I tried to use unicode stars in posts to show how much I liked some books. I was embarrassed to see them show up as ????? question marks. Yuck. Why is that happening?
I’ve been blogging for a long time and had a suspicion that it was going to be the age of this WordPress install. I’ve diligently upgraded the software, but nobody likes to migrate a DB schema. So I dug through the DB and sure enough, my wp-posts table is in latin1-ci. For non-nerds, that means it’s a case insensitive database that only is set to store “latin” characters – basic ABC123 and punctuation, but none of the fun unicode or non-latin characters in other languages.
Last night I pushed out the final changes to uncage version 0.1.9 and get it out in the wild.
This version is mostly about giving you freedom. You should be able to easily import your stuff from other platforms into Orbital Feed Reader to use it. If you decide that you don’t want to use Orbital Feed Reader any more, you should have an easy way to leave. Any software that doesn’t tell you how to leave it is something you should be suspicious of.
Get FeedsÂ IN
For Feed Readers, the standard way to exchange lists of subscriptions is a standard called OPML. It’s an old format, but it’s how they all exchange lists of feeds. I’ve buffed up the OPML import to handle larger numbers of feeds. After you import the file you have a chance to look over the feeds and edit them, tag them or exclude them entirely. Hit save and they’ll all flow into the backend.
Get Feeds OUT
But we also don’t want Orbital to be a lobster trap for you. If you import that kind of data I also want you to be able to export that kind of data.Â Now Orbital is good at exporting your feeds. If you are logged in – we’ll export a file with all your public and private subscriptions and let you take that wherever you want. Some folks want to share their OPML publicly – if you aren’t logged in, hitting the same URL gives you only the public feeds. All your private stuff should stay safe!
Read Lotsa Feeds
Now that Orbital can handle tons of feeds coming in I wanted it to be easy to actually sort through them. Feed Tags now start off collapsed and you can expand them anytime by using the little twiddlers next to each. That’s a technical term. The twiddlers make it much more manageable to see 200 feeds over many subject areas.
This is a great feed reader especially if you are doing research for a post or if you are like many people out there who write additional articles based on what they read. This make it easy to get a pull quote from an article and drop it right into a post. While the layout and functionality is a little raw in its appearance it seems to work very well and to give it a good go I added it to my secret blog site as a place to test some ranting on article and stories. And it seems to work quite well..
That’s great feedback and I feel like I do need to work on the style and appearance – it’s tough and I need help.
Font icons are kind of fashionable in web development these days. What’s awesome about them is that you get all the clever wonderful benefits of how good browsers are at rendering webfonts. In a way, a web font used for font icons is like a png sprite for SVGs – you get one server round trip and then a bunch of reusable images.
It’s a good idea if you need to show some custom icons. Me, I’m too cheap for that. For Orbital I’m trying to make sure that there is a very small footprint. Rather than using a custom web font I’m just getting creative with the unicode tables.
As far as I can tell, unicode has some pretty easy to understand symbols for add (+), refresh(âŸ³) and edit(âœŽ). So I get decent, scalable icons for zero server round trips!
When I talked with Aaron about the name of the feed reader for WordPress I’m working on, he pointed out that it seems awfully close to the actual name WordPress. It also is impossible to say. I asked lots of folks for new name ideas, this is the one that stuck for me.
You can see a lot from orbit
I really like the band
It is easy to say and there isn’t a feed reader already named Orbital
In other news, I’m working with folks to install it on their servers and show them how to use it. Be my Alpha Tester, please!
As part of my hacking on WordPrss, I got to a point where I wanted to let folks import and export OPML files.
Exporting a file from a WordPress plugin doesn’t seem to be very well documented. I found an older article about it – here’s my take.
Provide a link to the file export
Export the data
This file isn’t getting included in through the normal wordpress mechanisms, so it has to do some more work than the rest of your plugin does. If you want to use the $wpdb or other handy wordpress items, you have to include those in.
I was about to hack up a way to include wp-config.php or wp-load.php when I ran across the simply named Don’t Include WP-Load, Please. He recommends a clever way to handle it all within wordpress, which I quite like. See below.
Now you can build out your export file – in this case export_opml.php – knowing that all of the WordPress utilities are there for you to use.
My boss Mike needed to move his wine review blog from a friend’s hosting on lunarpages. I suggested he try dreamhost and he liked it – in a few minutes he had signed up for a free trial and used their 1-click install to set up a new install of wordpress.
Things to do before you change your domain to point to your new hosting
Write down the name of your THEME. If you want to use the same theme, it’s important to write this down before you make the switch.
Export your blog content from wordpress.
Download your images. The wordpress export guide pretends this is easy, but it isn’t. If you are using the same domain name, I’m not sure what the easy way to do this is.
How to download your images
I wrote a python script that does this for you.
Make sure your system supports python. Next install BeautifulSoup – a great html parser for python.
Once that’s done, download this little script and change home and filesUrl to be your domain name.
Run the script, it should crawl your domain and download all of the images you host. Now follow the same steps of editing your export if needed and upload it all into your new blog at your new domain.