Scripts for a WordPress Weblog Farm [en]

A first step to WordPress-farming: a shell script and a PHP script which allow you to easily install a whole lot of WordPress weblogs in only a few minutes (I installed over 30 in less than 5 minutes). Scripts require adapting to your environment, of course.

Update 03.11.06: Batiste made me realise I should point the many people landing here in the search of multi-user WordPress to WordPress MU. All that I describe in this post is very pretty, but nowadays completely obsolete.

Here is the best solution I’ve managed to come up with in half a day to finally install over 30 WordPress weblogs in under 5 minutes (once the preparation work was done).

A shell script copies the image of a WordPress install to multiple directories and installs them. A PHP script then changes a certain number of options and settings in each weblog. It can be used later to run as a “patch” on all installed weblog if a setting needs modifying globally.

Here are the details of what I did.

I first downloaded and unzipped WordPress into a directory.

wget http://wordpress.org/latest.tar.gz
tar -xzvf latest.tar.gz
mv wordpress wp-farm-image

I cleaned up the install (removing wp-comments-popup.php and the import*.php files, for example), added a language directory (as I’m wp-farming in French) and modified index.php to my liking; in particular, I edited the import statement for the stylesheet so that it looked like this:

@import url( http://edublogs.net/styles/toni/style.css );

The styles directory is a directory in which I place a bunch of WordPress styles. I don’t need the style switcher capability, but I do need to styles. Later, users will be able to change styles simply by editing that line in their index.php (or I can do it for them).

Another very important thing I did was rename wp-config-sample.php to config-sample and fill in the database and language information. I replaced wp_ by xxx_ so that I had $table_prefix = 'xxx_';.

To make it easier to install plugins for everyone, correct the language files, and edit whatever may be in wp-images, I moved these three directories out of the image install and replaced them with symbolic links, taking inspiration from Shelley’s method for installing multiple WordPress weblogs.

mv image/wp-content common
mv image/wp-images common
mv image/wp-includes/languages common
ln -s common/wp-content image/wp-content
ln -s common/wp-images image/wp-images
ln -s common/languages image/wp-includes/languages

I also added an .htaccess file (after some painful tweaking on a test install).

Once my image was ready, I compiled a list of all the users I had to open weblogs for (one username per line) in a file named names.txt, which I placed in the root directory all the weblog subfolders were going to go in.

I then ran this shell script (many thanks to all those of you who helped me with it — you saved my life):

for x in `cat names.txt`
do
cp -rv /home/edublogs/wp-farm/image/ $x
cat $x/wp-config.php | sed "s/xxx/${x}/" > config.tmp
mv config.tmp $x/wp-config.php
wget http://st-prex.edublogs.net/$x/wp-admin/install.php?step=1
wget http://st-prex.edublogs.net/$x/wp-admin/install.php?step=2
wget http://st-prex.edublogs.net/$x/wp-admin/install.php?step=3
done

This assumes that my WordPress install image was located in /home/edublogs/wp-farm/image/ and that the weblog addresses were of the form http://st-prex.edublogs.net/username/.

This script copies the image to a directory named after the user, edits wp-config to set the table prefix to the username, and then successively wgets the install URLs to save me from loading them all in my browser.

After this step, I had a bunch of installed but badly configured weblogs (amongst other things, as I short-circuited the form before the third install step, they all think their siteurl is example.com).

Entered the PHP patch which tweaks settings directly in the database. I spent some time with a test install and PHPMyAdmin to figure out which fields I wanted to change and which values I wanted to give them, but overall it wasn’t too complicated to do. You’ll certainly need to heavily edit this file before using it if you try and duplicate what I did, but the basic structure and queries should remain the same.

I edited the user list at the top of the file, loaded it in my browser, and within less than a few seconds all my weblogs were correctly configured. I’ll use modified versions of this script later on when I need to change settings for all the weblogs in one go (for example, if I want to quickly install a plugin for everyone).

