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WordPress Coding & Design

WordPress 2.7 Theme Enhancements III

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This is the final installment of how to update your theme to make use of the new WordPress 2.7 comment features.

Comment threading has been added to 2.7, which means that rather than your list of comments going in a straight order of date added, people can reply to a specific comment and their comment will appear below and indented from the comment they’ve replied to. There are pros and cons of using this method in my opinion. It means it’s easier to see mini conversations happening in the comments, but they also have to be styled well to make it obvious what’s what else it can get confusing!

However, the option is there so this is how to add it in.

Header Change

First of all we need to include a JavaScript file. This makes the comment box appear where the ‘reply to this comment’ link is, so that when someone replies to a specific comment they can still see the comment they’re replying to, rather than jumping to the bottom of the page.

The php code we need is

if ( is_single() ) wp_enqueue_script( 'comment-reply' );

This needs to be placed right before the tag wp_head(); in your header.php file. Save that and close it again.

Comment Code

Now open up your comments.php template and look for the submit button. Possibly below or just before it you’ll already have a hidden input for a field ‘comment_post_ID’. If it has, then delete this whole hidden input, as it’s no longer needed as HTML. Then add in the following code

<?php comment_id_fields(); ?>

This will add in two hidden inputs, one for comment_post_ID and the second is comment_parent.

For your comment textarea, it will have the name attribute value of comment. You also need to ensure that it has an id attribute with a value of comment as well. Some themes may have this, some won’t. I’ve explained in the past about how to have a well marked up comment form.

Next you need to surround your comment form with a div, with an id attribute value of ‘respond’. Double check that this id value hasn’t already been used in your theme, and if it has either remove it or rename it.

We can also change your form title from ‘Leave a Comment’ to use the following code

<?php comment_form_title( 'Leave a Comment', 'Leave a Reply to %s' ); ?>

The first parameter is what the comment form will be titled, however if the user clicks to reply to a specific commentator, then the second parameter is used, and the %s will be replaced with the commentator’s name.

Finally we just need to add in a cancel link, to allow the user to cancel their reply if they change their mind. This will hide the form out of the way then. Add this code in somewhere within your respond div.

<div id="cancel-comment-reply"><?php cancel_comment_reply_link() ?></div>

All of this code is available to be seen and tried out in the default theme’s comment.php file, which comes with the latest release of WP 2.7 (currently Release Candidate 1), or you can download this directly – default comment.php file.

Separating Comments and Pingbacks

If you’re like me, and prefer to have your Pingbacks separated from your comments, then a little additional code will be needed. Last week we had the new comment loop code starting with

[sourcecode language=”php”]< ?php if ( have_comments() ) : ?>

< ?php comments_number('No Responses', 'One Response', '% Responses' );?> to “< ?php the_title(); ?>”

    < ?php wp_list_comments(); ?>

[/sourcecode]

First of all I would recommend to put the h3 first, else ‘No Responses’ will never be seen because the if statement says ‘if we have comments/pingbacks’. Then after the if statement we need to add in another if statement to check to see if we have actual comments (as opposed to pingbacks), using the code

if (!empty($comments_by_type['comment']) ) :

We then change the wp_list_comments() tag to check for comments only:

<?php wp_list_comments('type'=>'comment'); ?>

Then after the closing ordered list (ol) tag, we add in an endif to close the if statement we opened.

Then we can duplicate some of this code for our pingbacks, so right after the new closing endif, add in the following:

[sourcecode language=”php”]< ?php if (!empty($comments_by_type['pings']) ) : ?>

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

    < ?php wp_list_comments('type=pings'); ?>

< ?php endif; ?>[/sourcecode]

So here we check that there are pingbacks, and if there are we create a list of them.

Example Source Code

As mentioned last week, I said I would post up an example comments.php template file, so here is my own file (minus the code for extra plugins and my content!). You may want to run through it and change the classes where necessary to suit your existing theme styles.

Download Comments Template File.

