Building Twitcher for WordPress

Twitcher is the Killer App. From Futurama / 20th Century Fox

WordPress is an excellent tool for publishing long and short articles. The analysis pieces I write fit perfectly, have an easy editor, and can be made in a very efficient manner all through an online admin and mobile app. So that’s cool. But, sometimes, running an analysis just to recommend something is overkill. To that end, I have combined a wordpress plugin, some CSS, and a Chrome extension to make a Twitter-lite, capable of posting short snippets in the sidebar.

This may sound redundant — why use WordPress for this when Twitter is right there? Well, first, one of the reasons to use WordPress is plain and simple to self-host. To that end, having all content – long form, short form – in one location is quite neat to have. Notwithstanding that, I simply have no intention of cross-contaminating the blog and twitter in a back-and-forth. I use Twitter to publish articles from my blog, so having a Twitter feed back onto my blog would be grossly redundant.

Enter Twitcher. Or sidebar linker. Or, simply, Around the Web.

The “Around The Web” posts can be seen on the right bar in this very post (postception?)

The sidebar itself is a simple application of the Ultimate Posts Widget, which allows posts from categories to be selectively placed in the sidebar. I chose to include posts from the Twitcher category of my blog, and for the display, hide everything except the post content. Using the default template, I then compacted the posts using the following CSS.

.widget_ultimate_posts .upw-posts .category-twitcher {
  border-bottom: none;
  margin-bottom: 0em;
}

.widget_ultimate_posts .upw-posts .category-twitcher .entry-content {
  margin-top: 0em;
}

The posts themselves are simple; a link with a source in brackets. This makes them perfect for including in a compact form in the sidebar. This is the raw post content, so the output is exactly what goes into the WYSIWYG editor. However, doing so means I have an entire new batch of posts that I am posting. To not let those flood the homepage, I configured the Ultimate Category Excluder (no relation to the other plugin that I can see) to remove the Twitcher category from the homepage. This has the side-effect of also removing it from the sitemap, but to me that is less of a concern; it is not really valuable content per se.

Between the plugins and the CSS, I now had the compact display view I craved, but now I needed a way to enter the curated content in a simple manner. Adding it with the WYSIWYG editor is certainly possible, but overkill; it simply takes too long. This is where a Chrome extension looked handy: WordXPress is an unpolished plugin that certainly came close to what I needed. I could make posts and add them to my Twitcher category. It’s a bit overkill though.

Enter my modified WordPress Twitcher Poster. This is a slimmed down variant of WordXPress that defaults to posting to the Twitcher category, and will post in the specific format; <a href="CURRENT_URL">TITLE</a> [PUBLISHER]. This fits perfectly with my Around the Web sidebar, and makes the publishing process a snap. Two clicks and I’ve shared a link I

WordPress has excellent extensibility.

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