Favorite Plugins

I had two things in mind that I really wanted to cover at some point, but as I said in my last post, the auto-discovery of feeds is being phased out by browser developers. However, being optimistic that my guess would work sure did not pay off. While optimism is good, things are not guaranteed to work out. Anyway, I now only have one of those two ideas left. Today, I will be discussing that topic, which is my favorite plugins.

Oh no, not another post on the best and/or favorite plugins. Are you really becoming like everyone else? I know that I have been ignoring the other topics of my blog because of Detective Conan (Case Closed), but you all need to remember that this is mainly a personal blog, so I can cover whatever I want, which is one reason I have no way for people to request me to review certain books. On other hand, two people asked if I would be interested in reviewing their works and somebody on Google+ recommended some books. In addition to this mainly being a personal blog, many posts on the net are either quite old or talk about popular platforms like WordPress, which I am disgusted with to this day because setup is more complicated than it needs to be (only works on either LAN or Internet out-of-the-box, while other popular web apps, like MediaWiki, work regardless of connecting through LAN or Internet). Because of that fact, as well as the fact that I have been using Habari for a little over a year, I thought it would be nice to make a post talking about my favorite plugins.

Before I started using Habari, it seemed to be just like any other blog platform. At least, that is the image I got from all of the old posts that show up when doing a Google search. There were the stuff to show social media streams and share things with social media sites and such. Basically, they all were made for use exclusively via LAN or Internet, even though many of the WordPress alternatives work on both LAN and the Internet out-of-the-box. There was really no easy way to switch between the two types of network connections easily, and even going through SQL dumps takes a bit of time fixing things, depending on how much is needed to be changed. Habari was pretty much just like everyone else even though it was simpler to set up.

However, after I started using Habari, something came about that made the platform really great. Most likely because the developers are so helpful and even made a plugin just because I asked about the possibility of a certain feature being feasible. The following are the plugins I really find useful:

As you may have noticed, some of these plugins have been around for quite some time. I also know that some of you would think that some of these should be default features of any blog platform these days. However, the Habari developers believe that most features should not be coded right in, but instead made available via plugins. That just makes things so much easier because features one does not care about that are part of the core in platforms like WordPress can be turned off and/or removed in Habari, since only the essentials are part of the core. Some features that people are used to are available via plugins but it is best to have only the essentials.

Anyway, let us get to why I like these plugins so much. We will start with RN Monthly Archives. This plugin creates a list of posts made in months and/or the number of posts. I know many of you think that this should be part of the core. After all, I even thought so myself when I first started using Habari back in 2011. This plugin has helped me get the correct links to previous posts and also has allowed me to determine how active I was each month. In addition to getting correct links to previous posts and determining activity, it also helps when I make ebook archives for the blog, since I state what made up much of the posts in that particular month and put posts in the order they were posted. I now have like over 30 pages of posts and at least five of those pages are all posts from last month. Does it really make sense to go through those posts manually? I only realized how useful this feature was when I realized that it was not part of Habari's core. After all, we only realize how important things are when they are gone. Furthermore, it gives you guys an idea of my post frequency and help you guys find out when this blog was establish, though it only started going under the current domain name this year. RN Monthly Archives makes the blog easier for users to navigate the blog, and determine how active a blog is. The blog owner can determine what made of most of the content for that month, just like normal users, makes it easier to have ebook archives with posts in the correct order, and get the correct link without having to search for the post.

Next, we come to Autoclose. The thing blog owners hate is spam comments. Of course, we all hate them. Some such comments have definitely slipped through the gaps because of my poor judgment at the time. However, Habari does a nice job of weeding out the bulk of spam comments. On the other hand, considering that humans are not perfect beings, we cannot rely on our judgement or programs all the time. This is where Autoclose comes into the mix. All we need to do is tell it how long comments remain open and posts that meet the age we specify or are older than that age get comments deactivated. This has definitely turned down a lot of the spam comments, but not as much as a CatchA system would, as annoying as they are.

However, I have had some annoyances with Autoclose. First, it is not really automatic, like its name suggests. I am not sure if this problem resides with Habari, the plugin, or the server, but I have to pretty much run it myself. This may not happen to everyone, but it certainly does exist. Second, it does not disable the comment form in posts. If the form is still active, it would mislead people to think that they can still comment on the post, even though commenting has been locked. I discovered that when I made this theme you all see as of the date this post was published. Through help from the Habari developers, I found the way to fix this, so such confusion is no longer present on this blog.

Now, we will cover Blogroll. I sure hope everyone reading this knows what this is. At the same, I will explain it for those that do not know. Basically, it is a list of links to other blogs that the blog owner thinks are good and/or goes along with their subject. Again, I know that this is something many people think should be part of the core of a blog platform. On the other hand, some people just do not use it or have any blogs that they particularly like. While I think software like operating system should give users every capability of the operating system to all users, so they can discover its usefulness, I think blog platforms should not have this immediately available out-of-the-box.

