Free General Purpose Mail Merge

From time to time, I’ve needed to create a template file and populate it from a spreadsheet.  In Microsoft Word, this is pretty simple, using a feature called Mail Merge. However, sometimes I’m not working with a Word document. So, I created a script that provides that same functionality for any plaintext or zip encoded file.

If you go to http://gschoppe.com/projects/universal-merge/ and upload a template file and CSV, it will replace any tags found in the template, of the form [[heading]], with the data from a matching column from the CSV, based on the column heading.

ADVERTISEMENT:

Improving WordPress Part 3 – SoC & The Editor (A suggestion to Core)

If you already know all about the WordPress editor, you can skip directly to the section on separation of concern.

The WordPress editor is a curious beast. It’s oddly tied down into the core codebase, despite being a completely external project (TinyMCE), and it has given rise to a significant number of hacks and workarounds, to try to support the various workflows of different WordPress users. Since 2017 is the year for WordPress core to focus on the editor, I thought I’d put down some thoughts, in the hopes that I might help inform some decisions. read more »

ADVERTISEMENT:

Improving WordPress Part 2 – Better Auto Excerpts and Feeds

WordPress allows most HTML in the post_content field, allowing a fair amount of flexibility for formatting post content for browsers. However, when that content needs to be presented in feeds or excerpts, it is run through a set of sanitizing filters that strips this HTML, leaving bare text.

For the most part this works ok, but when WordPress strips block level tags like <div>, <blockquote>, or even <br>, the remaining text can be jammed together, causing words to run together.

It would normally be a fairly simple task to add a regular expression which would add whitespace around such tags, before stripping them. However, WordPress considers the functions in question so integral to the core functionality, that they do not include any filters to hook to at all.

To address this shortcoming, I needed to step back a few levels, and rewrite several WordPress core functions from the last place there is a usable hook. To save you all the trouble i went through, here is a single-file plugin that will insert the relevant missing formatting:

ADVERTISEMENT:

Improving WordPress Part 1 – Pass WordPress Admin Notices Across Page Redirects

I’ve been writing a lot of WordPress plugins recently, and one task keeps popping up, that doesn’t seem to have a definitive answer in the WordPress core.  I’ll need to show a message (confirmation, success, error, notice, warning, info, etc) to a user, after redirecting them through one of the scripts used to save changes, such as admin_post.php (for example, using the save_post action with a custom metabox).

Because I’m a strong proponent of DRY programming (Don’t Repeat Yourself), I wanted a universal tool to solve the problem, once and for all.  I’ve created a small class that I call WP_Persistent_Notices.  It’s a singleton, and is pluggable, so there should be no issues with simply including it in a theme or plugin, as is, and not worrying about another theme or plugin also including it. read more »

ADVERTISEMENT:

The Facts of Life (politics in a coding blog??)

First things first, I am not a politician, and frankly, I am uninterested in changing anyone’s opinions on how to run this country.  In fact, I’d prefer to be staying out of this field entirely.  However, large numbers of otherwise intelligent people have been making statements recently that have no basis in logic, and I needed to weigh in on this intellectual dishonesty.  We need to talk about the two-party system.

Let me set the record straight for some of the voters out there, especially those considering who the “lesser of two evils” is. I am not going to talk about the qualities of various candidates, because that is shouting into a hurricane. Instead, I’m gonna give you some cold, hard, irrefutable facts about voting.

Do you live in Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia, or Florida? If not, your vote will not have any effect on the presidency. Your state is not contested, and you are not an elector. You are utterly and completely meaningless to the overall election. read more »

ADVERTISEMENT: