Big News for Tripawds Bloggers!

Tripawds is a user-supported community. Thank you for your support!

Basic Tripawds Blogs will always be free. Jerry wouldn’t have it any other way.

In order to do this, however, we have updated our Supporter framework to offer three levels of support with even more enhanced features to those who wish to help keep this community online with an ongoing PayPal subscription. Please review the updated Tripawds Supporter account feature comparison for complete details or consider upgrading your blog now.

Act Now to Save on Supporter Upgrades

We are offering a discount to the first five lucky Tripawds Bloggers who upgrade their account! Use coupon code TRISUPP25OFF to receive 25% off your first payment of any Tripawds Supporter level! This coupon code can only be used five times so upgrade your blog now and save!

A Few Things All Tripawd Bloggers Should Know

Tripawds Supporter BadgeIf you have not yet upgraded your blog, you may notice some new content being inserted into your posts and pages. (See links at the top and bottom of this post.) Consider upgrading your blog to immediately remove these ads and Support links.

Supporters can remove ads from other favorite Tripawds blogs from their Dashboard -> Supporter Status -> Disable Ads.

There are now three Supporter levels to choose from for showing your appreciation of this community and enabling enhanced features on your blog.

Certain plugins are now only available for Supporter II blogs. If you are a current Supporter, do not deactivate these plugins or you may need to upgrade to get them back.

Premium Themes are now only activated for Supporter III blogs. If you had previously activated a premium theme, do not change it or you will need to upgrade to switch back.

If you are a subscriber and had the Supporter Badge displaying in your blog, you will need to replace it with your current level badge by dragging the Supporter Widget back to your sidebar from the Appearance -> Widgets tab in your dashboard.

You can upgrade, modify or view the current status of your Tripawds subscription anytime from the Supporter tab in your dashboard.

What do you get for your money?

Most importantly, Tripawds Supporters gain the satisfaction of knowing that they help us maintain the largest online community for three legged dogs and their people. Below is a comparison of all account features. Please visit the Supporter Upgrade page and select your site to see additional monthly or quarterly payment options and pricing.

Tripawds Blogs Free Supporter Supporter II Supporter III
Banner Ads on Blog included not included not included not included
Disable Ads on Other Tripawds Blogs
included not included (5) not included (10) not included (25)
Basic Comment Spam Protection included included included included
Subscriptions to Blog Comments
not included included included included
Enhanced Spam Protection not included included included included
Simple Contact Form Creation not included included included included
Enhanced Video Embedding not included not included included included
Search Engine Optimization not included not included included included
Blog Statistics & Shortlinks not included not included not included included
Premium Blog Theme Selection not included not included not included included
Personal Tech Support not included not included not included included
Upload Space 25 MB 100 MB
250 MB 1 GB
Cost FREE $25 / year $49 / year $129 / year

Did we mention the coupon? Act now to save 25% off your first payment of any Tripawds Supporter level with code:  TRISUPP25OFF (Only 5 coupons available!)

How did we do it?

The Tripawds Supporter framework is powered by the simple to use yet massively configurable Pro Sites plugin from WPMU Dev. After network-activating this multisite plugin, we were able to easily create the Supporter options and associated account features above by enabling different modules and assigning certain plugins and themes to each Pro Site level.

We created these Supporter levels to automatically remove ads and enable enhanced blogging features for sites with recurring PayPal subscription plans. Many other payment gateways are also available. A few options we chose not to apply include the ability to:

  • Prohibit or limit publishing of posts and/or pages for selected Pro Site levels.
  • Provide “unfiltered_html” permission to specific user types for selected levels.
  • Restrict XML-RPC and Atom Publishing to selected Pro Sites.
  • Only allow blog access for paid sites.
  • Limit BuddyPress group creation and messaging to users of a Pro Site.

Pro Sites includes far too many features for me to list here. The multiple Supporter levels, ease of use, coupon codes and robust statistics were reason enough for us to upgrade. Check out the Pro Sites plugin in action to see how you might use it for your multisite network!


WPMU DEV - The WordPress Experts


To remove ads from your site and others, upgrade to a Tripawds Supporter blog!

New features in WPMU 2.9.1

Tripawds is a user-supported community. Thank you for your support!

In his post about how to add commentmeta tables to your WordPress MU database, Donncha said …

…nothing quite like the stress of upgrading and finding that something has broken.

So true. I’m just happy nothing broke during our recent upgrade to WPMU 2.9.1, because apparently the upgrade function can choke when creating all those tables. We have over 160 blogs and all went well, but Admins for large MU sites should take care to run the script Donncha provides before upgrading. Then they should also skip ahead to WordPress 2.9.1.1.1.1.1.1.1.1.1.1.1.1. Supposedly this will be the last release before the big merge.

