WPMu: Sitewide Tags, Search, and Archive

Sitewide tags was one of the elements of UMW Blogs I spent a bit of time working on this past Summer. In fact, one particular workaround allows you to have a sitewide tag cloud as well as sitewide searching of blog posts, and a dynamic archive of posts–all without any hacks to the core files of your WordPress Multi-User installation.

Image of UMW Blogs tag cloud

Keep in mind, however, that this is a hack and will be deprecated sometime soon with the recent introduction of tags (as opposed to categories which this hack is using) with WPMu 1.3. That said, given it enables a tag cloud, a centralized search for posts, and a dynamic archive might make it valuable while the WordPress Multi-User community gradually ramps up to the full potential of the new tagging feature.

Site-Wide Tags & Search
Creating site-wide tags is a really intelligent work-around which–as an additional bonus–also allows for a centralized search of blog posts and a dynamic archive.

The basic concept of this hack is made possible through a very unintuitive move. That move is to create a separate, single installation of WordPress in a subdirectory (named “tags”–if you like) where your WordPress Multi-User installation lives. Once you’ve done this upload the same theme you are using on the main page for your WPMu installation and you have basically faked another part of your main site. After that use the “fixed” WP-Autoblog plugin (which also includes category for posts–the secret sauce!!!) and Sitewide Tags Permalink Replace plugin (which redirects the permalinks in the single WP installation to the WPMu posts) in the single WP installation to feed all the posts from your WPMu install into this single blog. You do this by placing the feed for all the posts on the WPMu install (this all made possible by ITDamager’s awesome WPMu Sitewide Feed plugin) into the settings for the WP-Autoblog plugin under the options tab.

Image of WP-Autoblog plugn settings
A look at the WP-Autoblog settings–really straightforward!

List of Plugins on single installation WP
Plugins on the single installation “tags” blog. Click for larger version

I am keeping this overview rather simple because the complex details for creating this sitewide tags hack were originally worked out in this thread on the Multi-User forums (peruse that for more granular information). Even better, the hack is documented in a step-by-step fashion on the WPMu Codex by mrjcleaver here.

These instructions are thorough, the only thing I would recommend different is to use the “full post” option in the WP-Autoblog settings rather than “excerpt” so that you can use the single installation as a way to search all posts (that’s right, sitewide tags enables a sitewide search–pretty sneaky sis).

As for the tagcloud, just pick your favorite tagcloud plugin (UMW Blogs is using WordPress Heatmap Plugin that displays your categories on a page (I titled this page view so it wouldn’t be repetitive in the URL -so instead of http://umwblogs.org/tags/tags you have http://umwblogs.org/tags/view–I stole this idea from edublogs which is using this same workaround). Finally, with a few minor hacks to a theme template (read their instructions for more details) on the single installation blog you have a tag cloud (well, technically a category cloud) on your WPMu site.

Sitewide Archive

It follows from such a hack you can then create a more dynamic archive of all the posts in the single installation that not only let’s you search, but also let’s you organize them for browsing by month or even show the last X number of posts. You can see an example of such an archive on UMW Blogs here, which is simply using a gently hacked archive template that comes stock with the MistyLook theme.

Image of UMW Blogs Archive Page

I guess this “tutorial” has been more a series of links to other cohesive How-Tos and innumerable plugins, but I felt it was necessary because I was somewhat thwarted this Summer by the lack of any organized approach to explaining and integrating such a key feature for tagging, searching, and organizing the content in a WPMu database.

Please ask me questions about anything that is unclear, for I’d hate to see you waste the same amount of time I did )

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This entry was posted in , archive, Hacking a Virtual Learning Space, instructional technology, plugins, search, tagging, tags, UMW Blogs, wordpress multi-user, wordpress mutli-user, wpmu. Bookmark the permalink.

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