SEB is testing a new Polling module.

Fellow ExpressionEngine user King of Fools has developed a Polling module that allows you to put those little multiple choice poll questions on your EE blog as so many folks are wont to do. He’s already gotten it up to version 1.2 and that means I’m a bit late getting started on helping to test it out, but better late than never.

I must say that it’s really spiffy so far and I’ve always felt that my websites should have polls on them even though when I’ve gone through the trouble of adding them in I never actually bothered to come up with poll questions for them. Still, if there’s ever a question I need a completely unscientific poll about I now have the power to conduct it via SEB. Go ahead and try it out yourself and let me know of any errors you get. It’s over on the sidebar.

ExpressionEngine 1.2.1 now available.

If you’re running ExpressionEngine for your blog you’ll be happy to know that version 1.2.1 is now available. This new release incorporates 15 new templates that were submitted to the template contest with more to come and it fixes various bugs, refines some features, and adds some security enhancements, so all ExpressionEngine users are encouraged to update. Version 1.2.1 is available to all licensed ExpressionEngine users at no charge. This is the release we’ve been testing here at SEB. I’ll probably switching the Guest Entry form over to the new standalone method soon once I’ve got it working properly.

Here’s the complete changelog:

  • Added a stand-alone version of the PUBLISH page, allowing weblog entries to be submitted from a form outside the control panel.
  • Added 15 new themes that were submitted in our template contest. Additional ones will be added later.
  • Redesigned the plugin manager in the control panel.  It now shows all plugins that are available at pMachine.com, and allows plugins to be installed directly from the manager.  Note:  Your PHP installation must support the CURL library in order to auto-install plugins.  Big thanks to Chris Ruzin (http://www.chrisruzin.net) who rewrote the manager for us!
  • Added “new version check” feature which will show a message in the control panel home page when a new version of ExpressionEngine is available.  This feature can be enabled/disabled in the General Preferences page.
  • Added a new tag: {exp:weblog:info}  This tag lets you show some meta data from your weblog.  Please check the user guide for more info.
  • Added URL mapping feature for users who migrated from pM Free or Pro. When enabled, this feature redirects users who try to access old pM URLs to the new EE location.
  • Added a global trackback enabling/disabling switch (weblog preferences page), and updated the behavior of the global comment enabling/disabling switch for better control.
  • Added a new template revision preference that permits the x most recent revisions to be saved, instead of saving all revisions. Template revisions can use up a lot of database space so you are encouraged to use this preference.
  • Added a referrer limiter preference, permitting only the x most recent referrers to be logged in order to save database space.  The number of referrers can be set in the Referrer Preferences page.
  • Added a master “trackback enable” feature.  Similar to the master comment enable preference, it permits trackback to be turned off global for the entire blog.
  • Improved captcha feature.  You can now have a random three digit number appended to all captcha words, making it much more difficult to guess the word.  This can be enabled in the Captcha Preferences page.
  • Improved “entry_id” parameter in the {exp:weblog:entries} tag.  It now allows multiple ids:  entry_id=“1|3|9”
  • Changed the behavior of the gallery next/previous links so that they now cycle back to the beginning if you reach the last image (and vice versa)
  • Added “stop words” to the search module to prevent commonly used words like “and”, “is”, etc. to be searched.
  • Added a new control panel theme submitted by Jesse from http://www.31three.com
  • Added Danish language files
  • Changed the pagination query in the gallery so that it’s more light-weight.
  • Redesigned the “view member” query in the control panel Admin area, making it more light-weight.
  • Fixed a template rendering problem that occurred when using {variables} as tag parameters.
  • Fixed a bug in which category parents were not being shown when using the show_empty=“no” parameter if entries were not assigned to the parents.
  • Fixed an image path problem in the publish page that affected Imagemagick and NetPBM.
  • Fixed a bug that was preventing an entire year of entries to be shown if the month was not specified
  • Fixed an error due to a missing member group item in some installations.
  • Fixed a path bug in the trackback receiving function which was causing the URL of the weblog to be used instead of the comment URL
  • Fixed a bug that was creating extra captcha images in the folder
  • Fixed a bug that was preventing the trackback url randomizer from working when cached.
  • Fixed a date formatting bug when using the %r parameter
  • Fixed a path bug in the trackback RDF code
  • Fixed a bug that was putting the {captcha_word} in the captcha form by default.
  • Fixed a bug that was creating extra captcha images

ExpressionEngine 1.2 has been released!

Those of you running ExpressionEngine will be happy to hear that version 1.2 has been released. We’ve been beta testing it here and I think a lot of folks are going to be very pleased with this latest release as it includes the new ExpressionEngine Photo Gallery.

There’s a good list of bug fixes and new features including an improved comment module, moblogger support for the gallery, Blogger API support, whitelist in addition to the blacklist, several new conditional variables, and stronger comment spam protections.

