We have just announce the hope that phase 2 of the Glow Blogs project will go live sometime in January next year. This is a wee bit later than our original plans. Personally I am not too disappointed as I can see how hard the team across the Scottish Government and Code For The People (as was)1 are working.
Before I started this business, I could not really see what all the fuss was about, surely all we need to do is upgrade WordPress and all would be well. And that would be fine if it was one blog, dealing with, and sorting out any wee snags and glitches. But width >130000 blogs we need to try and make sure, as much as possible, that the blog owners don’t have much work to do. A major benefit of the newer version of WordPress should be making people’s lives easier it would be a bad start if they need to do a lot of work to keep their blogs looking the same.
Here is an example or two of the work that is being carried out.
The Anarchy Media Player plugin was used to display video and audio on Glow Blogs. This plugin is no longer supported or updated. Much of its functionality has been improved on in core WordPress. WorpdPress now lets you upload or add a link to audio or video and choose to link to the media or embed it.
If we just turn off the plugin that would result in existing links to media, that are embedded, just being presented as links. If we leave it in folk may continue to use the features which may not survive any future upgrades. After a bit of though the developers have produced a slimmed down version of the plugin that will continue to change links into embeds. This new version will not however present buttons on the posting tool bar and encourage its continued use.
Hopefully this will smooth the upgrade experience for some people.
The old glow blogs had an upload file limitation of 8mb, this has been increased to 50mb which should help people to post small videos and reasonable length audio files. There will be extra cost in hosting the files and we want to balance this out a bit. In the old blogs quite a few folk ran out of space just by uploading un-edited image files. A plugin, resize at upload plus was added to the service in the hope that people would turn this on, images would be resized and very large sizes would be remove.
In the new setup this plugin has been updated and will be turned on for all blogs. The images will be resized down to 1200 pixels maximum width. This will ensure that images will still look good but trim some size of the rather large images that come out of digital cameras. This resize can be turned off, just in case someone want to have a photography blog and allow huge images to be stored.
These are just two of many changes that the team are working on. There is also the effect of the upgrade on the themes used on blogs, particularly the > 60 profile/e-portfolio themes. Each change needs a fair bit of discussion and work from the developers, each bit of functionality needs to be tested and all the other functionality need to be tested to see if the change has unforeseen consequences.
The User’s Experience
This is going to improve, WordPress has always been regarded as a good bit of software from an end user perspective. Improvement however means change. I am confident that these changes will make things a lot better, but habits will need to adapt. Hopefully we can explain any points of possible pain before the upgrade. We will be changing centuries in software terms, 2.9.2 was released in 2010 version 4 came out this year.
As usual I am more than happy to discuss any aspect of glow blogs, please get in touch if you need more information.
1. Code for the people have joined the WordPress.com VIP Team at Automattic! They still are working on the Glow project.