In summary:

  1. compile list of users
  2. prepare image install
  3. run shell script
  4. run PHP script

If you try to do this, I suggest you start by putting only two users in your user list, and checking thoroughly that everything installs and works correctly before doing it for 30 users. I had to tweak the PHP script quite a bit until I had all my settings correctly configured.

Hope this can be useful to some!

Update 29.09.2005: WARNING! Hacking WordPress installs to build a farm like this one is neat, but it gets much less neat when your weblog farm is spammed with animal porn comments. You then realise (oh, horror!) that none of the anti-spam plugins work on your beautiful construction, so you weed them out by hand as you can, armed with many a MySQL query. And then the journalist steps in — because, frankly, “sex with dogs” on a school website is just too good to be true. And then you can spend half a day writing an angry reaction to the shitty badly-researched article.

My apologies for the bad language. Think of how you’re going to deal with spam beforehand when you’re setting up a school blog project.

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Requirements for a WordPress Installer Script [en]

To install 30+ WordPress blogs on a server, it would be nice to have an automatic installation script. Here is a list of what this script should do for me.

[fr] Pour installer plus de trente weblogs WordPress sur mon serveur, il serait utile d'avoir un script d'installation en PHP. Quelqu'un a offert d'en écrire un pour moi. Ce billet récapitule ce que devrait faire un tel script, de mon point de vue (installation et configuration de WordPress en fonction d'un nom d'utilisateur).

As you may know, I’m shortly going to install 30+ WordPress blogs on my server. Noderat on #wordpress kindly offered to have a go at writing a PHP script to automate WP installs. I sent him this list of what the ideal script should be able to do for me, but on second thoughts, I’m posting it here so that everybody may see it. Of course, if you know of an existing script which already does this, let me know!

  • take $username + $password as input
  • install wordpress in a subdir named “$username”, using table prefix “$username_” and with an extra user (on top of admin) named “$username” (password=”$password”), user level 3
  • mysql user should be “$username” too (password “$password” also), with grants only on the tables belonging to this weblog
  • set permalink scheme to
    /archives/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/ for monthlies and /categories for categories
  • generate .htaccess in directory, based on this template, with “blog” replaced by “$username” everywhere
  • in wp-config: define (‘WPLANG’, ‘fr’) and edit appropriate lines
  • wp-includes/languages and wp-content/plugins should be symlinked to directories I can specify in the script
  • blog admin password should be reset to something I can specify in the script

I should be able to edit the script config file to provide mysql root user + pass, wordpress database name.

It would also be interesting if the script was built in such a way that it could be further modified/developed to allow installation of blogs on separate subdomains rather than subfolders. From the point of view of the filesystem the blogs live in, this wouldn’t change much — but some extra WordPress options would need editing (e.g. blog address), as well as the Apache and Bind config files necessary to set up the subdomain. This is not mandatory, but could be useful at some point (if we’re thinking in the line of WordPress-farming).

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Musings on a Multiblog WordPress [en]

Thinking about a solution to make WordPress MultiBlog. Comments, criticism and other ideas welcome — please join the fun. In particular, I bump into a hairy PHP include problem.

[fr] Je réfléchis à comment on pourrait donner à WordPress la capacité de gérer plusieurs blogs avec une installation. Je me heurte à un problème concernant les includes PHP. Feedback et autres idées bienvenues!

**Update June 2007: Try [WordPress Multi-User](http://mu.wordpress.org/) now.**

I’ve used Shelley’s instructions using soft links. I tried Rubén’s proof-of-concept, but got stuck somewhere in the middle.

So I started thinking: how can we go about making WordPress MultiBlog-capable? Here is a rough transcript of my thoughts (I’ve removed some of the dead ends and hesitations) in the hope that they might contribute to the general resolution of the problem. I have to point out my position here: somebody with a dedicated server who’s thinking of setting up a “WordPress weblog-farm” (for my pupils, mainly). So I’m aware that I’m not the “standard user” and that my solution is going to be impractical to many. But hey, let’s see where it leads, all the same. Actually, I think I probably reconstructed most of Rubén’s strategy here — but I’m not sure to what extent what I suggest differs from what he has done.