Testing out new Comments Module for EE 1.2b.

I convinced Rick Ellis to modify ExpressionEngine’s comment module to allow it to be used outside of individual entry pages for things such as the Recent Comments list on the sidebar. This is a significant change for a number of reasons not the least of which is the fact that I no longer need to use a plugin to do the recent comments list, but also because it allows for the list to be paginated as you can see at the bottom of the listing. Right now the pagination links aren’t working quite right on the index, but on individual entries they work just fine and will allow you to parse through previous comments 10 at a time in the sidebar. I probably won’t use pagination in the sidebar, though, because the real place for it is on a separate template I’ve made that will list all of the comments 50 at a time starting with the most recent and paginating the rest.

I call this new template the All Comments Page!

Original, eh? Now you can read through every single comment ever put into SEB starting with the most recent and working backwards with links to both the entry itself and the comment available for you to click on. If it’s been a couple of days since you were last here you don’t have to worry that something interesting has slid off the 10 comments list on the sidebar. This is a big change and I’m interested in hearing back from folks on any problems they run into as well as how much they like/dislike it so beat the hell out of it and let me know if anything breaks. Right now I know that something breaks on the Monthly Archive pages, but I’m not sure it’s anything to do with the changes in the comments module or not so I’m looking into that. I also know that clicking on the pagination on the sidebar when on an individual entry page will work fine, but causes the entry to disappear so those two bugs you don’t need to report. Let me know about anything else you find.

Comments now checked against EE’s Blacklist.

I discovered that the 1.2 Beta version of ExpressionEngine has added yet another check against comment spam by having the comments submitted cross-reference the same built-in blacklist used to control trackback spam. Comment spam is already a rarity on EE thanks to the multiple prevention methods already in place and this just adds one more test to the mix to keep it to a minimum. It’s not as fancy as Jay Allen’s MT-Blacklist for MovableType, but every little bit helps.

ExpressionEngine Template Design Contest!

Looks like the folks at pMachine are getting ready to hold a contest to attract some shiny new templates for ExpressionEngine. Here’s the scoop:

We are pleased to announce the ExpressionEngine Template Contest with over $2000 in prizes!

Are you a designer? If so, consider submitting a template design in one of the two categories. Eight winners will be chosen by our community members to share the prizes.

Two different categories of templates can be submitted:

  • Blogging – A blogging template is one that is suitable for blogging use
  • Professional – A professional template is one that is suitable for business or any non-blogging usage (e-zines, portals, corporate sites, etc.)

Submissions will be accepted until November 30th, 2004 at 11:59pm. Open voting will begin on December 1st and last until December 7th, 2004. One vote per category per registered member (2 votes total). Winners will be announced on December 10th at High Noon! 

Depending on submissions pMachine, Inc. will possibly pare down the voting pool prior to open voting. Anyone may enter. You do not have to be an EE user. Templates must be an original work of the person submitting it. Enter as many templates as you want but DO NOT submit multiple variations of the same design.

The top four winners in each of the two categories will receive the following prizes:

  • 1st prize: iPod Mini + 1 copy of EE + 1 year hosting
  • 2nd prize: $100 Amazon Gift Certificate + 1 copy of EE + 6 months hosting
  • 3rd prize: $50 Amazon Gift Certificate + 1 copy of EE
  • 4th prize: 1 copy of EE

See the official contest page for more details and a submission form.

 

Truly independent EE Templates now possible.

One of the bigger improvements in the EE 1.2 beta that some folks might overlook is the new ability to define optional “global variables” via the path.php file. This is primarily of importance to folks who, like me, are running multiple blogs in different subdirectories or domains. What this allows you to do is to define a list of global variables that will only apply to a particular blog based on the subdirectory it is associated with. Among other things, using this feature will allow you to design templates that are truly blog independent.

ExpressionEngine is unique in that it doesn’t force an association between a particular template group and a particular blog, but this flexibility was hampered if you wanted to limit the output to just one blog out of all the ones in your system. Previously to do that you’d have to force an association by specifying in your {exp:weblog:entries} loop which blog it should pull the data from. This was fine if you were using different template groups for each blog, but what if you wanted to use a single template group for all of your blogs? Couldn’t be done. You’d have to duplicate that template group repeatedly for each blog even though the templates in each group were all the same other than being hardcoded for a particular blog. Under 1.2 with this new option, though, it can be done.

Here’s how:

  1. Download and open up the path.php for the blog you want to set a global variable for.
  2. Add the following code at the bottom before the closing ?> tag changing the words “short name of blog” appropriately:
    $global_vars = array(
    "master_weblog_name" => "short name of blog"
    );
  3. Save the path.php and re-upload it to your site making sure it goes back into the same sub-directory you downloaded it from.

