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#1 osgzach

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 06:07 PM

Hi,

 

I'm sorry I couldn't really think of a more clear title..   But this is what I'm looking for.

I don't know if there are tools out there that exist or not, but I'm hoping someone could steer me in the right direction, or at least recommend some to look in to.

I don't have a lot of money,  so  FREE  is a good word to me..

 

I need a plugin or tool (or tools) of some sort  that will help make my content releases a little easier to manage without doing multiple steps..

I run  www.oldskoolgames.com  -  (its been dead for a couple years but trying to change that now)  where I distribute a retro-gaming  magazine in PDF format  (downloaded in 7zip archive).

 

Firstly,  I am looking for some kind of  Management tool,  that will let me upload my  files, and then publish download links via my site (the new site of course will have a  WordPress/PageLines backend).

 

Hotlink protection is a big thing for me, so it must be able to do that.  URL obfuscation would be a bonus, I guess.

Also being able to painlessly insert links to the files into a post,  or build an archived page with links, that kind of stuff..

 

The 2nd part, I have a feeling is 99% doable in  WordPress already,  but would probably be more manual.

 

I'd like to be able to make a post, that depending on the category its posted to,  is displayed differently.

What I mean by that, is you can see on my current site layout (done by hand),  I have a general news posts section (script disabled) and on my sidebar I have a  "Latest Issue"   category with a Thumbnail of the issue cover and a text link (click-able anywhere).

 

It would be great if I could write a single post announcing a new issue, posted both to my front page,  and then to a side-bar section  with the same display setup as my current sidebar.  Obviously I want the full post on the font page with any text, etc  but only the cover image and text link underneath it,  to appear in the sidebar -   I don't know if that will require some other plugin trickery or not..

 

The way my current site works (when everything was enabled)  is  I had a  PHP script to serve the downloads, which I had to manually edit to add new files I uploaded via FTP.  I then had to make a news post for the front page of the site,  and then also make a news post (using a hack of my news script for that function) to my  sidebar  Latest Issue  category,  linking to an uploaded thumbnail I made, for the cover image.

 

I would very much like to simplify that process.

If anyone can recommend any tools I can look in to, to help me achieve the desired look/functionality   I need  I would greatly appreciate it.   Free is nice,  but I will consider commercial options too,  as long as they are priced reasonably  (this is a hobby, not a business).



#2 James B

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 02:02 AM

Hi there, I'll speak to a co-worker who runs something similar, they might have some idea's which could help you.

 

One thing I would suggest is the 'special recent posts' plugin, http://wordpress.org...l-recent-posts/ this will help you with the sidebar content relating to the magazine articles.


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#3 osgzach

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 10:34 AM

Thanks, that looks like something I might be able to use, possibly.



#4 Rob

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 06:15 AM

Hi.

 

Firstly,  I am looking for some kind of  Management tool,  that will let me upload my  files, and then publish download links via my site (the new site of course will have a  WordPress/PageLines backend).

Wordpress itself is such a management tool.  You can upload a variety of file types, such as .pdf. .mp3, etc and provide a text or graphic link to help people download them.

 

Another important tool in this regard, particularly for monetizing is s2Member, which makes parts of your site a membership area (you get to select which parts) and can have free and paid membership areas, so that downloads are not accessible to just anyone.

 

Hotlink protection is a big thing for me, so it must be able to do that.  URL obfuscation would be a bonus, I guess.

Also being able to painlessly insert links to the files into a post,  or build an archived page with links, that kind of stuff..

Well, this is certainly possible using Twitter or other URL obfuscation systems, but it can have an impact on your search engine optimization. It's a balance one has to weigh.  Depending on where you place hotlinks, if they're protected behind the membership system, then obfuscation isn't needed.

 

I'd like to be able to make a post, that depending on the category its posted to,  is displayed differently.

What I mean by that, is you can see on my current site layout (done by hand),  I have a general news posts section (script disabled) and on my sidebar I have a  "Latest Issue"   category with a Thumbnail of the issue cover and a text link (click-able anywhere).

James beat me to the punch in recommending Special Recent Posts.  It's fantastic for this purpose. It works on a custom created shortcode you craft from the options and you can place the shortcode anywhere you'd like.... in the footer, morefoot, body, sidebars, even the header.

 

It would be great if I could write a single post announcing a new issue, posted both to my front page,  and then to a side-bar section  with the same display setup as my current sidebar.  Obviously I want the full post on the font page with any text, etc  but only the cover image and text link underneath it,  to appear in the sidebar -   I don't know if that will require some other plugin trickery or not..