From a system point of view, we want to have a unique installation of WordPress, and duplication of only the files which are different from one blog to another (index.php, wp-config.php, wp-comments.php, wp-layout.css, to name a few obvious ones). The whole point being that when the isntall needs to be upgraded, it only has to be upgraded in one place. When a plugin is downloaded and installed, it only has to be done once for all weblogs — though it can of course be activated individually for each weblog.

From the point of view of the weblogs themselves, they need to appear to be in different domains/subdomains/folders/whatever. What I’m most interested in is different subdomains, so I’ll stick to that in my thinking. (Then somebody can come and tell me that my “solution” doesn’t work for subfolders, and here’s one that works for subfolders and subdomains, and we’ll all be happy, thankyouverymuch.) So, when I’m working with blog1.example.com all the addresses need to refer to that subdomain (blog1.example.com/wp-admin/, etc); ditto for blog2.example.com, blog3.example.com, blogn.example.com (I used to like maths in High School a lot).

As Rubén puts it, the problem with symbolic links (“soft links”) is called “soft link hell”: think of a great number of rubber bands stretched all over your server. Ugh. So let’s try to go in his direction, for a while. First, map all the subdomains to the same folder on the server. Let’s say blog1.example.com, blog2.example.com (etc.) all point to /home/bunny/www/wordpress/. Neat, huh? Not so. They will all use the same wp-config.php file, and hence all be the same weblog.

This is where Rubén’s idea comes in: include a file at the top of wp-config.php which:

  1. identifies which blog we are working with (in my case, by parsing $HTTP_HOST, for example — there might be a more elegant solution)
  2. “replaces” the files in the master installation directory by the files in a special “blog” directory, if they exist

The second point is the tricky one, of course. We’d probably have a subfolder per blog in wordpress/blogs: wordpress/blogs/blog1, wordpress/blogs/blog2, etc. The included file would match the subdomain string with the equivalent folder, check if the page it’s trying to retrieve exists in the folder, and if it does, include that one and stop processing the initial script after that. Another (maybe more elegant) option would be to do some Apache magic (I’m dreaming, no idea if it’s possible) to systematically check if a file is available in the subdirectory matching the subdomain before using the one in the master directory. Anybody know if this is feasible?

The problem I see is with includes. We have (at least) three types of include calls:

  • include (ABSPATH . 'wp-comments.php');
  • require ('./wp-blog-header.php');
  • require_once(dirname(__FILE__).'/' . '/wp-config.php');

As far as I see it, they’ll all break if the calling include is in /home/bunny/www/wordpress/blogs/blog1 and the file to be called is in /home/bunny/www/wordpress. What is wrong with relative includes? Oh, they would break too. Dammit.

We would need some intelligence to determine if the file to be included or called exists in the subdirectory or not, and magically adapt the include call to point to the “right” file. I suspect this could be done, but would require modifying all (at least, a lot of) the include/requires in WordPress.

Maybe another path to explore would be to create a table in the database to keep track of existing blogs, and of the files that need to be “overridden” for each blog. But again, I suspect that would mean recoding all the includes in WordPress.

Another problem would be .htaccess. Apache would be retrieving the same .htaccess for all subdomains, and that happens before PHP comes into play, if I’m not mistaken.

Any bright ideas to get us out of this fix? Alternate solutions? Comments? Things I missed or got wrong? The comments and trackbacks are yours. Thanks for your attention.

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Converting MySQL Database Contents to UTF-8 [en]

I finally managed to convert my WordPress database content to UTF-8. It’s easy to do, but it wasn’t easy to figure out.

[fr] Voici comment j'ai converti le contenu de ma base de données WordPress en UTF-8. C'est assez simple en soi, mais ça m'a pris longtemps pour comprendre comment le faire!

A few weeks ago, I discovered (to my horror) that my site was not UTF-8, as I thought it was. Checking my pages in the validator produced this error:

The character encoding specified in the HTTP header (iso-8859-1) is different from the value in the XML declaration (utf-8). I will use the value from the HTTP header (iso-8859-1).

