Playing with Technology

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. ~Arthur C. Clarke

Instructional Technology Web site update

So, you want to have a Web site and you want it to be dynamic, what do you do? One option to hunt for a free content management system (CMS). You could also go with a wiki. I decided to go with WordPress. Basically, when you are making a Web site you want to have pages of information organized in a logical manner. This is different from a blog because a blog to most people is a string of, for the most part, discrete posts. Most blogs are really capturing the authors stream of consciousness, and this wouldn’t work for the for a Web site. Users don’t want to come to your site looking for information and being greeted by what seems like a stream of random thoughts. However, there are a number of magazine style themes available for WordPress (Branford and Revolution are two of them) that allow you to use WordPress as a CMS and thus make it seem like a static Web site.

The way these themes work is through page templates and categories. The idea is to set up page templates for all the different types of pages and then on each page template pull posts from a particular category. So our current test site has about five page templates pulling from the featured articles, news, showcase, and technologies categories. This part actually didn’t take long to figure out. What has been taking up a lot of my time is adding plugins to get customizable forms, an event calendar, and collapsing categories. I have the first two things working, but can’t seem to find anything to make the third one work like I want. For the record I am using

  • cforms II for customized submission forms
  • Collapsing Categories to try and make a compact and organized list of categories
  • Event Calendar to put a calendar of events and list of upcoming events on the homepage
  • SimplePie to pull articles from our blogs to be displayed on the homepage
  • SimplePie Widget
  • FuturePost to allow us to create post with future dates which have a published status instead of scheduled



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