WordPress: Now With a Touch of America’s Favorite Yellow Family

The following witty comment was brought to you by my latest WordPress plugin, Hello Simpsons Chalkboard Gag: There are plenty of businesses like show business.

Everything following the colon above was dynamically pulled from a listing of all past chalkboard gags by Bart Simpson. And no, I did not have to sit through the hundreds of episodes, painstakingly writing down each one. Thanks to The Simpsons Archive, I was able to just write a tiny Perl script that parsed their listing of gags from each episode.

Hello Simpson Chalkboard Gag
Created using the Bart Simpson Chalkboard Generator.

This plugin was inspired by two sources. The first was my love of the over-two-decade-old television show and the second was a desire to show something a little more interesting than lines from Hello Dolly in my WordPress admin area. Let me explain: by default, WordPress comes with a plugin that shows a line from Hello Dolly at the top right corner of every page on the administration side of the site (not visible to general viewers of the site).

As fantastic a musician as Louis Armstrong is, he’s just not my cup of tea. Call me uncultured or say that I’m missing out, but I much prefer Bart’s witty, moderately-crude humor. Also, there are only 28 lines in Hello Dolly, meaning only 28 possible headers in my WordPress admin area. Hello Simpsons Chalkboard Gag has 296 possible results as of publishing this, and that number will continue to grow with each new episode.

In addition to changing up the little bit of text displayed on the admin side of the site, I also added the option to include a simpsons shortcode, which is what was used at the top of this post to load one of the chalkboard gags dynamically within this post. This was really an afterthought and the only reason I decided to include it was because the necessary work was already done in handling the primary project, so adding the shortcode was trivial.

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Second WordPress Plugin Goes Live

Prezi Logo
Logo © Prezi Inc. Used with permission.

It is now almost exactly 4 months since I released my first contribution to the WordPress community, the Document Gallery plugin. This new addition to my work, Prezi Embedder, was designed in order to support simple embedding of presentations designed on prezi.com in WordPress installations.

This plugin was designed out of frustration at the lack of support from the Prezi team for WordPress users. Their only official response to the issues with their embed code in WordPress installs is a link to this forum post, where users present some ways to hack together something that used to work. Recently, even the hacks mentioned in the post were disabled, making it impossible to natively embed Prezis.

After reaching this dead end, I also looked briefly for other plugins developed for this purpose. The one plugin I found only had partial support for the Prezi embed options and, in my testing of the plugin, did not handle any size other than the (tiny!) default embed size.

At this point, I gave up on any pre-existing solution and wrote the embed code into a very simple plugin and linked it to the Error: The id attribute provided does not look right. You entered id=. Error: You must, at minimum include an id attribute: [prezi id='<Prezi ID>'] shortcode. Though I initially wrote the plugin for my own use, I ended up submitting it for listing in the public WordPress Plugin Directory.

This release has had a slower pickup in downloads when compared to my first plugin (which hit 300 downloads in under two days), but that is to be expected given its more specific market. Even given this lower interest, it has still been downloaded 70 times in two days, which I am more than pleased with, especially given that it began as just a tool for my personal use.