In all likeliness, my server adds a default header (iso-8859-1) to the pages it serves. When I switched to WordPress, I was careful to save all my import files as UTF-8, and I honestly thought that everything I had imported into the database was UTF-8. Somewhere in the process, it got switched back to iso-8859-1 (latin-1).

The solution to make sure the pages served are indeed UTF-8, as specified in the meta tags of my HTML pages, is to add the following line to .htaccess:

AddDefaultCharset OFF

(If one wanted to force UTF-8, AddDefaultCharset UTF-8 would do it, but actually, it’s better to leave the possibility to serve pages with different encodings, isn’t it?)

Now, when I did that, of course, all the accented characters in my site went beserk — proof if it was needed that my database content was not UTF-8. Here is the story of what I went through (and it took many days to find the solution, believe me, although it takes only 2 minutes to do once everything is ready) to convert my database content from ISO-8859-1 to UTF-8. Thanks a lot to all those who helped me through this — and they are many!

First thing, dump the database. I always forget the command for dumps, so here it is:

mysqldump --opt -u root -p wordpress > wordpress.sql

As we’re going to be doing stuff, it might be wise to make a copy of the working wordpress database. I did that by creating a new database in PhpMyAdmin, and importing my freshly dumped database into it:

mysql -u root -p wordpress-backup < wordpress.sql

Then, conversion. I tried a PHP script, I tried BBEdit, and they seemed to mess up. (Though as I had other issues elsewhere, they may well have worked but I mistakenly thought the problem was coming from there.) Anyway, command-line conversion with iconv is much easier to do:

iconv -f iso-8859-15 -t utf8 wordpress.sql > wordpress-iconv.sql

Then, import into the database. I first imported it into another database, edited wp-config.php to point to the new database, and checked that everything was ok:

mysql -u root -p wordpress-utf8 < wordpress-iconv.sql

Once I was happy that it was working, I imported my converted dump into the WordPress production database:

mysql -u root -p wordpress < wordpress-iconv.sql

On the way there, I had some trouble with MySQL. The MySQL dump more or less put the content of all my weblog posts on one line. For some reason, it didn’t cause any problems when importing the dump before conversion, to create the backup database, but it didn’t play nice after conversion.

I got this error when trying to import:

ERROR 1153 at line 378: Got a packet bigger than 'max_allowed_packet'

Line 378 contained half my weblog posts… and was obviously bigger than the 1Mb limit for max_allowed_packet (the whole dump is around 2Mb).

I had to edit my.cnf (/etc/mysql/my.cnf on my system) and change the value for max_allowed_packet in the section titled [mysqld]. I set it to 8Mb. Then, I had to stop mysql and restart it: mysqladmin -u root -p shutdown to stop it, and mysqld_safe & to start it again (as root).

This is not necessarily the best way to do it, and it might not work like that on your system, but it’s what I did and the site is now back up again. Comments welcome, and hope this can be useful to others!

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Batch Categories 0.9 [en]

Batch Categories for WordPress has been fixed and enhanced. If you have major category jobs to do, it can probably help you. Feedback and testers welcome.

[fr] Batch Categories pour WordPress a été corrigé et fonctionne à  présent. Le compagnon idéal si vous desirez changer les catégories de nombreux billets en même temps.

Batch Categories 0.9 is out! It’s the ideal companion for large-scale post-import messy category work. List all posts belonging to a category or matching a keyword, and edit their categories, easily visible at a glace with a collection of sexy drop-down lists. What’s new since the the first draft?

  • It now works, and does not “eat” categories without a warning. (Pretty nice of it, huh?)
  • It tells you what it did — which categories it added to which posts, and which ones it removed.
  • Add a whole bunch of posts to a category with one click.
  • Remove a whole bunch of posts from a category with one click.
  • Ensures that all the categories for a post are always listed, whatever the setting for the limit number of drop-down lists.
  • This is what it can look like.

You can still access it as a plugin or edit the Edit navigation menu, as described in my post introducing Batch Categories. If you’re in a hurry, just drop the PHP file into your wp-admin directory and send your browser straight on it.

Next steps?

