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WordPress Plugin: Timecapsule

Posted By 1st of June 2006 General, Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

This post was contributed by Aaron Brazell, a regular ProBlogger contributor.

Update: A new version of the plugin has been uploaded.

I accidentally published this early and had to pull it back because it wasn’t ready-for-live yet. RSS subscribers, you got a sneak peek early but I wasn’t ready. Now we’re ready. :-)

Last week I passed my two year birthday as a blogger. Much fun and joyfulness were had by at least three readers. Such milestones tend to make me think about where I’ve come as a blogger and where I’m going. Though I have not always produced wonderfully excellent content, it’s really beneficial to highlight where I’ve been… especially as the really early stuff begins to fade away.

Finding a way to highlight older content adds a new dimension to your blog. Typically, a blog is single dimensional – that is, it is read from top down and unless some creative means are put in place to connect other aspects of your blog, readers may never experience them. Since I hate content to disappear into archive purgatory, I put a feature on my blog a few months ago called “The Timecapsule”.

I don’t know how it is in other parts of the world, but in the United States, folks looking to preserve historical moments and memories, will encase a “time capsule” in the cornerstone of a building when the ground is first broke for building. It’s the symbolic memorializing of “that which once was” which preserves memories for future generations.

As with memories buried inside a building cornerstone, a timecapsule on a blog can reveal to readers “that which once was” and can serve as a wonderful reminder of where you have come as a blogger.

I’ve taken the feature from Technosailor and wrapped it into a single WordPress plugin simply called Timecapsule – of course, notoriously, the first ProBlogger plugin release. :) This plugin was built on WordPress 2.x, but I don’t see any reason why it would not work on earlier versions of WordPress. I just haven’t tested it.

Instructions are really simple:

  1. Download (link fixed) and extract the plugin.
  2. Upload timecapsule.php to your plugins folder.
  3. Login to wp-admin and activate.
  4. Configuration can be made in the Time Capsule submenu under the Manage tab.
  5. Drop <?php timecapsule(); ?> where you want to display the timecapsule.

Changelog
2006-06-01
– Initial Release (1.0.1)
2006-06-01
– Bugfix release (1.0.2)
– Fixed Bug with Number of posts displaying incorrectly
– Added ability to customize ‘no posts’ message
– Added ability to turn off ‘no posts’ message

  • Thats great Aaron, I thought that Problogger.net was published only by Darren.

    Your Plugin Sounds Great, But Not tried it yet.

    Let me try it now.

  • I have been running my blog since 2002, and I just tried this plug in. This is a great idea!

    I’m sure the older stuff on my blog never gets looked at… So this is a good way to automagically stir things up.

    It would be great if rather than just one year back, to the day… or 6 months back, to the day… you could set it to say, show all the posts during the entire week, a year back.

    I do not post daily, so this type of modification would reduce the number of times I get no results back from the timecapsule.

    Creative stuff!

    – Harvey

  • This doesn’t tell me what exactly the time capsule will display on my blog. Does it randomly grab old posts and display them in a list? Does it grab the same day’s posts from years ago? Do you tell it what old posts to display? Is the display configurable? You haven’t told me enough about it for me to even know what it does or convinced me it’s something I might want. I’ll need more info before I try it out.

    Brian

  • Brian, you can see it in action on the posters website on the bottom right.
    http://www.technosailor.com/happy-birthday-technosailor-2-years-on-part-ii/

    It takes the current date, looks back 1 yr, or 6 months, or 30days , or however you have set it up, and displays a link to the posts from that time.

  • The plugin gets all posts on the given day up to the max amount you set in admin. Based on suggestions here, I might release another version at some time but I figured this would be a good way to help people, at least initially, get some visibility on old posts. :) Thanks for the feedback so far.

  • Yeah now I need a WP blog with enough content to warrant it … sigh. If there were only a Blogware widget …

  • Tris: Bookmarks > Bookmark This Page ;-)

  • Sounds like a great plugin. Like Harvey said, it’d be great if it could show more than just one day’s worth of posts. I usually only post 2-3 posts a day but would want the plugin to show 5 posts.

    I have little sections at the top of my blog, similar to Darren’s, that hold 5 posts for different categories. I’d love to have one of them be this time capsule, but it’d be a bit of a waste if it only showed 2 or 3 links there (maybe even 0 or 1 for weekends).

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  • I’ve been thinking about how to highlight old content, too. The only way I could think of was to implement recent, related, and random post titles lists. It’s hard to judge how this has affected my traffic, though, considering I get so little. (feature can be viewed on any single post page)

  • What I do is have 2 sections at the top, one for recent posts (last 5 posts), and one for featured posts (5 that I pick that seem to be popular, I change these probably once every 2 weeks). I’d like to have a 3rd section that would be this time capsule feature, but, like I said above, I’d want it to have 5 posts to match the other 2 sections.

    I also use the related posts plugin on the individual post pages and I use the paging feature (I believe the same one that Darren uses), as well as categories and monthly archives. Hopefully I’m not doing overkill when it comes to internal links, but my fear with blogs is that my posts will be lost forever once they are off the first page (10 latest posts).

