WordPress 3.1: Internal Linking, Admin Bar, IE9 and More

We have recently updated the OM4 platform to include the latest WordPress (3.1) features, bug fixes and improvements.

There are quite a few improvements, including:

  • Internal Linking, which makes it much easier to create a link to your existing posts and pages. See screenshot below.
  • Admin Bar, which means you’re only ever one click away from the most common Dashboard features.
  • Simplified Writing Interface, with the post and page editor now display fewer options (metaboxes) by default. Visit Screen Options in the top right to get old panels back.
  • Sortable Dashboard List Screens, making it easier to find information in your Dashboard.
  • Improved Importer/Exporter, which allows you to export just post or pages (instead of everything), as well as only exporting certain date ranges, categories, authors, statuses, and more.
  • Internet Explorer 9 Compatibility – the Visual Editor should now work as expected with IE9.
  • and many more

The full list of over 800 new features, bug fixes and improvements can be found here.

We hope these improvements make administering and using your OM4 website a much more enjoyable task.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask below or post your question on our support desk.

WordPress 2.9 Upgrade: Image Editing, Undo/Trash, Improved Video Embeds

We have recently upgraded the OM4 platform to include the latest WordPress (2.9 and 2.9.1) features.

There are quite a few improvements, including:

  • Undo/trash feature, which means that if you accidentally delete a post or comment you can bring it back from the grave (i.e., the Trash).
  • Built-in image editor, which allows you to crop, edit, rotate, flip, and scale your images.
  • Easier video embeds that allow you to just paste a URL on its own line and have it magically turn it into the proper embed code, with Oembed support for YouTube, Daily Motion, Blip.tv, Flickr, Hulu, Viddler, Qik, Revision3, Scribd, Google Video, Photobucket, PollDaddy, and WordPress.tv.
  • Improved visual editor
  • Create custom galleries with the new include and exclude attributes that allow you to pull attachments from any post, not just the current one.
  • and many more

The full list of over 500 new features, changes upgrades and improvements can be found here.

We hope these performance improvements make administering your website a much more enjoyable task.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask below or post your question on our forums.

Adding SPF records to your Google Apps setup

We’ve recently upgraded our email mapping function for Google Apps to automatically create SPF records.

This means that when we map a domain for Google Apps we:

  • create the standard MX records needed to send/receive mail
  • create the CNAMEs needed to access mail from subdomains (e.g. mail.yourdomain.com)
  • create the SPF record to make it harder for spammers to send mail pretending to come from you

This is Google’s article on how to add an SPF record if you are managing your own DNS: Set SPF records

Finer control over your website header

Overall we find that designers have a very strong appetite for being able to control the layout of header (masthead) region of each website.

For one of our current projects James has implemented a new Custom Text Box for the header, which allows the precise placement of – well, just about anything into the header.

The custom text box can include text, images and shortcodes, so this might include:

  • a set of custom navigation links – perhaps About or Sign Up
  • a search form
  • a clickable image
  • an image rotator set

So you get the idea, it can serve a lot of different purposes.

custom-header-text

Don’t forget that in the header you can already:

  • display a core header image or a custom header image for the current page
  • display a custom menu or a rollover menu (drawing on your pages/sub pages for navigation items)
  • display an Action Button (a clickable image link, useful for a primar call to action)
  • and using CSS with absolute positioning, you can also place an image, rotator set or Flash file into the header, from the body of your page or the sidebar.

So all in, a significant increase in configurability to achieve a precise effect.

WordPress 2.8 Upgrade: Improved Dashboard Performance and Widgets

We have recently upgraded the OM4 platform to include the lastest WordPress (2.8 and 2.8.1) features.

There are quite a few improvements, including:

  • A much faster dashboard interface
  • A new drag-and-drop sidebar widgets interface
  • New screen options on every dashboard page (the tab at the top right)
  • Improved timezone support with automatic daylight savings time adjustment
  • Support for more than one image gallery on a single page
  • and many more

The full list of over 180 new features, changes upgrades and improvements can be found here.

Our Own Performance Benchmarks

Our own before and after testing has demonstrated an average of a 55% decrease in dashboard page load times:

  • Main Dashboard
    • Before: 50 file requests,  366KB total file size
    • After: 13 file requests,  167KB total file size
  • Write Post Screen (with visual editor and kitchen sink enabled)
    • Before: 108 file requests,  774KB total file size
    • After: 23 file requests,  340KB total file size
  • Manage Pages Screen
    • Before: 16 file requests,  289KB total file size
    • After: 11 file requests,  173KB total file size

We hope these performance improvements make administering your website a much more enjoyable task.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask below or post your question on our forums.

New Image Rotator Feature

James has been busy recently with some new features for our OM4 websites.

