Do you miss the days when blogging seemed simple and exciting? Have you ever stared at the blank text input field in WordPress until you began to fill with dread?
While WordPress, Movable Type and similar blogging engines certainly make it easy to set up a blog with a robust content management system, sometimes the software itself is overkill. Sometimes you just want to post a picture or a quick snippet of text and be done with it.
That’s more or less the thinking that inspired Tumblr, a dead simple blogging system that makes it easy to post a quick note, an image, a link or a YouTube video and then get on with your real life.
It’s an incredibly easy-to-use publishing system, but that ease comes at a cost. Tumblr is also very simple by design, and it lacks many of the features bloggers might be familiar with. Still, many view Tumblr’s lack of extra features as an asset, arguing that things like comments or an integrated search tool only complicate a clean interface. In fact, Tumblr is quite different from blogging. It’s a side-step, a subculture with its own verb: tumbling.
To start tumbling, follow our guide. We’ll run through the basics and then get into the heavier stuff, like custom themes, custom URLs and comments.
Back when blogging was just catching on, a small PHP-based publishing system was quietly released and quickly took the blogging community by storm. WordPress, as the system was known, was an instant hit thanks to its simplicity and open-source license which allowed interested developers to extend and improve the system without hassle.
Today, WordPress powers everything from huge sites like CNN’s Political Tracker to thousands of personal blogs. Thanks to an easy step up process and the widespread availability of web hosts offering one-click WordPress installs, you can start blogging with WordPress in a snap.
In this tutorial, we’ll assume your web host doesn’t have a one-click installer. Maybe you’ve got a bare-bones host, you’ve decided to host your own site, or you’re simply setting up a local installation to see what WordPress can do. At any rate, fear not — getting WordPress working on your server only takes a few minutes. Of course, you’ll need a few skills in the bag first, like a knowledge of PHP and a comfortable working relationship with MySQL databases.
Once your blog is up and running, we’ll take a look at different ways you can customize and extend your blog.
Typekit, a web service that helps designers use elaborate typefaces in their web projects, has announced an easy way to use custom fonts on WordPress.com blogs. That means your WordPress.com hosted blogs can now take advantage of Typekit’s font library in just a few clicks.
Typekit is like a YouTube for fonts. Browse through Typekit’s library of available fonts, pick one you like and cut and paste some code into your site. As we noted when we first looked at Typekit earlier this year, the service is one of the easiest ways for web designers to use creative fonts without sacrificing web standards or violating font licenses.
With the new WordPress.com features, you don’t even need to know HTML or mess with any code to take advantage of Typekit.
To use the new Typekit features, just log in to your WordPress.com dashboard and click on the Appearance menu in the left-hand navigation menu. On the Appearance page you’ll find a new option, “Typekit Fonts,” with a place to add your Kit ID.
To get your Kit ID, you’ll need to create an account at Typekit.com and select the free option. From there, you can paste over the code and chose from any of Typekit’s fonts.
Not using WordPress.com? No problem, there are already two plugins that make it easy to integrate Typekit into a self-hosted WordPress blog. If you’re on another blogging platform or custom site you can still use Typekit — see our earlier hands-on review of Typekit for details on how to use Typekit on your site.
Web comic xkcd is sporting a fresh redesign Monday morning, paying tribute to the free web-hosting service GeoCities. Yahoo, which bought GeoCities in 1999 for $3.5 billion dollars, is shutting down the service today after ten years of stewardship.
GeoCities was a place anyone could start a website for free. The company sold cheap banner advertising against your content, but that didn’t matter — you finally had a place to post that Melissa Joan Hart fanpage or your fully-annotated Art Alexakis discography.
In the web’s early days, you actually had to know how to author a web page in order to publish anything on the internet. You had to have working knowledge of things like HTML, FTP, GIF and DNS. For people with these new-found skills, a GeoCities page was an essential first step into the web, a rite of passage. Next came the easy authoring tools like Dreamweaver and Blogger, then the social networks like Friendster and MySpace, which let anyone establish a web presence with a few clicks of the mouse. GeoCities, along with other free hosting communities like Angelfire, faded into obscurity.
Many of those early pages survived in all their gaudy, glitzy glory — complete with scrolling banners, animated Gifs and blink tags.
Until Monday, October 26, 2009. Rest in peace, GeoCities.
In what we’re hoping is the beginning of a trend, WordPress.com has announced a new built-in URL-shortening service for all of its hosted blogs. Now, when you create a post on your WordPress.com blog, you’ll see an option to create a short URLs using the new wp.me domain.
Publishers using the self-hosted version of WordPress will be able to use wp.me short links if they are running the official stats plug-in.
The new wp.me short links are coupled directly to the canonical URL and can be found in the headtags of any blog hosted on WordPress.com. That means, unlike outside URL shortening services, as long as WordPress.com is around, your shortened wp.me links will work. And if WordPress.com goes under? Well, it doesn’t matter because the canonical link will go with it.
As for the actual URL shortener, it’s pretty basic with no real stats tracking or other services like those offered by bit.ly and tr.im. WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg does mention in his announcement that if your post’s slug is short enough, it’ll be used for the wp.me URL. Otherwise, a random, unique key is used.
If you’d like to start using wp.me links for your WordPress hosted blog just click the new “Get Shortlink” button. Also note that if you’re logged in to WordPress.com you can get the shortlink for any page, just click the “Blog Info” menu in your admin bar.
Short URLs seem a necessary evil at this particular moment in the web’s history. While we’re not going to lie and say they’re a good idea, if you have to use them we’d suggest looking to your publishing platform rather than an outside service. Hopefully more publishers and publishing tools will follow WordPress.com’s lead and start offering their own URL shortening tools.