The same plugin lets you do this too.

 

The way my current site works (when everything was enabled)  is  I had a  PHP script to serve the downloads, which I had to manually edit to add new files I uploaded via FTP.  I then had to make a news post for the front page of the site,  and then also make a news post (using a hack of my news script for that function) to my  sidebar  Latest Issue  category,  linking to an uploaded thumbnail I made, for the cover image.

Between WordPress, Special Recent Posts and PageLines, you'll be able to do this with no trouble. Each time you post a new article, it will appear as long as you use the excerpt field and add a feature image to each post.   The process is very, very simple and easy to do, once you set up the framework as you like it. 

 

I'll also recommend a plugin called "Dynamic Dates"  I find very helpful for copyright dates and the issue date.  Another is "Display This When" plugin.  I use it quite successfully for my volume and issue numbers. 

 

All the plugins mentioned are available via http://www.wordpress.../extend/plugins free


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#5 osgzach

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 12:27 PM

Thanks, I have previously done some poking around there, and found a few additional things to try.

 

I'm not so much worried about  SEO, for what its worth.   I did think about the whole registration thing,  but I will only require accounts for comment posting at this point.   My content is free so I prefer it to be as painless to access as possible.



#6 osgzach

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 06:56 PM

I'm making OK progress so far.. My site is about 95% complete :)

I installed an email encoder plugin, I've got my site theme just about worked out now

 

I decided to not use  SRP.  It has a lot of nice features, but I found something that will work for my methods a lot easier.  It's called Recent Posts Plus.   Lets you filter by category and some options like that, as well as format the output.   It seems to do what I want,  and can produce the thumbnail by using the  "Featured Image"  you select from the  New Post page.   

 

The only problem I have now is I need to modify my theme so it removes the Featured Image from the  Post on the front page (I don't want it there )   - or at least lets me modify it so the image will show up elsewhere  (i.e below the title, in the body of the post, instead of next to the title, outside the body)

 

Edit: removed bits about Special Recent Posts



#7 Rob

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 03:22 AM

Do you mean this plugin?  http://wordpress.org...ent-posts-plus/

 

If so, you're not doing a plugin evaluation correctly.  Plugins you use should be compatible with the latest version of WordPress and have significant numbers of changes in the changelog and users.

 

When a plugin is not kept up to date, it will break and potentially do serious harm to your site.

 

The reason we recommend Special Recent Posts is that it's tested and works with PageLines and well maintained by its author.  It has thumbnails from post feature images too.  You simply have to apply that in your shortcode.



#8 osgzach

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 10:54 AM

That's a fair point,  I'm not sure if I discovered the fact I had to use the "featured image"  option on the posting menu to get thumbnails,  before or after the fact.   So I will take that into consideration.

It does appear to work for the time being though.

 

Also the one major issue I had with SRP, was that when I clicked on the  Post,  to read it on the single post page,  the thumbnail would vanish from my  "Latest Issue"  Sidebar display -  but it was there when viewing *other* posts in the same manner.



#9 Danny

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 11:15 AM

If your post feature image is not displaying when viewing the single post page, you most likely have thumbnails disabled on the single post page.

Go to PageLines > Site Options > Blog & Posts > Thumbnail then check the Single Post option


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#10 osgzach

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 12:30 PM

I will re-enable the plugin and check that out later today.

 

Thanks.

 

I also kind of gave up on trying to figure out how to keep the Featured Image thumbnail from being scaled down in the  Blog post (excerpt / full width, it didn't matter) and decided to just disable them on the front page and insert it manually from the library.  That actually seems to work out pretty well.   I did my best to look through functions, etc to try and find the code being generated that is causing the issue, but had no luck...  Probably doesn't help that PHP is kind of greek to me.

 

Still, I think I am going to be able to hit my New Years deadline for launching the new live version :)

 

I was a little hesitant at first, but despite some of the issues, I feel pretty good about my purchase of Pagelines now.



#11 Danny

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 01:09 PM

Awesome, that great to hear!



#12 osgzach

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 05:22 PM

So, I reinstalled Special Recent Posts and I managed to get everything set up the way I wanted :stuff:

The problem was I had misunderstood one of the options (and it has a lot of them...) and it was set up to hide the most recent post when in single post view.   Which was a relief because I was pretty sure I had those similar options set up in PageLines properly.   So after I got that sorted I also dug into the CSS and overrode a few things related to SRP,  and now I have a nice display setup with no down-scaling issues,  no borders, but a nice shadow and then the post Title (Issue #) centered below the thumb, and then the release (post date in this case) date of the issue below that.   I did decide to leave the Feature Image options for the Post DIsplay itself turned off though,  because I didn't feel like spending a few hours trying to find out how to modify the code template for how the post borders and positioning of the image are done.   But I never really had cover images displayed in news announcements anyway,  so it's not big loss and I like a clean front page a lot more.