WordPress MU 2.9.1 New Feature Overview

What does all this mean for Tripawds community members? Just that we are successfully running on WPMU 2.9.1 now, which includes some great new features in addition to various bug fixes.

Video embedding made simple

WordPress 2.9 introduces native video embedding! Now all Tripawds Bloggers can easily insert a video from sharing sites like YouTube, simply by adding the video URL to their post …

See! It’s that simple. Just copy and paste the video page URL onto a new line in your post and the video will be automatically embedded. It is important that the video URL be on a line by itself and that the text is not wrapped in any tags, so don’t style it or link it to the video page itself. Native video embedding supports the following video sharing web sites: YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, blip.tv, Flickr (both videos and images), Viddler, Hulu, Qik, Revision3, Scribd, Photobucket, PollDaddy, Google Video, WordPress.tv.

Viper’s Video Quicktags Enhance Embedded Videos

So what does this mean for Tripawds Supporters who have been using the Viper’s Video Tags plugin? Just that they now have advanced control over how their videos appears if they choose to continue using it. Viper wrote the new native object embed code, so his plugin is completely compatible. Supporter blogs can still embed movies and have additional video sharing sources to choose from. Supporters also have the ability to embed raw Flash video files, and have much more control over how their videos display …

Viper’s Video Quicktags plugin allows embedding from the following video sharing web sites: YouTube, Google Video, DailyMotion, Vimeo, Veoh, Viddler, Metacafe, Blip.tv, Flickr Video, IFILM/Spike, MySpaceTV, Flash Video (FLV).

Viper’s Video Quicktags plugin has been disabled. WordPress now supports auto-embedding of videos.

WordPress MU Blog Dashboard Trash Can

Tripawds Bloggers will also now notice a Trash link when managing posts and comments on their blog. This allows for the removal of items without immediately deleting them. The Trash can (and should) then be emptied periodically to permanently deleting the unwanted items. This protects bloggers from inadvertently deleting valid comments or valuable post drafts.

Issues with New WordPress Image Editor

One of the most anticipated feature enhancements has to be the new Image Editor built right into the WordPress Media Library. There have been a number of reports, however, regarding difficulties so we will report back with an update on that. For now, feel free to provide feedback in the forums.

Who needs domain mapping?

I wonder just how many Tripawds Bloggers might consider upgrading with a Supporter subscription if they could have their very own custom domain mapped to their blog. And by that, I mean how many would like the idea of blogging about their pups at yourblog.com instead of yourblog.tripawds.com.

The answer will determine whether or not we implement the Domain Mapping plugin from WPMU Dev Premium here. It integrates with the Premium Supporter plugin we use, and would enable Tripawds Supporters to enter their registered domain name and have their blog appear online at that address instead of here at theirblog.tripawds.com. Domain registration would be  necessary of course, with just minor edits to the DNS record at the registrar.

So, really cool new feature? Or, more hassle than it’s worth?

In the meantime, I’ll explain what I did to redirect our parked domains to this WPMU install. Any WordPres MU site admin who searched and found this post may now be saying, “You can’t do that” and they are right. That’s why we’re considering the Premium Domain Mapping plugin. At which point they may now be saying, what about Donncha’s free WordPress MU Domain Mapping plugin? Well, as I mentioned, we’re considering adding this to our list of Supporter Blog features. But there I go digressing again …

How to Redirect Parked Domains to WMPU Site

After discovering that our parked domains were redirecting to the WPMU sign-up page instead of the primary blog index as expected, I searched the WordPress MU support forums and discovered that this was actually expected behavior after all. So I did some homework and figured out a work around.

Remove parked domains…

The first thing to do when redirecting parked domains to a WPMU site is to unpark them. Access your your cPanel account and remove the parked domains you want to redirect to your primary blog, assuming they are already parked there.

Next, click the Addon Domains button in your cPanel account. Here you will create add-on domains for all those you have registered and want to redirect to your primary blog.

cPanel Addon Domains

Once you have added the domain, return to Addon Domains and select Manage Redirection. Redirect the new domain you just added to the root of your primary blog (or wherever you desire) and click Save. That’s it!

You will notice in the screenshot that I renamed the file directories in my document root to keep folders for all the addon domains nice and tidy together. They will all reside in the public_html directory where you installed WordPress MU.