With our new Image Rotator facility you can use a simple shortcode to put a group of images into a rotator set that will gently rotate in any page or post.

Too much movement on a web page can distract a visitor, so I recommend you use rotators wisely. We’ve provided an easy way to set the display time and transition time for the images so you can have a nice gentle rotation.

How To Article: Adding an Image Rotator

James has built the image rotator using WordPress (which has jQuery libraries incorporated) and definitely no Flash.

WordPress 2.7 Upgrade: New Dashboard Design and Features

As promised last week, we have upgraded the OM4 platform to include the lastest WordPress (2.7) features.

There are quite a few improvements, including:

  • Completely new Dashboard design and navigation menu
  • Threaded comments, paging and the ability to reply to comments directly from your dashboard
  • Bulk post/page editing
  • Quick editing of posts/pages
  • Drag and drop rearranging of dashboard widgets/boxes
  • Ability to upload files without having to create a post or page first
  • Easy moderation of comments using keyboard shortcuts
  • and many more

The video below also illustrates some of these changes. Alternatively a more detailed list of the changes is available here.

The new dashboard will take a little bit of getting used to, but once you’ve used it for a few days you should find that it’s a lot easier to use.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask below or post your question on our forums.

New OM4 website dashboard features

Today we have upgraded all OM4 web sites to include the latest WordPress 2.6+ features.

WordPress 2.6 Image Control

WordPress 2.6 Images

There are quite a few improvements:

  • Image captions.
  • An improved image control to allow for easier inserting, floating, and resizing of images (see screenshot).
  • Press This!: Post from wherever you are on the web.
  • Gears: Turbo-speed your blogging.
  • Word count for both posts and pages.
  • Bulk activation and deactivation of plugins.
  • Drag and drop reordering of image Galleries.
  • Customizable default avatars.
  • Media uploading while in full-screen mode.
  • Toggling between the flash media uploader and the classic one.
  • Various bug fixes.

More information on these features can be found here.

For those of you that use a desktop blogging client such as Windows Live Writer, you will have to go to your Dashboard -> Settings -> Writing and enable the remote publishing options.

Are you using the new and improved visual editor?

Wordpress New Improved Visual EditorIt’s been a month since all OM4 websites were upgraded with a new dashboard design and features, and I’d like to ensure that you’re getting the most from the new and improved visual editor.

The new editor has two tabs – Visual and HTML. If your text editor doesn’t have the Visual and HTML tabs (on the top right of your editor), then you probably don’t have visual editor support enabled for your user account. To turn it on, log into your Dashboard, then click on your name at the top right of the screen and  tick the Use the visual editor when writing checkbox. Save your profile, then you’ll have access to the visual editor.

Visual Editor

The visual tab allows you to more easily edit and format your blog posts and pages, and includes useful buttons on the toolbar such as bold, text alignment, improved image handling and many other features.

By default there is one row of toolbar buttons, but if you click the Show/Hide Kitchen Sink button on the right, you’ll be shown another row of useful buttons.

Another useful feature is the editor’s fullscreen mode. Clicking the Tooggle Fullscreen Mode button will expand the text editor to full screen mode – very useful for those large posts!

HTML Editor

The HTML tab allows you to manually edit the post or page’s HTML code. Chances are, you won’t need to use this unlesss your post or page needs to contain advanced HTML code.

Questions?

A great screencast showing the new features of the new editor can be found here.

If you have any questions, please post them on the OM4 Support Desk.

Is Your Website Cross Browser Compatible?

One of the difficulties with operating your own website is ensuring that it looks consistent across all the popular web browsers.

For example, your website may look and behave correctly in a recent web browser such as Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 3, but it may not look quite right in older browsers such as Internet Explorer 6.

We are always on the lookout for cross browser compatibility issues, and apply fixes to our style sheet when necessary. For example, today I noticed a situation where floating columns don’t look the same on IE6, so I have made a slight change to the OM4 theme in order to fix the problem.

According to W3Schools, Internet Explorer 6 is still being used by 26.5% of internet users, so it is important that your website displays correctly in a variety of different web browsers.

Invalid HTML code is another common cause of browser incompatability. You can check your website contains valid HTML code using the W3c’s Markup Validation Service. For OM4 website owners, you can validate a page on your website by clicking the Validate link in the footer of your website.

A great way for you to see how your website looks in multiple web browsers is to use Browsershots.org. If you notice that your web site looks strange in one or more browsers, feel free to contact support and we’ll try and help you out.

OM4 Server Upgrade

James is in the process of updating the server platform for Australian sites. This site is already upgraded, and the speed increase is really noticeable. Together with the Dashboard update, everything zips along.