  • Gather feedback from courageous testers (please don’t blame me if you haven’t backed up your post2cat table and things go wrong) for chasing the last bugs, improving interface and functionality.
  • Redo the code which generates the drop-down lists to take advantage of the category cache, and avoid flooding the database with useless queries.
  • Allow more subtle selection of posts: combinations of categories (AND/OR/NOT), categories without their subcategories…
  • Anything else you would want…?

Update 24.07.04: BB made me notice that “All” and “None” didn’t make much sense in the drop-down which allows one to select the categories to display. Replaced them in v. 0.91 by “Any category”.

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Life and Trials of a Multilingual Weblog [en]

Here is an explanation of how I set up WordPress to manage my bilingual weblog. I give all the code I used to do it, and announce some of the things I’d like to implement. A “Multilingual blogging” TopicExchange channel is now open.

[fr] J'explique ici quelles sont les modifications que j'ai faites à WordPress pour gérer le bilinguisme de mon weblog -- code php et css à l'appui. Je mentionne également quelques innovations que j'ai en tête pour rendre ce weblog plus sympathique à mes lecteurs monolingues (ce résumé en est une!) Un canal pour le weblogging multilingue a été ouvert sur TopicExchange, et vous y trouverez peut-être d'autres écrits sur le même sujet. Utilisez-le (en envoyant un trackback) si vous écrivez des billets sur le multinguisme dans les weblogs!

My weblog is bilingual, and has been since November 2000. Already then, I knew that I wouldn’t be capable of producing a site which duplicates every entry in two languages.

I think this would defeat the whole idea of weblogging: lowering the “publication barrier”. I feel like writing something, I quickly type it out, press “Publish”, and there we are. Imposing upon myself to translate everything just pushes it back up again. I have seen people try this, but I have never seen somebody keep it up for anything nearing four years (this weblog is turning four on July 13).

This weblog is therefore happily bilingual, as I am — sometimes in English, sometimes in French. This post is about how I have adapted the blogging tools I use to my bilingualism, and more importantly, how I can accommodate my monolingual readers so that they also feel comfortable here.

First thing to note: although weblogging tools are now ready to be used by people speaking a variety of languages (thanks to a process named “localization”), they remain monolingual. Language is determined at weblog-level.

With Movable Type, I used categories to emulate post-level language awareness. This wasn’t satisfying at all: I ended up with to monstrous categories, Français and English, which didn’t help keep rebuild times down.

With WordPress, the solution is far more satisfying: I store the language information as Post Meta, or “custom field”. No more category exploitation for something they shouldn’t be used for.

Before I really got started doing the exciting stuff, I made a quick change to the WordPress admin interface. If I was going to be adding a “language” custom field to each and every post of mine, I didn’t want to be doing it with the (imho) rather clumsy “Custom Fields” form.

In edit.php, just after the categorydiv fieldset, I inserted the following:

<fieldset id="languagediv">
      <legend>< ?php _e('Language') ?></legend>
	  <div><input type="text" name="language" size="7"
                     tabindex="2" value="en" id="language" /></div>
</fieldset>

(You’ll probably have to move around your tabindex values so that the tabbing order makes sense to you.)

I also tweaked the wp-admin.css file a bit to keep it looking reasonably pretty, adding the rule below:

#languagediv {
	height: 3.5em;
	width: 5em;
}

and adding #languagediv everywhere I could see #poststatusdiv, so that they obeyed the same rules.

In this way, I have a small text field to edit to set the language. I pre-set it to “en”, and have just to change it to “fr” if I am writing in French.

