Automattic Acquires Gravatar!

In a surprising move, Automattic has acquired Gravatar, which was announced this morning in Gravatar’s new WordPress installation. This breathes life into a quality idea that had floundered due to fast popularity and (I can only assume) poor funding.

For those of you that don’t know what Gravatar is:

A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is quite simply an 80×80 pixel avatar image that follows you from weblog to weblog appearing beside your name when you comment on gravatar enabled sites. Avatars help identify your posts on web forums, so why not on weblogs?

I became a fan of Gravatar during my first launch of the SexyComments WordPress Plugin and was saddened at the instability and slowness of the avatar service after a few months of usage. My frustration grew so much that I looked to MyBlogLog as an avatar service despite its lack of features. As of release 1.4 of SexyComments, I had almost entirely wiped my hands of Gravatar.

Until now. Gravatar once again serves up avatars in the comments of this site and am excited at the changes that have already taken place:

  • They have transferred the Rails application and most of the avatar serving to their WordPress.com infrastructure and servers.
  • Avatar serving is now more than three times as fast, and works every time.
  • They have moved the Gravatar blog from Mephisto to WordPress. :D

Additionally, I look forward to the features that Automattic is planning for Gravatar’s future:

  • They’re going to make all of the Premium features free, and refund anyone who bought them in the last 60 days.
  • Move the gravatar serving to a Content Delivery Network so not only will they be fast, it’ll be low latency and not slow down a page load.
  • Take the million or so avatars that exist on WordPress.com and make them available through the Gravatar API, to compliment the 115k already hosted at Gravatar.
  • From Gravatar, integrate them into all WordPress.com templates and bring features like multiple avatars over.
  • From WordPress.com, bring the bigger sizes (128px) over and make that available for any Gravatar. Currently Gravatars are only available up to 80px.
  • Allow Gravatar profile pages with Microformat support for things like XFN rel="me" and hCard.
  • Develop a new API that has cleaner URLs and allows Gravatars to be addressed by things like URL in addition to (or instead of) email addresses.
  • Rewrite the application itself (site.gravatar.com) to fit directly into our WordPress.com grid, for internet-scale performance and reliability.

All in all, this made me pee my pants a little.

Plugin: Sexy Comments v1.4 Released!

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Introduction

This has been a long time coming and I am happy to announce the release of Sexy Comments v1.4! With this version comes a lot of changes…so be sure to read the installation section! Along with simple optimizations and general restructure, the following features are now available:

Feature List

  • Ajax comment preview (new feature)
  • Author post highlighting
  • Avatars
    • Either display/hide avatars
    • Select your avatar service of choice (Gravatar and MyBlogLog options are available)
    • Specify maximum avatar dimension (Gravatar Only)
    • Customize default/trackback avatars
  • Comment Reply-To (new feature)
  • Comment Themes (new feature)
  • CSS overriding
  • “Number of Comments” message customization
  • jQuery inclusion toggling

Installation & Upgrading

  1. Download Sexy Comments v1.4 from the WordPress plugin directory
  2. Unzip that little sucker
  3. Place sexy-comments folder in your wp-content/plugins directory (it should look like this: wp-content/plugins/sexy-comments/
  4. Log in to your WordPress plugin admin page and activate the plugin.
  5. In the plugin admin page, click the SexyComments sub-menu.
  6. Customize the settings until you have something that works for you.
  7. Locate your theme’s template file that displays comments (typically comments.php). Remove the comment output loop and replace with:
    < ?php sexycomments::show($comments); ?>
    
  8. If you plan to use the Ajax features or the Reply-To features, you will need to do two things.
    1. Enable jQuery and jQuery Form Extension via the Plugin > SexyComments administration page.
    2. Locate the template file that contains the comment submission form (typically comments.php near the bottom) and replace that chunk of code with:
      < ?php sexycomments::form(); ?>
      

    NOTE: Be sure not to touch the section that generates the form for adding comments! This plugin does not re-create the comment creation form.

  9. Lastly, consider disabling the plugin CSS and taking the example CSS provided and customize it to suit your theme’s color scheme.
  10. You should be all set, now! w00t w00t! Go make a MyBlogLog or Gravatar account if you don’t already have one and upload an avatar. Gravatar tends to be pretty flakey so I’d suggest using MyBlogLog.

FAQs

  • Q: What is this “comment loop” you speak of?

    A: Ah, yes. That thing. Well, its anatomy looks similar to this (there will be some variation from theme to theme):

    < ?php if ($comments) : ?>
    	<!-- some HTML is typically here -->
    
    	< ?php foreach ($comments as $comment) : ?>
            <!-- the output HTML of each individual comment -->
    
    	< ?php endforeach; /* end for each comment */ ?>
    	<!--...more HTML -->
     < ?php else : // this is displayed if there are no comments so far ?>
    	< ?php if ('open' == $post->comment_status) : ?>
    		<!-- typically a blank area or a place with a comment -->
    	 < ?php else : // comments are closed ?>
    		<!-- closed comments section -->
    	< ?php endif; ?>
    < ?php endif; ?>
    
    
  • Q: Ok…so I just upgraded to a new version and there is nothing in the SexyComments admin page…WTF?

    A: Yeah. Sorry about that. In this version, the directory structure has changed drastically and Sexy Comments should no longer live in wp-content/plugins/sexycomments.php OR wp-content/plugins/sexycomments/sexycomments.php, but instead it should be in wp-content/plugins/sexy-comments/. Make sure that the plugin is in the correct location of your plugins directory.

  • Q: What happened to sexycomments_print($comments)? I used to use that to get my comments to display…will it still work?

    A: Along with a directory structure overhaul, this version had a large code overhaul as well. The old function (sexycomments_print) is deprecated but will still work for the time being. I greatly urge you to move over to the new function call sexycomments::show($comments) as that is the new *impoved* function.