Tag Archives: rss

ComicPress 2.5 and ComicPress Manager

It is through the efforts of two gentlemen that the existence of “Reclaimer”:http://reclaimercomic.com is possible. The first is Tyler Martin, who has created the beautifully designed “ComicPress”:http://mindfaucet.com/comicpress/ theme. Tyler’s design makes it eminently easier to produce a regular comic using the powerful WordPress platform. I’ve long been a fan of WordPress, and I’ve wanted to produce a Halo comic since Halo 3 first hit store shelves, so I’m very grateful to Tyler for making it that much easier to make it happen. With the release of “ComicPress 2.5”:http://mindfaucet.com/comicpress/2008/05/19/comicpress-25-released/, things are even better. Tyler built five different layouts, with the graphic novel layout being the design of choice for Reclaimer – and by the feedback I’ve received from you, my readers, it’s been a very positive change. So, my thanks to Tyler for putting the effort into creating such a great tool for producing webcomics.

John Bintz has added another great tool to ComicPress 2.5 that makes it even more efficient to post up new comics. It’s a plugin for WordPress called “ComicPress Manager”:http://claritycomic.com/comicpress-manager/ that goes hand-in-hand with the ComicPress theme. Before, I had to make the comic, use Filezilla to upload the file to the comics directory, then go into the WordPress dashboard and create the new post, write the title, write a little blurb about the comic, add tags, set the category, and set the date and time so that the comic publishes only when I want it to. With ComicPress Manager, all I have to do is create the comic, make sure the file name contains the date and name, and use ComicPress Manager to upload the file. From there, the plugin automatically sets the date and time for me, pulls the post title from the tile of the comic file name, and even creates thumbnails for the comic archive and the RSS feed. I can set my tags and blurb right there. What took me about five minutes before now takes literally 30 seconds and adds more features than were previously available. It’s a powerful little plugin that makes it even more fun to produce a comic by taking away a lot of the ‘pain’ in posting.

Again, my thanks to these two gentlemen for producing these great tools and volunteering their efforts to the webcomic community.

Feed Issues

Earlier today I discovered that Feedburner was hating on my syndication feed. I was getting this error:

XML Parsing Error: xml processing instruction not at start of external entity. Line Number 2, Column 1:

It took me a while, but some research “turned up an answer”:http://wordpress.org/support/topic/21795#post-123962 – apparently there are some plugins out there that push all the code on every page down a line. For syndication feeds, this is a very bad thing, since they are built on XML code and the XML identifier is required to be the first thing a reader sees in order for it to work. In my case, it was probably a plugin that was pushing everything down so I started shutting plugins off.

I’m chagrined to discover that my feed has probably been very unhealthy for several days now. I discovered two plugins that were creating problems, one of which I’ve had activated for a couple of weeks. “Category Converter”:http://armenianeagle.com/plugins was the first, so if I find I need to use this one again in the future, it will get activated, used, and turned right back off again. The other was one I’d wanted to try out because I’ve noticed that some of my posts are getting scraped and posted elsewhere. Most of these have links back here but are being credited to those sites’ owners. I’m not all _that_ upset about it, but it _is_ kind of annoying and discourteous. So, I’d decided to give “Antileech”:http://redalt.com/Resources/Plugins/AntiLeech a try today. Except – this plugin _also_ bumps everything down a line, thus rendering my feeds essentially dead. So, a no-go to that one, as well.

Odd thing is this – I’m subscribed to my own feed, primarily to monitor its health. Everything has been coming through just fine every day, albeit sometimes hours after the fact, but so long as they were coming through, I wasn’t all that concerned. So, I’ve no idea why, with my feed essentially being invalid, I’ve still been getting updates on a regular basis. Those of you who subscribe to my feed – have you been getting daily updates? And maybe someone who knows and understands XML and RSS coding a little better than I do can explain to me why the feed can be invalid and yet subscribers can still receive updates. I’m all ears.

So, lesson to the wise – every time you install and activate a new plugin, check your feed immediately and make sure it’s still working. Some plugins may not like your syndication all that well.

WordPress Admin Panel News Hack

I’ve recently discovered “Lorelle’s”:http://lorelle.wordpress.com/ blog on all things WordPress and decided that I wanted to follow her entries on a more regular basis. However, I have been reluctant to add her feed to any of the categories currently in my Thunderbird reader, since her site topics don’t really easily fit into any one of those categories. And I don’t like creating new feed categories until I already have several that fit the category.

It occurred to me this morning, though, that the perfect place to keep tabs on her feed is to add it to my WordPress administration panel, right alongside the other WordPress news feeds that are already piped into there by default. The process of adding her feed was actually a pretty simple matter of copy-paste-modify. Here’s what I did, for anyone interested in doing something similar with their WordPress:

The file I modified was the index.php file in the wp-admin directory. I scrolled all the way to the bottom of the file, looking for the code containing the RSS feeds. There’s actually two blogs of code here, one for the WordPress development blog and one for the Planet WordPress aggregator. The one _I_ was interested in was the Planet WordPress feed, since I already knew that as Lorelle’s site updates I’ll be checking out new articles regardless of what a summary or excerpt might say.