With this file you will also need to alter your single.php file (and your page template files if you have comments on any of them), and change the comments_templates() tag to contain two parameters as follows

<?php comments_template('', true); ?>

Conclusion

As explained already (a couple of times!). These are not required changes!! Your existing theme will continue to work on WordPress 2.7, just as your WordPress 1.5 theme worked fine on WordPress 2.5! These changes are merely enhancements and are there to either give you a little more flexibility, or to allow you to make use of the new comment features. So don’t think you have to make these changes before you upgrade to 2.7! 🙂

Previous posts in this series

  1. Your Theme and WordPress 2.7
  2. WordPress 2.7 Theme Enhancements II
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A PHP Developer using WordPress to power both blogging and commercial CMS sites. I've written and released a couple of plugins for WordPress and am currently writing plugins for use on commercial websites.

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WordPress Coding & Design

Will Artificial Design Intelligence Takeover Web Designing and Development?

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Artificial Design Intelligence

The worlds are colliding.

Web designing and development happens in two primary ways:

  1. DIY (bloggers and small business owners buying readymade themes, web hosting account, and setting up the website after reading a lot of online resources)
  2. Agencies (dedicated agencies that create websites from scratch, using manual coding and templates, and these are usually high budget)

There is a third way, which in the next couple of years can replace both the above methods to a large extent. Will it? Let’s see.

Artificial Design Intelligence

Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) is the ‘third’ way wherein companies are creating technology where a website could design and build itself. In 2003, prior to ADI, Adobe unveiled its suite of web designing tools and the industry experts spelled it as a doomsday for designers.

Will this ADI technology completely eradicate the need for website designers and developers? Certainly not, says David Kosmayer from Bookmark. Bookmark is a website builder that uses ADI to cater to each user’s specific and unique needs. Kosmayer opines that ADI technology will become a productivity tool for innovative developers and designers where the technology will improve and escalate the efforts of the team involved in automating the website development process. He is anticipating a website building ADI revolution with Bookmark, thriving to be at the forefront of this inevitable movement.

David gave me an insider peek into the ADI technology they are developing, scheduled to release in the next couple of weeks. Here it is:

The ADI technology improves possibilities.

I create my own websites and blogs. Now, if I have access to technology that Bookmark is designing, it will simplify my work. It’s unassumingly perfect for eCommerce stores. The ADI asks what kind of store does the user want – from a Bistro to a Laundromat, the user has tons of varieties. Once the basic is uploaded, you can add Focus Groups and Modules, and make the site live.

This ADI technology is akin to a personal assistant that understands my business needs and creates a customized ‘product’ to use.

After Bookmark, companies like Wix and TheGrid have ventured into the AI technology space too.

AI for website development and designing is an uncharted area. Chris Lema has a brilliant article title, Has Website AI Arrived?

The world of content marketing should rejoice. AI technology will strategically and dynamically depend on content to design the layout of the site. Here, content could be anything – article length, article quantity, images, videos and more.

Artificial design intelligence is still in nascent stages.

Who could use ADI technology? Bloggers, digital marketers, affiliate marketers, consultants, and other small business owners will find AI entertaining and useful. This group of professionals is usually a one-man army with a small remote team. It cuts down cost on resources as users will probably use the ADI service on a monthly subscription basis. As such, businesses can focus on branding and generating revenue.

The stress of creating dynamic websites, learning technology, and implementing them is removed entirely.

Personally, I agree with Lema that AI technology for website development and designing is yet to mature. With the coming of chatbots and other AI software, give this a year or two before the artificial design intelligence technology for websites booms.

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How to Stop Comment Spam in 60 seconds with CleanTalk

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Blog comments can be one of the most valuable assets to your blog, but they can also be a huge burden at the same time. Even with Akismet installed on my blogs, I still have to manually go through and remove the junk and spam comments many of my sites gets on a daily basis.

When I login to my WordPress dashboard, I will continually junk like this just sitting there and waiting for my approval or deletion. The majority of comment spam happens because they are trying to get a backlink to a site, either through a link within the comment or from the username.

How_to_Stop_Comment_Spam

If you have a small WordPress site, you might not be getting overwhelmed with spam comments yet, but it’s simply just a matter of time. The worse part is that it’s pretty much all coming in on an automated basis, which means cleaning up your spam comments manually can waste endless hours of your valuable time.

Comment spam is something all bloggers have to deal with, and while there are ways to minimize worthless and fake comments with plugins like Akismet or using CAPTCHA forms, these methods either don’t work or are just too annoying to setup.

