Construction of the PCUG website with WordPress
The development of a blog engine leading to WordPress was commenced by an 18 year old Matt Mullenweg, a freshman at the University of Houston, in 2002. Then later, after teaming up with Mike Little this blog was developed further and launched in May 2003 as WordPress 0.70 and this led to an estimate in September 2009 of 202 million websites using WordPress, now considered the leading-open-source blog platform in use, including for example by large organisations such as the New York Times and CNN (Cable News Network). (This from my copy of the QUE book Using WordPress by Tris Hussey).
Our committee decided to use WordPress for a new PCUG site in 2009, following a recommendation by member Jeremy Bishop.
About WordPress for www.pcug.org.au
WordPress (or WordPress), downloaded from http://wordpress.org is essentially a blog engine that can be used to develop a blog that can then be simply converted to a website without the need for use of HTML script or such. Google searches provide many sources of information about WordPress both for its use to build blogs and add-ons for particular needs in the form of Themes, Widgets and Plugins . For example I have been using the websites http://codex.wordpress.org, http://interconnectit.com/products/wordpress-user-guide/ , and http://wordpress.org/support/topic/wordpress-3-user-guide-available and http://www.wordpress3guides.com and the book Using WordPress. Given the limited requirements for PCUG many of the available features have not been needed for our site as described below.
Content for the PCUG site
The main source of information for the new web site has been the old PCUG website. Although it had been suggested that a group of members should spend time on agreeing and documenting information for the new site and choosing how information was to be organised, this was considered impracticable, because of the amount of work involved, likely delays by a “committee syndrome” and in particular because the old site, developed over a long period, contained much of the required information, carefully prepared over many years – the problem with the old site was not the quality of the information but rather that it had become a bit of a mess with jumbles of items accumulated over many years. Moreover much had become irrelevant, inaccurate, outdated and sometimes duplicated. The task then was to reorganize and provide easier access to information, and to have a form that would be more readily maintained into the future. Accordingly items from the old site were first gathered into groups and arranged in drop-down menus and sub-menus for easy access. Then Index was prepared to link to pages containing required information, mostly copied from the old site.
Content of the TIP site
Our PCUG also has a TIP site which also contains useful information and this is accessed by the use of links. The TIP site is written in Perl CGI scripts, and relies on Perl libraries. To provide this functionality under WordPress would require a to rewrite – hence the use of links to static data in the TIP site.
Pages and Posts
WordPress is designed to hold information in Posts and Pages and, Using WordPress states “Posts are the life blood of a blog”. But we only use Pages for our site for the following reasons.
In general Pages and Posts are very similar in that they both have Titles and Content and use the same Presentation Template to maintain a consistent look throughout a blog and site. Moreover they use the same Upload/Insert tools for preparation of a Page or Post, many of which are similar to those used by Word for Windows documents – Font size, Font family, Paragraph, Bold, Italic and so on. Moreover WordPress can accept content for both directly, from Word documents. Nevertheless Pages and Posts have key distinctions that make them quite different from each other. Quoting from Using WordPress: “Pages are intended to stand alone and be independent of other pieces of content: Posts are meant to be connected to other posts via categories and tags… Pages cannot have categories or tags associated with them. They are independent of other content within the blog … Pages are usually the default for navigation. You create a page, and a link goes on the navbar. Pages have one more feature that you can use to organise content; child pages … Child pages are connected to their parents in hierarchy (for example for navigation), but not such that you create pages from a parent.
Note that the above is about things for pages/posts in a blog rather than for things the pages/posts contain. The pages in the blog for the new site often contain information on several topics, often unrelated, because the pages has been copied from the old site and not composed from scratch. The WordPress facilities for indexing, categories and tags are all for pages or posts rather than the information they contain. Consequently the index described below is to go to pages containing the information required rather simply to pages with a particular name. Thus there are many more index items than pages.
In summary all this indicates why pages are appropriate for our PCUG blog/site and not posts. Requirements are different for news services, publications, supermarkets or such where “Posts are the life blood of a blog”.
Index and Site Map
The content and structure of our site is shown by a mouse click on Sitemap button located at time of writing at the bottom of the Home page next to Copyright & Disclaimer. Sitemap can be used as an index to find and display pages but not to find information within the pages.
Note that information can also be obtained by the Help & Advice pages, the TIP help link in the QuickLinks box (Widget) on the RHS of the Home page and for pages by the Search box.
The form and colour schemes for WordPress blogs or sites is determined by Themes and Using WordPress indicates TwentyTen (2010) and the existence at time of writing, of about 1,445 other themes. Following the book I was using this theme to develop a site, and then its recent extension to Weaver. But this was changed to Atahualpa 3.7.1 “ the most downloaded (700,000+) theme @wordpress.org” because it provides a flexible width layout to suit the variety of PCs used by members.
Plugins & Widgets
A Plugin is code that can be installed to add something to WordPress that wasn’t included as the core that can be used for building the blog. At present we have installed 19 plugins on our site providing for example Sitemap.
Widgets add functionality to side bars of the blog/site. We have installed the Widgets MEMBER LOGIN, HELP! And QUICK LINKS on the RHS sidebar of the Home page.