Organize Series 2.0 Roadmap

I just thought I’d write a little update about some of the things I’m working on for the next version of my Organize Series WordPress Plugin. As I’ve noted in my earlier post, the existing version of Organize Series will not work with WordPress 2.3 because of the way I had written the plugin to integrate with the category system of WordPress. The good thing is that if you upgrade your blog to WordPress 2.3 you can deactivate Organize Series and your existing series structure will stay intact because it’s based on WordPress categories. This means you can still blog using the series structure you’ve been accustomed to with one caveat of course – the “organize” part of Organize Series won’t be available…yet. The bad news is that although I am wanting to get Organize Series upgraded as soon as possible (because I use it myself and want the spiffyness of WordPress 2.3!) I am not able to work on the plugin full-time so – it will still be a while yet before the update is done.

That’s one of the reason’s for this post – I know that whenever I’m waiting for someone else to do an update/upgrade to a plugin or software I appreciate any tidbits of information the developer(s) release about the upcoming release in the interim as it helps me to understand what’s coming and if I want to wait for it.

I decided that the new changes in the WordPress 2.3 core afforded me the opportunity to do a pretty major rewrite of Organize Series – implementing things that I’ve been wanting to do for a while and so you’ll see some of those things in this list. Unfortunately, since this is turning into a rewrite rather than just an “update” it adds to the time before release. In the end though – it’ll be worth it. So without further ado, here’s some of the things I’ve added to the roadmap (Important Disclaimer: the following list is what I hope to introduce in Organize Series 2.0 and am working towards doing so. However I cannot guarantee that the final version will turn out that way…)

1. Integration with the new taxonomy schema in WordPress

Why is this important? Because integrating with the structure WordPress now provides for new taxonomies means that Organize Series can take advantage of the “built-in” goodness of the database tuning and coding that WordPress has. In theory it will save me some coding and limit the additional amount of queries made to the db. We’ll see how it actually turns out in practice. And by the way – the chaps behind WordPress have done something wonderful by adding the new system. It is now possible to create your own taxonomy – currently categories and tags are “built-in” to WordPress but through Organize Series I’ll be adding the “series” taxonomy.

Another important thing is that I’m being more careful to write the plugin so it uses many of the built in database access abstraction functions/class in WordPress so that it is better “future-proofed” against new WordPress versions. Translation: Organize Series 2.0 will less likely break with WordPress 2.4, 2.5, 2.6….etc.

2. Integration of “series” icons into the plugin.

Users of Organize Series will be familiar with the capability of having images, “icons” or logos accompany a series they write by virtue of another plugin not written by me, the Category Icons Plugin. In the upcoming version I’m going to create an integrated solution for series images eliminating the need for an extra plugin.

3. A “manage” series page in the WordPress Administration.

Will function much like the manage categories page – except it will be series of course πŸ˜‰ I still haven’t decided what I will include information wise on this page yet…I’m open to suggestions in the comments…

4. Cleanup of Organize Series Options and implementing of a “token” system for customization.

The current options page is in my opinion messy and clunky. It does the job but is a bit confusing (of course that’s my opinion). I want to keep the ability to customize via the Organize Series options (and even add more customization tweaks) but make it easier to do what you want.

Enter in “tokens”. Some of you will already be familiar with this type of customization in other plugins. Basically you will be able to tweak the ouput of various Organize Series functions by writing something like, “This post is part %series-part% of %total-series-part% in the series, %series-permalink-name%” in the custom options field and the plugin will replace the tokens (words between the ‘%’) with the corresponding variable.

5. Write/Edit posts goodness…

Okay, you’re writing a post and in the midst of writing it you’ve realized that it would be a really good start to a series. Hey look, there’s a box where you can enter in the name of your new series right on the same page! And look, when you type in the new series name it adds it to the list of existing series. But let’s say you decide, “Nah, it’ll fit better with that other series I’ve started.” So you check the box for that series and whoah, now you can see the list of other posts in the series and the image associated with it as well. Want to change the image? Go for it…

Get the picture? I basically want to make it way, way easier to manipulate and organize (hmm…makes sense doesn’t it?) any series that you write, right in the midst of any new writing or editing you are doing.