So I copied the block of code for Planet WordPress’s feed:

bq. items) && 0 != count($rss->items) ) {
?>

»

    items = array_slice($rss->items, 0, 20);
    foreach ($rss->items as $item ) {
    ?>

  • '>

and pasted it above the Planet WordPress block for easy scanning through both feeds. A couple of things needed modifying in order to get Lorelle’s feed to show up the way I wanted to. I had to first replace

bq. items) && 0 != count($rss->items) ) {
?>

with

bq. items) && 0 != count($rss->items) ) {
?>

to get it to fetch Lorelle’s feed. Then I had to replace

bq.

»

with

bq.

»

for a quick link to her site so that I could read past entries if I wanted to. The last change was to replace

bq. items = array_slice($rss->items, 0, 20);
foreach ($rss->items as $item ) {
?>

with

bq. items = array_slice($rss->items, 0, 5);
foreach ($rss->items as $item ) {
?>

since I don’t need 20 articles to appear. The five most recent entries are just fine with me. That’s basically the whole process and what I ended up with is this:

Lorelle feed in admin panel

Pretty shnazzy, eh?

Update: One final note of interest that Lorelle “reminded”:http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/06/30/feeding-on-lorelle-on-wordpress/ reminded me of – this hack is vulnerable to WordPress upgrades. Essentially, each time you update your software with the latest version, this hack will ‘magically’ disappear. So, in Lorelle’s words (if she doesn’t mind my quoting her):

bq. Make sure you make a copy of the template file, and that you save the instructions on how you did it (copy and paste the text from the article into a text file is one way) in the same directory clearly labeled so you can either restore or add back this hack to your WordPress Dashboard template file.

Thank you. That is all.

New Email Subscription Tool

“Feedburner”:http://www.feedburner.com has finally added an email subscription feature that I like quite a bit more than the “FeedBlitz”:http://www.feedblitz.com tool I was using previously. The format of the email that Feedburner sends out is less graphicly heavy (and gaudy) than FeedBlitz’s, looking much more like the “feed page”:http://feeds.feedburner.com/WritersBlog that you see when you click on the link on my front page. As a result I’ve switched the subscription form so that when people sign up to receive new posts by email, it will now come from Feedburner rather than FeedBlitz.

For those of you currently subscribed, if you’d like to receive a simpler-looking email, feel free to subscribe to the new format (and unsubscribe from the other). Or email me and I can take care of making the switch for you, leaving you with just having to click on the link in the confirmation email for the new subscription.

Additional note: Make sure to check your filters and your spam folder before emptying it, as the confirmation email may get redirected away from your inbox, and no email will be sent until the address is confirmed.

Aside from That

What was “posed”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=514 as merely a curiosity question and an aside ((Since I’ve switched to a widget-compatible theme, I’ve started using a new plugin for my asides so that I can continue displaying them in my sidebar. For some reason, though, my asides no longer show up in my RSS feed, so if you read my site from the feed, you won’t see any of my asides until I can figure out how to get them to show up in the feed again. Feel free to offer any solutions or suggestions, if you have any.)) has become a rather more interesting discussion than I expected it to be – an exploration of the fact that Jesus was probably not actually crucified on a Friday but more likely on Wednesday and buried later that same evening so that he could be buried for a full three days, according to both prophecy and His own words. Feel free to check out the discussion and add your own thoughts and knowledge to the topic.

Upgraded

Writer’s Blog has happily joined the ranks of WordPress 2.0, and I must say, the backend of this thing does look nice. So far there are no major complications, but please let me know if you run across any errors or notice anything that doesn’t look or operate quite right.

Edit: I’ve already found a problem with my RSS feed. I’m still working on sorting it out….

Edit: RSS problem seems to have been fixed with a simple URL change inside FeedBurner that points directly to my WordPress feed file. Looks better, at least….

Geek Joy

Is it sad to get all excited about a couple of relatively minor geek-tweaks to my site? Probably, but I don’t think I care all that much. I’ve been working on implementing ways to publish my site more widely and expand my readership. Today, for instance, I registered Writer’s Blog with “blogtopsites”:http://www.blogtopsites.com/ for site ranking and advertising my site. I also redirected my “RSS feed”:http://feeds.feedburner.com/WritersBlog to “FeedBurner”:http://www.feedburner.com to help me actually see how many people subscribe to my feed. So, if you use a feedreader like “FeedDemon”:http://www.feeddemon.com/feeddemon/index.asp or “Thunderbird”:http://www.mozilla.com/thunderbird/, or if you use a browser that tracks Live Bookmarks, like “Firefox”:http://www.mozilla.com/firefox/, then I can keep track of how many subscriptions call my feed and what service reads them. And to make things even better, the little tracking icons in my sidebar keep a running total of site rank and subscription count. It’s pretty cool information to have, and for a numbers geek like me, it could even provide some interesting analysis later on. So, feel free to bookmark my site with a Live Bookmark or subscribe to my feed. If you’ve already subscribed to it via the old feed (i.e. before today), then I would be most appreciative if you would update your feed with the new one.

Happy reading!