CleanTalk.org felt the same way and they wanted to create a comment spam solution that works for all blog site owners, while also having a solution that actually works.

How CleanTalk WordPress Spam Plugins Works

Like most things in the world, you just want the product or service to work and not have to deal with the complexities of how it’s made. This is how most online marketers and bloggers feel — they just want a solution and not have to deal with coding, programming and working with a dev team to figure it out.

CleanTalk is quite advanced on the backend, but super easy to setup and use from a site owner perspective. Through it’s cloud based platform, CleanTalk actively monitors the visitors on your site and makes sure the comments being made, are from actual visitors (not spam bots).

The process of how CleanTalk works, is as follows:

  1. A visitor writes a comment or registers.
  2. CleanTalk plugin sends action parameters into the CleanTalk cloud.
  3. Service analyzes the parameters.
  4. If this is a visitor, the comment will be published. If it’s a spam bot, then CleanTalk blocks this comment or registering.
  5. Parameters are written to the log which can be viewed in the Control Panel service.

Not only does CleanTalk protect your blog comment area, it also covers all forms throughout your site (contact, registrations, etc). When logged into your account through their site, you will also have access to real-time stats on how well it’s protecting your site and showing you what activity is happening where.

How to Install CleanTalk on WordPress

Since CleanTalk is a WordPress plugin, it’s super easy to setup. All you need to do is visit their main site at http://cleantalk.org, create an account and grab your access key on the following page.

After that, all you need to do is head over to your WordPress dashboard, go to the “Plugins” section and search for “CleanTalk”.

CleanTalk Installation

Install the plugin and then throw in your access key and you are ready to go!

CleanTalk_Dashboard

To make sure the plugin is properly installed and running, go back to your blog and complete a dummy comment, registration or contact message with the email address stop_email@example.com and you should then see the plugin react with the message like the one in the screenshot below.

CleanTalk_anti-spam_setup_on_WordPress

You can also head back to the main dashboard at CleanTalk.org to monitor your site comment stats and manage how many sites you would like to add the plugin to.

Get Your Free 14 Day Trial of CleanTalk

You can register on the CleanTalk.org site and install the plugin right away. After completing this step, you will have 14 days of free access to their comment spam blocking service. After the 14 days, you will then have the renew your account.

The good news is that the cost of CleanTalk’s comment spam blocking plugin is just $8 per year, and you can save even more by using coupon code “BLOGGINGTIPS“.

Head over to http://cleantalk.org, create your free account and add the plugin to your site. It’s only takes a couple minutes and it will save you a massive amount of time in the long run. Eliminate comment spam from your site forever!

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The Importance of Responsive Web Design

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Responsive web design is quickly changing how sites are viewed on the internet and on mobile devices. Back when I first started making money online in the mid 90s, everything was so basic and simple with web design… it was pretty much all HTML.

Then in 2007 I started using WordPress to create my first blog and the rest of my sites there after.

However, this was only the beginning. Now with everyone so focused on using mobile and other various devices to browse the internet and with the wide range of desktop sizes for viewing, it’s now more important than ever to make sure you have a site that is capable with all solutions.

I still find it amazing that I can look up sites on my phone or iPad and still come across sites that aren’t mobile optimized or that don’t load correctly. It’s quite a shame and something that really needs to be fixed immediately. Statistics show that 25% of internet users only access the internet via a mobile device. Have you checked how your site loads on a mobile device lately? If not, it might be time for you to invest some resources into your web design and development. By working alongside a respectable design team, they will be able to improve the performance of your site, while making sure it is fully optimized in the process.

Thus bringing us to responsive web design

Responsive web design refers to a website designed to adapt to whatever device a visitor is using. The same applies for desktop viewing as well. You can make the browser bigger or smaller and the content on the site will continue to adapt to your viewing solution.

Most premium wordpress themes are now responsive as well, as it’s almost become a requirement for site owners now.

When it comes to designing and coding wordpress themes, I’m the last guy that wants to deal with these issues. Fortunately there are designers and teams dedicated to mastering the art of design and wordpress.

For those of you who are wondering how responsive sites are created and the various tech specs involved, be sure to check out the infographic below from verveuk.eu.

What is Responsive Web Design

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