Wednesday, December 09, 2015

More Wordpress GAAAAAAH!

The gripe, in extremely general terms:

Yes, I know that things change, and that Wordpress is one of those things which necessarily changes continuously. With each new version there's new stuff under the hood to make it more secure, to let it conform itself to new display requirements (e.g. mobile), to integrate cool new stuff, etc.

But every time a major release comes out, I lose some piece of functionality, at least temporarily.

The extended gripe:

I think it was 4.0 that broke "autocomplete" in the post editor, and I never have figured out a way to restore that. At Rational Review News Digest, we excerpt and link Other People's Content, and to do that we use custom fields for source, author and URL, e.g. --

Autonomous terrorism calls for autonomous defense
Source: Reason
by Jacob Sullum

"There is not much the government can do about the sort of terrorist threat that President Obama described in his speech on Sunday. It will always be difficult to stop self-radicalized jihadists, operating under no one's instructions, from carrying out attacks on soft targets too scattered and numerous to secure. The only viable alternative, self-help, is one that Obama seems ideologically incapable of considering. His proposals for new restrictions on firearms move in the opposite direction, based on the assumption that the problem is too many guns in too many hands." (12/09/15)

Now it's a good bet that we'll blurb and link 5-10 pieces from Reason in any given week, and probably one from Jacob Sullum at least once a week or so. Now, extend that to maybe 30 "usual haunt" content sources and at least as many "usual suspects" authors from those sources. So autocomplete in those custom fields saved me a LOT of typing. And now it's gone.

So this morning, I saw the update notice on RRND's dashboard. Time to update to Wordpress 4.4, "Clifford." And I did.

With this update, the custom field input forms just disappeared entirely from the post editor. There's no longer a separate set of fields for me and my fellow editors to enter "source," "author" and "URL."

Wordpress can still address and pull custom field content for its display within posts. But we can't input that content for Wordpress to address and pull, because something in Wordpress 4.4. apparently doesn't like the existing version of the Custom Field Template plugin.

Which means that as of today, we're having to manually format all that stuff into the main body of the post. And which means that as of today's content, our old post/page templates are going to have some extraneous visual garbage because they are formatted to pull that stuff from custom fields.

The quick fix would be to say "OK, I guess we're going to switch to hand-formatting that stuff, and I'll go through and remove the post/page template hooks for grabbing custom fields." That would get rid of the visual garbage problem and would actually solve another problem that I'm not going to go into here.

But that quick fix would also create more work for all three editors going forward.

And it would cause the existing posts -- about 65,500 of them -- to no longer show the reader the source, author or link. Which, among other things, would be a disservice to the sites and authors where the excerpted content was originally published, and might even create a bad legal situation vis a vis copyright such that the wisest course would be to simply delete all those old posts.

So for the moment, what we're going to do is put up with the visual garbage problem and hope that the wonderful Custom Field Template plugin's author, Hiroaki Miyashita, sees fit to update the plugin very soon, and that the new "under the hood" stuff doesn't make that impossible in some way.

Update, 12/10/15: Looks like Hiroaki Miyashita pulled an all-nighter -- the Custom Field Template plugin has now been updated and site functionality is back to normal!

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