Category: "b2evolution"


I just added support for Gravatars in the comments of this site. What that means is that you can go to, sign up for a free account, upload your picture, and then the picture will appear next to your comments on this site and any others that support it. It's keyed off your email, so make sure that you enter the same email address when you comment here that you used to set up your Gravatar account.

I took the idea from Henry and Brendon explained it to me. If you use b2evolution and want to add this feature to your site, email me and I'll tell you how I did it. It's very simple. Too simple to even bother with a plugin. You just edit your skin and add a few lines of code.

Screencast: Install weather plugin for b2evolution

Here's a video showing how to install and use my Weather plugin for b2evolution.


Screencast: Install b2evolution

I made the video below to show how to install b2evolution in under 5 minutes.


If you have ideas for other video tutorials, please leave a comment.

b2evolution version 2

Development releases of b2evolution version 2 have been coming out since September. I've watched the new features and waited for things to stabilize a bit before upgrading the install. Version 2.3.0 should be out in a day or two and it's being labeled a release candidate. I've upgraded most of my plugins to work with the 2.x series, so the main obstacle now is upgrading all of the skins. What's new in version 2?

In addition to all the bugfixes and subtle improvements that come with new versions of most software, this update has some notable features.

New admin interface

Francois was working on the new admin skin during his US trip this summer, so I got a sneak peak at it. I think it's really beautiful. One of the things that drew me to b2evolution originally was the very attractive admin interface, and the new version continues that tradition. Don't take my word for it, check out the demo.


While you're there, take a look at the new toolbar at the top of the page. There are links to the pages that you'll use the most, and this toolbar also displays when you're viewing the blog, too, provided you're logged in.


This may be the best feature of the new version and it will be totally unnoticeable to readers. In old versions, when a blog admin installed a new plugin, they would have to edit the php files that make up their skin in order to have the plugin display something. With widgets, you install the plugin, click a link to add the widget and it's on your site. No php knowledge required. This is great for any admin, but especially for multi-user sites like ours. Now when a user wants to change up their sidebar, they can do it themselves. And if they switch skins, their sidebar goes with them. It's also nice for plugin developers because we can trim a few steps off of our install instructions.


Here's one that may only matter to developers. b2evolution now ships with the jQuery javascript library (actually it has since 1.10). This will help us add features that make b2evolution faster and easier to use. The very small number of changes that I've made to the core were centered around this feature.

Improved urls

b2evolution has always had clean urls for posts, but this release adds them for categories, too. Instead of you can have There are more choices for post urls, including /post_title, /category_name/post_title and /2007/12/27/post_title (the old default).


This doesn't matter much to me, but if search engine placement is very important to you, you'll be happy to see that you can choose from among 5 SEO expert recommended settings or you can tweak the SEO settings yourself.


For several months now, Francois has been adding features to make it easier to post photographs. That now includes image resizing and skin dedicated to displaying photos.

I'm really looking forward to getting on this new version. Once I finish upgrading all the plugins, I'll have to deal with skins. The skinning api changed more than anything, so upgrading old skins will be time-consuming. If any of the hostees want to volunteer to switch to a skin that already works for version 2, that would speed up the process.

Congratulations to the developers on this new release. If you run your own b2evolution install, be sure to give it a look. You can find 2.x-ready plugins here and here.

Francois visits

Francios and DannyThis week we had a house guest from France. I became acquainted with Francois through the b2evolution project. He created the project and continues to serve as the maintainer and principal developer. We did a bit of work on a forthcoming plugin. On the way to dropping him off at the train station we ate Gates BBQ and stopped at the Apple Store to help my sister pick out a new iMac for college. I decided to get one, too. The old PPC iMac I was using had begun to show its age.

Live Hits

I just released another plugin for b2evolution: Live Hits. Most of my plugins have been of little practical value and this one is no exception. In fact, it's nothing more than a toy. But, if you have a b2evolution blog, a bit of curiosity and some time to kill, you may think it's fun. b2evolution records some info on every visit to the site, including their user agent, timestamp, what url they hit and their IP. The Stats tab of b2evolution provides a great way to sort through this data, including charts. But I wanted to write an interface for this data that was in real time. I took Digg Spy as inspiration and the jquery Spy plugin as some code to start with. Throw in a dash of sql and a pinch of Google Maps and stir briskly.

