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WordPress plugins

2010 September 18
by Hélène Martin

I’ve gotten some questions about some of the extras I use on the Garfield CS website.  My favorite thing about WordPress is the abundance of great plugins to do just about anything imaginable.  I try to use those as much as possible and include a hack of my own here and there.

Blog in Blog
Blog in blog lets me aggregate all posts for each course separately.  For example, I have a page for all posts for my advanced AP CS course.  I think the only change I’ve made here is to take out the author avatar by modifying the template since I thought that was a little weird.

Countdown Timer
I use this to display the number of days to the AP test.

Featured Posts With Thumbnails
Used to highlight student successes.  I get a little ‘featured post’ dropdown when editing and creating a post to manage this easily.

Google Syntax Highlighter
Used here and there when I show code samples in class notes.

PJW Mime Config
By default, file types like .py or .rkt are not allowed to be uploaded.  This plugin gives a simple UI for adding mime-types supported by the uploader.

Stray Random Quotes
I display a CS-related quote randomly chosen on every refresh of the advanced AP CS course page.  It’s usually used in widget form but instead I use the shortcode to make it part of the page.

Text Replace
This plugin is really useful for annoying text that needs to be used all the time.  For example, the little thumbnails I use in all the course calendars to indicate file type are inserted by replace rules like the following:

:java: => <img src="" alt="Java File" title="java16x16" />

I added the following filter in the register_filters function so it would work with WP-Table Reloaded, too:

add_filter( 'wp_table_reloaded_post_output_table', array( &$this, 'text_replace' ), 11);

Twitter for WordPress
Self-explanatory.  It’s the best Twitter widget I’ve found.   I like using the Twitter feed for interesting things I come across and want to share with students.

User Permissions
Let’s me set per-post permissions so I can have students participate in the website.

I wasn’t sure how to keep access to materials from previous years and semesters without having a crazy-crowded menu.  This dynamic navigation tree does the trick pretty well, I think.

Not quite sure how this is going to play out, yet.  Students can rate activities and information I put up.

WP-Table Reloaded
Possibly the most useful plugin for me.  I don’t manage the tables I use for course calendars by hand but instead use the UI this plugin provides.  It saves me some headaches.

6 Responses leave one →
  1. September 18, 2010

    Wow, there is some crazy good info there, thanks.

    I’m probably going to move my site from wp. Com to my own host just so I can do all that kind of stuff!

    • Hélène Martin permalink*
      September 18, 2010

      I HIGHLY recommend it. Plus, it’s a nice way to get students curious about these kinds of technologies. I’ve got a couple learning PHP and WordPress because they saw me excited about it.

  2. Andy permalink
    September 22, 2010

    How do you have them submit files.

    I noticed that there’s a web form they submit but I wasn’t sure if there was a script / preprogammed php at you used.

    • Hélène Martin permalink*
      September 25, 2010

      Ahh. Good question. I’m afraid my answer won’t be particularly satisfying. Last year I had a nasty PHP script I wrote. It worked fine but it’s a series of hacks I’m too embarrassed to share. Plus, it’s so quirky I don’t think anyone else would want to use it.

      I’m very excited to now have access to Grade-It, a system made by University of Washington’s Marty Stepp. It’s phenomenal and though he’s been talking about releasing it, that probably won’t be until next fall. We’re working out some kinks in making it UW-independent.

      • October 13, 2010

        I worked on MarkUs last fall, which is a Ruby on Rails project written and maintained entirely by undergraduate Computer Science students across Canada. It might be something to look into as well: link to

        • Hélène Martin permalink*
          October 13, 2010

          Looks like great stuff! Rails is so nice to develop in.

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