 

 

Things have progressed along nicely,  and I think the last thing I need to tackle now is  how I am going to do file management.  I briefly touched on this in another topic I think (or maybe it was higher up in this one).  But I know just using WP's  Media  section alone won't cut it for me personally,  it also seems to have a 2MB upload limit.      I downloaded one or two File Management plugins to try out,  so I will have to play with those. 

 

Hopefully I will find in all-in-one approach that lets me upload through the Dashboard,  obfuscates the file paths, and prevents Hotlinking to external sites.   Although I guess I could already do that under  .HTACCESS like I do for my image files,and cover that aspect.   But it would still be nice to have an integrated system with the Dashboard,  and at least give me  obfuscation and a central upload folder (not the date/whatever based path crap that WP generates).  For Example:   download.php?id=1   or whatever.   That's what I have now on my live site but its 100% manual :(   Have to FTP the file,  open the scripts data file, add a new file ID and path to the file, then insert the link manually into the  archive page (along with thumb) , news post, etc.

 

In fact I am giving the "wpfilebase" plugin a try right now,  its features list seems to support everything I want to do.   Will see how that turns out, though..

But I'm getting close to done!  :geek:

 

Here's what my local copy looks like currently.



#13 Rob

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 11:30 PM

You can search the WP Codex or Google to find out how to increase the 2Mb limit.  That's a tiny bit complicated, but no more, and probably less than SRP's shortcodes. ;-)

 

You have to be incredibly careful with file management plugins. If someone's able to access your dashboard as a user, it's possible they might have access to the plugin, and be capable of uploading viruses, or using your site for all sorts of illicit purposes.  I speak from painful experience with this.

 

Now please don't take this the wrong way, but I think you should spend more time reading instructions for things.  It would help you discover the tools you already have at your disposal, so you don't have to reinvent the wheel.  I want to save you time in the long run.  That initial investment may pay off in huge savings later.



#14 osgzach

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 08:29 PM

I'll admit I'm not one for reading manuals,  however when it comes to the plugins I've chosen to install...   I feel that I'm choosing them because I -don't- see an obvious solution that caters to specifically what I want to do, or how I want to set something up.    For me,  I'd rather use a plugin as opposed to digging in and modifying a Framework such as Pagelines or Wordpress itself,  where possible,  simply because  I don't want to have to come back later when something breaks -  look at everything,  and then wonder what the hell I was doing and all that.

 

I guess one way to look at is is balanced compromise.   But I most certainly do go over everything with regards to user permissions, etc.   wpfilebase in particular,  does a lot of things and contains a lot of functionality that is just not there in the core components of what I get with  WP/Pagelines already.   And that means I do not have to spend time trying to modify them to suit my needs.   I do not understand a lot about how  WP & Pagelines work,  so I would argue it is equally, if not more so, dangerous for me to start modifying them willy nilly -  unintended consequences and all that.

 

By that same token, I can see how that may look from the outside...  But then when I write posts,  I try to give a glossed over summary of my progress,  not go into every detail and thought or consideration I've made.  More often than not,  I resort to a plugin because I either don't have the necesarry time to invest -  or because I recognize I do not have the skillset I need, or the time to invest in that additionally in order to do it myself.



#15 osgzach

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 08:37 PM

Getting slightly back to the topic at hand, now:

 

The one final thing I need for now,  is comment spam protection.   I know there is Akismet -  but I think that costs money? (I haven't doublechecked).   What are considerable alternatives to payware - or at least is there something of high quality that only costs an upfront fee (like PageLines), or even a donation or some such ?

 

I have to be honest here in that I do not believe in relying solely on systems like  Captcha.  They are far too easily defeated on Forums..  Captcha itself is extremely well known and thus a target  for exploitation by default

 

Something that combines  Image Verification with an additional Turing Test would be ideal, I think.   Better yet if the Turing Test can be customized with your own list of questions / answers and set to rotate them randomly (never use the same test in X time, unless the entire list is exhausted, etc).



#16 Simon_P

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 08:42 PM

Akismet is free for personal use.

 

Why not put all your PDF's in one folder then use a .htaccess file to stop hotlinking?

