Thanks to the holiday break, there’s a new version of Tagline Rotator available in time for the new year. You can read about it on the WordPress site here. The major improvement is that it now uses WordPress database prefixing. If you’re not familiar with this, it won’t affect your use of the plugin (you should still upgrade though). If you run a WPMU (multi-user) blog, or if you have several blogs sharing a single database, however, this is great news. It means you can run as many separate instances of Tagline Rotator as you want on the same database, and they will each use the prefix assigned to that blog. Please let me know if you run into any problems with this new version, and please use the automated upgrade feature of WordPress (or at least de-activate and re-activate the plugin when you upgrade). This will allow the plugin to rename its table using the WP prefix. Otherwise, you will get a mySQL error if your WP database prefix is not wp_ as the new version will be trying to access the taglines from the renamed database before it has been renamed. De-activating and re-activating the plugin fixes this error if you do get it.
The WordPress development team announced the release of the new Widgets feature today. The idea behind these Widgets is apparently that they allow you to edit your blog’s formatting and design (in this case the sidebar) through a GUI, eliminating the need for coding knowledge. Although I’m a bit afraid that, like the WYSIWYG editor which made its way into WordPress 2.0, the new Widgets might prove more cumbersome than helpful, I also think it’s important to look at the big picture of blogging as it exists today. There are hundreds of thousands of people out there with excellent blog content and the crappiest looking template imaginable, because they lack the knowledge to edit the source code directly. This tool will help them incorporate the little additions and gadgets that make the blogging experience enjoyable for the reader, without forcing them to spend countless hours debugging changes on multiple browsers and multiple OS’s. Additionally, since WordPress claims that writing Widgets should be as easy as writing plugins, the open source world should soon be contributing a plethora of them to match the output of plugins that we currently see. I know that it’s popular to hate things like this within the IT community, where obscure wisdom is prized as a status symbol, and the general attitude is ‘if you can’t do it the hard way, you’re not worthy of doing it at all,’ but if Widgets can help expand the two-way communication that thrives on blogs, more power to ’em.