After the Deadline

After the Deadline, an amazing next-generation contextual spelling and grammar checker, is now part of Automattic and the service is live on WordPress.com. For self-hosted WordPress publishers, grab the plugin at WordPress.org.

Here is a brief video overview showing how it works:

WordPress Plugins for Collaboration Emails

In talking with publishers who are using WordPress as a full CMS for their sites, many folks are eager to enhance the “Submit for Review” feature for Contributors to include email notifications.

Peter Keung of Mugo Web, has created two Open Source GPL plugins that provide this enhanced functionality.

The first is Peter’s Collaboration E-mails:

This plugin enables automatic e-mails to the relevant users at the different post status transitions: when posts are pending; when they are approved or scheduled; and when their statuses are changed from “pending” back to “draft”.

The second one is often used in conjunction to append relevant notes, called Peter’s Post Notes:

Add notes on the “edit post” and “edit page” screens’ sidebars in WordPress 2.7 and up. When used with Peter’s Collaboration E-mails 1.2 and up, the notes are sent along with the e-mails in the collaboration workflow. There is also a general and private notes system on the dashboard.

You can download both these plugins from the WordPress.org plugin directory along with 5300+ other Open Source GPL plugins: Peter’s Post Notes and Peter’s Collaboration E-mails.

Q&A with Eyal Gura on PicApp’s New WordPress Plugin

I chatted recently with PicApp’s CEO and Founder, Eyal Gura, to learn more about his firm’s new photo service and their WordPress plugin that has recently crossed the 1100 download mark:

What is PicApp ?

PicApp is an online blog tool for adding high-quality, current, and creative images to
blogs and websites – without the copyright or licensing worries. A PicApp image enables publishers, bloggers, and website owners to incorporate high-end images from stock photography leaders in their online destination. The content is licensed to the publisher free of charge under the website terms and includes an advertising mechanism to facilitate royalties to the content owners.

How did you come up with the idea to provide publishers with free, ad-supported, high-end photos ?

The origin of the PicApp idea is in the striking figures of content infringements online. Out of 100 copyrighted stock photos used online, 90 are used without a proper license. The majority of these, so called infringements, are mainly a result of unawareness and lack of easy to use tools to “do the right thing” (we all saw what happened in the music industry once it became easy for a consumer to download songs using the right price and the right business model). PicApp does just that – it enables online publishers FREE access to legally use the BEST visual content. We have assembled the largest collection of images out there (over 20mm) and now encourage online publishers to license it with no out-of-pocket cost on the publisher side. We do so by adding a small ad unit beneath the image that enables us to stream royalties back to the content owners. Coming soon we’ll have a new, much less intrusive,  ad format.

What is the difference between images you can find on Flickr under CC for example, and images you can find on PicApp?

The main difference is in the content you can find on PicApp. Try to look for a professional photo from the last Oscar or the Olympics right on time when the event takes place – and you will find that you either can’t find it on UGC (user generated content) sites or you need to pay a lot of money to license it from a professional image feed. Now with PicApp, online publishers can get the newest, most professional and time-sensitive images in one place right on time.

Other key advantages are:
(1) Save time – the professional keywords tagging that saves the publisher time looking for the perfect image for hisher post. Try searching for the relevant term:” obama senior economic adviser” on picapp vs flickr and let the pictures speak for themselves.
(2) SEO optimization – we utilize the same keywords and tagging to improve the image SEO, so by using a PicApp image, the publisher improves his page optimization.

What are the most popular images used on PicApp?

The most popular categories are indeed all these time-sensitive ones:
world ( politics , news), sport and entertainment (celebs , events , fashion ), food is getting stronger as well.

What is unique about the PicApp WordPress plugin (in comparison to other photos plug-ins)?

Picapp plug-in is the world’s first WP plugin to enable licensing of premium copyrighted content. The specialty is within the accessibility to this precious, yet so affordable, content as part of your blog editing flow. There are many photos plug-ins out there, some will provide content that is not premium or is not even legal to use, some will provide only small sizes of images / thumbnails, while PicApp is the only platform that offers an end-to-end solution for the publishers who are interested in easy to use, rightful premium content to “spice up” their precious blog posts.

Why should WordPress bloggers install this plugin ?

Bloggers are content creators and as such are very sensitive to how their content is being used online, who reads it and who is linked to it. Using images and other people content in the right way is important to everyone who creates content and now, with PicApp, they have the right and easy way to do so as part of their editing flow.

What did you learn building the WordPress plugin that you can share with others who are looking to build a plug-in for their service?

Key thing is to work with the right developer (in our case , Watershed Studio) so that the learning curve is minimized and the focus is on the unique part of your plug-in and not on the overall “how to build” a plug-in. Another lesson for our next versions and plug-ins is to embed within the plug-in a feedback mechanism so that you can get as much feedback from your community as possible and improve faster.

You attended WordCamp Tel Aviv last month – what kind of feedback did you receive from the attendees ?

The event was special to me in mainly 2 ways: first of all, it was amazing to see how vibrant is this community of bloggers and programmers that voluntarily ramped up an event that is much better organized by far than other corporate events I’ve attended. The other worth mentioning reason was the interaction between the community and the non-profits that came over there to ask for help in bringing their special causes online and raise awareness. I think many of these non-profits will be amazed by the impact resulted in the fact they got a “WP helper” and will go online with such a cost-effective way.

If bloggers have feedback about your plug-in, what’s the best way to share it with your team?

We have a picapp account on GetSatisfaction where our product team interacts and learns from our users. Some of the greatest improvements we deployed came from there! In addition we love to hear the community thoughts on our blog and on the picapp twitter account.

What new features are you looking to integrate into your service?

New coming features are better search and content categories, lighter and faster embedding process and some exciting solutions for larger publishers and blog networks to increase page views and revenues.

What’s surprised you the most about the adoption of the PicApp WP plugin so far?

The adoption rates were a nice surprise for us. Needless to say , we wanted as many publishers to use it and this is why we placed in on the directory , but to see several hundreds of new publishers using your product w/o any publicity or formal advertising , in such a short period of time , is always a pleasant surprise!

Thanks Eyal ! You can read more about PicApp on their site, download their WordPress plugin from the WordPress.org Plugin Directory ( or install it directly from your dashboard for those of you using WordPress 2.7 ), and watch a short how-to video on how to use the plugin.

Eyal is the CEO and Founder at PicApp.

Q&A with Zemanta’s Boštjan Špetič on Auto Suggestion WordPress Plugin

Over email I asked Zemanta’s Director of Products, Boštjan Špetiča, to discuss his firm’s new blogging discovery / auto-suggestion service and the WordPress plugin they recently released:

What is Zemanta?

Zemanta helps you create rich posts by recognizing your topic and suggesting useful links, tags, and pictures. So it makes the web experience nicer for both authors and their readers. Zemanta is a relaxed state of mind, where you focus on creativity instead of tricking the search engines to show what you are looking for.

How was the company formed, and where are you located?

The company is based in London and all our development is based in Slovenia, where the founders are from. Our core contextual technology was developed for a project for generating online archives of national television.

After that, we figured it’s a shame nobody is making this experience available to everyone online. We applied for Seedcamp, a European version of Y-combinator, won, and then moved everybody to London for a three-months geek picnic experience. Since then we’ve raised funding and launched the service in March of ’08.

Why should bloggers use the Zemanta WordPress plugin?

It’s painless, it’s pleasant, it takes most the friction out of creating the content. The question is, why would anyone not use it?

Describe the process you took to create the WordPress plugin.  Any lessons learned about plugin development you could share with others?

When we first started working on Zemanta WordPress plugin, we did not know much about WordPress platform or PHP. So we set a modest goal of making a plugin for version 2.5.

We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of information you can find on Codex or when that is not enough, in the WP community. Our advice to those, who might follow our footsteps would be to read introductory articles on Codex and read relevant parts of code of other popular plugins that perform similar tasks. It’s amazing how quickly you may reach your goal even if you are a novice when it comes to PHP and WP.

How is Zemanta different from other related-content products and services?

Some only offer some of the functionality (i.e. tags), some only help the readers instead of authors, some are simply hard to use. We are a one-stop-shop with special attention paid to usability and design.

We are also offering access to increasing number of premium content, where we make sure it is appropriately licensed. Sometimes people think we are just an interface to some picture search, while we actually do much more to deliver only the best select images.

What’s been the most surprising event since you launched your product?

Fred Wilson blogging about it. Twice.

What new features do you have on the roadmap that users of your WordPress plugin can look forward to?

Most prominent new feature on the roadmap is the ability to limit suggestions to your preferred trusted sources, or your friends or your own feeds. Along with more freedom at layouts, this will make our service very much personalized, as it should be in the social media.

Thanks Boštjan for your time. You can read more about Zemanta on their site, and download their WordPress plugin from the WordPress.org Plugin Directory.

