Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

A whole new way to browse this site

August 11, 2006

My site doesn’t look like your typical blog. A typical blog layout usually consists of a date oriented archive structure, a categorical listing of posts, etc. I’m not too huge a fan of these means of taxonomy. Not that they are bad or don’t work, I just prefer a flat, miscellanea pile of tags rather than a rigid system of categories.

For quite awhile now (actually, probably since I moved everything to this domain), I’ve been tagging my posts with keywords that in some way describe the content of the post I had just written. This serves many purposes – the first and most important of which is that each post becomes inherently more searchable. The second is that content indexing services like Google and Technorati will index your content much more efficiently, making it much easier for those looking for it to find it. The benefits are obvious then right? Accessible content and increased exposure. A win-win.

When I first set out to add the ability to tag posts on this site, I had a few specific requirements. The most notable requirement was that I needed to be able to tag my posts quickly and from an external application. The first challenge to do that would be to find an application that works seamlessly with WordPress in this regard. Fat chance. Most weblog posting applications that do “play nice” with WordPress do a fairly poor job of interacting with WordPress above the normal post/edit activities. I think I’ll write more on this subject in the future.

What I ended up using was Ultimate Tag Warrior (UTW), a WordPress plugin, that adds the ability to tag your posts in WordPress. It also fit my main requirement of being able to add tags to posts quickly and via an external application. The way UTW handles this by allowing me to add a simple text string to the end of my posts (and it can even extrapolate tags from within the post content itself) when I write them in MarsEdit. Beautiful.

Snag! The snag I’m referring to came when I tried to have UTW use a specific permalink structure. I desired to have /keyword/TAGHERE/ as my permalinks for tag-specific searches. But since my post permalinks are already /category/post-name/ there was an immediate conflict. WordPress would determine /keyword/ as the category and /TAGHERE/ as the post name, which would throw a 404 error every time. There have been attempts to fix this, but to no avail yet. I might add that this is not a bug in UTW nor in WordPress, just a URL compatibility issue – and is only present in the latest versions of WordPress.

Since I was unable to resolve this issue, and I really desired to have nice looking URLs for my keywords, I hid the fact that I was tagging posts for far too long. How did I do this? Well, quite simply really. I still wanted the benefits of having the keywords, but I just didn’t want to show them so I had a DIV and it’s style was simply display: none;. Well, I’ve finally given into the ugly URLs (index.php?tag=TAGHERE), and have made the keywords visible on each post of this site. Most posts are tagged, but not all, so someday I’ll take the time to rip through my archives and update each post.

Also of note is a slightly refreshed home page. So, enjoy the keyword verticals, and have a great Friday.

[tags], refresh, tags, keywords, ultimate tag warrior, utw, wordpress, marsedit, taxonomy[/tags]