Although Tumblr has continued to beef up its feature-set, adding support for pages, user questions and user submissions, the platform isn’t as extensible or customizable as something like WordPress or Drupal. In a perfect world, there would be a way to combine the simplicity of Tumblr’s posting types and styles with some of the deeper customizations and options of WordPress.
We might not have reached the Holy Grail of Tumblr Meets WordPress harmony, but we’re a lot closer, thanks to a new plugin and iPhone app from WooThemes, a WordPress theme development firm.
Earlier this year, WooThemes started experimenting with bringing Tumblr-styled themes to WordPress. Tumblr-inspired design is taking off on lots of platforms, but what made Woo’s approach unique was the addition of a special QuickPress widget seated on the WordPress dashboard that made posting specific types of content — a la Tumblr — very easy.
Over the past few months, Woo has released more Tumblr-style themes using this QuickPress widget. Even better, WordPress 3.0 was released with support for custom post types, which makes adding special elements like a category icon or post-specific styling more automated.
This is great if you are starting a new site or want to redesign your blog – but what if you already have a pretty established site and a design you quite like? Wouldn’t it be great if you could add some of that microblogging functionality into your existing WordPress site? Read on for details on how to do that.
The Woo Tumblog Plugin
Last week, Woo introduced its free Woo Tumblog plugin. This plugin makes it possible to turn an existing theme into a Tumblr-like tumblelog.
You will need to do some editing of your theme files to get the Woo Tumblog plugin to work, because the plugin changes the way post title, thumbnails and post types are displayed. WooThemes has provided extensive documentation showcasing what you need to edit and add and has also included contextual help.
Woo also includes specific examples for what you need to do to add support for the plugin to the new TwentyTen theme included with WordPress 3.0.
You’ll need to change your permalink structure and add a few lines of code. It’s actually pretty straightforward. Our hope is that in the future, more theme developers will consider adding these hooks into their themes automatically.
The QuickPress Widget
Once you’ve enabled the plugin and made the changes so that different post types will appear a certain way, you can then post these types using the QuickPress widget on the WordPress dashboard.
This is what that looks like:
The end result is this post:
Express: The iPhone App
Beyond the plugin, WooThemes has also released Express [iTunes link]. The app is $ 4.99 but it is far and away the best WordPress mobile experience we’ve had to date.
You can use the app with any of the Woo microblogging themes or with your own theme if you install and enable the Tumblog plugin.
The app is super simple to use and you can easily post various types of content. It doesn’t support video uploading — something that the latest version of the WordPress iPhone app recently added, but it does make it easy to post various types of content and to moderate comments.
The app has already generated a lot of excitement in the WordPress theme community and lots of developers are signing up to add support for the app to their themes.
As awesome as the new Woo Tumblog plugin and Express iPhone app are, there’s still a missing component that prevents true WordPress Meets Tumblr bliss from taking place. The bookmarklet.
I would argue that the bookmarklet is a huge reason why Tumblr and Posterous are so accessible. It’s just so easy to quickly post a link or an image or a brief comment when you can auto-generate that content from your web browser. Furthermore, the iOS bookmarklets make it possible to do this from within the Tumblr iPhone apps too.
WordPress has its own bookmarklet — Press This — but frankly it’s not very good. It’s buggy, it doesn’t give you all the options you have in the main editor and it certainly doesn’t easily support custom post types.
There are rumors that better Press This and QuickPress functionality will be coming to the next version of WordPress, but at this point, users are on their own. I’ve become so despondent with the lack of a real bookmarklet solution that I’ve toyed with creating something myself that will also work with WooThemes’ plugin. Sadly, I just don’t have a ton of time.
I’m not alone. I’ve received e-mails based on comments I’ve left regarding the need for a bookmarklet from others indicating that this is a must-have killer feature.
We’re so close — we just need this next piece to really make microblogging on WordPress viable and enjoyable.
WooThemes has done a lot of the heavy lifting by releasing the free plugin and also creating the iPhone app. Wouldn’t it be great if the open source spirit could help come up with a bookmarklet solution?
Do you use a microblog like Tumblr? Would you be interested in having more of those features natively in WordPress? Let us know.
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