Category: "b2evolution"

Adrian Chamber of commerce

My current web design project is a redesign of the Adrian, Missouri Chamber of Commerce site. They contacted me to have me keep the site updated for them, but I told them that I thought it needed to be totally redesigned. It was done in FrontPage and I think it looks pretty terrible. There are some real problems with image size, too. I've got the new design underway at a secure, undisclosed location. I'm looking forward to unveiling it.

I started working with a template and adding in php code to include headers and footers for the various pages, to make changes a little easier down the road. As I worked it felt like I was going to need to make a templating system from scratch. That's when I decided that I would use b2evolution instead. It already has skinning built in, so I can have multiple pages that all use one template. And I have the backoffice writing interface, which helps format the text. RSS feeds are already built in, so I don't have to do those manually. I've had to make some changes to make it seem more like a static site and less like a blog. I'm working on a guide for how to use b2evolution as a CMS for a static site.

LiveJournal importer for b2evolution

b2evolution already has methods for importing blog posts from Wordpress, b2/cafelog and Movable Type. I've modified the Movable Type importer to create a LiveJournal importer.

Requires b2evolution 0.9.x or later

  1. Download this file: import-lj.txt.
  2. Remove the .txt from the filename and add a .php extension, then upload it to your b2evolution admin folder.
  3. Edit the /admin/tools.php file and add this section:

    <div class="panelblock">
    <h2><?php echo T_('LiveJournal Import') ?></h2>
    <li>Use LiveJournal's <a href="" title="LiveJournal documentation for exporting posts">export functionality</a> to create an XML file containing your posts.
    <ul><li>Exports done in this way will not include comments.</li>
    <li>LiveJournal's export page creates a separate file for each month, requiring you to run the importer multiple times</li>
    <li>To get an one XML file with all of your posts and comments, use <a href="">ljArchive</a></li>
    <li>This importer is compatible with either method</li>
    <li>Place the XML file in the /admin folder on your server</li>
    <li>Follow the instructions in the <a href="import-lj.php">LiveJournal migration utility</a>.</li>

Go to the Tools tab and you'll see the instructions that you added in step 2 above. Get your xml backup file from LiveJournal using ljArchive. LiveJournal has their own export page, but it only archives one month at a time and it doesn't include comments. ljArchive is the preferred method, but the importer will work with either method. Upload the xml file to the admin folder and run the importer. You'll be able to choose which author and category you want assigned to the LiveJournal posts.

Software and Tools

I've been doing some web design work with a new company called AstonishMe! I'm working with a couple of very bright programmers/designers who are active in the b2evolution forums.

Last week I completed my first custom page design for the company. I created a new skin for Software and Tools, which is a site that reviews and discusses software. There are eight b2evolution-powered blogs on the site and each has its own header graphic and complimenting color scheme. I had to learn a lot about design and have nearly constant hand-holding from Scott, but I think it turned out very nicely. The customer is happy and I've got a pretty little addition to my portfolio and the company's.

There's a more detailed write-up of the design on the AstonishMe Portfolio page.

b2evolution Plugins

YouTube plugin - Insert hosted videos into a blog post.
b2media - Easily add images and links for Amazon products.
Democracy Poll - Add a poll to your blog sidebar.
Star Rating Plugin - Let users rate your posts by clicking on stars.
Sideblog - Display another blog in your sidebar.
Most comments - Add a list of posts with the most comments in your sidebar.
Bookmarklet 2 - An alternate version of the stock bookmarklet plugin that adds the link to the body of the post rather than the Link to Url field.


b2media Plugin in actionPurpose
This plugin gives you an easy way to add images and links for products to your posts. If you get an Amazon Associates ID and enter it in the plugin settings, then you earn a referral fee if someone clicks your link, then buys the product. Mostly, this is just a nice way to add an image to a post or to maintain a blog in your sidebar that shows what movies you're watching.

