Search Cloud (Zeitgeist)

3rd May 2007 stk

How Visitors Land on Your Blog

Who hasn't looked through their b2evolution back-office statistics page, marveling at all the unusual search terms that visitors employed to find your blog posts? Some are funny. Some are strange. Some might even be downright scary. All of the terms are 'feedback' and says something about your audience and your blog.

We've made a plug-in that moves these obscure, sometimes humorous, search terms to your front page and displays them a cloud-like fashion. In a nutshell, it gathers all of the search terms from the hitlog (last 30 days, by default), from one (or all) of your blogs. It sorts them and tallies the most popular ones. Using parameters, you tell the plug-in how many of the most popular terms to show, in what order and where they should show. Finally, you can style the cloud of terms to your liking, using CSS.

Before you know it ... you've added a "search cloud" to your b2evolution blog! If you want to be fancy, you will call it a "zeitgeist" (which is a German term meaning "the spirit of the times") and claim you got the idea from Google (but really, we got it from here).

We've added features we're sure you'll like. For high-traffic websites, there's caching capability (user-defined cache period), to save server resources. For installations with multiple blogs, you can decide which blog to use. You can display as many (or as few) terms as you like. Each term is linked to the post entry it 'found'. Call it your "Zeitgeist", your "Search Cloud" or whatever you want ... because you can easily alter the title. It even has the ability to filter objectionable words. And of course, you can completely control the styling, with access to the default xhtml and CSS. We didn't think of everything, but we did code in some flexibility. ;)

  1. Introduction
  2. Installation (v1.8.x & v1.9x)
  3. Styling the Cloud
  4. The Future

Google Spell Checker

30th Mar 2006 Danny

Spel rite uzing "Google Spell"

Pre-Phoenix users of b2evolution may remember using the built-in spell-checker, based on A spell check window popped open, the utility often took its sweet time to load, it often terminated or hung when it encountered certain XHTML tags and it had a clunky interface. It's not surprising that the spell check button has disappeared in the publicly available, alpha version of Phoenix. In addition, the simple (English-only) spell checker plug-in that ships with v1.6 and CVS versions of Phoenix, doesn't work. This prompted us to write our own and make some improvements.

Google Spell

Introducing the Astonish Me! "Google Spell" plug-in. It provides an easy-to-use, multilingual spell checker for the Back Office write/edit pane and (optionally) for comment forms.

It's called "Google Spell" because it uses the Google Spell Check API and functions similarly to the spell checker in Gmail. If you have a Gmail account, then you may already be familiar with the interface.

The API call is made using AJAX, which allows spell checking right in the Back Office edit window (and/or comment form). No more annoying pop-ups or page refreshes. It utilizes a word-frequency algorithm, which means that it will recognize commonly used proper nouns. This reduces the number of words it 'thinks' are incorrect. It also skips over many XHTML tags, attributes and CSS class names, further speeding up the process. Because Google handles the dictionary end of things, technology words are covered. If that weren't enough, Google Spell is multi-lingual, currently supporting eight different languages: Dansk, Deutsch, English, Español, Français, Italiano, Nederlands, Polski, Português, Suomi and Svenska.

Google Spell was inspired by and is based upon GoogieSpell, written by Amir Salihefendic and released under the GPL. It's been tested in the PC versions of MSIE 6(sp2), FireFox 1.5 & Opera 8.5. JavaScript must be enabled for Google Spell to function. If JavaScript is disabled, the controls never show up, so it degrades nicely. We believe that JavaScript should only add functionality to a page.

Summary of Benefits

  • No annoying pop-up windows.
  • No flicker or waits from page refreshes.
  • Multilingual (8 languages currently supported).
  • Three east steps to get it installed.
  • Intuitive, Gmail-like interface is easy to use.
  • Recognition of many XHTML tags, attributes and CSS class names.
  • Recognition of commonly used proper nouns.
  • Up-to-date checking of technology words.
  • Fewer 'false positives' means less time spent spell checking.
  • Quickly spell-check: scan entry for highlighted, suspect words.
  • Check any length post (no length limit).