 

New Dashboard Design and Features

Today we have upgraded all OM4 web sites to include the latest WordPress 2.5.1 features.

There are quite a few improvements. Some menu items have been moved, so you may need to scan your Dashboard for some menu items. For a full list of improvements, see this post.

We normally apply WordPress upgrades very quickly, however in this case a lot of testing was required to ensure that WordPress 2.5’s new features and changes were compatible with our custom modifications.

Here is a video showing an example of the new interface.

The Visual Editor is improved, and doesn’t mess up pages with HTML formatting. If you don’t have it switched on, go to your User Profile and tick the Use the visual editor when writing checkbox.

There is a new Media Uploader. It will let you upload multiple files at once. It also automates the right align / left align formatting (so no need to use HTML to set class=’alignright’, just use the option buttons when sending the image to the editor). You can still use the class=’alignright’ as well.

The Presentation menu is now called Design, and the Site Design options are under that.

The Sidebar setup has changed quite a bit. A lot of WordPress users feel it isn’t necessarily an improvement. There is an article talking about how they work.

In practice, your upgraded web site should work fine. Like most things, you get used to doing things one way. If you have any questions on how it works, just ask for help.

We hope you enjoy the new Dashboard. It is easier and faster overall.

OM4 Theme Enhancements April 2008

We have rolled out some new features to the OM4 Theme.

Feature Articles Got a lot of great posts in your archives and want to feature them to visitors? Or do you have a collection of articles you have written worthy of highlighting?

We have created a new sidebar widget that lets you:

  • put together a set of feature articles, with a short snippet and link for each
  • display a randomly selected article from the set each time a visitor loads a page

To see it in action, have a look at the Stories of Eye Loss in the sidebar of Paul and Jenny’s website.

How to use:

  1. Login to your Dashboard, go to Plugins and activate the Feature Articles plugin
  2. Go to Manage, Feature Articles and create article snippets and links. Give them a common category to create groups of articles.
  3. Go to Design, Site Design and drag the widget into your sidebar. Enter the category of articles you want displayed.

Your feature articles can come from your website, or from another. You can include images in your article snippets, just make sure they aren’t wider than your sidebar.

This plugin was developed by James and derived from Jodi Diehl’s excellent WP-Testimonials plugin.

Splash Page Templates By default your web pages have 1 or 2 sidebars displayed. Some web designers like to have a ‘splash’ page for a home page. To create flexibility for OM4 site owners, we now support two new Page Templates for Splash pages.

You can create a:

  • Splash Page – a page with just the header, menus and footer. No sidebars, no margins, so you can create whatever content your want in the page area.
  • Raw Splash Page – this is essentially a blank page. No headers, menus, sidebars or footer. Text and images are centered horizontally, although you can override this.

We have always provided the Article page template. That page template displays your web page without any sidebars, which is good if you want to avoid any distractions.

Page Comments You can now disable or enable Page Comments for your website. Blog posts have always allowed you to display comments. Well, so can WordPress web pages.

We’ve now made it easier to manage these:

  • Go to Design, Site Design and set Page Comments on or off for your whole website
  • Go to Manage, Pages and use the Discussion settings to set comments on or off for individual pages
Dynamic Rollover Menus You have always been able to enter and update your own menu links within Site Design. Now you can setup Dynamic Rollover menus – see them in action on the Kimberley Cruises and Dairy Invest WA sites.

Dynamic Rollover Menus show top level pages in your menu bar, and when a visitor rolls their mouse over the menu, all the sub pages belonging to that page are displayed as a pop down menu.

The styling of these menus may require some patience to get the colour of text and backgrounds the way you like. We hope to simplify this in future releases. For now, recognise you can use the Site Design page to set colours for the menus and backgrounds of both the top level menus and the rolldown menus. A lot of flexibility. But you may need to employ some trial and error to get it right.

Contact Form Log Whenever you get an email sent from your site Contact Form, the contact is recorded for you. You can go back and review the message, and also check the web page the contact came from as well as the original referrer (that is, the site the visitor was on before they came to your site). If they came from a search engine, we report the keywords used in the search.

You can mark contacts as converting to a sale or not. And if you do that, you can report on your conversion rate.

To review contacts, login to your site and go to Dashboard, Contacts (it is a sub menu from the main Dashboard).

Site Design We have additional Site Design parameters to help you configure your site. You can now decide whether the Site Title and Site Tagline (set in your Dashboard, Options, General) are displayed in your header or not.

You can set Transparent as a background colour.

There are more styling options for headings – you can set the size, colour and line spacing for Headings (level 2, 3 and 4).

There are also more hints and tips in the Site Design page, so you can explore what the settings do.

Enough for now. We have some more features coming along soon with the WordPress 2.5 upgrade.