This method proved quick and simple for me. And you will now notice that tripawds.org and tripaws.org now both successfully redirect to tripawds.com. It’s a workaround, and it’s not true domain mapping as you will notice in the address bar, but it does the trick for us. If more than a handful of members are interested in upgrading to have custom domains for their blogs, I can just remove these Addon domains and install the Domain Mapping plugin.

How to automatically redirect web pages

Another option I considered before figuring out this workaround, was to set up hosting accounts for the parked domains and add static pages for auto redirection. Below are a few methods for doing that if anyone is so inclined.

Manual URL Redirect…

The simplest way to redirect visitors from any web page to another is with a manual URL redirect, forcing them to click a link to proceed:

Please follow <a href="http://www.example.com/">link</a>!

Redirect Domain using Refresh Meta tag…

Using the “meta refresh” method, it is possible to specify the URL of the redirect page, thus replacing one page after a specified time by any other. A timeout of 0 seconds means an immediate redirect:

<head>
<meta http-equiv="Refresh" content="0; url=http://www.example.tld/">
</head>

Auto-Forward web page using PHP…

In PHP, header() is used to send a raw HTTP header to the browser. Using the location function, this can be used for auto-redirection. Note that header() must be called before any actual output is sent:

<?php
header("Location: http://example.tld/");
?>

Redirect web site using .htaccess…

There are many methods to redirect a web site using the .htaccess file. Adding this to the .htaccess file of the domain you want forwarded is the most basic:

# redirect entire website to another domain
Redirect 301 / http://example.tld/

Permanent redirect HTTP Status C0de 301…

Adding the HTTP 301 Status code to any web page before the opening <head> tag will result in immediate and permanent redirection:

HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Location: http://www.example.org/
Content-Type: text/html

How to extend Supporter Blog subscriptions

Tripawds Supporter Blog subscriptions are automatically renewed via PayPal, based on the renewal term selected when upgrading the blog. If a PayPal subscription is canceled before the renewal date, enhanced Supporter blog functions will be deactivated upon the renewal date, no sooner.

This is all made possible using the Supporter plugin available with our WPMU Dev Premium membership. But it puts site administrators – that’s me – in a position to wonder about how to handle early cancellation of a Supporter subscription if the blogger has been generous enough to contribute to Tripawds with a separate donation. This happened recently – thank you Maggie! And here’s what I did to modify the renewal date that appears in the Supporter tab of her dashboard.

Any WordPress MU site administrator who wishes to extend a Supporter subscription for longer than the 365 day maximum allowed via the Admin panel:

  1. Access your WPMU database with PHP MyAdmin
  2. Find the wp_supporters table and click Browse
  3. Find the blog ID* with the date you want to modify and click Edit
  4. Enter your desired Unix timestamp** in the expire field and click Go

*The blog ID is the first digit(s) of the Custom Number field in the Supporter subscription announcement email. For example, blog ID #294 with a 3 month $10 subscription is identifed by Custom Number: 294_3_10.00_USD_1234567890

**The Supporter Subscription expiration date is identified by Unix time, or POSIX time, which is a system for describing points in time, defined as the number of seconds elapsed since midnight of January 1, 1970. Many Unix Time Conversion tools can be found online.

For additional help using Supporter 2.o please visit the WPMU Dev Premium Support forums.

Supporters Demystified

wpmu premium supporter wordpress menu tabTripawds community members may have some questions about the enhanced features enabled for Supporter blogs. WordPress MU site administrators might be interested in how the upgrade function works.

I hope to shed some light here on all of the above. So, let’s talk about Tripawds Supporters and the WPMU Dev Premium Supporter plugin.

As a reminder, all free Tripawds Blogs include basic comment spam protection – using the TypePad anti-spam plugin – and 25MB of upload space for storing photos. Free blogs also show banner ads at the top and bottom of every page. The Supporter mu-plugin allows us to automatically increase a Supporter’s upload quota to 1GB and turn on enhanced blog features by activating additional plugins on that blog. It also immediately removes the banner ads from upgraded blogs, and allows Supporters to turn off ads on other Tripawds blogs. Best of all this is all done automatically upon upgrade, which can be done via single payment or recurring subscription.

I would like to think I was at least a little helpful in identifying certain issues with the new Supporter v. 2.0, but I can take absolutely no credit for the amazing development work and quick update release. We are now running Supporter v. 2.0.2 and I am happy to say it’s new features are impressive. How does it work? The mu-plugin includes various files, some required, others optional, all of which are simple to install if you can follow the clear instructions. Let’s take one feature at a time…

Hiding Ads on Supporter Blogs

For Site Administrators: a small snippet of code is used in conjunction with an optional component (supporter-ads.php) to show or hide whatever text you want, wherever you want. We use it to hide Google ads in the header and footer of Supporter blogs. Simply wrap the AdSense HTML within this snippet where indicated, and it will only display if the the blog is not a Supporter. The exact opposite can be done with a different bit of code, showing any desired text only on Supporter blogs. There are also admin settings for the number of blogs – from 0  to 100 – on which ads that can be disabled by Supporters.

