I work with a group of people in the development and production of a podcast called The PC/Mac Smackdown. The show is going through significant changes in the near future and we decided it would be great to have some type of collaborative site for us to share ideas, files, schedules, etc.
Rather than use commercial services like Google Docs, Google Groups or Multiply we thought it would be much more functional to build our own site and customize it to our preferences. I volunteered to get that site up and running and I was actually able to have something online overnight that met our needs. It really proved just how flexible WordPress is and how talented the plug-in developer community is to be able to provide such a wide range of functionality with plug-ins.
After getting our domain registered I got the latest version of WordPress (2.8.3) uploaded and installed. If you have ever set up a brand new WordPress site then you know how easy and quick the 5 minute install is.
After spending some time tweaking all the everyday settings for the blog I started off with a search for a theme that would support the mix of PC and Mac people that were involved. The one I finally settled on is iBlog2 by Andrew Powers. I picked it because the layout is very clean and it is compatible with popular browsers on both the Windows and Mac operating systems.
The next thing I went in search for was a calendar/event plug-in that we could use to keep track of upcoming shows, meeting coordination, travel schedules and other events for the show. I must have tried 3 or 4 plug-ins before I finally settled on the Event Calendar 3 by Alex Tingle (91,000 downloads). This plug-in also utilizes the Event Calendar Widget by Darrell Schulte which provides the sidebar calendar widget that interfaces with the Event Calendar 3 plug-in. This plug-in creates an additional editing box at the very bottom of the Post Page that lets you select a start and end date/time for an event.
Here is what that Event Editor box looks like:
Then you put the subject line as the event name and type any further details in the post. What you get then is a positing that looks like this:
And that in turn shows up on the sidebar calendar widget as a highlighted day in red and if you hover over the date you will see the event in a small pop-up box:
The next thing we wanted to be able to do was share files on the site and I immediately went for a plug-in I am already familiar with and grabbed the WordPress Download Monitor plug-in by Mike Jolley which I use on my WindowsObserver.com website to host a selection of Windows 7 Themes. It is another very simple to use plug-in that has great functionality, flexibility as well as stats tracking for all downloadable files. It has been downloaded 95,000 times so it is also in wide use and obviously popular.
That wrapped up the bulk of the functionality we needed within the site – the next thing was to lock it down for our own private use. After trying a few plug-ins I found many were either dated in their development or not able to meet our needs. It was then that I happened upon the Absolute Privacy plug-in by John Kolbert. This is a fairly new plug-in that has only been available since Feb 2009 and with just over 3,300 downloads to its name.
However, don’t let that low number lull you into thinking it is not well made and good at its intended use.
This plug-in has one main option – to either enable or disable the plug-in:
It gives you a new user category – Unapproved User – and this is assigned to anyone who signs up for an account so an Admin can approve or disapprove someone’s access to the site. Once they are approved you can assign them to whatever level of access they need. At that point their access to the site functions like it would on any other WordPress site except they must be signed in to see/access the entries, admin panel, etc.
Using this plug-in your site is locked down quite well and even the RSS feeds are inaccessible unless your logged in.
So there you have it – with an idea, a handful of plug-ins and some time you can also build your own personal and private collaboration site with WordPress.
So for discussion – what is the most unique, non-traditional site you have ever built with WordPress?