How to add a custom button to the WordPress Visual TinyMCE Editor

Adding a button

Adding a button

The other day I found a great post that explained how to add a custom button to the WordPress Visual TinyMCE editor.1 It was fairly simple and concise and even includes a zip file of all the parts you would need to install a button into WordPress’s visual TinyMCE editor.  I’m not at all sure I could do a better job than that guy, so I’ll just direct you to the link above.  :)

  1. Photo courtesy of Marco Bernardini []
March 12, 2013 | Comments Closed

OCD Plugin Stats and the Statistics API

What you get when you don't use an API

What you get when you don’t use an API

The current version of my WordPress OCD Plugin Stats plugin, is somewhat… clunky.1 When I wrote it I didn’t know that had an API for it’s plugin statistics.2 Thus, the current version essentially scrapes particular plugin pages for information and drops it into the WordPress dashboard.

After poking into the stats on one of my plugin pages the other day I discovered that the source code for the page included several calls to a API.  Why should I bother scraping and interpreting a page of HTML when I can just ask to deliver the exact data I need in a nifty JSON format?!  I’m very much looking forward to adjusting this plugin to use a more direct and simple call to the WordPress API rather than scraping plugin pages.

In any case, if you’re looking for documentation on this, I found a page in the WordPress Codex and a site with a page devoted to documenting the API.

  1. Photo courtesy of peasap []
  2. Apparently they have more statistics than just on plugins []
March 10, 2013 | Comments Closed

How to add a custom button to the WordPress editor

While posting about my DrawBot adventures, I’ve become increasingly annoyed with my own post series WordPress plugin.  If only it had a simple button in the WordPress editor to drop the shortcode for an existing series, it would instantly become so much better.  Thus inspired, I delved into and sought out the answers.  What I discovered is that while it’s not particularly difficult to add a button to the WordPress text editor, it didn’t seem to be very well documented.  I’m still working on how to add a graphical button to the WordPress TinyMCE visual editor, so stay tuned for that.  I was ultimately able to glean the necessary information from the WordPress “Quicktags API.  However, for your sake1 I’m distilling what I’ve learned right here.

First, I’ll give you an overview of what we’re going to do.  If you’re looking to add a button to the WordPress editor, it’s probably because you’re working on a plugin.  Thus, I’ll assume you have a working knowledge of plugin development.   Your plugin will need to include, at a bare minimum, one action hook and one function which performs the double duty of creating the button and giving the button some kind of ability.

// This action adds a script to the script footer on administrative pages
add_action( 'admin_print_footer_scripts', 'MBSS_quicktags', 100 );

// This is the function that is run at the end of the administrative pages in the script footer
function MBSS_quicktags()
     // Optional database interactions
     // I used this section in my plugin to run a query on the database and return information that would be used in the button

     <script type="text/javascript">
     // Creates button in the text editor
     QTags.addButton( 'MBSS_tag_id', 'Add Series', MBSS_add_series_js );
     // Function to append the series shortcode to the end of the post
     function MBSS_add_series_js()
          editor = document.getElementById('content');
          editor.value = editor.value + "\n" + "EXAMPLE TEXT TO APPEND TO END OF POST";

And there you have it! One action hook and one function which adds some javascript magic to your WordPress editor in the form of a simple text editor button!

  1. And, frankly, for my own future use []
March 5, 2013 | Comments Closed

Apparently serves up even more delicious download stats

Lovin' that source code

Lovin’ that source code

While looking at the source code on my Simple Series plugin page, I began to wonder how was serving up all those nifty little stats into the downloads graph. ((Photo courtesy of Windell Oskay)) What I discovered is that there’s a little bit of jQuery magic going on that pulls download data from a API, formats it for niftiness, and inserts it into the dynamically draw SVG graphic of the downloads.

In case you’re interested, the API call looks like this:

I’m now wondering how I can use that data to show something interesting in my OCD Plugin Stats plugin.1

  1. I should probably rename the meta plugin. []
March 4, 2013 | Comments Closed

Simple Series WordPress Plugin Update

Making cereals

Making cereals

This weekend, almost an entire year from the last update, I made some revisions to my Simple Series plugin for WordPress.1 This is one of the plugins that I use the most often for WordPress.  It’s right up there, in terms of frequency, with the WP-Footnotes plugin that lets me insert footnotes.2

As much as I loved this plugin, it was always a little bit of  pain to use.  In order for two posts to be associated together in the same series, the title must be listed exactly the same in each post.  So, to make sure that I was getting it right, I would open an old post in the relevant series, copy the exact plugin shortcode with the exact title, and paste it into the new post.

With this update you can click the “Add Series” button in the TinyMCE text editor for a post and insert any series title you’ve previously used.  It’s not yet as elegant as I would like, but it makes a few button clicks out of a what used to be an annoying process.3 I’ve also added the ability to have a series between pages, posts, or any combination of the two kinds of content types.

