Microblogging with WordPress and Twitter HowTo:

I’ve been ‘tweeting’ to my blog for over a year now. See? (That is going to be a moving last page as I add more tweets) I started doing this soon after I moved my blog from blogger (which I liked but they broke on me) to WordPress while in the hospital after the birth of my firstborn! (Holy linked sentence, that’s 3 linked references in one sentence that isn’t too terribly run-on!)

I had found that I was blogging much less since I had started using twitter, so I went about trying to get my tweets to post to my blog. I had been tweeting for a while prior to this conversion, but the shifts in focus in my life made the transition from blogging to microblogging more convenient. The following steps just made the transition more palatable for me.

I’ve done a few things to my blog to make this happen.

  • Switch to WordPress
  • Install Twitter Tools plugin to tie Twitter to my blog
  • Install Advanced Category Excluder plugin so I can exclude the tweets from the RSS feed
  • Install Auto Tags plugin to tag the tweets (useful in conjunction with the next plugin)
  • Install Efficient Related Posts plugin to create ‘Related Posts’ so tweets and long posts can reference each other automagically
  • Create plugin tcoReWrite to rewrite Twitter’s new t.co links so I could still use my TwitPic Preview

The Twitter Tools plugin appears to be designed to allow you to auto-tweet when you create a new blog post, which I do usually. It also provides the widget for the running ‘tweet-roll’ on the side of my blog. What I use though is the ‘experimental’ daily digest feature which actually creates the WordPress ‘Posts’ from the tweets the prior day. I have a ‘Twitter’ and ‘Tweet’ category that is used for all digest posts. This plugin has proven to be a little bit flakey at times. It will sometimes repeat a day over and over or decide it’s not going to work at all at times. Clicking on the ‘Digests Reset’ button near the bottom of the admin page for this plugin seems to fix things. It can sometimes take me a week or more to realize that there is a problem.

The Advanced Category Excluder or ‘ACE’ is a pretty slick plugin. It can be used to hide  categories for just about any content and any display location on the entire blog. I use it to strip all my tweet category items from the RSS feed. The theory behind this is if you wanted to follow all those tweets, you would do so on Twitter. I reserve the RSS feed for my ‘long posts’ and not the microblogging -it would annoy me to see a lot of short drivel when I just wanted the meat and potatoes posts.

The Auto Tags plugin uses both a Yahoo tagging service and TagThe.net to automagically come up with tags for posts. Without this tool, the tweet digests would be tagless, and thus kinda orphaned relationally within the blog. I also use a plugin ‘Hidden Tags’ to squelch tags that the ‘Auto Tags’ tool may have come up with that I am not keen on. The ‘Auto Tags’ tool has a built in tag squelch, but that is on a going-forward basis, the ‘Hidden Tags’ can nerf them retroactively.

The Efficient Related Posts plugin leverages the ‘Auto Tag’ plugin and glues the twitter digests to my longer posts. I am actually quite impressed with it’s capabilities. Many of my tweets are extensions on topics I have blogged about or are building up to a future blog post, this helps everything make sense (at least for me).

Lastly, I think I came up with a pretty cool ‘trick’ to make the photos I post using twitpic show up on my blog. Details can be found at TwitPic Image Previews for Twitter Posts on my WordPress widget. It’s basically an unobtrusive javascript that goes out, gets the thumbnail images from twitpic, and displays them on the blog. A while back Twitter added their t.co URL clobberer to make short URLs of short URLs and they annoyed the hell out of me doing such a ridiculous, redundant thing. It totally broke my blog. So, I wrote  my first wordpress plugin tcoReWrite. I haven’t published it yet, figuring nobody but me really cared, but being that this whole post is a long answer to a question I got over twitter (902 words), and now that this post is getting published, more people may be doing such a round-about way of publishing to their blog, and I will need to post my plugin – time to stop this run-on sentence already! (I think that last sentence just condemned me to Hell – reliving my school years again!)

Until I get the plugin published, if you want it, let me know, and I will get you a copy.

Twitter seems to be my publishing ‘glue’. I have my tweets get cross-posted to my blog as well as facebook. I am waiting for the Google Plus API so I can post my tweets to G+ as well. One of these days.

I have Foursquare (for location related stuff) & Project Noah (for my critter pics) feed into Twitter. I wish I could de-reference those links into embeddable content on my blog as I do the photos from TwitPic. Maybe one of these days….

Blog Updates

It’s amazing how time flies. It seems like I don’t blog anymore, even though I think about doing it a lot.

WordPress has finally been updated to the latest version. I was leary at first to do it, I have so many goofy plugins installed, that I was afraid they were not going to work. They all seem to, so that was a waste of a perfectly good worry.

My tweets finally work correctly. I use the Automatic Category Excluder plugin, which I had set up incorrectly, so it was squashing my tweets posts. I had to turn ALL my plugins off, and turn them back on one by one until I figured out what plugin was doing it. Than it was just a few seconds to see what was wrong. The posts are hidden on the home page and RSS feed, I figure if people are coming to my blog, they don’t want to see my twitter chitter unless they followed me on twitter. But, being that it’s the bulk of my content these days, it is visible on all other sections of the site.

URL Sentences

Today, I ran across an interesting article on URL Sentences by Chris Shiflett. The idea that a URL should read like a sentence just tickled my fancy. I like to tweet my blog posts, and being able to tweet a full URL that actually meant something in and of itself would be priceless.

So I did it. I figure I had recently migrated my site to WordPress and mapped all my URLs, I just as well map them again. I changed both my Categories and Tags URL structure. The Categories URL now has a verb + subject and the Tags looks like my ruminations on a particular topic.

For example, This article will be in the blogging category which looks like http://mike.creuzer.com/does/blogging and the URLs tag, which looks like http://mike.creuzer.com/on/URLs.

Like I said, this just tickles me 3 shades of pink, this day of URL shorteners like http://ow.ly/1TcIq.

I used a couple of plugins to make this happen.

The Top Level Categories plugin removes the need to have a top level category in the URL, so now I can just have the categories without needing /topics/ or /category/ in the URL. The old URL structure http://mike.creuzer.com/topics/blogging still works fine, so any links and searches come up ok. It will take time for the search engines to migrate over to the new URL structure, but that’s fine.

The Redirection Plugin is what I used to map all my old blogger URLs over to the WP URL space. I just added a new entry to map the /tags/ to /on/ after I changed the PermiLinks Tag Base to ‘on’. /tag/(.*) => /on/$1 using the 301 moved permanently setting.

I checked a few of the highest traffic category and tag pages, and made sure that they still worked. My Topics and Tags are the #2 and #3 ‘sections’ of my website, beat out only by ‘2009’, the archive section for last year.

I can’t wait to start tweeting my really readable URLs in the near future!