Using it is very simple. Just go to the Live Hits tab under tools, choose a blog (or None to see hits from all the blogs at once). Then you'll see the hits start rolling by, complete with a logo showing what browser or search engine hit the site and a matching pin on the map.

If you're a author, you should be able to see it in action right here.

The end result may be fairly pointless, but along the way I learned a lot about b2evolution and about jquery. JavaScript has always been opaque to me, but jquery makes it a lot easier, cleaner and more powerful. If you do any web development, I strongly encourage you to check it out.

b2evolution skins site

We've been talking about updating it for several weeks, but I finally decided to tackle the b2evolution skins directory. I upgraded it to the latest version, applied Francois' new site design, then I replaced the old text navigation system with a screenshot from each skin. It's also much easier to search. (Type Danny in the search bar to see the skins I've submitted). And you can sort by columns and colors. Finally I installed my star rating plugin, to which I added a nice notice popup with a pretty fade. Try it out by clicking the stars to submit a rating. We have 37 skins at the moment, but I'd like to see that get up over 100. (Yes, Dave and Henry, I'm looking at you.) There are links on the skins site for how to create and submit a skin. Open Source Web Design and Open Web Design provide some free designs that you can start with. Just follow these steps to turn the design into an evoskin.

At any rate, I'd like to hear what you think of the new skins site.

New b2evo out: Digg it

If you have a account, go here and digg this:

Possible Wordpress killer: b2evolution 1.8 beta released

If you don't have an account, get one! Let's digg this up to the front page so more people can hear about this release. Sorry for the sensational story title, but those are the ones that grab attention on Digg.

The new version of b2evolution has some very cool features. has been upgraded. In a somewhat related story, I'm now listed as a contributor to the project in the linkblog that comes with a new install. Go here and look in the section on the right side labeled "contributors" if you want to see.

Sideblog Plugin for b2evolution

The Sideblog plugin allows you to insert another blog in the sidebar of your skin with simple plugin call. A sidebar blog can be used for brief posts, links, photos or any other list you want arranged chronologically.

Requires b2evolution 1.8 or later

  1. Download this file: _sideblog.plugin.txt.
  2. Replace the .txt in the filename with .php and upload it to your b2evolution plugins folder.
  3. In the backoffice, go to Settings > Plugins and find Sideblog in the list. Click "install".

To use the plugin, just add this code to the skin where you want the sidebar blog to appear:

// MostComments plugin:
$Plugins->call_by_code( 'sideblog', array(
'limit' => 5,
'blog' => 3,
) );
// Add parameters in the array.

Limit is the number of posts you want to show. Blog is the blog you want to display there. Refer to the plugin source for other parameters you can adjust.

Google Spell for b2evolution

We've been using it here on for a while, but now the Google Spell plugin for b2evolution is publicly available at We're pretty excited to release it into the community for free. The spell checker than comes with b2evolution does not work at all, so this will be a good alternative. It does require b2evolution 1.6 or later.

This really was a collaborative project for the team at Astonish Me. I started the ball rolling by exploring different ways a spell check plugin could be made. There are several server side methods, like aspell and pspell, but they aren't as easy to install. I settled on Google's spell check API because it's free, fast, multilingual and easy to connect to. Then I found GoogieSpell, some GPL javascript code that handles the connection to Google and the user interface of the spell checker. Once I found that I was able to drop it into a b2evolution plugin and have it working in no time.

Then, I passed it off to stk and YaBBa at AstonishMe and they kicked the tires and found a few problems. They fixed them up and stk started working on the fluffy write-up. That man could sell ice to an Eskimo. Then we discovered that there was a limit to how much text the spell checker could handle. Any text after that limit was just ignored. So, YaBBa set about rewriting part of the plugin to correct that problem (which also exists in GoogieSpell). I think this turned into a big project for him, but he was successful. After that we ironed out a few more bugs and released the plugin.

It's a free plugin, but we're hoping that our work on it will get some positive attention for AstonishMe, which may help us make some money down the road. Follow the first link in the post for a more detailed description of the plugin. Or, just leave a comment here to see the spell checker in action.

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