We just need to add a little piece of code in the form processing script, post.php, just after the line that says add_meta($post_ID):

 // add language
	if(isset($_POST['language']))
	{
	$_POST['metakeyselect'] = 'language';
        $_POST['metavalue'] = $_POST['language'];
        add_meta($post_ID);
        }

The first thing I do with this language information is styling posts differently depending on the language. I do this by adding a lang attribute to my post <div>:

<div class="post" lang="<?php $post_language=get_post_custom_values("language"); $the_language=$post_language['0']; print($the_language); ?>">

In the CSS, I add these rules:

div.post:lang(fr) h2.post-title:before {
  content: " [fr] ";
  font-weight: normal;
}
div.post:lang(en) h2.post-title:before {
  content: " [en] ";
  font-weight: normal;
}
div.post:lang(fr)
{
background-color: #FAECE7;
}

I also make sure the language of the date matches the language of the post. For this, I added a new function, the_time_lg(), to my-hacks.php. I then use the following code to print the date: <?php the_time_lg($the_language); ?>.

Can more be done? Yes! I know I have readers who are not bilingual in the two languages I use. I know that at times I write a lot in one language and less in another, and my “monolingual” readers can get frustrated about this. During a between-session conversation at BlogTalk, I suddenly had an idea: I would provide an “other language” excerpt for each of my posts.

I’ve been writing excerpts for each of my posts for the last six months now, and it’s not something that raises the publishing barrier for me. Quickly writing a sentence or two about my post in the “other language” is something I can easily do, and it will at least give my readers an indication about what is said in the posts they can’t understand. This is the first post I’m trying this with.

So, as I did for language above, I added another “custom field” to my admin interface (in edit-form.php). Actually, I didn’t stop there. I also added the field for the excerpt to the “simple controls” posting page that I use (set that in Options > Writing), and another field for keywords, which I also store for each post as meta data. Use at your convenience:

<!-- BEGIN BUNNY HACK -->
<fieldset style="clear:both">
<legend><a href="http://wordpress.org/docs/reference/post/#excerpt"
title="<?php _e('Help with excerpts') ?>"><?php _e('Excerpt') ?></a></legend>
<div><textarea rows="1" cols="40" name="excerpt" tabindex="5" id="excerpt">
<?php echo $excerpt ?></textarea></div>
</fieldset>
<fieldset style="clear:both">
<legend><?php _e('Other Language Excerpt') ?></legend>
<div><textarea rows="1" cols="40" name="other-excerpt"
tabindex="6" id="other-excerpt"></textarea></div>
</fieldset>
<fieldset style="clear:both">
<legend><?php _e('Keywords') ?></legend>
<div><textarea rows="1" cols="40" name="keywords" tabindex="7" id="keywords">
<?php echo $keywords ?></textarea></div>
</fieldset>
<!-- I moved around some tabindex values too -->
<!-- END BUNNY HACK -->

I inserted these fields just below the “content” fieldset, and styled the #keywords and #other-excerpt textarea fields in exactly the same way as #excerpt. Practical translation: open wp-admin.css, search for “excerpt”, and modify the rules so that they look like this:

#excerpt, #keywords, #other-excerpt {
	height: 1.8em;
	width: 98%;
}

instead of simply this:

#excerpt {
	height: 1.8em;
	width: 98%;
}

I’m sure by now you’re curious about what my posting screen looks like!

To make sure the data in these fields is processed, we need to add the following code to post.php (as we did for the “language” field above):

// add keywords
	if(isset($_POST['keywords']))
	{
	$_POST['metakeyselect'] = 'keywords';
        $_POST['metavalue'] = $_POST['keywords'];
        add_meta($post_ID);
        }
   // add other excerpt
	if(isset($_POST['other-excerpt']))
	{
	$_POST['metakeyselect'] = 'other-excerpt';
        $_POST['metavalue'] = $_POST['other-excerpt'];
        add_meta($post_ID);
        }

Displaying the “other language excerpt” is done in this simple-but-not-too-elegant way:

<?php
$post_other_excerpt=get_post_custom_values("other-excerpt");
$the_other_excerpt=$post_other_excerpt['0'];
if($the_other_excerpt!="")
{
	if($the_language=="fr")
	{
	$the_other_language="en";
	}

	if($the_language=="en")
	{
	$the_other_language="fr";
	}
?>
    <div class="other-excerpt" lang="<?php print($the_other_language); ?>">
    <?php print($the_other_excerpt); ?>
    </div>
  <?php
  }
  ?>

accompanied by the following CSS:

div.other-excerpt:lang(fr)
{
background-color: #FAECE7;
}
div.other-excerpt:lang(en)
{
background-color: #FFF;
}
div.other-excerpt:before {
  content: " [" attr(lang) "] ";
  font-weight: normal;
}

