TRIPAWDS: Home to 22814 Members and 2143 Blogs.

New Custom Admin Bar Menu Improves Navigation

Within minutes of announcing the new Tripawds admin bar menu in the tech support forum, one member replied…

Very nice…much easier to navigate!

wordpress multisite custom admin bar menuThanks Meghan! That was our goal with implementing this new custom admin bar menu – to help users navigate the site, whether they are searching the forums, watching videos, chatting or browsing blogs.

The WordPress Admin Bar is the grey stripe visible to logged in members which includes menus with links to various user account and blog administrative tools. Now users will notice a new menu to the far left of the bar, no matter which blog they’re viewing.

Hover your mouse over “tripawds” at far left to expand the menu for easy access to some of the most popular resources this community have to offer. Don’t see the Admin Bar? Register today to take full advantage of this network!

How To Add Custom WordPress Admin Bar Menu

For WordPress multisite network administrators interested in how we did this, it’s simple with the free Custom Admin Bar Menu plugin from WPMU Dev. Sure, you could hack functions to remove or add links to the admin bar, but why bother? If you’re looking to add a whole new menu, this plugin makes it easy.

As usual, the team at WPMU Dev has created a sleek interface which allows for easy set-up and configuration. The plugin works with single WordPress sites and any multisite network.

configure wordpress multisite custom admin bar menu

Adding and sorting links is easy sort with the drag and drop interface. And you can even use a small image for the menu title (no more than 28px high). Make it transparent for best results.

TIP: Select the “External Page” URL type and include the whole address if you want to link to a certain page on a specific blog within your multisite network.

Select “Administrative Page” if you want to direct users to one of their admin tabs. And select “Site Page” if you want to include the domain.tld of the site being viewed.

WPMU DEV - The WordPress ExpertsLooking for more awesome WordPress multisite plugins? Checkout our list of all the plugins we use to power the Tripawds community or check out everything WPMU Dev has to offer!

And don’t miss my recent guest posts on ProBlogger about building an online community:

How to Search All Tripawds Blogs

One of the new features we added during the recent News Blog makeover, was the ability to search all Tripawds Blogs.

Previously, members and guests of the Tripawds community could only search individual blogs, one at a time. Now all posts are indexed and searchable from Jerry’s Site-wide Search page in his Tripawds News blog.

This helpful functionality is now possible thanks to our Global Site Search plugin from WPMU Dev.

The plugin is not new, we’ve been testing it for a while. But it is now compatible with our SimplePress forums! It will not return search results from forum topics, but it no longer breaks the forum hierarchy, so we were happy to deploy it to make searching the Tripawds Blogs easier for everyone.

How To Search All Blogs

With more than 500 blogs and counting, it is now easier than ever to find what your looking for in the Tripawds WordPress multisite community.

Search All Blogs: Visit the Tripawds Site Search page to easily search all blogs at once. Results will be displayed with the post title, link, excerpt, author’s name, and the members user avatar. Please visit WPMU Dev for complete details about the Global Site Search WordPress multisite plugin.

Search the News Blog: In the sidebar of the Tripawds News blog you will find a search box that returns keyword results only from all of Jerry’s posts and pages.

Search the Tripawds Forums: Use the Tripawds Discussion Forums search function to find keywords, topic titles, or tags from more than 3,700 topics and nearly 50,000 posts (as of this writing).

Search Individual Blogs: If a Tripawds blog you’re reading does not have a search box in the sidebar, type the following into your browser to search all posts on that blog…

Substitute “blogname” with the subdomain of the blog you’re searching, and “keyword” with whatever you’re searching for. To search for multiple keywords, separate them with a plus symbol like this…

Here’s an example:

Any questions?

WordPress, Multisite and BuddyPress Plugins, Themes and Support - WPMU DEV

Stay tuned for details about how to search for Tripawds blogs and members – two more new features we recently implemented thanks to our WPMU Dev Premium membership.

An Overview of the New Tripawds

We did it! The long awaited theme overhaul for Jerry’s main Tripawds News blog is complete, and the votes are in. The majority of members agree that the site is easier on the eyes with a vast performance improvement.