 

for example:

 


RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?yourdomain.com [NC]
RewriteRule \.(pdf)$ - [NC,F,L]
 


#17 osgzach

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 09:34 PM

I think I may do that already..  I'm unsure if that would also give me the option to reject blank referring target (i.e  copy the URL posted on some site into a blank browser window - you get the file).

 

But this issue really goes far beyond Hotlinking protection.  I'll just note that something I really like,  are some options it has relating to bandwidth control,  setting user access permissions based on account type, etc..   Being able to set permissions based access to files, as well as categories, requirements, and stuff of that nature - all from one page.

 

I'm also going to look into its templating system, to see if I can customize it to allow an automatically generated  Archives page(s) based on my site layout.  It also allows me to painlessly select a default upload folder where everything goes.

 

This project is relatively small right now,  but it has been going on for a little over 10 years,  and fate willing, will be around at least another 10.  So I'm trying to think ahead in some respects, to keep things easy to manage,  vs  a lot of manual work and updating of pages, or  semi-manual  work via modifications of my current built-in options.

 

It's just that simple.   I'm not plugin crazy or anything.    But I get the distinct impression some of you think I am.   I just don't have a lot of time to invest in this,  to be more "hands on" in the management of code and such.   I am not a rich guy,  and this is not a business, I'm not in it for money (in fact it costs me money).    But when a hobby becomes more work than fun / easy -  well, I'm sure you know what I'm saying.



#18 Rob

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 12:02 AM

I'll admit I'm not one for reading manuals,  however when it comes to the plugins I've chosen to install...   I feel that I'm choosing them because I -don't- see an obvious solution that caters to specifically what I want to do, or how I want to set something up.

This is the one thing that scares me.  When the expediency of finding a proper solution outweighs the propriety of using the solution that's safe, then risk outweighs security and you'll end up with a site that's likely broken.  (Pearls of Wisdom from and Old Curmudgeon - me)  We try pretty hard to keep clients sites up and running, as opposed to broken and dysfunctional, as you can well imagine.

 

 

I'll just note that something I really like,  are some options it has relating to bandwidth control,  setting user access permissions based on account type, etc..   Being able to set permissions based access to files, as well as categories, requirements, and stuff of that nature - all from one page.

The plugin s2Member does just this.  It has levels, from free to premium.  The top four of five are fee based, but nothing stops you from providing links behind a free membership, if you prefer, though it protects your files from undocumented downloads.  At least you'd know who's got permissions and who's using them.  If you read the documentation, I suspect you'll be more than pleased with what it does.



#19 osgzach

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 02:47 AM

Well, currently my site is functional,  it looks great, and  Pagelines made a lot of my resistance to migrating from  hand coded/templating,  to Wordpress go away.   So I think you've been pretty successful?

 

To be honest I'm not really sure where you're coming from, in that regard.   I don't see anything inherently wrong with  wpfilebase or any of the plugins I've tried out, really.  Aside from the waffling I did on Special Recent Posts,  which you rightfully pointed out to me.  But that was a rather painlessly resolved situation.

 

As for  expediency vs  "safe" -  I think that's a matter of personal opinion / interpretation, no?

 

I put in due diligence as best I can.   Frankly I'm more worried about how the site will perform on my shared host, when I upload the new version and take it live,  than if  someone is going to hack it through a plugin that as far as I can tell,  is safe and set up properly.

 

 

s2Member looks nice by itself, but I think it is outside the scope of my needs / philosophy.   I personally hate having to sign up a free account just to get access to something,  so I see it as a courtesy to my site visitors that I not require accounts, except for leaving comments.   It also makes it simple to get my content.  Come to the site, see something you like -  click the download link -  unzip,  read,  profit.

 

Perhaps in the future I may need to consider it, but for now, I think wpfilebase will  succinctly take care of my needs.



#20 Rob

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 03:34 AM

WordPress is frequently updated.  When it is, if plugin developers don't pay attention to the details of those upgrades, their plugins will become deprecated and have either security loopholes or break the sites because of code conflicts. 

 

Thus it's important that the selection of plugins include review of the compatibility with the latest version of WordPress.  This is shown on every plugin at Wordpress.org on the right side of the plugin's page.

 

My reference to expediency vs. safety meant simply that it's nice to pick a plugin for what it does, but more critical to ensure that it won't break your site or cause conflicts with other plugins.... or worse, expose your site to risk of hacking or improper use such as a mail proxy.   The latter happened to me in 2007 when I first used WordPress, as someone took advantage of a plugin's loophole and used my site to mail out hundreds of thousands of solicitations. Thus it's not a matter of personal preference; it's about the security of your site and your reputation.

 

WP-Filebase is up to date, so yes, that's fine.