Rethinking blogs at the New York Times

The New York Times website was redesigned recently. You can read about the technology behind it. Personally, I’ve been waiting for a behind-the-scenes about the WordPress at the core of their blogging operations. Scott Taylor delivers with an article entitled Rethinking Blogs at the New York Times.

Because we are turning WP content into Module content, we no longer want our themes to produce complete HTML documents: we only to produce the “content” of the page. Our Madison page layout gives us a wrapper and loads our app-specific scripts and styles. We have enough opportunities to override default template stubs to inject Blog-specific content where necessary.

Overall, it’s less about a visual redesign and more about an architectural redesign. The NYT’s legacy system seems like it was an absolute nightmare. I tried to condense Scott’s article into a short blurb, but I can’t. So, if you’re remotely interested in the structure of large scale online publishing systems go read it (regardless of your opinion about WordPress). If you are a WordPress developer, there’s some cool stuff going on, like abstracting the away the visual structure.

flickrRSS 5.0

It’s time to release a new version of flickrRSS. It’s actually been largely complete for the last three or four months, but I was waiting for the new version of WordPress to come out, and then just got lazy about rewriting the documentation. Much of the credit for this release goes to Stefano Verna, who cleaned up the source code, reworked some existing features, and added some new ones.

This is a major release, we’ve tried to make it as backwards compatible as possible, but it will likely break for some people. Here’s a quick run down of the major new features and changes:

  • New presentation logic with metatags
  • Revamped parameters system using arrays
  • Settings panel hides features that aren’t being used
  • Separated core plugin code from the settings panel

With the new presentation and parameters, it should allow you to customize the output a lot more. There’s probably room to add a few more meta tags, but it’s a good start. The system makes it easier to use things like Lightbox, although you’ll probably be breaking Flickr’s terms of use. Hiding unused features in the setup panel should make things a little bit easier for some people. The separation of code is mostly targeted at developers who reuse the code for other systems.

I’m pushing this out on the site first, before rolling it out in the automatic WordPress update system. Ideally, that will allows use to catch any unforeseen bugs before they become a major problem. The plugin should import your old settings without any trouble, but it’s possible that you may need to do the setup again (particularly widget users).

If you run into problems, please post on the new flickrRSS forum, I was running into a lot of spam problems with the old one.

flickrRSS 4.0

flickrRSS 4.0 Settings Panel

There’s a new version of flickrRSS available for download now. In short, the interface has been updated for WordPress 2.5 and you can display set and favourite feeds.

A longer list of the changes that have been made. If you’re really interested, you can check out the exact changes via trac.

  • Revamped interface for WordPress 2.5
  • Support for sets and favourites (RSS limits to last 20 items)
  • Added set_id to arguments list (in 8th position)
  • Added place for code before and after images in the widget
  • Changed $userid to $id_number to reflect ability to use group ids
  • Naming consistency in source
  • Settings panel now uses one button to save instead of two
  • Brought back html readme, easier on the eyes
  • Tested to make sure it works with video

I also released flickrRSS 3.5 for older versions of WordPress, it just adds support for sets and favourites. One caveat, it hasn’t been thoroughly tested. If you’re having any problems with either version drop a note in the forum.

ffffound plugin for WordPress

ffffoundRSS 1.0 for WordPress

ffffoundRSS, a WordPress plugin that lets you pull in images from your account or the community feed and display them on your site. Features easy configuration via an options panel, widget support and a cache to store images on your server.

Something I hacked together quickly over last day or so, mostly a basic rewrite of my similar plugin for Flickr. Thanks to Antonio at AisleOne for the idea, and a shiny new account to play with.

The Bastard Pack

Theme Screenshot

One of the first things that the pedagogical overlords try to pound into our tiny brains is the concept of sharing. We start in pre-school or kindergarten, after that it’s mostly downhill. Over the last few years, there’s been a resurgence of that playground ethos as we gleefully steal music and movies from the entertainment gods.

After harpooning copyright spokemen and lamenting the evils of digital rights management, we jealously guard our precious stylesheets and provide aloof answers to the secrets of our ways. Not everyone is a bastard though. There are lots of great people out there producing themes, pretty pictures and contributing their time to open-source projects. Now, as they say, is the time to put up or shut up.

A Bastard’s Story

Last September, I modelled a theme around the famous portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower and called it Bastard. That look made it onto a number of CSS gallery sites, and helped me to get my name out there. So it’s only fitting that the look is the first one I give away.

This isn’t a theme release, it’s just some WordPress templates and Photoshop files. It probably won’t work out of the box, but it should give you some insight into the method and the madness. The theme never really existed as one template, it just kind of evolved and got picked up by the gallery crowds before it was fully formed. At this point, the theme is six months old and I can’t attest to the condition of the code, but it’s probably a mess.

The Goods

For the cautious type that won’t get in a car without a map, I present to you the contents of the pack:

  • 1 screenshot
  • 15 jpg images
  • 4 psd images
  • 22 php templates
  • 1 css document
  • 3 rare dinosaur bones
  • 2 orbital weapons platforms

Download the Bastard Pack 2.3mb

The Fine Print

Just so we’re clear… there is no support for this package, take it or leave it. There is also no license per se, but that doesn’t mean you can use it for anything. I haven’t made any money off the pack, it wouldn’t be fair if you did. Use it for your personal sites… if you need something professionally, you can do better.


There should be at least two more packs coming out in the near future, but don’t lose sleep waiting for them. I’d like to thank recent SXSW award winner Bryan Veloso for inspiring me to dump a .zip file full of crap on the unsuspecting public. That and answering five questions for Seal Club.