do it?

What tools do I use?

Useful links:

WordPress Mobile Pack


WordPress Mobile Edition

A mobile/phone/PDA friendly interface for your blog with progressive enhancement for advanced mobile browsers. You can see it in action by visiting this site in a mobile browser.

I have tried this on this thejourneyler.org. The plugin only works with Carrington Mobile theme 1.0.2. However, the Carrington mobile theme is currently at version 1.1, which is not compatible with this plugin (as far as I can tell). CMT 1.0.2 is not compatible with PostTabs, a plugin I use extensively to display multiple layers of content on a single page.

A nice feature of this plugin is that the user of an iPod Touch can “opt out” of the CMT. And once they have opted out they can “opt in” again with a link on the bottom of the post or page.

WordPress Mobile Admin

It uses Wapple’s advanced web services to produce perfect markup whilst at the same time maintaining the familiar look and feel of WordPress. You can write and edit posts, moderate and reply to comments as well as updating and managing pages.

I have also tried this. It is not compatible with Block-Spam-By-Math. That is not in and of itself a deal breaker. But to use this I would have to find a bot blocking plugin that does work with WordPress Mobile Admin. This plugin is great for managing the commenting process or adding new text content. There is a lack of support for controlling WP settings through the mobile interface.

iPhone Control Panel
The iPhone Control Panel Plugin allows you to easily configure how iPhones and iPod touches “see” your site. It gives you the ability to add custom css, a home screen bookmark icon, change the viewport, or even redirect iPhones and iPod touches to a different url.

WordPress PDA & iPhone

This plugin helps the users to view your blog in a pda and iPhone browser. iPhone is still in beta testing state. Soon more updates will follow.


iWPhone WordPress Plugin and Theme

Wapple Architect Mobile Plugin for WordPress


Wapple Architect Mobile Plugin for WordPress is a plugin that allows you to mobilize your blog in minutes.
Every single mobile device is detected and all aspects of your blog are tailored to the visiting handset. Sites aren’t dumbed down to the lowest common denominator but instead use the features and functionality that advanced phones offer.
Devices are detected by using Wapple’s advanced web services instead of relying on inferior 3rd party tools. If you view your blog with a brand new, never before seen handset, it’ll still work perfectly!
Any theme you’ve installed and have styled for web will be carried across to mobile giving you a consistent look and feel for each and every one of your visitors.

iPhone / Mobile Admin

Mobile Admin adapts the WordPress admin UI to be more friendly to mobile devices, specifically phones.
The iPhone / iPod Touch browser was the first target, but most other mobile browsers are supported at a basic level, and plugins can be used to customize for specific browsers where desired.
A plugin for the iPhone/iPod Touch devices is included, as well as a more basic plugin for Windows Mobile browsers. (Consider the latter a “beta”, but it’s mostly intended to be another sample for how to write a plugin.)

Plugins not used…

In the early days of WordPress (2005) and WP-plugins there was usually only one plugin to do the job. Today there are many. So the task comes to sorting out which plugins are the right ones for the job and which ones are the best.

PDF viewing on site
I have been looking for a solution for giving my visitor the option to view PDFs I create on my site without having to download the PDF.

  • Third Party Services
    • iPaper
      There is a service for this called Scribd.com. They use a technology called iPaper to present your material. As best I can tell, you upload your document and then they convert it to flash and present your content as flash in a custom flash viewer. It works great. There is also a WordPress plugin to pull your hosted content to your WordPress website. Actually there are two plugins at the time of my writing iPaper and Simpler iPaper. I found that iPaper was the easier plugin to work with.
    • GoogleDocs
      If you are into using GoogleDocs then there is a plugin for presenting GoogleDocs in the same way as documents submitted to Scribd.com. It is called Google Doc Embedder.
    • embedit.in
      Embedit.in is another snazzy third party service. I have not tried it but it seems to work well and has some built in analytics for seeing who downloads your document.
    • docstoc.com
      Docstoc.com is yet anther third party service for serving documents.This review pits it and scribid.com against embedit.in
    • Zoho
      Zoho Apps is a rival service to Google Docs, they have a viewer for the files which users create with their online apps or add to their services. So if you are using an office document work flow which uses Zoho Apps you can embed these with ease with viewer. According to this review, Zoho Viewer lets users do three things:

      1. view documents
      2. share document as URLs
      3. embed documents
      4. .

  • Self-Hosted and Self-Contained
    • Self-Hosted SWF
      However, in general, I do not like using third party services, after a while I forget what content I have in “the cloud” and I like to keep as small a digital footprint as possible. So I found a third solution. There is a plugin called WordPressPDF. This one requires that you convert your PDF files to SWF files and then presents them on your site without requiring a third party service. It did require the installation of swftools to do the PDF to SWF conversion. However this seems a small price to pay for leaving a smaller digital foot print.
    • A second solution that I found in use was to use http://www.fpdf.org/ which is a PHP class to view PDFs the technical skill required to implement it was beyond my current time to develop. There was also another viewer mentioned here. with it’s code on Google Code but I could not figure out how to download the whole set of files out of Google Code.

Keeping track of “To Dos”
There are so many cool things you can do with web pages and with WordPress. I needed a way to track all the things that I wanted to do. I have tried three plugins for this.

  • Admin Notes ajax jquery
    The first, Admin Notes ajax jquery, added a blue box at the top of all my admin pages to which I could add “To Do” items however this increased the load time of my admin pages by at least 3 seconds under heavy use. So it had to go.
  • WordPress Admin Notepad Plugin
    The second, WordPress Admin Notepad Plugin, added a single “scratch paper” spot through the settings tab. This was not accessible enough. It seems more ideal for passing notes between users on a WordPress install.
  • Peter’s Post Notes
    The third, Peter’s Post Notes, Is the winner! is by far the best plugin for my uses because it keeps track of notes on a per page or per post basis. So I only see the notes which are relevant to the current post.
  • Note Pad
    A long time ago, I also used Chris Davis’s Note Pad plugin it allowed me to make a note in the admin area and then easily change it to a post draft. I could not get this plugin to work with a current version of WordPress.


Get people to view your site with a browser other than Internet Explorer.

Again there are several plugins. They take two different approaches one is Pro-FireFox (from spreadfirefox.com), the others are anti-IE6.

This is a really sensitive, but serious issue. As a web-developer I do not want people using a browser that is less secure than a modern browser like Firefox 3.5.3+. However, there is another reason to encourage a browser other than IE, and that is I don’t want to have to recode each page in an IE friendly manner. This is just too much work.

  • Spread Firefox
    The spreadfirefox plugin got annoying because it showed it’s logo all the time even when viewed in FireFox and it created a huge footer.. So I yanked it.
  • IE Warning
    The IE Warning plugin was a bit friendlier and had a really cool custom panel where I could customize the CSS applying to the warning.
  • Shockingly Big IE6 Warning
    But in the end I went with the Shockingly Big IE6 Warning because it had the best admin panel and the most customization options.
  • Anti IE6 Army
    Anti IE6 Army was not tested but appears to be a plugin of similar function.

How do you keep a page from showing up in the menu?