Requires b2evolution 1.7 or later

  1. Download this file: _b2media.plugin.txt.
  2. Replace the .txt from the filename with .php and upload it to your b2evolution plugins folder.
  3. In the backoffice, go to Settings > Plugins and find b2media in the list. Click "install".

The plugin adds a sub-tab to the Tools tab in the b2evolution backoffice. You can search for Amazon products there, but that won't give you the option to add images into a blog post. To get that you need to go to the Write tab, then click on the button below the writing area that says "Amazon". This will pop up a window that looks very similar to the Tools sub-tab, but now when you search, each result has a button labeled "img". Click on that button to add the code to your post.

Amazon Associates Program
You can use the backoffice plugin settings to change the Associate ID that is added into the links. If you want to make a little money with this, then sign up for the Amazon Associates program (it's free), then log into your blog backoffice, go to Settings > Plugins > b2media and replace my ID with yours. If you're not interested in any of that, just leave my ID in there. You may end up adding a few cents toward my daughter's college education.

I like to use this plugin to create a section in my sidebar showing what movies, music and video games I'm consuming. I call it my mediablog. It's actually a separate blog in b2evolution that can be viewed on its own or included in the sidebar of my main blog. If you want to do something like this, then copy the code from this file and add it into your skin. Remember to replace the fives with the number that matches your mediablog.

Misc info
This plugin is based on Jaap's Free Amazon Script. I first released it as a hack for b2evolution Installing it involved putting four files in two different directories. And it still didn't look or work that good. The plugin version is one file and it matches the look and feel of the b2evolution backoffice. I also fixed some bugs.

Most Commented Posts plugin

Most Comments plugin in actionThis plugin has been replaced by Mini Stats.

This plugin creates a section in your blog sidebar that lists the most commented posts on your blog. It's an easy way to keep track of your most popular/controversial posts. It may even lead to those posts getting more comments.

Requires b2evolution 1.7 or later

  1. Download this file: _mostcomments.plugin.1.7.txt.
  2. Remove the .1.7.txt from the filename and upload it to your b2evolution plugins folder.
  3. In the backoffice, go to Settings > Plugins and find MostComments in the list. Click "install".
  4. Add this bit of code in your skin where you want the list to appear:

    // MostComments plugin:
    $Plugins->call_by_code( 'mostCmts', array(
    ) );
    // Add parameters in the array.

    You can edit the limit value to make it show more or less in the list. If you want an unordered list instead of an ordered one, then you can change those tags, too.

Misc info
If you're interested, you can check out the forum thread where the idea for the plugin came from. Thanks to MarcDK for suggesting it. And here is the most commented post on my blog. Actually, my wife wrote the post. A lot of people have strong feelings on this issue.

Bookmarklet 2 Plugin

Quickly blog about another webpage. This plugin automatically adds a link to the page into the body of your blog post.

Requires b2evolution 1.7 or later

  1. Download this file: _bookmarklet2.plugin.php.txt.
  2. Remove the .beta.txt from the filename and upload it to your b2evolution plugins folder.
  3. In the backoffice, go to Settings > Plugins and find Bookmarklet 2 in the list. Click "install".

This is just a slight modification to the Bookmarklet plugin that comes pre-installed with b2evolution. I'll explain how that one works, then tell how mine is different. A bookmarklet is a link that you find in the Tools tab of the backoffice. You right click and choose to bookmark the link (or 'Add to Favorites' for Internet Explorer users). Then, when you're browsing a web site that you want to blog about, just click on your bookmark (I keep mine on a toolbar where it's easy to get to) and as soon as you do, a window pops up with a trimmed down version of the b2evolution backoffice. It automatically adds to your new blog post a link to the page you were on when you clicked the bookmarklet. And if select some text before clicking, it will get added, too. My version of the plugin is just like the stock version, except that it adds the link to the post body, rather than to the "Link to URL" field (which I never user).

Misc info
This was originally a hack I made right after switching from Movable Type to b2evolution. Some of the people I share a site with wanted the bookmarklet to work the way it did in Movable Type.

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