Now that we’ve got the basics covered, what else can be done? Well, I’ve got some ideas. Mainly, I’d like visitors to be able to add “en” or “fr” at the end of any url to my weblog, and that would automatically filter out all the content which is not in that language — maybe using the trick Daniel describes? In addition to that, it would also change the language of what I call the “page furniture” — titles, footer, and even (let’s by ambitious) category names. Adding language sensitivity to trackbacks and comments could also be interesting.

A last thing I’ll mention in the multilingual department for this weblog is my styling of outgoing links if they are written in a language which is not my post language, using the hreflang attribute. It’s easy, and you should do it too!

Suw (who has just resumed blogging in Welsh) and I have just set up a “Multilingual blogging” channel on TopicExchange — please trackback it if you write about blogging in more than one language!

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Batch Category Editing For WordPress [en]

I put together an admin screen for WordPress today which allows changing multiple categories of multiple posts at the same time. Code available, no guarantees.

[fr] J'ai codé une extension à  WordPress qui permet d'éditer les catégories de nombreux billets en un coup. L'écran liste par exemple tous les billets d'une catégorie, accompagnés d'un certain nombre de selects. On effectue les modifications que l'on désire et on soumet le formulaire entier en une fois.

Update 13.07: A more recent version is out!

I had planned to give you a write-up of the beginning of my WordPress experience today. Unfortunately, I decided to clean up my categories somewhat before I did that, and I managed to badly mess things up.

The result is that I spent most of my day writing a Batch Categories admin screen to help me clean things up. It was something I had planned to do, and I suppose it will also be useful to other people.

If you want to play around: copy the code above into a file named batch-categories.php in your wp-admin directory. I highly recommend that you back up your wp_post2cat table before you get going. This script works for me, but hasn’t been tested much, and comes with no guarantees. It is not optimised either, so depending on how many posts and categories you list, the screen can very well take over half a minute to load!

There are still a few functionalities I want to add, in particular: assigning all listed posts to a category in one go (or removing them).

If you want pretty integration with the other screens of the Edit menu, you’ll have to tweak the navigation bar in edit.php, edit-comments.php, and moderation.php.

Update 24.06.04: I’ve uploaded a screenshot of the admin screen so you can see what it could look like.

Update II 24.06.04: Instead of hacking the Edit menu bars, you can also access the Batch Categories screen from the Plugins page: create a file called batch-access.php (e.g.) in your plugins directory. (Beware not to leave any whitespace after the ?>, though, or you’ll get errors. Promised, zips and more detailed documentation will follow.

Update 04.07.04: I tried using the script this morning, and it seems nastily broken (removed all categories for some posts). Use with caution, and get back to me if ever you hack it or modify it, I’m interested! I’ll look into this once I get back home from Vienna.

Update 12.07.04: The script now works as it should! Thanks to Ben and MooKitty for helping me nail the big nasty bug which was driving me bonkers! Two improvements I’m working on right now: making the code more efficient by using the category cache, and adding a “add all listed posts to category X” option.

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Trackback? Qu'est-ce que c'est? [en]

Une petite explication du trackback pour les néophytes. Un trackback, c’est un moyen automatique de mettre un commentaire sur le billet de quelqu’un d’autre, pour dire qu’on a écrit un billet qui en parle. Facile!

[] Une petite explication du trackback pour les néophytes. Un trackback, c'est un moyen automatique de mettre un commentaire sur le billet de quelqu'un d'autre, pour dire qu'on a écrit un billet qui en parle. Facile!

Bon, alors, ces fichus trackbacks qu’on voit partout et dont tout le monde parle et qu’on a toujours pas compris, c’est quoi à  la fin? A la demande générale (les lémaniques concernés se reconnaîtront), une petite explication bien basique comme je les aime.