WordPress, Multisite and BuddyPress Plugins, Themes and Support - WPMU DEVUpcoming posts here behind the scenes will detail the various new site enhancements, but here’s a brief rundown of the new and improved Tripawds Blogs community site:

Easily implementing all these new features were only possible with our WPMU Dev Premium membership. Most noticeable, however, is the site’s new look and feel.

We are now running WPMU Nelo as the active theme for the main site where we maintain the News Blog, discussion forums, chat room, galleries, videos and other health tips and resources.

With the help of WPMU Dev Premium developer richie_ks, I was able to customize Nelo to meet the needs of this community. Top concerns were an easier way to navigate the vast resources available, less clutter, and above all, better performance.

This makeover was a long overdue major undertaking. Over the past four years our original theme had become bloated and outdated, seriously impacting page load times. By customizing the already slim Nelo code-base, however, we were able to enhance the user experience while vastly improving overall performance.

While it is impossible to please everyone all the time, it seems at first glance that we have achieved the primary goal of this overhaul which was to speed up the forums. We look forward to hearing your feedback with a comment below or in this Tripawds site makeover feedback topic.

Stay tuned for complete details about all the new features, and how we did it. Or, read on if you’re a WordPress multisite administrator who may be interested in how we customized the Nelo CMS theme… though this project was yet another crash course in PHP and CSS for yours truly, below are just a few hacks I’m particularly proud of.

How to Add WordPress Site Stats to Theme Header

We liked how site statistics were displayed in some other WPMU Dev themes, but that wasn’t built into Nelo. With the get_sitestats function being native to WordPress, here’s how we added it the header.php template file to show the current members and users with links to each directory on every page.

<!-- stats -->
$stats = get_sitestats();
echo 'Currently home to <strong>'.$stats[ 'users' ].' <a href="" title="Active Tripawds Members Directory">members</a></strong> and <strong>'.$stats[ 'blogs' ].' <a href="" title="Active Tripawds Blogs Directory">blogs</a></strong>.'; ?></div>
<!-- stats -->

Easiest way to add Random Header Images

The WPMU Nelo theme allows for custom header image upload, but Tripawds members like to see the rotating photos. After searching far and wide for a random header image solution to match my programming skills, I found this simple random header image tutorial to keep these by disabling the theme’s header image options and editing header.php with this little bit of magic…

<!-- Random Headers -->
<img  width="900" height="200" alt="Tripawds Three Legged Dog Heroes" src="<?php echo(rand(1,24)); ?>.jpg" />
<!-- Random Headers -->

In this generated image url, the rand(x,x) echo will randomly show images titled header_x.jpg, where x is any number from 1 to 24. Name your header image files following this protocol and let the script do it’s magic.

Edit Nelo Profiles Panel for Easy Site Management

One of the best new features the Nelo Theme offers is an optional Login / Profile Panel above the sidebar. Editing the profiles.php template file will make your changes appear on every page showing the panel. And since the identified user’s name already appears as a link to his or her profile, I added a direct link to the user’s main dashboard screen.

A Bit about child themes

Finally, Nelo is constructed with a parent / child theme structure. This will facilitate future theme updates by preserving any customization edits.  By editing the child-style.css file for instance, I was able to add nice rounded corners and a soft shadow to the site container, which you will see in Firefox and Safari, but not if you’re still using Internet Exploder.

Here’s what I did to properly use my customized version of nelo, while preserving edits during future updates:

  1. Upload both Parent and Child theme folders to wp-content/themes
  2. Activate child theme for site*
  3. Copy any template files from parent to child directory and make desired edits.

For complete details and ongoing theme support, I highly recommend a WPMU Dev Premium membership.

*We will not be offering Nelo as an available theme to Tripawds Bloggers, so I activated the Child theme from the Edit Site tab as Super Admin. This keeps it hidden from the Themes tab on all sub-sites.

We have a blog ring now.

Wanna see a random Tripawds Blog?

