Ad Code Manager v0.2: UI Redesign, Support for Custom Ad Networks, and a New Widget

Ad Code Manager is a plugin designed to help you deal with ad codes, those short snippets of Javascript used to display advertisements on your website. This week, Rinat Khaziev of Doejo, Jeremy Felt of 10up, and I are excited to bring you version 0.2.

It’s chock full of these new features:

  • Completely reworked user interface, one that now looks and feels like much of the rest of the WordPress admin.
  • Abstracted ad network logic, so you can integrate additional ad networks. Currently, Ad Code Manager fully supports Double Click for Publishers. Pull requests with support for other ad networks are always welcome.
  • In-plugin contextual help to get you properly configured.
  • Priorities for ad codes, which allow you to work around conflicts.
  • An [acm-tag] shortcode for placing ad codes within posts.
  • A widget for placing ad codes in widget areas. Thanks to Justin Sternburg at WebDevStudios for the contribution.

We’ve also fixed these bugs:

  • Enabled using ad codes with empty conditionals.
  • Setting the logical operator from OR to AND now results in the expected behavior.

Ad Code Manager v0.2 is already installed on VIP, and available to download for installs. Please report any bugs, feature requests, or questions in the forums. Or fork the plugin on Github and follow our development blog to help with future improvements.

Announcing the VIP Featured Partner Program

This morning we debuted a project that I’m really excited about—our new Featured Partner Program. Our VIP team is now working with select partners to integrate their services with WordPress, connect them with our VIP clients, and collaborate to support the integration and provide a seamless experience for our users.

Each implementation has been reviewed and certified by our VIP team to ensure a well-optimized, secure, and forward-compatible integration with the WordPress platform, and our VIP customers get the benefits of that collaboration.

We’re excited to be working with launch partners Chartbeat, ContextLogic, Daylife, Livefyre, MediaPass, Ooyala, SocialFlow, Uppsite, and Wibiya to provide a range of solutions for publishers, from web analytics to online video delivery to mobile and more.

If you’d like to learn more about the program, please get in touch.

Previous Post

VIP Code Wrangler, Daniel Bachhuber breaks down some of the enhancements and bug fixes available in the most recent update to Co-Authors Plus.

Cheezburger Network Open Sources Their WordPress Administration Panel VIP Cheezburger Network, where you get your daily LOLz from one of their 50 popular sites like I Can Haz Cheezburger? and FAIL Blog, have shared the code of their WordPress theme administration panels.

Called CheezCap, it’s a simple library for easily creating custom admin panels.

Screenshot of CheezCap

Cheezburger Network uses a single shared theme across all their sites. In order to avoid having to create conditionals and other per-blog modifications in their theme, they developed CheezCap. Any of the administrators can update the options controlling the layout, design, colors, etc, without having to dig into the theme code.

When asked what motivates his engineering team to participate in the WordPress community, CTO Scott Porad replied:

I can say without hesitation that WordPress has had a hand in the success of Cheezburger. So, to the extent that we can help other people be successful with WordPress, we’re on board!

What I meant to say is… All aboard the WordPress Express! Choo Choo!

VaultPress: First Golden Tickets

Very exciting news that invites to VaultPress — a subscription-based protection, security and backup service for WordPress blogs and sites — are now starting to be sent out.

Over the weekend we started to trickle out the first Golden Ticket invites to VaultPress. This means that if you’re on the list you now have a semi-random chance of being one of the first people who can sleep more soundly at night because of VaultPress.

If you didn’t receive your invite yet, there is a way to possibly get one more quickly:

If you’d like to move ahead in the line, write a blog post about why you want to use VaultPress and link it here, or tweet why you need your site protected by VaultPress and use the hash tag #vaultpress.

[ Visit ]

WordPress as a CMS Case Study:

Back in July we posted about the remarkable project that WNET (PBS of NYC) put together with Tierra to launch 50 sites in ten months using one CMS, WordPress.

Dan Goldman and Jamie Trowbridge who headed up that project, were kind enough to present a case study of how it was all done, at the recent WordCamp NYC:

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 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 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 Plugin Directory.

Boštjan is the Director of Products at Zemanta, and blogs frequently at

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.


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 we have 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 site you can post, manage comments, see stats, and basically do everything you normally would do. Just point your mobile browser to 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 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 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 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 plugins directory.

Q&A with Brian Groce of Watershed Studio on the Topic of WordPress Plugins

Plugins are tools to extend the functionality of WordPress. In an email exchange I asked a leading plugin developer, Brian Groce of Watershed Studio, his thoughts on developing WordPress Plugins and how publishers should approach having a plugin created.

How did you get started working with WordPress?