Now to make a template universal you’ll need to modify it to add the global variable in you just created. If you’re assigning a global variable at the top of the template such as {assign_variable:master_weblog_name=”myblog”} then you can just delete that line and your templates should still work just fine. If you hardcoded the weblog=“shortname” in all the EE tags that use it then you’ll need to go through and change them to the global variable you defined. Keep in mind that any universal templates you create will require that the blogs using it all share the same weblog fields in order to work properly.

To illustrate exactly what it does take a look at my port of the Kubrick template: Here’s SEB using Kubrick and here’s Momma’s Corner using it as well. Or how about SEB with Neil’s Icy Blue and then Momma with Neil’s Icy Blue. One template group, two different blogs.

 

EE Tip: How to allow your members to submit entries.

I’ve had a couple of requests for how I went about setting up EE to allow registered members to submit entries for consideration so here’s the writeup I promised. First thing I did was make use of the instructions in the documentation on how to Mask Access to the Control Panel so that my link to submit entries would be different than the one I use to access the back end of the website. To do this I copied the admin.php file out of my system/utilities/ directory, renamed it to submit.php and then uploaded it to the subdirectory holding SEB. Because I already have a path.php in that directory I didn’t need to bother with that step of the documentation.

Next I needed to modify the Members group to allow it limited access to the control panel. Go to Control Panel Home ›  Admin ›  Member Groups and click on the Edit Group link next to the Members group in the list. You will need to modify only a few parameters the first being “can access control panel” which you should set to “yes.” Then under Control Panel Area Access you’ll define what areas of the CP they can access. Select Yes for PUBLISH page and, if you want them to be able to edit their own entries, select Yes for EDIT page. If you want them to be able to delete their own entries then under Weblog Posting and Editing Privileges you’ll want to set “can delete their own weblog entries” to Yes. Finally under Weblog Assignment you’ll want to change the “can post and edit entries in weblog: someweblogname” to Yes for the blog(s) you want them to be able to post to. Everything else should be left to the defaults.

I didn’t want guest posts to be published until I had a chance to look them over and this was easily accomplished by adding another Entry Status to the default group.  Simply go to Control Panel Home ›  Admin ›  Status Groups and select the status group you’re using on the blog you want to accept submissions to. Create a new status called “Pending” or whatever you want to call it. I suggest putting in a Highlight Color to help these entries stand out in the edit list as EE won’t notify you when someone submits a new entry*, you’ll have to look for them occasionally. I made my color red. You’ll also want to make sure that under the “restrict status to members of specific groups” that the Members group is allowed to use this new status. The next step, and this is the most important, is you’ll want to edit the Open and Closed statuses and make sure to set Members to NO. This allows them only one choice when they make a new entry: Pending.

We’re almost done, but due to a minor bug in EE we need to change one more setting. You’ll want to edit your weblog under Control Panel Home ›  Admin ›  Weblog Management and change the Default Entry Status to Pending (or whatever you named it). If you leave it set to Open then EE will make that the default status even though Members are restricted from choosing it. It’s a minor annoyance.

Finally, you’ll want to put a link someplace on your index that points to your submit.php file so members can access the editing screen. That’s it. Now your members can access the Publish and Edit screens and will see only their entries when doing so. When they submit the entry will be filed as Pending for you to review and change to Open later as you see fit. The only two drawbacks are that EE doesn’t notify you when someone submits a new entry and you have to remember to change your entires to Open when you post them because you’ve changed the default status.

* Both of these issues are no longer true. You can set EE to notify you of user submissions to your blog under the Notifications preferences for that blog and EE will properly set a new submission to the PENDING status if it’s the only one available to the user who submitted it.

Kubrick EE v1.0 is finished.

OK, I’ve finished up the initial version of the Kubrick template conversion for ExpressionEngine that I’ve been working on. I’ve sent it off to Charles over at EE Templates and with any luck he’ll have it available for your downloading pleasure before too long.

This is NOT the final version of this template. It is simply a straight conversion of the original WordPress version and is missing some of the frills such as trackback listings. I’ll be updating it in the future to add additional functionality. Still, it should allow you to get a nice looking blog up and running in short order with a minimum of fuss. Enjoy.

Update: Looks like it’s now available for download.

Next up: Neil’s IcyBlue template.

New blog devoted to EE Templates.

Charles of RippleWeb has launched a new blog devoted to collecting templates for use with ExpressionEngine called, appropriately enough, EE Templates. So if you have a template you’re willing to share then please go check out the submission guidelines and pass it along to Charles. He’s also looking for tips and tutorials to add to the site so send of of those along you might have as well. I’ll be submitting the Kubrick template I’m working on converting once it’s finished as well as converting the templates offered on Neil’s World to EE.