Imaginez que j’écris un billet qui vous inspire réflexion, au point que vous fassiez un billet en rapport sur votre propre weblog, au lieu de bêtement laisser chez moi un commentaire que vos lecteurs à  vous risquent bien de ne jamais voir. Vous faites un lien vers mon billet pour donner le contexte. Mais depuis chez moi, aucun moyen de savoir que vous avez écrit une réaction très pertinente à  ce que j’avais pondu!

La méthode classique, c’est de laisser quand même un commentaire chez moi, disant “hé, j’ai écrit un truc à  propos de ce que tu racontes ici, voilà  le lien”, et hop, le tour est joué. Seulement, à  la longue, ça devient un peu lassant de faire ça, et on voudrait bien un machin automatique qui le fasse à  notre place: le trackback.

Vous l’aurez donc à  présent compris, le trackback, c’est un bidule qui vous permet de mettre automatiquement (sans vous lever de votre bureau) un commentaire chez moi qui dit “hé, j’ai écrit un truc en rapport, venez voir!”

OK, bon, mais comment ça marche? Ce qu’il faut savoir d’abord, c’est qu’en principe, c’est votre “machine à  trackback” qui va parler avec ma “machine à  trackback”, et ils vont régler tout ça entre eux. La “machine à  trackback”, elle est en général intégrée à  l’outil de blogging qu’on utilise: Movable Type bien sûr, ou bien encore DotClear et WordPress, sans oublier les solutions “hébergées” TypePad et U-blog. Depuis peu, le système de commentaires HaloScan inclut également les trackbacks. Et depuis belle lurette, Primitive, tout en français, vous permet d’ajouter des trackbacks n’importe où.

Votre “machine à  trackback” va envoyer un message à  la mienne (un “ping”) en indiquant le nom de votre weblog et son adresse, le permalien de votre billet, et un extrait de ce que vous avez écrit. Il envoie ce message à  une certaine adresse (le fameux “TrackBack URL for this entry” que vous avez surement déjà  croisé dans la blogosphère), qui est en fait celle de ma “machine à  trackback”, agrémenté du numéro de mon billet. Mais tout ça, vous n’avez pas besoin de le savoir ni de le comprendre, vu que nos “machines à  trackback” s’en occupent très bien toutes seules.

Bon alors, comment on fait, concrètement? On admettra que vous avez déjà  une “machine à  trackback” installée. (Si vous voulez en installer une, ça c’est les règles avancées, et ce n’est malheureusement pas couvert par ce petit billet.)

La première chose à  faire, donc, c’est de cliquer sur le lien “commentaires” de mon billet pour dénicher l’adresse de trackback à  utiliser. (Pour ce billet, c’est http://, vous l’avez trouvée?)

Ensuite, il faut dire à  votre “machine à  trackback” d’envoyer le ping à  la mienne. Avec Movable Type, par exemple, cela signifie simplement que lorsque vous publiez votre billet, vous devez coller mon adresse de trackback dans le champ “URLs to Ping”. C’est tout. Le trackback apparaîtra comme un commentaire associé à  ce billet, avec un lien vers votre propre billet. Essayez!

Une chose intéressante est que les parties “envoyer” et “recevoir” de la “machine à  trackback” sont indépendantes. On peut tout à  fait envoyer des trackbacks sur d’autres sites sans pour autant les avoir activés sur le sien. Les sites utilisant Primitive, par exemple, fournissent un formulaire permettant d’envoyer un trackback. Ce formulaire peut en fait être utilisé pour envoyer des trackbacks, même si vous ne possédez pas votre propre “machine à  trackbacks”.

En guise de conclusion, un sujet de réflexion: quand envoyer un trackback? Uniquement lorsque j’ai fait un billet qui lie un autre billet, ou bien déjà  quand j’en fais un qui a un lien avec d’autres billets? Par exemple, j’ai écrit un petit compte-rendu de la troisième LBN, comme l’ont fait d’autres, mais je n’ai pas mentionné les adresses de leurs comptes-rendus dans mon billet (certains n’étaient pas écrits).

To trackback or not to trackback? That is the question.

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