Google Spell Demonstration

<-- Controls Show Up Here (JavaScript required)

Don't take our word for it. Go on, give it a test drive. Spell check the text in the box, or be creative and type your own. (Keep in mind that we log everything that gets typed into the window, so no cussing, credit card numbers or passwords. On second thought, credit card numbers are OKAY, just be sure to enter the expiry date and the 3-number security code off the back. ;) )

Like it? Get your copy today, courtesy of AstonishMe!

(Next: Installation for your version of Phoenix.).

  1. Introduction
  2. Installation (v1.6)
  3. Installation (v1.8)
  4. Usage & Styling
  5. FAQS & Enhancements

Paged comments

7th Feb 2006 ¥åßßå

Taming Long Comment Lists

Does your blog receive lots of comments? If so, you're probably tired of scrolling down the screen each time you want see the newest comments. ( We know we are. :p ) Tame your long list of comments by paging them.

This skin modification will help you get control over lots of comments by putting them into pages. You can control the following:

  • Number of comments per page.
  • Sort order (New-to-old or old-to-new).
  • Styling and/or number of page controls.

The way it works is simple. Your comments appear, as normal, until they exceed your "number of comments per page". When they go over, a comment page is added, with page controls (i.e., newer comments | older comments ). The controls appear where you place them and we've added hooks so that you can style them to your liking in your CSS file. The code includes an internal bookmark, so when you scroll through pages of comments, each new page starts at the "top of comments" (rather than "top of entry"), which makes reading multiple pages of comments easier. We have also included an optional, easy core hack to keep view counts from incrementing for comment pages, should this be something you need.

To implement paged comments for your blog, follow the detailed instructions & use the cut'n-paste code on the next page. After you're finished installing, you'll likely want to style the page controls, which is covered on page 3 (CSS Styling), including some suggested CSS declarations. The last page (FAQs and Enhancements) discusses any questions we've received about paged comments and additional ways to make paged comments nicer.

  1. Introduction
  2. Installation instructions
  3. CSS Styling of Page Controls
  4. FAQs & Enhancements

Search Hi-Lite Plugin

19th Jan 2006 stk
Introduction & Comparison

This plugin has now been updated for the 2.x series, you can download it here ( AM Search Highlighter ). NOTE : For this version you do not have to make any changes to your skin ;)

More Accurate Search Results Plus Multi-Term Highlighting

It's not often that you can kill two birds with one stone and do it with panache. We believe the "Search Hi-Lite" plugin accomplishes this. As the name suggests, it will highlight multiple search terms with different, user-customizable, colors and styles. Now visitors can actually see the results that they're searching for, at a glance. That in itself is useful, but that's not all this plug-in accompllishes. This plug-in yields more ACCURATE search results than the search function that ships with b2evolution!

You are going to like this plug-in!

While making the proto-type, we discovered that a b2evolution search matched on text inside XHTML tags. A search for "http://" returns every post with an img tag <img src="http://blah.jpg" /> or a link <a href=""> in other words, just about every post in a blog! Not good.

When returns are not highlighted, this behavior is difficult to notice. Once we highlighted the terms, however, it became apparent that b2evo was returning unseen text and highlighting them lead to broken images, broken links and - in the worst case - a broken site (if served with a MIME type of "application/xhtml+xml"). It looked awful and was FAR from the desired result. We had to completely redesign the plug-in to work around (and ultimagely FIX) this behavior.

Or goal: Give visitors highlighted search returns that matched the search term(s), either as full words or contained within a larger word (limiting the search to text VISIBLE in the blog).

We have achieved this, via creative coding and modifications to the skin's main template file "_main.php". Note: No core files were harmed in the making of this plugin.

To demonstrate the difference between the standard b2evo search returns and our "Astonish Me! Hi-Lite Search" Plug-in, click the links below. In each case, the search if for "http://":

This simple test makes it clear that not only does this plugin provide obviously VISIBLE search returns, but they're also more relevant and accurate!

You want this plugin, don't you? (I warned you about that!) HA! For downloading and installation instructions ... search on the next page.

  1. Introduction & Comparison
  2. Install Instructions
  3. Usage & Considerations
  4. FAQs & Something Else