I was part of the exodus from MovableType back in 2004 due to the sudden licensing changes that occurred. After looking around at all of the PHP based open source blogging and content management options I opted for WordPress since that appeared to be the direction most people were headed and the development community seemed to be pretty strong and focused on delivering a solid product that didn’t add any fluff to the core code.

What is a plugin? And what are the advantages to using a plugin?

Plugins are extensions to the main WordPress functionality which enable the use of additional features. The advantage to using plugins is that you can easily add new features that you need while leaving the core WordPress code as simple as possible, which in turn allows for easy future software upgrades of both the core WordPress software and plugins.

In what circumstances should someone use a plugin or have a developer build a custom one?

Plugins should be used when there is a feature you’d like to see added to either the administration or presentation side of WordPress. There are numerous freely available WordPress plugins, but in the event that you can’t find what you’re looking for, having a developer create a custom plugin is your best bet unless you are already familiar with PHP and possibly SQL.

What are the biggest misconceptions about plugins?

I think the biggest misconception about plugins is that if you can think it, it can be done. While that is often the case, there are instances in which a certain feature isn’t available to be “plug into” via the API. Luckily the WordPress development team is on top of it and is adding new “hooks” as versions are released. Also, there seems to be a misconception that every plugin will work on every server setup, which isn’t necessarily the case. If a plugin uses a PHP or MySQL function that is not available or activated on the server, it will not function correctly. Related, plugins may work with one version of WordPress and not another.

Which plugins have you developed?

Of the plugins we have developed, the WordPress Email Notification plugin is by far the most popular, and we’re currently working on a new version which adds a handful of new features and improved functionality. We have also developed and maintain the WordPress Category Posts plugin & WordPress Versioning plugin and assisted in the creation of the Sphere Related Content Widget. Beyond those plugins, we have created custom plugins for clients.

In your experience what are the biggest mistakes publishers make when looking to build a plugin?

The biggest mistake from what I have seen is not looking at the big picture and painting yourself into a corner. Take the time to brainstorm and think about any possible future updates and additions that you’d like to make. By doing so, the plugin can be built with the future in mind and you’ll be able to avoid adding unnecessary additional development time down the road.

What are your favorite plugins?

My favorite plugin by far is PodPress. Anyone who has ever gone the non-plugin route to setup a podcast/vidcast can tell you how much time this plugin saves you. I also like Alex King’s Share This plugin as it is very helpful in allowing readers to share a particular post with others.

Plugin update notifications are now built into WordPress. What impact will that have on developers of plugins and their users?

I think that this will help out tremendously in allowing developers to inform users of new updates. Previously this was a manual process unless the plugin author built in a mechanism to check for updates.

From a plugin developer standpoint, what improvements or changes would you like to see with WordPress?

I would love to see some more hooks added to the API. Specifically, I would like to see a hook which easily allows for the addition of buttons to the editing toolbars in both the WYSIWYG editor and in the Code View editor. Also, I would love to have a way to see what blogs are actually using your plugin(s). With the new update notifications built into WordPress 2.3, this information should be fairly easy to collect.

What tips would you give publishers looking to have a plugin developed?

First, I would suggest looking to make sure that what you’d like to do hasn’t already been done, or at least check to see that something similar hasn’t been done. If you need some additional features or tweaks to an existing plugin, contact the plugin author to see if they can create a custom version for you and if so, how much it will cost. If they can’t (many plugin developers have full-time jobs), get in touch with a seasoned developer who can. Since most WordPress plugins are licensed under the GPL, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Second, if you need to have a plugin developed from scratch, be sure to write down and possibly diagram how you want the plugin to function. Once you have that completed, contact a plugin developer and let them know what you need. Additionally, if you have a delivery deadline, budget requirements or any other special considerations, you should share these with the potential developer as well.

Typically, how long does it take to develop a plugin from start to finish?

It truly depends on a multitude of factors, but in general the total development time depends upon the complexity of the plugin and the communication times between the client and the plugin developer. It is possible that simple plugins can be written, tested and “shipped” within a week. More complex plugins can take weeks to months before the final version is in hand and quality communication is especially vital when working on more complex plugins.

What should publishers be expecting from a cost perspective when hiring a plugin developer?

The cost of having a plugin developed comes down to the amount of time involved, thus a simpler plugin will cost less that a more complex one. In addition, developer rates and time estimates may vary quite a bit. With that said, you should expect to set aside a minimum of a few hundred dollars (USD) for a simpler plugin and into the thousands of dollars for a more complex plugin.

Thanks Brian! You can read more technical information about plugins on the WordPress Codex site and browse hundreds of plugins in the WordPress Plugins directory.

Brian Groce photo Brian Groce is the founder, President and CEO of Watershed Studio, LLC. Watershed Studio specializes in installing & customizing WordPress for blogs, podcasts and as a content management system (CMS).

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