For Tripawds Members: There is no need to anything to remove ads from your blog, other than upgrade to Supporter status via the Supporter tab in your blog dashboard. Ads will immediately disappear upon upgrade. An added plus for Supporters is the ability to turn off ads from displaying on up to 10 of their favorite other Tripawds blogs. After becoming a Supporter, simply visit your Blog Dashboard -> Supporter -> Disable Ads. Simply follow the instructions there to search for blogs on which you wish to turn off the ads. Add them to your list, and you will no longer see ads when visiting those blogs.

Activating Premium Pugins

For Site Administrators: The new Supporter admin menu now includes plugin management features very similar to the free WPMU Plugin Manager mu-plugin. No surprise really, considering it was built by the same developer. Many kudos to Aaron for adding functionality for admins to enable plugins on non-supporter blogs. But using the Premium Plugins menu, admins can simply select which plugins they want Supporters to have, with the following options:

  • None: Plugin is available for activation by site admins only
  • Anyone: Plugin can be activated by any member blog
  • Supporters: Plugin is only available on Supporter blog
  • Supporters (Auto-Activate): Plugin is automatically activated on Supporter blogs upon upgrade

For Tripawds Members: For non-supporters, the Blog Dashboard -> Plugins tab will show the TypePad Anti-Spam plugin, which should be activated if it is not already. This will help reduce the spam comments received through your blog. There will also be a list other plugins available upon Supporter upgrade. Here is a rundown of the plugins we currently offer Supporters, and their status upon upgrade:

  • WP-SpamFree (Auto Activated): This powerful anti-spam plugin will virtually eliminate comment spam. Includes a spam-free contact form that can be easily added to your blog. Visit plugin website
  • Viper’s Video Quicktags (Auto Activated): Easily embed videos from various video websites such as YouTube, DailyMotion, and Vimeo into your posts. Visit plugin website
  • Subscribe To Comments (Auto Activated): Allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry after they have commented on the post. Visit plugin site
  • All In One SEO Pack (Requires Activation): Comprehensive Search Engine Optimization options for your blog. Visit plugin website

Offering Premium Themes for Supporters

For Site Administrators: Much like Premium Plugins, the new version of Supporter now allows site admins to make certain blog themes only available to supporters. All members would be able to preview how their blog looks in the Premium theme, but they would be presented with a message about upgrading upon an attempt to activate it.

For Tripawds Members: We have not yet implemented Premium Themes as we are still seeking feedback about which themes might be considered, well … premium! We offer more than 100 blog themes and in all honesty have only tried out a handful. A whole bunch of new themes are in the works so stay tuned.

What does it cost?

For Site Administrators: All of the WPMU Dev Premium plugins, themes, videos, and support are included with a WPMU Dev Premium membership subscription. Site admins can set the price for Supporter upgrades for one, three, and twelve month subscriptions or for the single payment method. An option for setting the number of free days blogs have with Supporter features is also available. The new Supporter sign-up page even includes daily cost calculations to show members what they can save by upgrading for longer periods.

For Tripawds Members: A Tripawds Supporter blog upgrade subscription costs only $25 a year. A one month subscription costs $5, and we offer three months for $10, so savings are clearly realized with the annual option. We chose the subscription method (over single payment) since Supporter features are automatically disabled upon the expiration date. We don’t want any members getting surprised by deactivated plugins, so we went with the automatic renewal.

NOTE: Be sure to cancel your PayPal subscription before it expires if you do not want to pay for another year of enhanced blog features!

Believe it or not, this just brushes the surface of all the new features available in Supporter 2.0, but hopefully it explains a few things for our members. We would love to hear your feedback, so please leave a comment below. Or, feel free to ask any questions in the Tripawds Technical Support discussion forum. We’re especially interested in what Tripawds members think about the subscription vs. single payment method for Supporter upgrades, and whether anyone is interested in using the new optional Amazon payment gateway.

For the record, as of today there are eight active Tripawds Supporter blogs. With nearly a thousand members, and operational expenses in the thousands of dollars, please don’t think we actually making money here. We offer plenty of tips to make the most of free Tripawds Blogs, and use these Supporter features to thank those members who generously show their support.