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Topic Archive: Web Development
All new version of The Retropolis Transit Authority features a custom storefront & lower prices

Filed under Web Development, Works in Progress

Retropolis Transit Authority, Spreadshirt version

We’re all about experimentation, here in the Secret Laboratory, and as always you’re invited into the Vivisectorium for a personal tour.

This week’s experiment is an all new incarnation of The Retropolis Transit Authority with T-Shirts now printed by Spreadshirt. I gave this a go once I’d rebuilt the Pulp-O-Mizer’s T-Shirt system; building a new storefront was actually less work even though (for the first time) I wrote the complete store management system myself. Don’t get me started on pagination!

We should consider this a shakedown cruise. But, happily, the shirts are now less expensive. And that’s always nice, even during a shakedown.

Please consider helping me to continue my creative work and deal with the financial aftermath of cancer
Once again, you can get T-Shirts from the Pulp-O-Mizer

Filed under Web Development, Works in Progress

Return of the Pulp-O-Mizer T-Shirts

After two solid weeks of hair-raising adventure, the Pulp-O-Mizer is once again cranking out T-Shirts till the cows come home, or at least until you uncover a bug that eluded me. The Tale of Those Two Weeks may never be told: it’s strong stuff, and it features a lot of language that you’d pretend not to know; it came close to breaking my spirit. But it seems to be done.

Pulp-O-Mized T-Shirts are now printed and shipped by Spreadshirt. I ran off a test shirt to check their quality, and Spreadshirt does a nice job with them. In addition, the new shirts cost less, which you care about, and I make slightly more from them, which, you know, I care about, and all of this happens with web-like speed and, incidentally, in run-on sentences that will almost certainly make you the T-Shirt wearing envy of all your friends and neighbors.

I know what you’re thinking, but these really were a tough couple of weeks. If I’m getting out of this with nothing worse than run-on-sentences I’m going to call it a win.

So take my advice: go forth and Pulp-O-Mize yourself a handsome garment that will at once conceal your torso and call attention to it. That’s a one-two punch that surpasses anything since the Uncertainty Principle and That Thing That Happened Right After the Uncertainty Principle. (Added bonus: these T-Shirts can be measured!)

As always, problems can be reported here. Please don’t find any.

Nifty little memo books from the Pulp-O-Mizer

Filed under Web Development, Works in Progress

New Memo notebooks fo rthe Pulp-O-Mizer

It’s been awhile since I made changes to the Pulp-O-Mized products you can make with my Pulp-O-Mizer; in fact, there was a sort of debacle concerning a broken API for the T-shirts, but I’m not talking about that because the wounds are still fresh.

So apart from What I Am Not Speaking Of, these nifty new memo notebooks are the latest thing. They’re made of acid free recycled paper and at 3 1/2" by 5 1/2" they’ll go just about anyplace. I like these because they feel. . . informal. You don’t agonize about whether your sketches or notes are worthy. You just scribble ’em in there.

You can choose blank, lined, dotted, or checklist pages. I’ve made you a nice little title plate on the inside of the front cover, and there’s a colorful surprise on the inner back cover. And all for the low, low, ultra-customized and Pulp-O-Mized price of $10.95.

You can still get the old spiral bound notebooks through a text link below the products section. So whatever your notemaking preference is, go forth and Pulp-O-Mize!

The Book Shop Manager Plugin for WordPress: Attack of the Creeping Feature

Filed under Web Development, Works in Progress

Bookshop Manager Plugin for WordPress - Single Book Display

Back in my years in game development ("the lost years") there were so many features added to games while they were in production that I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times it happened. It’s so prevalent that we even had a name for it: "feature creep". Creepy features most often came from the game’s publisher, or from the enthusiastic producer appointed by the publisher; but, really, creepy features sometimes creep out from inside the team. Usually from some member of the team who doesn’t have to make those creepy features happen. The words easy or simple often appear at about the same time.

Now and then, though, creeping features creep out from within. And that’s what happened to me today.

Around midday I had checked off my list all but three of my WordPress plugin’s essential features. It was a great feeling. Once those three were done, the plugin would be ready for people other than me to use: actual real world testing! I’d already started to look for self-published authors with WordPress blogs who might like to test the plugin and build their own bookshops inside their web sites. Like I said: great feeling.

Except for feature creep.

Bookshop Manager Plugin for WordPress - Book Category Display

Because at about that same time I realized that I’d left something out. It wasn’t part of the original plan – it’s not like I decided not to do it. I just hadn’t considered it from the beginning. And it was something that people would probably want. Something that they might really want.

I went out to mow the lawn, and I just couldn’t get my creepy feature off my mind. This probably didn’t do much for my lawn mowing prowess which – between you, me and the neighbors – is probably not my strong suit, anyway.

And really, taking the long view, my creepy feature won’t be very difficult – it’s similar to something I built for the Archonate Bookstore. It’s just that it puts me two or three days (I hope!) farther away from beta testing. But of course the plugin will be much better for it. And stuff.

Still… not a great feeling. Feature creep: I thought it was all behind me.

And that’s a sort of creepy thought in itself.

Return of the Son of the Bride of the CreateSpace Shop Manager Plugin for WordPress

Filed under Web Development, Works in Progress

CreateSpace Shop Manager plugin for WordPress- theme preview
CreateSpace Shop Manager plugin for WordPress- theme preview
CreateSpace Shop Manager plugin for WordPress- theme preview

Although I did set aside my CreateSpace Shop Manager plugin for WordPress for a week or so, I’m back at it now and I just can’t describe the savagery and carnage that are taking place in my editor.

It’s incredible.

I finished laying out the admin page for the plugin, and I patched a few leaky bits, and I stopped a few small explosions from happening; then I went back to the core task of reading the data from a CreateSpace eStore page, throwing away a lot of HTML that no (nominally) sane person would want, and flowing it into a WordPress page.

But after I’d gotten pretty deep into my new method for that I really had to go back to the beginning and think it through. I’d started out trying to build the category hierarchy from scratch as though it were all a separate program; and that, you see, was foolish of me.

Because the average WordPress user just wants to plug something in and have it behave like all the other content in the blog. Which is not unreasonable.

The upshot is that I threw out a whole lot of my earlier work and started over, using the same methods but in a new, WordPressy way that I think will be simpler and better. (It’s easy to design something complicated, after all: it’s quite difficult to design something simple.)

A lot of that work is done, but heads will continue to roll while I strip out a lot of admin settings that make no sense any more.

The whole thing has transformed from a system of custom pages into a normal set of WordPress posts, contained in normal WordPress categories, and it all makes a lot more sense now, I think.

But the cool and nifty thing is that I’ve also resolved a lot of issues with theme compatibility. At the left you can see the same bookshop page displayed in three different WordPress themes. Each page shows the same category listing with a short version of the books’ descriptions: the whole post, when you click through to it, is a complete listing for the book.

That’s the result of a bunch of stuff I did today, before and during and after the carnage I mentioned earlier. I’m pretty excited now about how it’s shaping up.

One thing I’d like to include in the demo site is a way for users to switch from one theme to another, like I’ve been doing, but the plugins that claim to do that for users are all twitchy, cranky, or downright broken in recent versions of WordPress. So it may not be possible to show off the plugin’s flexibility except in screenshots like these.

And the demo site will be a project in itself, of course. But sometime in the next few days I hope to have a testable version of the plugin and I’ll try to recruit some testers for it. With forums! And handwaving! And stuff!

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