Although the plugin is nice, I do have some issues with it. Ever since Habari released 0.8, blogroll links have been counted as posts, just like pages. Now, this makes a bit of sense, considering that they are labeled as such in the database backends. However, this gives the person running the blog the wrong idea about how many posts they have made, though everyone should technically notice this when they start using Habari these days. To get an accurate post count, I have to subtract the sum of the numbers of pages on my blog and items in my blogroll from what Habari reports as the number of posts, which would be equal to number of records that an SQL query would display without any conditions appended to the query. While the blogroll plugin is useful, it causes Habari 0.8 to display a number higher than how many posts are actually on the blog.

The next item on my list is RN Code Escape. Habari, unlike WordPress and Blogger, does not really have a true editor. Whenever one creates a post, the editor renders it as HTML input, which is nice for people like me who know how to write HTML and CSS rules. However, because it directly inputs HTML tags to posts, one cannot display things like or without them being translated via the browser. To get around this, one uses html entities that start with the character & to get them displayed. At the same time, doing such is time consuming. That is where RN Code Escape comes in, when the user enter the tag, whatever is nested inside is translated into html entities, so HTML tags will be displayed in a post, instead of rendered to do what they were meant to do. This has especially helped in my post where I talked about the necessity of HTML in these days. By removing the need to punch in character entities myself, RN Code Escape sure does enable me to make some useful posts.

Now, we come to Comment Notifier. Yet again, we have a feature that many think should be part of the core. I am not too sure of the true extent of this plugin, but for me, it notifies via me email every time I have a post to moderate. Yes, I do moderate comments here and what gets published is up to me, but I have been pretty lenient and approved many comments. However, there have been a lot of comments I did not approve because they were not relevant in some way to the post, especially since I now have an FAQ page where you guys can post questions in the comments, which may get bumped up to the actual page content, if it is important or a common question in the comments.

Next, we come to Mobile Theme. This one I cannot really guess whether people think this should or should not be part of the platform core, but not many blog owners actually care about this. At the same time, people tend to be accessing the web more and more from mobile devices, especially those with multi-touch capabilities. I have become frustrated with many sites, namely those made with Flash, that only work well on large screens because things are not placed or spaced out well for mobile usage. This plugin fixes all that by allowing one to set a theme that will be displayed on mobile devices like Android and iPhone/iPod Touch devices. This one I am grateful for because I do not think I would like my theme used for the iPad and desktops on my phone. Mobile Theme lets users choice a separate theme for mobile usage than what desktop/tablet users get.

Now, we come to one of the most unique plugins out there. Also, it is the one that I stated earlier that the Habari developers made for me. It is called Relative Replace. I do not have to ask how many of you guys edited an article on Wikipedia or used some other host that uses MediaWiki or installed a local copy of MediaWiki themselves do I? There are some items in wiki text that is recommended for use when linking to things on the same server as the wiki and this plugin plays off of that idea. It was meant to make it so that I could transfer posts between a local copy of Habari and this blog without much editing needed by substituting certain text input with the URL of the server, so images can appear no matter whether one is on the actual page or reading via a feed aggregator. However, that is not all that it can be used for, many of you probably noticed that these posts do not look the same when printed out, at least from desktops or laptop, from how you see them. For example, link addresses are included in the print out. I thought this would be useful so that people would not need to visit my blog again just to read the content at those links. Although a nice feature of the theme I made, there are some that will not notice this according to A List Apart. None of the previously stated stuff would be possible without this plugin.

Finally, we come to RN Tag Cloud. Right up there with monthly archives and blogrolls, people think that this kind of feature should be included by default. I certainly would have agreed when I first started using it. However, most themes, like K2 display how posts were tagged and should display the same results as clicking a tag in the tag cloud. This lists every tag one ever used on the blog and tells me, upon hovering over a tag, exactly how many posts I have under each tag. This is also kind of what revealed to me that each tag had its own ATOM/RSS feed, which have largely gone ignored these days according to a post by the people behind Pulse. Also, it tells people what kind of content is being posted the most often. I think the reason that this was made a plugin is that not everyone likes the same style of presentation for tags, but I like the style present here. This help guys like you find the content you want and subscribe to it, instead of the blog's entire feed, as I said in my post on feeds.

Habari has some plugins that many think should be part of the platform's core, but it allows for greater customization and easier time making themes in some aspects. Out of all the plugins, Relative Replace was the most unique and is the most useful. Other favorites included:

  • RN Monthly Archives
  • Autoclose
  • Blogroll
  • RN Code Escape
  • Comment Notifier
  • Mobile Theme
  • RN Tag Cloud

If you use Habari, what are your favorite plugins? If you do not, do you see something here you want in your blog platform of choice? Feel free to comment.

Also, everyone can now subscribe to this blog via Amazon, Google Currents, and Pulse News (search for the blog using the domain name used for this blog). However, if you want only certain content, I recommend subscribing to a tag's ATOM feed directly.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.