  1. Photo courtesy of Tavo []
  2. Like this! []
  3. Described in the prior paragraph []
| Comments Closed

The worst part about SaaS

And... that's why you don't hack the core

And… that’s why you don’t hack the core

Since I recently gushed on about how wonderful it is to run a SasS business, it’s only fair to share with you a downside.1

This morning I quickly checked my small-side-business SaaS site before heading off to work, only to find the thing that people actually pay to use was not working.  Dropping everything, I quickly started hunting through code.  I haven’t changed a single word of core logic on the site in about six months, so there’s no reason this problem should be occurring.

Except that whenever WordPress asks me if I want to update, I immediately do so.  Sometimes really minor changes to WordPress functionality create huge tangles of CSS and HTML, as it did in this case.  Once I tracked down the problem I quickly hacked together a solution and uploaded it back to the site. 2  Thankfully it’s now working as well as it did before I found this problem.

Because my site has been working so well for so long3 I’ve been loathe to build a better design for the logic.  In the very long run, it will save me time, but in near future/short run of a few months all it will do is suck up time without demonstrating a tangible benefit.  I suppose being less prone to breakage is a tangible benefit, but I spend less than 2 hours a year dealing with minor problems like this.  The prospect of spending two months rewriting and then rechecking code to save 2 hours a year doesn’t seem like a worthwhile investment.

Frankly, what I need to do is come up with some other tangible benefits that when added with the existing fixes I need to perform will have a more tangible4 benefit, and then jump into building them all.

Running a Software as a Service Business
  1. The worst part about SaaS

  1. I don’t know where the original picture comes from, but I got it from this website. []
  2. And, really, it’s a nearly unforgivable hack.  Rather than figuring out how to fix the problem in the plugin, I commented out the newly-bad code and hacked that same code directly into the website’s theme.  I know, I know…  nearly unforgivable.  At least I didn’t try to hack the core.  []
  3. The core logic of the site has been essentially unchanged since about 2008. []
  4. Read: immediate monetary []
November 15, 2012 | Comments Closed

CompFight plugin, with 100% more awesome



I cannot express to you how much I just love this new CompFight plugin1  Snagging images off of CompFight/Flickr and dropping them into a post is so freaking easy now.  This is definitely going to become one of my stock-plugins for a fresh WordPress installation.  I’m happy to say that I contributed a small bit of code to this very very awesome plugin.  Since that comment, my modification of their code was merged into the main plugin.  I’ve also added a few small tweaks to my version of this plugin.  By modifying the javascript file very slightly, my copy of this plugin also:

  • Adds a caption, that includes the same text as the original photo on Flickr
  • Centers the image, using WordPress’s tags
  • Makes the photo credit part of the text.  I like to include the photo credit using slightly different language.  At some point I’ll get around to modifying the plugin so that I can save my format as a setting.

Admittedly, these implementations are just a little bit buggy – I just hacked those bits in without really doing any serious testing on them.  Once I have kicked the tires on this code a little, I’ll post it to the plugin’s page.  If you want to take a look at it before then, just drop me a line.

Sometimes the right post just needs the right picture – I’ve actually had a lack of a good photo hold up a post before.  I’m happy

  1. Photo Credit: seyed mostafa zamani via Compfight []
April 30, 2012 | Comments Closed

ShrimpTest – how to fix incompatibilities with WordPress v3.3

ShrimpTest is a WordPress plugin with a LOT of promise.  Basically, it is an A/B testing tool for WordPress.  The plugin author, Mitcho, does a great job of explaining A/B testing and why it is important.  If you are already familiar with A/B testing, you can skip ahead to 16:03 in the video to see a demo of Mitcho presenting the plugin

Unfortunately, and this is truly a shame, the plugin also suffers from an almost complete lack of development and updating.  There must have been some change in WordPress v3.2 that stopped the plugin from working.  The effect was that the “A/B” icon in the rich text editor was missing.  Fortunately, someone figured out a work around.  The super quickest way to apply this change to the plugin is to do the following:

  1.  Make sure you’re logged into your WordPress website of choice
  2. Navigate to `http://[DOMAIN].com/wp-admin/plugin-editor.php?file=shrimptest/plugins/variant-shortcode/tinymce.js&plugin=shrimptest%2Fshrimptest.php`
  3. The second line down reads:
    1. ”     tinymce.PluginManager.requireLangPack(‘variant_shortcode’);”
  4. Comment out this line by adding two slashes before the code as follows:
    1. “//     tinymce.PluginManager.requireLangPack(‘variant_shortcode’);”
  5. Click “Update File”

You’re done!  Now you should be able to see the icon in your WordPress rich text editor.