A Bit of Character Counting Stupidity

When I’m using WordPress’ Status Post Format, I like to keep it to 140 characters, so it’s like a Tweet. But how many characters have I typed? Cos The Visual Editor only shows Word Count. So I took a look around and saw various ways of doing it, quite a few using regex to strip ‘unwanted characters’—but a space counts as a character! So I wrote my own, based loosely on what I’d been using for counting characters in the Excerpt, and from a few different plugins and bits of code. Turned out to be surprisingly easy and uncomplicated (I say that now, of course).

So, first I need a function to call a couple of files if I happen to be editing a Post or Page:

function supernaut_character_count( $charcount ) {
  if ( 'post.php' == $charcount || 'post-new.php' == $charcount ) {
    wp_enqueue_style( 'character-count-css', get_stylesheet_directory_uri() . '/css/char-count.css', array() );
    wp_enqueue_script( 'character-count-js', get_stylesheet_directory_uri() . '/js/char-count.js', array( 'jquery' ), '20160519', true );
  }
  else return;
}
add_action( 'admin_enqueue_scripts', 'supernaut_character_count' );

Then I slap together some jQuery:

jQuery( document ).ready( function( $ ) {
  if( $( '.post-php' ).length || $( '.post-new-php' ).length ) {
    $( '#post-formats-select input' ).click( function() {
      if ( $('#post-format-status').is(':checked') ) {
        $( '#post-status-info tr:first-child' ).after( 'Character count: ' );
        $( '#content_ifr' ).ready( function () {
          setInterval( function() {
            var tinymcebody = $( '#content_ifr' ).contents().find( 'body' );
            $( '#postdivrich .character-count' ).html( tinymcebody.text().length );
          }, 500 )
        });
      } else {
        $( '#post-status-info tr:first-child' ).nextAll().remove();
      }
    });
  }
});

Then a miniscule bit of CSS:

.post-php #wp-character-count {
  font-size: 12px;
  line-height: 1;
  display: block;
  padding: 0 10px 4px;
}

It’s a little bodgy, and if I had more than the 45 minutes to a) work out how the Visual Editor can be fiddled with, and b) write something that worked and looked ok—the bare minimum really—I’d do it slightly nice and maybe consider for a minute throwing it into a plugin (where it officially belongs). But I won’t. It does what I want: live updating of how many characters I’ve written in the Visual Editor, and shows it in a line underneath the Word Count (also aided me in delaying writing a residency application on the day it’s due).

supernaut Character Count
supernaut Character Count

Slight Improvements to Accessibility & Structured Data

Coding while sick!

Recent supernaut museum photography blogging got me thinking about image metadata (both Exif for camera-applied metadata, and IPTC for image-specific person-added metadata), and how I could set up a workflow to better implement this – particularly IPTC which is something I’d need to add and can partially automate, rather than Exif, which the camera adds – and how to persuade WordPress (or straight PHP / some method of database demonology) to scrape that and output it into Schema structured data.

I started doing heavy Schema work on tiptree.org as a way of making the huge amount of data comprehensible to search engines, and by extension, to humans, and have grown to like it a lot (also microformats, which WordPress uses) for making sense of what is otherwise a string of decontextualised words and media. I’d already schema-fied Dasniya’s blog, so mostly it was copy-pasting, then combining into supernaut’s structure – where the design had taken far too many liberties with accessibility and structured data.

So, now all posts spit out at least minimally useful structured data, and posts with images, galleries, or video spit out additional Schema structured data for those objects. Once I start using IPTC for my images, I’ll look at a way of including that in the Schema as well. (Though combining all that into useful objects from experience with Tiptree can be hilariously obtuse.)

On the accessibility side, I’d realised sometime in the past I’d been seriously shitty in supernaut’s design, basically a fucking horrible website to get around for anyone using keyboard navigation, screen-readers, or other methods non-trackpad + eyeballs. Accessibility is something I’ve been increasingly enjoying coding and designing for, along with structured data, particularly for websites that are highly designed and plain fucking arty – I find it gratifying to make hugely complex sites that remain structurally coherent and accessible no matter what device or method a person uses to access it – because there’s often an inverse relationship between design ‘woo!’ and usability ‘yay!’

So, keyboard navigation now is useable and hopefully much clearer, visual styling of user interaction also. Not as good as it could be, but getting there, and vaguely aiming for all of supernaut to be at least somewhat accessible – including and especially my museum visits.