Boštjan is the Director of Products at Zemanta, and blogs frequently at bostjan.konstrukt.it.

Sony PlayStation Blog Powered by WordPress

A few weeks ago we mentioned that Sony had contributed WordPress plugins to the community which they had originally developed for the official PlayStation.Blog.

A few more details about these plugins and the overall project were just posted by cnp_studioVoce Communications, the very talented lead development firm that built the PlayStation blog:
Screen Shot of PlayStation Blog

A few highlights from this innovative project include :

Plugins We Used

The great thing about WordPress and the community behind it is that in most instances if you want to do something, someone has already created a plugin for that. In our case we have quite a few plugins at work on the PS Blog including:

* Audio Player – Enjoy those soundtrack posts
* WordPress Download Monitor – Helps us track the number of downloads on the PS Blog Widgets.

and

Plugins We Developed

Sometimes you need something and there isn’t a plugin for it. No problem, you develop a plugin to fill that need. What’s really great is when you have a group like the guys at Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) who want to contribute back to the WordPress community and then release these plugins back for others:

Lots of other good info to digest – so I highly recommend heading over to the cnp_studio blog to read the full details.

[Visit cnp_studio_blog]

WordPress Mobile Options

Looking to blog from your mobile device ? You are in luck ! WordPress offers lots of different ways to keep blogging even on the go.

On WordPress.com we have m.wordpress.com. It’s a very light and speedy version of the admin dashboard, and works well on smart phones like the iPhone, BlackBerry and Treo.

On the mobile WordPress.com site you can post, manage comments, see stats, and basically do everything you normally would do. Just point your mobile browser to m.wordpress.com and login with your username and password.

For self-hosted WordPress there are several plugins for mobile usage including WPhone and the iPhone / Mobile Admin plugin:

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.

In addition, there are a ton of exciting mobile WordPress projects being worked on within the larger WordPress community — stay tuned !

Podcasting With WordPress

For publishers looking for a way to manage, publish, and track podcasts there is a great WordPress plugin called PodPress.
podpress

PodPress features:

* Full featured and automatic feed generation (RSS2, iTunes and ATOM and BitTorrent RSS)
* Preview of what your Podcast will look like on iTunes
* Podcast Download stats, with cool graphs. See below.
* Support for Premium Content (Pay Only)
* Makes adding a Podcast to a Post very simple
* View MP3 Files ID3 tags when your Posting
* Control over where the player will display within your post and what it will look like.
* Support for various formats, including Video Podcasting
* Supports unlimited number of media files.
* Automatic Media player for MP3, OGG, MP4, MOV, FLV, SWF, ASF, WMV, AVI, YouTube, and more, with inline and Popup Window support.
* Preview image for videos
* Support for separate Category podcasts
* Podango hosting integration

For more information, demos, and tutorials about PodPress, visit the PodPress plugin site.

Alex King Interviewed by Download Squad

Alex King of Crowd Favorite, chats with Download Squad about WordPress and his favorite plugins on the latest Download Squad Podcast:

The team at Crowd Favorite has worked on many WordPress projects, and offers the following WordPress services:

Custom plugin development services, WordPress as a CMS development, WordPress theme design and development, WPMU (WordPress Multi-User) development, integrations, and general “how can I do this?” services for WordPress.

If you need to do something with, to, or in concert with WordPress – we can make it happen.

Comment and Trackback Spam Fighting Tip: Use Akismet

Blogs are a perfect way to spark conversation and engage your audience in a meaningful exchange of ideas.

It’s great when people participate by commenting, and when readers begin to regard to the comments area of the blog as a must-read. But having spam show up in the comments area is the quickest way to kill a conversation and turn your readers off.

As you can see in this chart below comment and trackback spam is growing at a very quick pace.
spam chart

A great solution to this web spam problem is to use our Akismet service. The Akismet service is a “a collaborative effort to make comment and trackback spam a non-issue and restore innocence to blogging, so you never have to worry about spam again.”

Lots of information here about how Akismet works, and if you are using WordPress.com or are hosted with us in the VIP program then you are already using Akismet since it’s bundled in. For those of you hosting WordPress on your own servers, or at a hosting provider, Aksimet is likely already installed you just have to enable it with your WordPress.com API key. If it isn’t installed, you can download the Akismet plugin, and you’ll be up and running in no time.

Akismet is also available for many other publishing platforms and forum stoftware.

Also worth noting that there are other tremendous plugins for WordPress that fight spam using a variety of methods. You can browse those other plugins at the WordPress.org plugins directory.