Another thing I want to be able to do is give you the option to reorganize the order of the posts in the series. It will still automatically sort by the date the posts are written but you will be able to override that if you want by entering the order manually.

6. Import from earlier versions…

This is something that is high on the priority list for me as I personally don’t want to go through all the posts I’ve made a part of a series and manually add them to a new series when I upgrade to Organize Series 2.0. So…I’m planning on adding in importers that will auto-magically take all the posts you’ve written and convert the existing series structure you have into the new one used by OrgSeries 2.0 – will definitely save some work πŸ™‚

7. Some things stay the same, some things change…

Many of the template-tags that are currently in Organize Series will stay the same (along with the default “styles”) but I will also be introducing some new tags and modifying some of the existing ones. Among the changes will be:

  • A “next in series/previous in series” tags. This is one of the most requested additions that I’ve also had a desire to implement. It will basically enable you and your readers to browse to the next (or previous) post in a series by just clicking the appropriate link.
  • An “in_series” tag. This will allow power-users to customize the style of certain posts/series archives pages look. For example, maybe you want a series on oranges to have an orange background and a series on apples to have a bunch of apples for the bullet-points…
  • A “list_all_series” tag. Want to have a handy dandy linked list of the series in your blog in your sidebar or somewhere else? You can use this tag and it will bring up the list.

Other changes I’m planning on implementing: a default “series.php” template for themes (currently category-xx.php); A built in .css style tag for the post-list-box so the current post you are reading in the series will be highlighted (and can be styled how you want); and much more…

Hopefully this gives you a taste of what’s in the pipes for Organize Series 2.0. If you have any suggestions or “gotta haves” that you want me to consider including leave a comment!

Oh, one more thing. If you really, really want to upgrade to WordPress 2.3 and simply cannot wait for me to get this new version done here’s some options:

  1. Deactivate Organize Series 1.6.3 (or older) and still use the existing series category structure you’ve been using for the time being until Organize Series 2.0 is released which will include an importer for updating.
  2. Try out Travis’s (aka Quandary) plugin called “In-Series” for managing series. Sure he’s competition but it doesn’t bother me if others find it more useful to them! (this will save you from having to put a plug for your plugin in the comments Travis… πŸ˜‰ ) It appears that Travis is also a bit more of a seasoned coder than me and has devoted quite a bit of time to his plugin. If you have mission-critical uses for posts that are part of a series then you might find Travis’ plugin more helpful.
  3. Do both of the above.
  1. Hi Ken,
    Rough (and I mean sandpaper rough) estimate is by the beginning of November. Of course I’m hoping sooner than that but realistically speaking I don’t anticipate my first pass of the code to work the first time. Currently I’ve got all the basic structure complete for the database queries etc. and I’ve started working on the Administration functions (write/edit post screen related, manage series page, new options page etc.). This phase of the rewrite will probably take me at least this week and most of next week (with the free time that I have). Then the remaining two weeks of October will be taken up with testing and bug-fixing.

    That’s about as good of a guesstimate as I can get πŸ˜‰

  2. Darn, I guess that means I have to plug something else. πŸ˜‰

    Just wanted to touch on the token-based configuration — I put up an article about expanding tokens in HTML back when I implemented this. You just might be able to re-use the code (The section “Token replacement logic”). Hopefully it’ll save you some grief.

    Sounds like you’re going to be growing a lot of features I’ve got, so I’m going to have to keep on my toes! (You should probably go for widget support too :)).

  3. Thanks much, Ken, for your work on this!

    I’ll second the request for a time-estimate (no pressure, just eagerness ;)), and for widgetization (oooh….Widgets…).

  4. Hi Bendy,
    I’ve been working away at it but I’ve hesitated to post anything else about it because of my poor time predictions to date. It’s taken me a lot longer to get this update finished than I thought (largely because I simply cannot work on it as much as I’d like). It is about 4/5 done though – a lot of the new features have been implemented but not tested and I have a LOT of code cleanup to do.

    I empathize with you though…I’m really looking forward to getting it out the door myself – I’ve been wanting to get my blogs up to date for a while now and have been holding off until I get OrgSeries updated.

    Another thing. The more I’ve worked with the new taxonomy schema in WordPress, the more I like it – OrgSeries will work beautifully in it πŸ™‚

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