  • Thanks for all the ideas, is this the related posts plugin for wordpress that you guys have been mentioning?

    http://www.w-a-s-a-b-i.com/archives/2006/02/02/wordpress-related-entries-20/

    I’ll give this a shot as well!

  • I’m not sure I’m going to set that as an option – to be able to say, this is always going to be 5 posts so this can fit in here. I see a value in that but it goes against the spirit of the plugin and that is to highlight posts from a certain day. Something you have to think of as well is that maybe you don’t want this plugin at the mast of a page because you don’t know from day to day which entries get highlighted: Do you want birthday wished to your great aunt Ruth at the mast of your page?

    In other words, I see value in what you’re asking for but I think there are better options to accomplish it than this plugin. :)

  • I understand your concern over the “essence” of the plugin. I realize that by making it show more than just the specific day, that it really isn’t a true time capsule for a single day.

    However, I don’t understand your point about it being at the mast of a page and that having it for all posts might be bad since you wouldn’t know what kind of posts may show. If you only want to use it for specific posts for specific days, then there really is no reason for the plugin since you can just go grab those links for that one day (being that it isn’t a dynamically changing entity at that point).

    I personally see the main value here being that the time capsule would either be included on every post and/or on the main page to show a dynamically changing snapshot. Now, as I can see the “essence” being broken by doing more than just a day, it does limit the usefullness for those (like myself) that would want it to display a certain number of posts. Most post related plugins allow you to set the # of posts, and while I agree this plugin has a reason to not do this, I believe the benefits outweigh the muddying of the term “time capsule”.

    With all that being said, I don’t want to come off sounding whiney and ungrateful. I do think the idea is VERY cool and will still be of great use to many. With it being so cool, I think it’d be a perfect fit for parts of my blogs if it had that # of posts option. I may still be able to work it in by placing it on the sidebar, but it’d just be so great if it could be at the top of my site :)

  • Squirrel: Actually, the mast part was more in response to another reader and critic of the plugin. They wanted to be able to do as Darren did and have a popular post section. I agree with you in that the best way to do this is just manually drop them in.

    Anyways, you CAN set number of posts to display. This is a max amount because sometimes there aren’t, say, 5 posts to pull from on a certain day. I might add an option for more, but we’ll see.

  • Good work Aaron!

  • Thanks Darren. :)

  • Aaron .. perfect timing! PetLvr Blog is 1-year old today May 31st.. I will activate this plugin, set it up (have to write something to celebrate) and then will give trackback here to let you see how I got it to work!

  • Congrats on a full year of blogging, Hart. :) Can’t wait to see the plugin in action.

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  • Thanks Aaron! I have included the plugin at PetLvr.com – [The Blog] now ..

    I touched on this on an email to you ..but, for archival purposes I’ll paraphrase it here. I have listed the code in two areas, one in my sidebar (1-year ago today) and in my index.php file, just after the entire day’s postings. I’m hoping the latter will be 1-year’s posts of the current day and not everywhere just 1-year ago today.

    For instance .. On June 15, 2006 – I hope to see June 15, 2005 in the sidebar and under the June 15, 2006 posts .. and etc etc under the June 10,2006 posts will be the June 10, 2005 posts (not the june 15, 2005 posts)

    Also .. just thought of something else .. in the options, where you can place a message if there are no files 1-Year ago .. can this be updated to a linkable file? I set mine to say http://PetLvr.com/blog/refer/ as an alternative URL to link, but the option kind of implies it is only a text description.

  • Ok now I understand. Your email left me scratching my head. I don’t think placing this in the loop will work. Not the way it is now because it is set to dynamically update by date. I’ll think about how I can make that happen for a future release though.

    And I’m probably not going to go the direction of a linkable file. It just doesn’t make sense semantically, though I’m open to you arguing the other way.

  • Hey, for those above that want to have a list of five (or any number) of posts up in the mast, but based on some sort of popularity – your best bet would be to use the Top 10 plugin, which keeps track of the page views a post recieves and then puts the top ten (you could customize it pretty easily to just show five) in a list.

    It’s not set from a specific time, but it does highlight some older entries that are popular. A “Five Random Posts” plugin would be useful. Anyone know of one? I’m in the process of wrapping my head around PHP scripting… I’ll see what I can come up with.

    Cheers Aaron and Darren… this plugin is a great little addon.

  • Great plugin, I was wondering though if there was a way perhaps showing a tiny excerpt or a line or two from the post itself. You know how basically right now all you see is the post’s title, link and who wrote it.. well I was wondering if instead of having who wrote the post, you could have 2 lines showing the post itself.

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  • Aaron – you mentioned this plugin at Wordcamp – just what I needed.

  • Sweet. Glad you can benefit. :)

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  • I just came across this plus-in when looking at plug-ins that would be functional with the latest update to WordPress. Figured I’d give this one a try since I have over 3 years of entries, and it works great! Thanks!

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