November 23

It’s just a click to the left, then a swipe to the right

Put your thoughts on the disk, then post next night … But it’s the future posts … that really drive me insane … let’s fix the WordPress again!

If anything takes longer than 90 seconds, automate it. While that’s an exaggeration for the rest of the world, I try to adhere to it as best I can. It comes from years of writing technical documentation and automating as much as possible. I want to focus on content, not fiddling with fonts or meddling with layouts.

I want to do this with WordPress, too. Automate the crap out of things, including future links. But I can’t. Despite its size, it’s not really built for people who know what they’re doing … but my research shows no one else knows how to future link, either. And maybe it’s another job for EdgeCase Industries. But … maybe not.

The future may be written, but it doesn’t exist.

Let’s talk about what I mean by “future link”. I write in fits and spurts. Thanks to scheduling, I can write lots of posts in a night and have three weeks worth of posts done and posting without me. Except when it comes to linking my posts together.

If I use the visual editor (I’ve gotten lazy in my dotage), I can click and call up any number of published posts for linking. Future, scheduled, off-to-press-someday-soon posts? Not so much. They don’t exist.

Maybe it’s my schema (sitename/year/month/title). Maybe it’s too much overhead for baseline code.

But back when I blogged by “hand”, writing entries in raw HTML and coding links, back links, and “menus” using iframes and code snarfed from other pioneers, I had this same problem. But back then, a chron job didn’t post my posts, so I did have to code things by hand. WordPress didn’t exist yet, and LiveJournal and Blogger barely existed.

I kept track of posts that would be linked using a paper list. Purple ink, steno notebooks, careful diagrams. Now I can use Trello, but why?

Maybe adding it to baseline WordPress code is hard.

Not because it’s hard, but because users would find it overly complicated. They might fall into the infinite customization trap.

Maybe a “yeah, I know what I’m writing and doing” plug in. I’ve spent a good chunk of the last few years both professionally and “hobbily” (if you don’t get paid, it’s a hobby, no matter how many hours you put in) dealing with the internet and customers “live”.

And I’m frankly astonished with the idea that you can’t future link.

Maybe we can make a “future post” plug in.

(Imagine I said “future post” the way Doc Brown called Marty “future boy” before he believed the time travel story).

You’d have to write something smart, like giving every entry a key that isn’t visible. Then, when a post goes live, the key is matched to the original entry it references. If that future post in the past hasn’t posted, don’t make a link*. If that future post that is now in the past has posted, link it!

This allows people who know what we are doing to set up a year’s worth of future posts, linking into the future. Without a lot of overhead on our servers. Or making Trello boards for our Trello boards so we can keep track of our Trello boards and future links.

*don’t make a link.

Writing isn’t easy. Planning isn’t easy. I’m not too shabby at either of them, but that’s part knack, but more neat parents and cool teachers out in the real world helping me hone those knacks into solid skills.

So there’d have to be a warning for users … be careful what you write. If you’re going to cite something, be sure you are going to publish it before you cite it. To be on the safe side, use generic words that work whether there is a working link or not.

Lowering the overhead.

One other component would also let you determine if links are still live. Test these “smart links” every time a user loads a page. If a link is dead, it’s dead. Then report it so us frail human editors can fix it. You also don’t have to do it every time. You can do it every 100th time it’s loaded, or based on how many times it’s loaded in a period. I’d better stop now before I have to gnaw off my leg to get out of this infinite customization loop.

Thoughts, anyone?

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Posted November 23, 2019 by Lorena in category "Data Architecture", "site stuff", "User eXperience", "Wordpress