Testing out a new Comment Toolbar thingy.

Pic of the WordPress logo.After ***Dave asked me which plugin I was using for the HTML toolbar above the comments (it was Comment Form Quicktags) I was reminded that the WP Admin side of that plugin has never worked for me. So I checked to see if there was a newer version and it’s not been updated in a very long time.

Which brings up a sore point I have with WordPress in general: For as wildly popular as it is it seems there are an amazing number of plugins that are updated a handful of times and then abandoned forever. Having a little toolbar above the text area to make it easy for folks to add emphasis to their comments seems like one of those things that every blogging package shouldn’t be without. The folks behind ExpressionEngine considered it important enough that they put out their own plugin for their platform and made sure it was updated as necessary for each new release. There are alternatives available from other folks if you want them, but the basic functionality was made available by the folks putting out the software so you didn’t have to worry if it was going to work with the latest release.

The folks at WordPress don’t have an official plugin for this purpose so you’re left to search their plugin database to find one. This can be a lesson in futility as the search function built into WordPress is stunningly limited in what it searches compared to every other blogging package I’ve used. I tried half a dozen different search terms and got entirely different results each time most of which haven’t been updated in over a year and were several releases behind the current version of WordPress. I eventually gave up and resorted to doing a Google Search instead. Once you find a plugin that might fit the bill you have to see if it’ll work with your version of WordPress and whatever Theme you’re using on your site. SEB hasn’t had a Comment Preview function for a long time simply because none of the preview plugins I found worked with any of the themes I’ve used. Again, that’s a feature you’d expect would be part of the core package but it’s not.

Let me be clear that I understand a lot of these plugins are being written and maintained for free by people who probably have better things to do with their time which gives a certain advantage to platforms, like ExpressionEngine, where folks often charge for their plugins in exchange for them being continually updated. After all you get what you pay for, but that said both of the functions I mentioned should have been part of the core package eons ago in WP’s development along with things such as Subscribing to Comments. Given the large number of developers doing WP plugins you’d think there’d be at least one example of each of these that’s continually updated, but if there is I’ve been unable to find it.

All of which is a long-winded rant to say that I have managed to stumble across a plugin that handles both the comment toolbar and a comment preview function in one package that has actually been updated within the last year (back in May). It’s called jQuery Comment Preview and I’ve installed it on SEB where it appears to work just fine both on the front end and in the admin section. So test it out and let me know what you think or if it gives you any problems. With any luck this one will continue to be updated and once I’m back on my feet job-wise I’ll send off a donation to try and ensure it continues to be updated.

11 thoughts on “Testing out a new Comment Toolbar thingy.

  1. So I checked to see if there was a newer version and it’s not been updated in a very long time.

    Comment Form Quicktags was last updated 13 August.

    Unfortunately, the jQuery Comment Preview isn’t working for me, either. In fact, it’s working less well (random, non-functional cruft on the screen) than CFQ does (comment form text shrinks).

  2. Btw, I agree with the criticism. I believe that the WP folks want to keep the QoL functionality bundled with a package to a minimum, depending on the marketplace of ideas in the plugin/theme community to take care of that, and not make assumptions as to what items are essential.

    (I’ll note that MT, at r4 at least, did have comment previews, but did not have comment quicktags. One man’s core, critical functionality is another man’s bloatware.)

    Unfortunately, as you note, that leads to a lot of orphaned plugins, which can be frustrating at times.

  3. ***Dave, I think that Last Updated date is the last time the plugin’s page at WordPress was updated, not the last time the plugin itself was updated. Checking the Read Me it does say it was tested up through 3.0.1, but only that it requires 2.6.

    I still maintain that Comment Preview should be core. Quicktags I can see a debate on, though it seems like anything that makes a commenter’s life easier like that should be given heavy consideration for core.

    I just tried installing Comment Form Quicktags into my mother’s blog and it does the same thing there it’s doing here on the admin side. Plus her template won’t display it at all in the comments without being modified by hand.

  4. Well, it was updated enough to confirm WP 3.0.1 compatibility, if not necessarily for any additional functionality. I don’t think the WP folks themselves do that kind of testing or certification, but leave it to the plugin authors (hence various plugins not certified to that level, even though they appear to run fine).

    We’ll have to disagree on the core value of preview. Even on blogs that have it, I very rarely use it myself. A site like yours with a very large commenting community would probably find it the most useful. Not that I don’t think it has value; it’s just not clear to me that it’s not universally highly valuable. (Honestly, I’d consider comment editing a more important feature, and it’s not core, either.)

    As you noted elsewhere, that templates can make such a difference in how or which plugins work is a key flaw in the very flexible (or loosey-goosey) implementation framework that WP has.

  5. Any day now Les feel free to cater your site to Moloch’s approval. Because I’m sure that is why you blog and spend time on this site to begin with. :mrgreen:

  6. Approval? Its a functionality issue. The text in the edit box, for example, bounces by itself up and down from the top line to the bottom, (as you drag the boutton down to try to get to the part you need to edit) rendering it physically impossible to edit any passage more then a few lines long. Dont know what that means, but it has always been this way for me since Les changed the software some months back.
    Thats not a criticism, its an observation

  7. As a side note, it appears the problems I was having with the jQuery plugin (Webs also, it appears) stems from it only supporting WP installs where WP is installed in the blog root (which I tend not to do). This will be fixed next release, we’re told.

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