Every Tripawds Blog is now linked together in a true Blogger style Ring of Blogs. Users can now stumble upon another totally random three legged dog blog by following the links now found site-wide here at Tripawds. Each Tripawds Blog now has a common navigation strip, something like this…


By clicking the RANDOM TRIPAWDS BLOG link, you will be taken to the next RANDOM TRIPAWDS BLOG which has the same strip for visiting the next RANDOM TRIPAWDS BLOG, and so on, and so on.

For those wondering just who might be blogging about their dogs here, this is a easy way to discover what you’re missing. The top 100 active Tripawds Blogs are always listed on the directory page, but cruising the blogs this way should be more fun. We hope you enjoy it.

The only problem I see so far, is that many Tripawds members create a blog upon signup, but never actually start blogging. 🙁

So why not drop on comment on those blogs to let them know what they are missing? The more stories we can share here, the better a resource this community becomes for those facing cancer or amputation with their dogs.

So, how did I do this?

For anyone interested, I implemented this Blogger style blog ring for WorPress MU using these two free plugins available from the project repository:

This WPMU Plugin enables you to insert any HTML into the footer of all blogs posted within a single WPMU install. With a little hacking, it will place inserts in the header too. Sure, it’s takes a little hardcode effort to customize, but for a CSS neophyte like me it just worked better than Global Header which had the sweet Admin interface I preferred.

WPMU Random Blog Redirect
This mu-plugin allowed me to create a global link to which will redirect readers to a random Tripawds blog, in classic StumbleUpon-like fashion.

I am always cautious about installing old WPMU plugins, especially those that appear to be no longer maintained or supported. I much prefer to install the plug and play plugins available with our WPMU Dev Premium membership. But I wanted to make this specific functionality work, and I carefully tested things first on our development installation.

This version of Random Blog may be two years old, but it is apparently working fine. And since the discussion about WPMU Footer that helped me get it working seems to have disappeared into the ether, I’ll share how to ad header inserts in this global footer plugin…

First, I’m using v. 1.0 since v. 1.1 had some issues with the header inserts, which I just added right before the final php function:


Correct, the header insert code goes after that for the footer. Whatever, it works for me! No promises for anyone else. 😉

But your saying Jim, banner ads are in the header too? Using the WPMU Dev Premium Supporter plugin, we are able to automatically remove banner ads from all blogs while keeping the community navigation strip. I did this by wrapping the ad code within an optional Supporter script and placing HTML for the navigation after that.

Hope this helps clear up any questions about the new Random Tripawds Blogs navigation strip, and how it got there.

UPDATE: Download WPMU Footer HTML v.1 here.

New Tripawds Friends Function, Etc.

Been doing quite a bit behind the scenes here the past couple days. Some tests resulted in not so good results, but other tweaking means we have a new feature to announce and feedback to request.

The WordPress MU gurus over at WPMU Dev Premium informed us about their exciting new Global Site Search plugin. This would allow readers of Jerry’s main three legged dog blog to search for key words or phrases and get results from all Tripawds Blogs. Great! It just didn’t play nice* with our SimplePress Forums plugin, so we’ll be awaiting the next update before trying that again.

I’m happy to say, however that the new Tripawds Friends feature seems to be functioning just fine, thanks to our new WPMU Dev Premium Friends plugin! All Tripawds Bloggers will now notice two new items in their dashboard. The Friends tab will let members search for friends by username, and then add them to their own Friends list. Also from this tab, you can enable or disable email notifications for when another member adds you as a friend.

Under the Appearance -> Widgets tab, there is also a new Friends widget which lets members display their list of friends in the sidebar of their blog. Friends can be displayed as a list, or a nifty mosaic of user avatars. And now for the feedback part …

  1. Do you find this fun, or is it just getting way too Twitter?
  2. Should we enable an authorization feature which would require your approval of another member’s friend request before they could friend you?
  3. And finally, would you like to see a new Inbox feature for sending friends messages from your dashboard? (We did not enable this because the Tripawd Discussion Forums already have a robust Private Messaging feature.)

*Note to any SimplePress users / WPMU Dev Premium Members out there: Can you replicate forum pages not rendering with Global Site Search enabled?

Behind the Scenes is brought to you by Tripawds.