Tarski Plugin Integration

As of Tarski 1.7, we will be removing the existing plugin integration from Tarski. This includes support for Subscribe to Comments, Gravatars and Ultimate Tag Warrior. What I hope to cover here is why we’re doing this, and how to successfully integrate Tarski with the plugins you want to use—whatever they happen to do.

WordPress’ plugin landscape is constantly changing: new plugins are released, older ones are abandoned by their creators. Functionality previously provided by plugins has been brought into the WordPress core code: first widgets, and in the upcoming 2.3 release, tags. Plugins relying on underlying third-party services like Gravatars and OpenID also change as these services run into problems or simply evolve in terms of their API.

This life-cycle is fairly normal, but our existing support for specific plugins in Tarski simply doesn’t acknowledge this reality. There are quite obviously too many plugins for us to support them all, or even a significant number of them. We’d also rather spend our time improving Tarski, rather than maintaining support for specific pieces of third-party code.

I say ‘specific’ because what Tarski needs—and, in its theme hooks system, now has—is a generic way for plugin authors and users to make their code work with Tarski. It’s in need of better documentation, but it’s there, and it works; several times a week I offer advice to people on the forum as to how they can integrate their choice of plugin with Tarski.

Since the theme hooks system appeared in 1.5 we’ve been in a transition period, phasing out older ways of personalising Tarski installations (like the constants file). The next step is removing support for specific third-party plugins entirely, and that’s what we’re doing in Tarski 1.7. What follows is a rundown of the plugins, previously integrated with Tarski, that are having this support removed, and how you can add that functionality back in.

Widgets

WordPress Widgets are, as of WordPress 2.2, in the core WP code. As such, they’re still supported by Tarski, both in the sidebar and the footer. You can activate a widget-powered sidebar on the Tarski Options page.

OpenID

The extent of our OpenID support consists in testing a couple of plugins with Tarski and rewriting ugly OpenID URLs, so the status of this one doesn’t change: it works with Tarski, and should continue to do so.

Brian’s Latest Comments

The functionality offered by Brian’s Latest Comments plugin is now available in WordPress as a widget. Consequently, we’re simply removing the support for this altogether—if you want to carry on using it, use the widget.

Gravatars

Gravatar had some well-publicised problems, but is now back with a rejuvenated service. You can add Gravatars to Tarski (or any other theme, for that matter) by writing a plugin to buffer the Gravatar plugin function, extract the info, and add it into the comment content by adding a filter to the comment_text hook. The Using Gravatars page on the Codex has more.

Subscribe to Comments

The popular Subscribe to Comments plugin actually adds itself, if you upgrade to the latest version (which, of course, I recommend).

Live Comment Preview

Previewing comments is a feature I wish WordPress came with; Live Comment Preview is a JavaScript-powered halfway house towards fully-fledged preview functionality. It gets added automatically by the plugin, so the loss of integration isn’t a problem.

Clean Archives

The SRG Clean Archives plugin has long been part of our Archives template. No longer. However, I’ve made a Clean Archives template available for those who want this functionality. Just drop it into your Tarski directory and change its extension to .php, then select it as the template for your archives page as usual. I personally prefer version 2.2 of this plugin to the more recent, overly complex JavaScript-powered confection it seems to have become, but fortunately the plugin author has kept the older version available, and that’s what we’re still using. (Sean has responded in the comments.)

Ultimate Tag Warrior

Ultimate Tag Warrior is probably the highest-profile of the casualties. As of WordPress 2.3, tags are available in the WordPress core, and consequently Christine is discontinuing the plugin. Tarski 1.7 supports the new WordPress tags and removes all UTW-dependent code. There’s no going back on this one, I’m afraid, although for those on a nostalgia kick we will be maintaining the WordPress 1.6 branch for the time being, which retains UTW support.

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4 comments

  1. Sean’s avatar

    Thank you for your continued use and support of SRG Clean Archives.

    As mentioned, the plugin has been completely rewritten from the 2.2 version with added features, including the MOO Effects but they can be turned off (or on) in the plugins admin screen so they look just like 2.2.

    The other features can also be turned on or off as well.

    However, the latest version also has caching so people who large amounts of posts and comments don’t have a slow loading archives page and there is also less database queries as well for an overall performance boost with the plugin.

  2. Ben Eastaugh’s avatar

    Thanks for pointing that out, Sean. I’d not noticed the admin panel, as it wasn’t in the old version.

  3. Sean’s avatar

    Hi Ben. Not a problem.

    Around May of this year is when I began the rewriting of the plugin, so a lot of improvements went into it based on user feedback.

    I would be more then happy to listen to any and all suggestions and feedback you have for the plugin.

    Thank you again for your support and mention.

  4. Ben Eastaugh’s avatar

    For anyone looking for the now-deprecated ‘Recommended Plugins’ page: it’s been moved into the ‘Legacy’ section and can now be found here.

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