Netzwerk Systemberatung Administration
Let me begin by thanking the bloggers of WordPress.com. These excellent people are our most diligent (and unwitting) testing force, keeping our days free for the development of new bugs which, after enduring the careful, methodical abuse from our tireless testing force, eventually metamorphose into features.
Some of these young features are lucky enough to be released into the wild as plugins for anyone to capture and put to work in their own WordPress blogs on server farms all over the world. A plugin is happy in its toil and this makes us very proud parents!
We know, sadly, that some copies will stray into the dark corners of the web where vicious, hungry coders lurk, waiting to rip them up and sometimes reassemble them into towering, plug-necked monsters. Do not pity these copies! Their lives are not wasted, for this what the developer intended. We encourage mutation, even if it causes angry mobs to gather with pitchforks and torches. This, too, makes a parent proud.
Of special interest today is a new sidebar customization plugin called Widgets. Thousands of people are already using Widgets on their WordPress.com blogs (we keep track) and daily we receive requests to bring Widgets to the public, as we have promised to do all along.
The plugin named Widgets has come of age. It is now a plugin for all to enjoy. You can download it, read the documentation, update your themes and make new widgets like rabbits in the springtime.
It's time to take a break for a little story. Today's story is about how WordPress.com learned to spell.
Several months ago, when we started up this blogging site for y'all, it was an invite-only affair. This little scheme allowed us to manage the growth rate and build up a bit of hype around the 'net. It also let us seed the ranks of WordPress.com bloggers with the people we knew would be strong pillars, for we knew that upon the backs of these giants would be built the towering WordPress.com community.
Sounds kooky, doesn't it? Well, it worked. Here you are, the blogging elite.
One of my first invitees (we'll call him Clymer to protect his identity) was a distant friend who liked to write everything in a word processor before pasting it into WordPress. Many of you already know what a terrible experience that is. Clymer was not deterred.
When I would ask my friend Clymer why he insisted on using his brand-name word processor despite the horrendous HTML it produced, he always blamed his actions on the lack of a spellchecker in WordPress. Given the choice between a blog visually wrecked by bad HTML and a pretty blog marred with misspelled words, Clymer opted for the ugly blog with good spelling.
Does Clymer's story sound familiar? I've been reading and responding to feedback. I know the score. Just like Clymer, many of you wanted to do all of your editing in WordPress but you couldn't because you required a spellchecker. Friends, your spellchecker is here and I'm going to show you how to use it.
There is a new spellchecker button in the WYSIWYG editor toolbar that can be activated by clicking on it or pressing the Alt-N key combination. (It's Ctrl-N on a Mac.) After a short delay, any words not known by our dictionary server will be underlined in red.
At this point, the spellchecker is waiting for you to click on any of these words. When you do, it retrieves a list of suggestions and presents them to you.
Click the one that you want to replace the misspelled word. When you're done with the spellchecker, you should turn it off so the red-underlined words are returned to normal.
The spellchecker does have some limitations. You cannot add your own words to the dictionary at this time and we do not have such a feature planned. (We will be updating the global dictionary, however, because it's just not right that it doesn't know the words "WordPress" and "blog.") There are also some older browser versions that are not fully supported by this new feature, specifically Firefox 1.0.7 and lower. Also, as evidenced by the title of this post, you can't spellcheck the title field.
Along with this glamorous new feature, we have provided an updated version of the WYSIWYG editor that fixes several bugs and changes the way some things are encoded. Anyone who has struggled with writing code directly into a post will appreciate that the editor is now truly WYSIWYG. <em>See?</em> If you want italics, use the Italics button (or its hotkey). The HTML editor is still available, of course.
Finally, we would like to mention that this feature is on the roadmap for version 2.1 of WordPress, the open-source package upon which WordPress.com is based. Don't thank us, though. Thank Clymer. He's been nagging me for a spellchecker since the day I emailed his invitation.
We’ve been getting so many requests for widgets that we’ve hardly had time to code anything! I bit the bullet and turned off my email long enough to update the interface and provide widgets for the most requested features. Now they’re active and I’ll be turning my email back on, for better or for worse…
Anyway, here’s the scoop on the new stuff in your Sidebar Editor panel. Most widgets are now configurable through a little popup window. Almost all widgets let you change their titles now, so we expect you to come up with a better name for your archives than “Archives.” Really.
My favorite new widget, the RSS widget is really simple (hehe) to use but it’s pretty amazing what you can accomplish with it. It’ll handle RSS, ATOM, and who knows what other syndication formats. I’ve set up a bunch of feeds on my blog to give you some ideas: another personal blog of my own, MC Hammer’s blog (to show that I’m cool), my Flickr feed, Dodgeball so you know where I am hanging out, and a bunch of funnies (in case my dry humor doesn’t flip your switches). It’s a good start but I’m sure I missed the very best ones. It’s up to you to show the world what a feed maniac you are!
The first widget geared toward a specific third-party service is our Del.icio.us widget. There will be more of these appearing over time, including the oft-requested Flickr badges.
What else do you want that can’t be done with the RSS widget? Keep sending feedback and we’ll keep tallying it, day and night.
Ever since I started working on Automattic and WordPress.com full-time I’ve found myself working at places like cafes and various other places with wireless internet connections around town. It’s nice because they make far better hot chocolate than I do. I’ve also been lucky enough to find myself at some great conferences around the world, for example I’m heading to SxSW Interacive next week. Any conference worth its salt these days provides free wifi.
This is great, but the internet can be a dangerous place. What most people don’t realize is that almost everything they do on the internet, with the exception of things like e-commerce, is transmitted in clear text. This means the data could be readable to anyone who listened. People use things like “packet sniffers” that let them observe and log traffic on a local network, for example that free wifi connection you and 50 of your closest trusted friends are on.
There are ways around this using things like VPN or SSH tunnels, but mostly they’re beyond the reach of us mere mortals to use. I know personally if I’m a techy conference I’m less likely to post to my blog because someone could just “sniff” my password and traffic and cause all sorts of travel.
We’ve made it so you never have to worry about this on WordPress.com. You’re safe blogging here now.
Using the same technology that online stores like Amazon.com and your bank do, we’re now securing all the important bits of your blog using SSL. What this means is that when you’re logging in or posting to WordPress.com, all of your traffic will be encrypted so anyone “sniffing” it will just see a bunch of gibberish. This is free and immediately available for all our users.
On a technical level, what we’ve done is restricted your login cookies to be SSL-only, which means they will never be transmitted in the clear, and we’re encrypting the cookies sent in the clear to make it difficult for anyone to impersonate your login.
There are still one or two kinks we’re working out, particularly for this main blog, but at worst you may see a security warning about the SSL certificate. If you have any problems please let us know using the feedback form.
Also, because we love you so much, we’ve made the code we’re using to do this available as a WordPress plugin. All you need is a SSL certificate and WordPress 2.1-alpha.
Anyway, now when you go to conferences or that sketchy coffee house blog without fear.