Managing Your Editorial Workflow (WordCamp Toronto 2011)

The video of presentation at WordCamp Toronto 2011 on “Managing your Editorial Workflow” where I talk mostly about Edit Flow.

Looks like the video was cut off, which is probably a good thing since it wasn’t really my best performance (being my first WordCamp presentation and all). I also flail my arms alot.

Mo Jangda: Managing Your Editorial Workflow | WordPress.tv.

Edit Flow v0.3: Usergroups and improved notifications

Edit Flow was bumped up to v0.3 last week and saw a flurry of other updates as bugs cropped up that I had managed to miss during the testing phase before release. The main focus of this release was to introduce usergroups, which will form the basis of future features and to enhance the notification functionality that was introduced in the previous version.

If you haven’t upgraded yet, download it from the Plugin Directory or directly from within WordPress.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the new features introduced in this release:

Usergroups

Version 0.3+ adds in what are called usergroups. On the outset, they’re similar to “Roles” built into WordPress, except that (at this stage) usergroups are simply ways to associate groups of users together. Edit Flow adds a number of sample usergroups for you to get started (as shown above) and get a sense of what sort of groupings you can create. However, the main power of usergroups comes with…

Notification Controls

Much of the feedback Edit Flow received since the email notification were introduced centred around having greater control over who receives notifications. Previously, post updates were emailed to authors, editorial commenters, and any roles that had been selected to receive notifications. Many people were drawn to the notification feature but were forced to keep it disabled since they didn’t want all their editors or administrators notified on every single post update.

With the new release, you can specify on a post level, what users and usergroups should receive notifications, so that only relevant people and groups of people receive updates.

Note: with the introduction of this feature the “Notify by Role” option was removed. In its place, a new feature was added “Always notify admin option” which includes the blog administrator in all notifications. To all overly protective, nosy admins that want to know everything: you’re welcome :)

This is just the beginning of notifications. Some interesting ideas that I’d like to integrate in future versions of Edit Flow include:

  • Giving users the ability  to subscribe to posts themselves
  • Have specific users or usergroups automatically subscribed to posts based on categories or tags assigned to posts.
  • Make the UI a bit more efficient. The UI for this new feature is something that was unfortunately rushed. My original vision didn’t make it in (due to various impracticalities, changes, and lack of time), but it’s very much a high priority on my list to make it easy to select users/usergroups (especially for installs with hundreds and thousands of users).

More Useful Notifications

On the topic of notifications, the new release introduces emails that are slightly more descriptive in terms of the action taken on the post. The subject line of the email will specify whether the post was created, published, unpublished, etc. Although a small change, it should hopefully help users manage incoming emails more effectively and not get inundated with a barrage of “Post Status was changed” emails. (Interestingly, I’ve found that this new change comes in handy even on my personal blog which is a simple on-user blog. I find these notifications fairly useful especially since I make aggressive use of WordPress’ future scheduling functionality.)

Additionally, the action links in comment notifications now take the user directly to the editorial comment form (e.g. clicking on “Add editorial comment” will open the post and take to directly to the Editorial Comment form). Again, not a major feature but something that should hopefully save you some time, scrolling and future dealings with Carpal Tunnel.

I’d like to extend this feature even further and allow users to reply to comments via email and not have to go into WordPress to do so. (As you can see, there’s a bit a time-saving trend going on here.)

New widget: Posts I’m Following

Still a little crude at this stage, this new widget gives you a list of the most recently updated posts that you’re following. However, this widget will likely form the basis of the activity stream, which will offer an audit trail of activity happening within the WordPress admin.

Knight News Challenge Round II

While not really a feature introduced in 0.3+, here’s a bit of news that may be interest: we’ve submitted our 2nd round application for the Knight News Challenge. Check out it, vote, and leave us some feedback.

What’s Next?

Apart from some of the ideas already mentioned, with the next couple of Edit Flow releases, you can expect to see some great features such as:

  • Post task lists (à la Basecamp, namely a list of tasks that must be completed in order for a post to be published)
  • Better Post Management (to help you track and manage your content better, such as snapshots of how far along existing content is)
  • HTML emails (because emails should always be pretty – but always fallback to plain text for people still living in the ’90s)

Your Homework

As always, your feedback is much appreciated and vital to our development. Let us know what about Edit Flow works for you and what doesn’t and what else Edit Flow can do to improve your organization’s WordPress experience.

We’ve already had discussions with several online and print publishers and newsrooms interested in adopting Edit Flow and would love to include you in that conversation. Why not get in touch?

Edit Flow/WordPress Idea: User Directory

Update: sorry, should have pointed out that this idea was inspired by wireframes posted by Anthony Pesce (of the Populous project).

Here’s an idea that I thought might be a useful addition to Edit Flow especially once we add in User Group functionality. The main premise is to have a full-out User Directory accessible by logged in users that provides easy access to contact information for other users on the site. Would probably only be useful for larger groups using WordPress, but I’d imagine would still come in handy for newsrooms and such.

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Mockingbird: wireframing made awesome

Wireframing is awesome!

Using Mockingbird, a recently launched Cappuccino-based wireframing tool, I was able to whip up some quick UI concepts I’ve been thinking of for the next iteration of Edit Flow. Though obviously not as fast as a hand-drawn sketch, it’s far more convenient when you’re working with other people since you don’t have to get cameras and/or scanners involved.

Mockingbird has a fairly intuitive interface, and most functionality you’d expect from a wireframing/diagramming tool. Best part: no Flash! Check out the result below. It’ll be updated as I make changes to the diagram.

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Edit Flow Project: Stage 1 beta release

Note: this is cross-posted from a post that I wrote on the CoPress blog.

This past weekend, we released the beta version of Stage 1 (Custom Post Statuses) of the Edit Flow Project, a plugin aiming to improve the WordPress Admin Interface for a multi-user newsroom’s editorial workflow.

The main goal of this stage was to “improve posts statuses by allowing custom statuses.” WordPress, by default, only allows for two statuses for posts during the editing process: “Draft” and “Pending Review”. These statuses are not very descriptive nor do they make it easy to track a story as it moves through a newsroom’s often complex, multi-level workflow.

With the release of Stage 1 of Edit Flow, WordPress users can now assign custom statuses to posts, giving them more control over the state of their content.

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